Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beta 9 now available

Beta 9 is now available (changesets coming, hang tight). Mozilla is doing more work on the graphics and layers code, which is visible in a couple sites that for me have broken (and I will be filing reports), but also in that overall drawing performance is in general better. This is important because 10.4Fx does not support hardware acceleration, so anything that gives us a win in software is precious.

After working more with the nanojit, I have decided not to make it the default, but it is there, and you can use it. Go into about:config, under javascript.options.tracejit.*, and set either or both of chrome and/or content to true. Restart the browser. You'll find many things are faster, but some things are still slower, and there also were occasional crashes when quitting the browser: more of a nuisance than a serious problem, since you were quitting anyway, but still not very smooth. If you have good knowledge of PowerPC, I'd love your insight into improving it. The nanojit is in the changesets, but I have now submitted it to Mozilla and you can also read the diff on Bugzilla if you like. Feel free to comment.

Other things in beta 9 include a less flickery title bar (hopefully), which was a very annoying thing that cropped up in beta 8. Although it was an infrequent irritation on my G5, some users got really walloped by it. Mozilla fixed some part of this for Leopard, but that fix doesn't help Tiger, so 10.4Fx b9 has a separate rendering path for 10.4 that uses a naughty kludge. Because of this, the title bar does look ever so slightly different in 10.4 than 10.5, but only if you're looking for it. The title bar still does not always match the window gradient, but this is part Mozilla's bug and part ours. If you are really anal about that, install a Persona; they always work.

The UI was also adjusted to bring the app to the front when a window is clicked on. I am dithering over forcing the window up, or just forcing the app up, so that you can type but keep your window ordering -- I'm leaning towards the second, but will take arguments for the first. You can always click the Dock icon to bring the whole application and all windows forward, and this fixes the bug in beta 8 where sometimes it didn't bring anything forward when you clicked on a background window. It uses Carbon, don't tell Steve! Oh, and find Sluggo! We miss Power Computing! Classilla users will have seen an earlier version of this easter egg before. No fair reading the changesets to find the magic words.

Note that Flashblock as of this writing is not yet upgraded for beta 9, which should be a oneline change for them. If you really need it (and most of us do prefer it), you might want to wait until it is, or use an equivalent.


  1. awesome work man, i dont have a g5 though. btw, i me and many others would be grateful if you can make a build of chrome for powerpc. is it possible?

  2. The problem with Chrome is V8: it only has backends for x86 and ARM, and is not generalizable like the nanojit. In fact, this is going to be an issue if I ever want to port the Mozilla methodjit to PPC, since V8 is essentially a methodjit too.

    If you just want WebKit, there's still OmniWeb, iCab and Safari (4.1.3 is still supported at least right now), but Chrome would be significantly more difficult. Speaking for me personally, I'm much more familiar with Gecko's codebase in any case.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Please ignore the comment above. I posted something without proper testing.


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