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Mozilla Firefox The Internet

Firefox 58 Gets Graphics Speed Boost, Web App Abilities (cnet.com) 178

Mozilla released on Tuesday a new version of its Firefox Quantum browser, boosting its graphics speed and improving a couple of new technologies designed to make the web more powerful. From a report: The browser, version 58, is the first major update since Mozilla's recovery plan hit full stride in November with the debut of Firefox Quantum. Speed is of the essence in Mozilla's recovery plan, and Firefox 58 does better than its predecessor in some graphics tasks by splitting work better across the multiple processor cores that computer chips have these days. The result should be scrolling that's smooth, uninterrupted by the stuttering that in computing circles goes by the disparaging term "jank." [...] Firefox 58 helps with two new web technologies. One, called WebAssembly, provides for dramatically faster web apps. Firefox 58 can get WebAssembly software running faster so you don't have to twiddle your thumbs waiting as long after clicking a link. Another is progressive web apps (PWAs), an initiative that came out of Google to help make the web a better match for the apps we all drop on our phones.
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Firefox 58 Gets Graphics Speed Boost, Web App Abilities

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  • Love for Firefox (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UPi ( 137083 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @11:30AM (#55985869) Homepage

    I'm very grateful to the Firefox project and its contributors for their dedication to bringing us a fast and modern browser to act not only as a useful product, but as an essential counterweight to corporate hegemony over the www. Switching to 57 was a bit of pain as I had to find replacements to many of my beloved extensions, but it was worth it for the speed upgrade and smaller memory footprint. I'm glad they are keeping on the path of optimization and bringing more technologies that I can use both as an end user and as a web developer.

    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      Why do you think that finding replacements for extensions (decrease of usability, security) is a worthwhile tradeoff to gain smaller memory footprint and faster speed?

      My system has 64G or RAM and modern i7. As a web user I give exactly zero f***s about memory footprint - I have plenty for the worst kind of bloat and memory leaks you could throw at it. Speed is also largely irrelevant, when I don't load and render all the ads the bottleneck is network speed. However, when my NoScript stops working and I get
      • Re:Love for Firefox (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @12:52PM (#55986579)

        I'm glad you don't care at all about efficiency or optimization. Some of us find that making things faster and more efficient has value.

        You also act like you have no agency or choice in how you update. Firefox not only doesn't force updates (I assume you are smart enough to turn that off) but offers an ESR version, so instead of just "not updating" which is totally an option, you can even use the "old" firefox with the current security fixes (keeping all your precious extensions intact).

        In fact, it's the path I took until no-script was updated to work with Quantum (which took it's quite fantastic developer something like two weeks to implement). I gave it a month, tried the new no-script on my secondary PC, and when I deemed things were working as intended, swapped my main PC over from the ESR to the latest Quantum release.

        I feel like you want to be angry for the sake of being angry. Firefox is doing a pretty great job updating it's software while simultaneously providing support for depreciated versions specifically to placate people like you (and to an extent myself). What more do you want them to do?

        Apparently you'd prefer they make no changes and never improve-- and no doubt if this were the case you'd lament how Firefox has never bothered implementing any new technologies or security or speed improvements.

        People like you just like to whine. I won't stop you, but I will tell you that it's incredibly annoying.

        • +1 - up vote please!
          Well said anon, thanks.

          For the 99% majority, Quantum is a massive leap over XUL-based (old) monolithic Firefox!

          Yes, I miss the xul interface of many addons, and I'd be interested to know the technical reasons why they couldn't redevelop it for multi-process FF?

          • As the author of one of those add-ons (httplogout), I couldn't "redevelop" my add-on for Quantum because the XUL functionality that my add-on relied upon simply didn't exist in WebExtensions (the only add-ons API that Quantum supports). I told Mozilla about the problem in September 2017, and that's where things stand at the moment. Until Mozilla adds the necessary functionality to WebExtensions, my add-on can't be ported to Quantum.
        • Nice response, and for the most part I use the new one. There are several things I keep ESR around for. Adblock plus that actually keeps statistics about what is blocked, so I can use that information to make firewall rules, and a particular youtube downloader that is all client side.
          The blocker for Quantum, Ublock and ABP both don't do stats as far as I know, and I find noscript in ESR easier to wrap my head around.

        • >People like you just like to whine

          We value the efficiency gained by correcting for Firefox's deficiencies or optimizing processes that Firefox does a generic version of but can be tweaked for individual use cases or simply by adding new functionality. Something like TableTools which allowed for sorting/filtering/copying of tabled data into various formats, now must be must be manually edited or scripted via Greasemonkey. I've lost *hours* to every few seconds FF57 might have saved me on this alone.

      • Yes, NoScript was a must have, and it wasn't ready at release. I waited until NoScript then made the move. The new UI for NoScript was an adjustment, but it works fine now.

    • by bjdevil66 ( 583941 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @12:57PM (#55986629)

      In the run up to FF57's deadline came up last year, I bitterly posted on Slashdot about how I didn't want the speed upgrades as much as I wanted to keep the extensions that were not getting ported.

      I was wrong - dead wrong. Why?

      1) Speed: If you were an anti-Chrome guy like me but would be a little jealous of its speed when you had to use it, this has been resolved. FF57 has been much snappier to use than previous versions. It feels like Chrome or faster.

      In the end, browser speed DOES matter.

      2) Extensions: Not every extension I used before FF57 has been ported to Quantum, but the important extensions I used have been since the FF57 release that weren't ready initially. NoScript, FlagFox, etc. All working now. If the extensions weren't ready last November, look again. They may be ready now.

      Just as importantly, I haven't missed the ones that haven't made it. You may not miss them either.

      3) The native Web Development tools are better than Firebug was in the end, IMO. And it's been nice to not have Firebugginess to deal with anymore.

      So - Take it from this OCD guy who's not a marketing shill for the Mozilla org: If you're still sitting at FF52 ESR or FF56.x over any form of FUD (especially the, "but extension X is indispensible", worry,) given FF57 another look now and test it out without those, "I've gotta have extension X," extensions and see. You may be surprised.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I tried FF57 and it's actually pretty good. If you imagine it's a new browser and don't pine for the fjords^W old Firefox UI it isn't bad. The privacy controls are probably the best anywhere.

      • I recommend that you read Firefox's privacy policy [mozilla.org]. Its "privacy controls", as you put it, are quite suspect.

        The Firefox privacy policy dated September 28, 2017 clearly indicates that it can/will send data to Mozilla, along with third parties like Google, Adjust, SalesForce, and Leanplum:

        Webpage and technical data to Google’s SafeBrowsing service: To help protect you from malicious downloads, Firefox sends basic information about unrecognized downloads to Google's SafeBrowsing Service, including the f

        • clearly indicates that it can/will send data to Mozilla

          So turn telemetry off in the settings. It's under Privacy and Security -> Firefox Data Collection and Use. While you're there you also might want to set the Tracking Protection setting to "always". That's what I do.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        f you imagine it's a new browser and don't pine for the fjords^W old Firefox UI it isn't bad.

        Well, firefox makes you edit text files to adjust the UI, so if you're a greybeard that should be a pleasant blast from the past. These days though, editing text files to adjust the UI seems very antiquated and a step into 30 years ago when we did it only because there was not enough CPU power or memory to graphically edit UIs so it was a cycle of edit, relaunch, test, quit, ...
        I get it', it's more secure when webs

    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      Smaller... memory footprint?

      I'm finding I have to re-start my browser due to memory exhaustion once a day since upgrading to FF57. Prior to that it was once a week, with the same content open.

      Unfortunately "Minimize Memory Usage" in the about:memory dialog does not help in this case.

      But I do agree it is much faster (and not just at eating memory!)

  • I doubt the fixed it, but the new Quantum "faster" Firefox was really dragging down my system. At first, I thought some malicious add-on was mining cryptocurrency on my machine. But it turns out Firefox was just spawning orphan processes. I found the fix at the link below, which is basically to disable multi-threading in Firefox.

    Multiple Firefoxes in the background, exiting the program doesn't clear them up. They persist. [mozilla.org]

    I am still missing a few of my favorite add-ons as well. The bulk download manager Down [mozilla.org]

    • I doubt the fixed it, but the new Quantum "faster" Firefox was really dragging down my system. At first, I thought some malicious add-on was mining cryptocurrency on my machine. But it turns out Firefox was just spawning orphan processes.

      Aha... This bids fair to be the issue I have been having. Prior to getting upgraded to Firefox Quantum, I could open a tabset with a dozen or more tabs, and I wouldn't see any effect on the rest of my system. Once I upgraded to Quantum, though, opening more than one or two new tabs at a time was causing not only other Firefox tabs (i.e., a YouTube video) to stutter, but also Windows Media player playing a music file -- even with WMP's priority set to 'realtime' (24) in Process Explorer. Thank you for the li

    • The after upgrading from 56 to 57 did a bunch of background cleanup/optimization/restructuring of databases. The larger your SQLite data the longer it would take/slower it would be. It was temporary though - had nothing to do with the "process spawning" which is actually just multi-process at work (unless there's a bug I'm not aware of that might cause multi-process to misbehave)

  • by grungeman ( 590547 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @11:40AM (#55985927)
    Focusing on improving the core technology is the right decision IMHO. Recent performance improvements have been quite impressive, and the distance to Chrome has become really small.

    Nevertheless I would really like to see a way to measure webworker performance. Sometimes I have the feeling that there is quite some fluctuation. For example when I work with iconfu.com [iconfu.com], sometimes the icons get rendered blazingly fast, and sometimes it takes seconds. Not sure what is causing this, also since I cannot measure webworker performance, there is not really an easy way to find out.

    Anyway, keep up the great work!
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @11:46AM (#55985975)
    ... if Firefox put back some of the lost functionality due to all the extensions that no longer work due to Mozilla's apparent race to be a Chrome clone.
    • Having recently tried out Chrome on my machines at home, I can assure you that Firefox is most assuredly NOT a Chrome clone. It's far better. I was amazed at how many more small quality-of-life issues Firefox beat Chrome in, and the speed difference was quite noticeable.

      • ... I was amazed at how many more small quality-of-life issues ...

        Quality of life issues? It's a friggin' browser, for Pete's sake. Geesh, now even the Mozilla fan bois are lower in quality.

  • No, thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @11:48AM (#55985987)
    The only thing that separated Firefox from the competition were the plugins (to be more exact, the power of these plugins) and Firefox threw it out and replaced it with lobotomized versions incapable to replicate the functionality of the previous versions.

    So I will stay with Firefox 56 (the last sane version) as much as I can.
    • I have no mod points but I totally agree with your view: The most distinguishing feature of Firefox was its library of extensions. Some of the most complex ones didn't make the cut when migrating to the new extension API. Some can't even be replicated with the new API.
      The rest of the improvements are very nice but IMO don't make up for the lost extensions.
      Of course, I don't agree with the troll mod.
    • Face it, the only sane solution is to install more than one version of Firefox.

      Even just as a hobby web developer, I have 6 browsers installed right now (well, technically 4 browsers, and 2 of those browsers are mixed versions).

  • We've had portable binary formats on the web for years - originally java bytecode and then flash. And look how bug and exploit free thar was. Why the rush to produce yet another attack surface?

    • For one the fact that this time is standardized and integrated on the web browser code and thus doesn't depend on any plugin.
      Will WebAssembly have a better track record than Java or Flash? Only time will tell but it does have some advantadges
  • Here's how Mozilla lost its 1st place in one of their last remaining bastions [statcounter.com]. "Speed is of the essence in Mozilla's recovery plan" the article says, but in reality what should be the essence for a recovery plan is to bite the bullet and admit they were wrong in deprecating what made them unique.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here's how Mozilla lost its 1st place in one of their last remaining bastions [statcounter.com]. "Speed is of the essence in Mozilla's recovery plan" the article says, but in reality what should be the essence for a recovery plan is to bite the bullet and admit they were wrong in deprecating what made them unique.

      It's worse than that.

      Many people who created extensions have given up and abandoned them. Its not that they don't want to re-write them, its because their extensions CAN'T be re-written to work with the new Firefox due to the internal changes that have been made.

      And that leads to the real problem -- Firefox has always been shit, but, we were able to cover up all of its flaws and turn it into a good browser with extensions. Now that all my favorite themes and extensions no longer work, I'm just left with a

      • I'm on a similar boat. I particularly like Firefox (note that I'm talking about version 56), but it was the extensions that made it really useful. Did you notice, for example, the difference in functionality between the "XUL" ad-block and the "Webextensions" ad-block? The previous one is infinitely better and when I questioned the developer he replied that unfortunately he can not do better because of the limited and sloppy api that is the "webextensions", so if I migrate to Firefox 57 I'll be effectively w
        • Yes, and that's why I've manually installed the last XUL-based version of ABP and turned notifications off. I'm not sure what I'm going to do in the future, but for now it works perfectly.
  • Webextensions suck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @11:59AM (#55986073)
    I'll stick with Waterfox. What made Firefox so great was the ability to bend it to my will. Webextensions takes away my abilities and replaces them with training wheels and a balloon. YAY! This update is just more hand waving "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" tactics.
    • Palemoon / Waterfox is maintained by 1 person... ONE; and at most, 2.
      Yes, there's been minor chip-ins from a few others, but look at the git commit history [github.com] and it's basically a one-man show.

      And seeing how fast tech is moving and standards are evolving, Palemoon/Waterfox/Variants are already far, far behind, especially in security fixes.

      It's basically a dead project without some serious number of hands contributing to maintaining it! And that of course requires serious funding, or at least, some corporate sp

      • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @01:08PM (#55986725)
        While people everywhere are telling us why we CAN'T do something we are out there proving them wrong. Alex isn't working alone he is simply taking the best parts of Firefox and stripping out the junk. Most of the improvements Quantum made are already incorporated into Waterfox. It just didn't implement the nanny state of removing things that many users find indispensable. Do you know how many Fortune 500 companies have JAVA front ends for their multi-million dollar enterprises? A LOT! You know what most of these companies are using for a browser? IE11!!! That is SCARY. At least with Waterfox you've got a modern browser that still allows legacy sites to work correctly.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          And that's one of the problems with browser development culture - "if you lag behind, we don't care about you. Doesn't matter if your use case is completely valid, you're in the minority and you don't matter." That's the feeling I get.

        • Perhaps you don't realise the main reason corporate environments are using IE is because it's bundled with Windows, available on every corporate machine; and best of all: it can be remotely configured / controlled / patched using domain controller / active directory rules and WSUS. And if things go wrong, they have license agreements with Microsoft, meaning dedicated support and swift responses.

          • Perhaps you don't realize that the reason they are using IE is they have legacy systems running ActiveX/JAVA programs that only work with IE. Most web sites don't even test against IE any longer they just pop up a message saying "Download Chrome Now!". Which means these companies have to adopt a two browser strategy to support their needs.
        • Honest question: Waterfox have the performance improvements from 57~beyond AND the support to XUL-style addons from 56 and later?
          • For the most part yes. From the Waterfox [waterfoxproject.org] site:

            Features Disabled Encrypted Media Extensions (EME)
            Disabled Web Runtime (deprecated as of 2015)
            Removed Pocket
            Removed Telemetry
            Removed data collection
            Removed startup profiling
            Allow running of all 64-Bit NPAPI plugins
            Allow running of unsigned extensions
            Removal of Sponsored Tiles on New Tab Page
            Addition of Duplicate Tab option
            Locale selector in about:preferences > General

            And from the developer Alex Kont [waterfoxproject.org]
            • Firefox 52+ were the finishing touches to it.

              No, there have been further performance improvements since 52. Try this simple example [github.io] of the improvement in WebAssembly complication times [mozilla.org].

              In WaterFox 56.0.3 the highest result I got was: WebAssembly.instantiate took 1369.3 ms (9 MB/s)
              In Firefox 58.0 the lowest result I got was: WebAssembly.instantiate took 222.5 ms (55.6 MB/s)

              Waterfox will continue to fall behind as new Firefox releases come out. Eventually Waterfox will have to bite the bullet and rebase on whatever the latest Firefox is at that tim

              • Given that Waterfox 56.0.3 was released a few weeks ago and Firefox 58 was just released I'll wait for 56.0.4 or later to do an apples to useful browser comparison. I DID however do a WF 56.0.3 to FF 57.0.4 comparison and they are pretty much identical with WF just edging out FF. I'm not saying you're wrong but your test is certainly unfair to Alex and Waterfox.

                Waterfox 56.0.3
                WebAssembly.instantiate took 1192.2 ms (10.4 MB/s)

                Firefox 57.0.4
                WebAssembly.instantiate took 1197.8 ms (10.3 MB/s)
                • but your test is certainly unfair to Alex and Waterfox

                  Nope, perfectly fair. I tested current release against current release. Waterfox 56.0.3 was released on the 12th of January.

                  • Waterfox will continue to fall behind as new Firefox releases come out. Eventually Waterfox will have to bite the bullet and rebase on whatever the latest Firefox is at that time.

                    What an ass. Your statement has been challenged so you resort to juvenile nana nana boo boo tactics. You know damn well Waterfox will release an update based on this release. Whether it will perform better or worse remains to be seen. But God forbid someone suggest you might be wrong.

                    • You know damn well Waterfox will release an update based on this release.

                      When? Unsurprisingly, a single developer is outperformed by a team of developers. Waterfox is now two releases behind Firefox.

                      But God forbid someone suggest you might be wrong.

                      I'm not wrong. Firefox 58 massively outperforms Waterfox 56.0.3 in WebAssembly compilation.

          • Waterfox have the performance improvements from 57~beyond

            No. Waterfox is still based on Firefox 56. Waterfox will just keep falling further behind.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yet your shitty company cannot make a browser that is as good as that one guy.

        Go shill somewhere else.

  • I am still not switching back until all the old add ons work.
  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @12:06PM (#55986115)

    While I'm all for Firefox improving performance, it can't come at the expensive of reliably rendering websites. After the upgrade, I noticed various problems across several sites I used to access without issue.

    Because of that, I've been forced to switch to Chrome for the time being as my primary browser because I have enough on my plate without having to worry about "Is the website broken or is it me?"

    Maybe I'll try it again after it's had a couple versions to shake out bugs.

    • As a Pale Moon user, I've found that most rendering problems are because the web sites are explicitly testing for the browser by brand name. With stupidity like that going on, it doesn't surprise me that on occasion, even the big brand name browsers have issues.

      I remember in the IE6 days when everyone was screaming about standards compliance and accessibility. Today, the only thing that matters is, "does it work in Chrome?"

  • On Windows 7
    Firefox v58 Gets an HTML5 Test score of 486 out of 555
    Chrome v63 Gets an HTML5 Test score of 528 out of 555

    I am in general still perplex why after all these years browsers are not 100% HTML 5 complaint.

    • Interesting test. I lost 7 points just because I do not want to be interrupted by Web notifications.
    • Re:HTML 5 Support. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @01:15PM (#55986813) Homepage Journal

      HTML5 is like C++. A massive, hard to implement standard that barely anyone fully understands, let alone uses. Supporting about 80% of it gives you 99% compatibility, so it's hard to justify the massive effort required to finish the last, really difficult 20% off.

      • A browser is special case because they are used by billions of people for hours every day, so that 1% is bigger then 100% of most other types of applications.

      • Probably would have helped if "they" had stuck to the SGML/XML parsing rules. I was really upset to find out that HTML5 undid all the work that XHTML was trying to do, and many of my old HTML tools don't work properly with HTML5 because they can't parse it.

        Everything about HTML5 is just dumb, let alone complicated. The fact that HTML has had multiple syntax changes over the years but no longer allows you to specify a version number in your documents is very telling.

    • by laffer1 ( 701823 )

      HTML5 is a moving target unlike previous standards. Test again in like six months and there will be whole new features.

    • Don't complain if a browser is not compliant with HTML5 ;-)

      HTML5 IS A LIVING STANDARD. There never will be HTML 6, the spec is constantly changing; it is alive. This was decided because of the history of compliance and the organic nature of new features being added between new standards which took a long time to formalize or ended up in many small sub-standards.

      Some HTML5 standards begin as browser projects for new features which end up being accepted into the standard. The originating browser generally h

  • Time to talk about how Firefox/Chrome/etc are all bad and dumb and only I know how to make the one true browser that would make everyone happy!
  • Let me guess, still no native sound on Linux (pulseaudio only since version 52), still infested with spyware/telemetry/DRM, and still not running most add-ons. Still copying chrome and doing it worst, losing all the advantages Firefox once had. But still started by SJWs and snowflakes, and that is what matters, not that almost nobody uses it anymore. Thank the level minded for brave, waterfox and palemoon, or we'd be stuck with chromium.

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra