Saturday, March 25, 2017

45.9.0b1 available

TenFourFox 45.9.0 beta 1 is now available (downloads, hashes). This version continues deploying more of the multiple microoptimizations started with 45.8, including rescheduling xptcall which is the glue used for calling XPCOM functions (use CTR instead of LR for branching, reorder instructions to eliminate register and FXU dependencies), more reduced branches, hoisting call loads earlier in code sequences, optimized arithmetic inline caches for both Baseline and Ion code generation (especially integer operations for division, min/max and absolute value), fixing a stupid bug which used a branchy way of doing logical comparisons on floating point values (this passed tests but was unnecessarily inefficient), and eliminating some irrelevant branches in font runs and graphics. While I was at it I cherrypicked a few other minor perf boosts from 46 and stuck those in as well.

Also, the font blacklist is updated (fixing Apple and Medium) along with new support for blocking ATSUI-incompatible data:font/* URLs, and there is a speculative fix for the long-running issue of making changing the default search engine stick (this is difficult for me to test because none of my systems seem to be affected). The guts for repairing geolocation are in this version too but I'm still dithering over the service; most likely we will use the Mozilla Location Service though I'm open to other suggestions. Remember that the only sensor data Power Macs can provide for geolocation out of the box is the WiFi SSIDs they see (but this is perfectly sufficient for MLS). This should be finalized by the time 45.9 goes to release.

For FPR1, the first feature I'm planning to implement is one that was cancelled for 45 during beta: Brotli compression, which on supported sites can reduce data transfer by 14 to 39 percent with little impact on decompression time. This will involve backporting the current Brotli decompressor from 52ESR and then making necessary changes to Necko to support it, but happily much of the work was already done before it was disabled (for a critical bug that could not be easily worked around at the time) and released in 46. If there is sufficient time, I'd also like to implement the "New Hot NSS" (get it?) and backport the NSS security and encryption library from 52ESR as well, both of which will also reduce the burden of backporting security fixes. That's a bit of a bigger job, though, and might be FPR2 territory. Other major want-to-dos will be some JavaScript ES6 features I predict will be commonly used in the near future like Unicode regexes and changes to function scoping, both of which landed in 46 and should be easy to add to 45.

Only one site has been reported as incompatible with our plan to shut down SHA-1 certificate support with FPR1. As mentioned, it would take a major site failure for me to call this plan off, but I'd still like as much testing as possible beforehand. If you haven't done it already, please go into about:config and switch security.pki.sha1_enforcement_level to 1, and report any sites that fail. This approach of complete decommissioning is essentially the same policy Google Chrome will be taking, and soon no major browser will accept SHA-1 certificates as trusted for TLS, so it's not like we're going out on a limb here. Please note that reversing this change will not be a supported configuration because (the security implications notwithstanding) it may be un-possible to allow doing so after the new NSS library is eventually transplanted in.

Once 45.9 comes out, we will switch to our own Github repository and the source code will be uploaded and maintained from there (no more changeset overlays!). However, pull requests won't be accepted unless they're tied to an issue already accepted on the worklist, and we will still enforce the policy that non-contributor bug reports need to be triaged through Tenderapp first. Watch for the repo's magical population shortly after 45.9's final release on April 18.

Unfortunately, I don't think there will be a Tenfourbird FPR1: it appears that our anonymous colleague in the Land of the Rising Sun has not made any builds since 38.9, and that is a real shame. :(


  1. I cannot reproduce the search engine bug in 45.9b1 anymore using my STR.

    Using the Mozilla location service (with TFF 17) my location is found with sufficient accuracy (within a radius of 20-30 meters). Apple must be using something else (a different database?) because my Wifi-only iPad (original first model with iOS 5, Bluetooth switched off) even finds the correct building spot-on in Google Maps. From my limited data and experience I cannot tell which service is better for general use.

  2. Cameron, what about Skyhook Wireless Positioning System?

    There is a free prefpane out there for PowerPC Macs called Jetlag that I used on my laptops. It uses this system.

    1. Depends on the API they offer. I did some cursory looking but I'm not sure if it's sufficient for this. I may use MLS as a first iteration simply because I know it's already supported.

  3. RIP Tenfourbird. It was very useful while it lasted.

    1. Still very useful to me, and probably will be for quite some time to come


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