Last week, in Google Chrome is the New Firefox, and Firefox the new IE, I ranted a bit about how slow Firefox 3 (notably tab switching and the "awesome" bar") was on my Ubuntu 9.04 machine. Needless to say, I got some good feedback from that post and it prompted it me to do a few things.

I've since been running both Firefox 3.5 as well as the Firefox 3.6 trunk code and can say that both are notably faster than Firefox 3.0.xx. The difference between 3.0.xx and 3.5 was substantial and really helped to close the gap with Chrome. Going to the 3.6 alpha nightly builds made it even faster in some places and slower in others--not surprising since it's still in development. Scrolling was drastically worse, but I'm told that's currently in flux.

I have to hand it to the Firefox team. They're not taking Chrome lying down. I've found no real issues with running 3.5 so far and it's a bit of mystery to me (which is to say "I haven't researched at all...") why Ubuntu 9.04 isn't upgrading folks to it. I'm really looking forward to seeing 3.6 stabilize. The Javascript and layout performance seems really good in my use so far.

Posted by jzawodn at August 10, 2009 06:33 AM

Reader Comments
# Peter Rukavina said:

I'd find it helpful if you could elaborate on the "do a few things" that you did to improve the performance of Firefox 3.5.

on August 10, 2009 07:30 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Uh. I did. I tried newer versions and found them to suck less.

on August 10, 2009 08:02 AM
# Nathan Nutter said:

As far as why Ubuntu isn't upgrading people to will never get a new app via an update. New apps are released with the distro launch and only security updates and bugfixes are provided after that point.

What's worse though is that there still seems to be some debate as to whether to make 3.5 the default in Karmic! There concern is that not all extensions have been updated, etc. I'm typing this in 3.0 on Karmic but I have 3.5 installed (via Synaptic) and I'm hoping that they hurry up and make it the default.

On the topic of might try epiphany-webkit and/or midori for a WebKit based browser. And you can also install Google Chrome Browser.

on August 10, 2009 08:07 AM
# Richard Thomas said:

This is common in all linux distro's.

Linux distro's are still built with a "server" ideology. The idea behind this is that people optimize servers and only install the software needed to get the job done.

Any software installed is most likely being used/leveraged by the company running the server.

With that in thought only bug fixes are released into the main stream of fixes for server software because on a production box upgrades can be dangerous. Even something as simple as upgrading from Firefox 3.x to 3.5 can break company applications that rely on the involved libraries.

on August 10, 2009 09:16 AM
# Philip Tellis said:

As others have mentioned, Ubuntu will not carry out major/minor version upgrades on packages in a distribution. That's actually why they moved to firefox 3.0 before it was officially released. The thought process at that time was that Firefox 3.0 was going to be released early in the life of a new Ubuntu release and rather than force all users to stay on 2.0 forever, they pushed out the release with beta software. I don't remember which release this was, but I'd guess at 8.04.

Regarding firefox 3.5, it's very very unstable on RHEL5. It crashes roughly twice an hour, and when it crashes it's not just the browser, but the entire OS that goes along with it. At first it was just Gnome, but after moving to 3.5.2, my entire system becomes unusable and a hard boot is the only way to recover. I've had no such problems on Ubuntu.

on August 10, 2009 09:19 PM
# Natarajan said:

sudo apt-get install firefox-3.5 (if you have universe enabled in your repositories)

J R Colin on the same topic -

on August 11, 2009 12:31 AM
# Dave Dash said:

Glad you gave Firefox another shot - I didn't realize (or forgot) that you were using 3.0.

@Nathan: Most of the addons are compatible... we have charts -

on August 12, 2009 11:45 PM
# Nathan Nutter said:

As of Alpha 4 (Karmic) Firefox 3.5 is the default.

@Dave Dash - I was only repeating what I read on the bug report. Non-issue now though, 3.5 is the default.

on August 15, 2009 11:36 PM
# Olaf Lederer said:


I did the same installments after I read your blog. Right Chrome is very fast on Jaunty, but I think we should not forget that this browser is not overloaded with all the plugins and extensions

on August 16, 2009 09:03 AM
# nepremicninski oglasnik said:

I still prefer Firefox 3.5.

on September 3, 2009 07:08 AM
# Larry said:

Even more important then the speed is implementation of standards. HTML 5 may be a couple years away, but very few browsers support it yet. Not to mention some browsers (like IE) still can't get xhtml 1.0 with css positioning done correctly. Yes, both Chrome and Firefox are starting to support it, but the "winner" will be the one that is actually to keep up with the changes being made to the standards, and actually display things as the designer intends them to be seen.

on September 9, 2009 02:04 PM
# goldflop rakeback said:

I used Internet Explorer until a friend of mine informed that it was much easier to hack and access your passwords. I switched to Firefox the same day, and have been very satisfied with every aspect of the browser.

on September 13, 2009 04:51 PM
# Gaurav said:

Chrome picks the security certificates from window and mozilla brings it with them. So a certificate accepted and trusted by Mozilla firefox, but somehow not installed on your computer (which will be not very often) is shown a message that the site is not trusted by "YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM".

Google need to change the logic and also update the message that its the "GOOGLE CHROME" that is unable to verify the certificate and not the operating system. Because then a standard website is secure in one operating system and not in other...!!!...A browser is a operating system for a it should be unique across.!

on September 15, 2009 09:20 AM
# Forex said:

I use Chrome, Firefox and IE. I think each one has the advantages and disadvantages but no doubt that Chrome is the most stable and fastest from all three.

on September 16, 2009 01:59 AM
# Seth Wisely said:

The 'gap' will narrow as more chromium extensions become available... and then likely widen after adding AdBlock+ to the new fox :( Iron is the only fork of Chromium I'll use

on September 19, 2009 04:06 PM
# ZXT said:

Yes the new Firefox is a lot faster. Though I still prefer even the old Firefox than Chrome.

on November 18, 2009 12:54 PM
# Curtis said:

Firefox isnt more secure. I almost got a trojan while using Firefox visiting a certain site I thought was okay. I had to complete shutdown the system in order to prevent it.

Ive been using IE and chrome and dont link Ill be going to FF anytime soon.

on December 21, 2009 08:36 AM
# tdw said:

I've been having a horrid time with Firefox of late, particularly on my notebook. I get constant hanging (only for a second or so at a time) and each new tab slows everything down until the machine simply comes to a halt. Now my machines are in reality dinosaurs.....notebook only has a single gig of ram, my pc 2 gigs. Thats not much in 2010 is it ? Maybe the Firefox problem is a ram problem , especially given that the problem is much worse on the notebook. I'd note that I've been using Firefox for years now and this problem has only come about in the last few months.

I've recently switched to Chrome. Blindingly fast. No problems with multiple windows though I've noticed some web sites look different on GC than FF.

on February 23, 2010 04:48 PM
# tdw said:

The day after, Google Chrome was doing the same thing. Turns out it was neither a browser issue nor a memory problem. Two programs, Spybot's TeaTimer and RetroEpxress HD were the culprits. Once disabled but leaving SpyBot as such still running all is well.

on February 25, 2010 08:53 PM
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