|Feedback/Info/Tests of Firefox G5 Builds
Last Updated: 10/26/2006 (for 2.0 update)
(Updated 3/3/2005 for reader tests)
This page is a catch-all of past news page comments, links and reports on G5 Optimized builds of Firefox. As of 2006 he also includes G4 and Intel-based Mac builds also. I have not used these personally - I stick with the standard/official releases.
Firefox 2.0 'optimized' builds for G4, G5 and Intel Macs (10/26/2006)
"Just a quick note to let you know that I've posted Firefox 2.0
optimized builds for G4, G5, and intel macs. Besides the build
optimizations these also have native-looking ("aqua") form widgets to
help make Firefox look more mac-like, though there is also G4 and
Intel mac versions with the Firefoxy form widgets for those who
(I haven't updated to v2.0 yet, but asked him about the update breaking 3rd party addons)
It does, but you can use an extension I link to from that page
(Nightly Tester Tools) to quickly turn compatibility back on.
I usually only run the standard releases (and still running v1.5.0x). PCworld has a story today on a Minor Bug in New Firefox.
(NOTE: reports below were from older builds)
Just checking in to report that the new G5 Firefox build would not even
boot on my late-model, box stock G5 2x2Ghz. After installing in
Applications, it crashed hard on mousedown and would not even open.
I had to pull Firefox 1.0 when I went to G5 in January because it
refused to cooperate with the digital optical sound feature (Logitech
Z-680). I was getting Firefox crashes that seemed to implicate audio
drivers--go figure. No crashes after Firefox removed...
Semper fi Mac,
(I asked Richard for more info like build version and if he was using URL Manager Pro after the author's comments below-Mike)
It was the "release" (1.01) version found on Neil's "Beatnik Pad" site. I do not use URL Manager Pro and have never installed it on this box. I will download FFox again from Neil and see if it runs from the desktop.
(From the 3/1/2005 news page) The author of the page with the G5 builds sent some additional notes and links:
I just wanted to drop you a quick email, as I noticed someone passed
along a link to the G5-optimized Firefox builds I've been creating.
First of all, if you could update the link to point to the entry on my
web site, I'd be most appreciative - this is the best place for updated
info on the builds, as well as user comments.
For people looking for a G5-optimized build of the Firefox 1.0.1
release version, you can download it from here:
Regarding the crash that "Richard D." mentioned, here are a few things
to look into:
1. Was it the nightly or release build that was crashing?
(see Richard's reply above (release build he said). He also noted he did not have URL Manager Pro installed.-Mike)
2. With Firefox quit, try moving the entire Firefox folder from the
user Application Support folder to the desktop, and then relaunch the
application. This will cause Firefox to create a fresh profile which
may eliminate any installed extension conflicts or profile issues. If
this does fix the issue, you can then go into the old Firefox folder
and move your bookmarks over, etc.
3. As far as I know, the only crashing conflict with the G5 builds is a
conflict with URL Manager Pro - is it possible that Richard has this
installed? I've spoken with the URL Manager Pro developer and neither
of us have any idea why this is happening. My suspicious is that there
are bugs in the G5 optimizations, but I'm not sure.
Hope this is helpful. Thanks for the great web site and resource!
(added 3/3/2005 from 3/2 mail)
"Hi Mike, I've spent several hours now trying to measure any performance
difference between the official 1.01 release, the published
G5-optimized build noted in your news, and a build I configured myself
after a few hours perusing GCC build options and using Apple-designed
compilation options along with use-modeled branch prediction. My
1) loading three large pages in a row, each scrolled to the bottom, and
then using history to navigate back to the first page and then forward
to the third page, only clicking back or next after the page had loaded
and re-scrolled to the bottom.
2) loading a tab of bookmarks consisting of 11 computer news-oriented
sites and timing:
a) the point at which the first tab became usable
3) loading Gmail (full page of email on the index page)
b) the total time for all tabs to finish loading
4) subjective testing comparing scroll performance on busy pages
(anandtech articles used, as they're among the slower-scrolling pages I
routinely visit on Mac browsers due to heavy animated advertising use)
First a comment: far in excess of everything else like build settings /
browser types, etc, the single biggest performance penalty when surfing
is advertising, usually due to the frequent (but not consistent) load
delays as the browser waits on remote ads to be served. Removing all
advertising (via Adblock, a firefox extension) produces a massive
increase in the reliability of website load times. The sites themselves
are generally very heavily optimized and run on good networks with
plenty of bandwidth. The ads served along with those pages are an
entirely different matter, with wildly varying page-load times as the
result. It was almost impossible to consistently measure performance in
some of the tests, simply due to the variance imposed by third party
advertising services used by those sites. It took dozens of iterations
of each test to produce results unmarred by an obvious ad-related
delay, which would affect one or more sites in one test run and another
random set on the next. These delays far outweigh any performance
difference I was able to record on the browsers themselves.
With that out of the way, some performance numbers (adblock was used to
remove off-server advertising on the entire list of sites in order to
minimize inconsistent performance results - note that this did not
noticeably improve the best scores - only made scores more consistent).
Tested on a Dual G5 2.0, processor performance "highest", 10.3.8:
Tab-load 11 PC-related sites (BEST time to load FIRST page):
- Firefox official 1.01: 4.5
- Firefox "G5-optimized": 4.3
- Safari: 2.9
- Private firefox build: 4.0
Tab-load 11 PC-related sites (BEST time to load ALL pages):
- Firefox official 1.01: 4.9
- Firefox "G5-optimized": 5.0
- Safari: 12.3 (not a strong-point of Safari)
- Private firefox build: 4.5
- Firefox official 1.01: 4.0
- Firefox "G5-optimized": 3.8
- Safari: 7.3
- Private firefox build: 3.0
(Note: the ads were removed for all firefox versions, which improved
scores by about 1.8-2 seconds - they averaged closer to 5 seconds with
ads, in a similar spread).
GMail (first visit after launch):
- Firefox official 1.01: 4.7
- Firefox "G5-optimized": 4.9
- Safari: 4.7
- Private firefox build: 4.7
Subjective test: scrolling Anandtech article pages: This is the most
revealing test, in my opinion: These browsers are all terrible at
scrolling those pages, apparently due to the animations on them.
Nothing was noticeably different about the general browser experience
on any of these 4 browsers. The only time things improved noticeably
was when Adblock was used to prune the advertisements - and then the
change was dramatic.
Conclusion: it's really a wash, from a perceived experience point of
view (except with Safari in some cases - and that's mostly because
Apple is holding off on the next real Safari upgrade until Tiger). The
things the Mac is currently not very good at don't get significantly
better without taking a blowtorch to the sites themselves. Ad removal
is a far larger performance improvement. Note that I do not suggest to
people that they do this -- I'm just pointing out where the real
performance issues are (not that that should surprise anyone). People
make their living from those ads, and if nobody sees/uses them, many if
not most those sites would likely go away. Keep that in mind when
deciding what you will do.
I'll see if I can profile the applications with Shark (apples
performance-tuning tool) and perhaps at least identify where the main
bottlenecks are on image scrolling (not that I'm likely to be able to
do anything about them - I'm just curious and it looks like a neat
The problem in my mind with doing typical web site page loading tests is that the source's web server load (and net traffic) is constantly changing which can affect response times and page loading times. But Michael included other tests also not just those affected by the network/server.
Hi, Mike -
Just a very quick followup to the G5-optimized Firefox speed tests that
someone has been doing (and are very cool, by the way).
My impression with these builds is that you can't really speed up
pageload times that radically, even with an optimized version. Where I
really notice the differences is in just how the application itself
*handles* - switching tabs, for example, is much faster with these
builds than with the official ones, as is invoking menus. I've
personally found them to be faster at scrolling long pages too, but
your mileage may vary.
It's interesting to see actual speed tests, but as your note at the
bottom of the reader's report states, a much more accurate test would
be to load test pages from within an internal network. I have done a
teensy bit of this (to see if I'm just wasting my time with these
builds), and there does seem to be an improvement, albeit fairly small.
I do think (hope?) that these builds will be noticeably faster once OS
10.4 and Xcode 2 is released - there are a bunch of changes in the gcc
compiler, and as well I seem to remember reading somewhere that the OS
itself will have optimizations for the G5. As with anything
10.4-related, we'll have to wait and see.
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