Thursday, December 28, 2017

TenFourFox FPR5b1 available

TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 5 beta 1 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes).

The biggest changes are lots and lots of AltiVec: additional AltiVec decoding acceleration for VP9 (you need MSE enabled to make the most of this, or things like YouTube will default to VP8), more usage of our VMX-accelerated string search package, and (new in this version) AltiVec-accelerated PNG image decoding. There are also a number of minor but notable improvements to layout compatibility, DOM and HTML5 support (most notably true passive event listeners, which should improve scroll and general event performance on some sites), as well as some additional efficiency improvements to JavaScript. FPR5 also marks mostly the end of all of the Quantum-related platform changes we can safely backport to our fork of 45; while there will be some additional optimization work, I will primarily be concentrating on actual new support rather than speedups since most of the low-hanging fruit and some of the stuff I have to jump a little for has already been plucked.

There are two somewhat more aggressive things in this version. The first is to even more heavily throttle inactive or background tabs to reduce their impact; the normal Firefox runs animation frames on background tabs at 1Hz but this version reduces that to a third (i.e., a tick every three seconds instead of one). It's possible to make this even more aggressive, including just not ticking any timers in background tabs at at all, but I'm a little nervous about halting it entirely. Neither approach affects audio playing in inactive or background tabs, which I tested thoroughly in Amazon Music and YouTube. This should make having multiple tabs open and loaded a bit less heavyweight, particularly on single processor Macs.

The second has to do with session store. Currently, every 25 seconds (Firefox has a default of 15), the browser serializes its state and writes it out to disk so you can pick up where you left off in the event of a crash. I'm loathe to completely halt this or make the interval much more than 60 seconds, but I also know that this does drag on the browser and can also spin SSD write cycles. This version increases it to 30 seconds, but also reduces the number of forward pages written (up to 5 instead of unlimited), and also purges old closed tabs more aggressively -- Firefox purges these after about two weeks, but we now purge old tabs every 24 hours, which I thought was a good compromise. This means much less data is written and much less cruft accumulates as you browse, reducing the browser's overhead and memory usage over longer uptimes. However, I know this may upset those of you who have tab closure regret, so advise if this drives you nuts even though I am unlikely to reverse this change completely.

This version is timed to come out with Firefox ESR 52.6.0, which is not scheduled for release until January 23, so don't panic if you don't see much commit activity in Github for awhile. 52.8.0, scheduled for May 7, will be the transition point to 60ESR. More on that when we get there.

For FPR6, I'm looking at a couple features to get us more HTML5 support points, and possibly something like date-time input controls or <details> and <summary> support. This may also be the first release with built-in adblock, though the adblock support will only be basic, will not be comprehensive, and may include blocking certain tracking scripts as well as image ads. It won't be enabled by default.

Party safe on New Years'.


  1. I"ve just noticed that with both FPR5b1 and FPR4b1 that the add-on page is not working. "You dont have any add-ons of this type installed." When clicking the extension tab on the left side of the page, nothing happens. I do have some extensions used on TFF, but they had been disabled previously before installing the newest TFF.

    Wondering how to get extensions working again.



    1. I believe that's some sort of bug. I've had that happen before in previous versions.

      If you know what addon's you have installed, choose one of them again and reinstall it. The entire page will come back.

    2. When you disabled them, did you remove them or merely disable them? If you did the former, then the browser is functioning correctly: you have no extensions. You can download and drop them on the window to reinstall them in that case.

      If you did the latter, I can't reproduce that.

    3. This can be fixed by reinstalling an already installed addon.

      A bug I ran into a few versions back.

      Doing that will force the addons to reappear.

  2. Is there any chance that the complete hang when attempting to select a reaction to someone's post on FaceBook might be fixed?

    1. No, it's not fixed. You are welcome to submit a patch. If you don't have a patch, then follow issue 453.

    2. Thanks for that. Sadly, I'm not a programmer, but sure wish I could help. With that said, I'd really like to thank you for all the work you do!

  3. While I see the value of keeping newly-spawned background tabs moving on fast systems, there sure is a big advantage in COMPLETELY disabling them on lower-power ones. I installed the addon "Load Tab on Select" and the difference on my DP/MDD is night and day. I can open 20+ tabs in the background and there is no system impact until I select them.

    1. Yes, I use a similar extension. However, it does glitch now and then, including sometimes failing to restore the tab, which is why I'm nervous to make something like that a core feature.

    2. Might be nice to have as a 'Toggle' button on the chrome?

      BTW ran into a clear example of that Javascript-dropout problem I told you about a while back and it's worse now under this new version (has happened twice - and now I actually have to close the browser to get rid of it). You can see screenshots of what's happening here:

      So I was trying to click the star on a Flickr image to "Like" it and after a while is just completely stopped working. Images still loaded, but to click the star, had to open the image in a new window.

      Then after a while I tried to close the window I was in and it wouldn't do anything but sit there - couldn't even move the window on the desktop. It eventually brought up a notice asking if I wanted to "Leave the Page..." (see first image), but that did nothing at all.

      When I clicked to to force-quit, it didn't say "not responding" (see second image).

      Infact, it was humming along using almost all the systems's power (see third image).

      I opened the console and got a bunch of the following:"CGAFFlineTransformInvert: singular matrix" that corresponded roughly to the time the stars first stopped clicking.

      Not sure if this will help, but is as well-documented as I can make it. The strange thing is the rest of the system was running just fine and snappy, but even when I shut off everything else, the TFF window never went back to normal - had to force quit.

  4. Thanks for the feedback on the add-ons problem. Reading back to the October 22, post I realized that the add-ons tab had been removed. As suggested I was able to download and add Bluhell which seems to speed things up some, actually alot.
    Cameron, thanks for your work and expertise in keeping the power pc functioning.
    The challenge getting these machines working helps to keep my 77 year old brain from turning to mush.
    Also, grateful for the advice and direction of the posters here.

    1. Butch, come and join us here if you like.

      Lots of PowerPC users (including myself). One of the members is an 80 year old Canadian who knows his stuff.


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