It would be nice if Firefox started focusing on speed again

Just a small rant here. I have been eagerly updating my Firefox for the last 4 updates waiting to see some speed improvements. Either in loading or rendering of webpage, but to no avail. In fact I think Firefox became a bit slower during this time, but I am only talking about how it feels and without being able to provide any numbers.

However I am using Firefox since before Chrome even existed, and to be honest I am afraid that another dark pre-quantum era, is just around the corner, lurking. I have been trying to persuade people to move over to Firefox again. Friends, colleagues, family. Last year I managed to convert 3. All of them turned because they felt Firefox was faster then Chrome. Nothing else matters. The whole privacy orientation, was something they thought of a nice touch accompanying a fast browser. Kinda like sipping an amazing coffee and realizing it also comes with a biodisposable straw: "Oh! Cool!..."

Dont get me wrong, I value privacy a lot, but that is just me and most people just value their time waiting for a tab to load, and they value their resources like being able to listen to spotify while reloading a tab on their decade old laptop. When the quantum thing happened, there was a promise that firefox would become even faster in the coming months. If I remember correctly, they had said that that first release had only 50% of the performance improvements that are meant to happen in the next releases. Still waiting...

Sorry for this rant. I just really really do not want to go again through the 50s. Not the decade. The Firefox versions.

38 thoughts on “It would be nice if Firefox started focusing on speed again”

  1. I agree. The new features and security are nice and innovative. I just wish they focus on performance and memory. Would be great if FF stop taking more of my 32 gigs of ram.

  2. I agree and seeing recent course (privacy, privacy, here you go a huge addressbar nobody asked for) it makes me think to try out that new Edge. I don’t talk about some obscure pages. I watch Youtube a lot daily and it is so slow. Recently i installed more RAM to a total of 16 GB, mostly to run VMs when i need. Thought this should be enough for anything. I try to watch a video on Youtube that is longer than one hour. Nothing else on background, restarted browser before, only one tab with Youtube and usually like after 1 hour 30 minutes, sometimes sooner it suddenly starts to eat RAM, but not all, just maybe 5-8 GB and then video freezes, browser becomes unresponsive and i have to restart it. Every time. Such a simple task as playing a video. And it is not even trying to use all the resources (CPU is ok also). And often it just becomes sluggish on Youtube when browsing. This could be Google doing some shenanigans, but i just don’t care now. I don’t want to restart browser all the time.

  3. I might be against the grain but i don’t see a noticeable difference between the speed of Chrome and Firefox.

    I’ve just done a test with 5 sites. Monitoring the speeds with the inbuilt dev tools. The difference is in the margin of error. I used Canary and Firefox Nightly.

  4. Chrome feels faster due to three main advantages:

    * extremely responsive UI on a separate thread/process that never ever freezes for any reason whatsoever
    * faster Javascript engine
    * Google owned websites are optimized for Chrome

  5. I value privacy. And the knowledge that a greedy corporation isn’t using my personal web habits to make money. A couple of seconds is worth it.

  6. This topic just pop up on my main reddit page. So there is a litttle comment from outsider passing by:
    Yesterday after a lot of good years of using Firefox I quit from this browser. 15/16 GB usage from just one tab was enough ;/

    I read some comments here. Is it a common problem with Firefox nowadays?

  7. You’re definitely not the only person that thinks this. Back in the day, Firefox won over IE because it was faster and lighter on resources. Seems like everyone forgets that nowadays. Privacy isn’t what defines a browser for most people. Exclusively targeting that niche isn’t going to attract that many more Firefox users like most people in this subreddit like to believe.

    When the V8 engine first came out, I knew that would spell trouble for Firefox if they didn’t get SpiderMonkey up to par. And then when Chrome rolled out with multiple process tabs, almost every Firefox user and even some developers shouted it down, saying that it was a poor decision and only took up more memory space.

    And now Firefox is busy playing catch up. It’s so frustrating. Firefox desperately needs a Quantum overhaul for its Javascript engine and contrary to what many people in this sub tell me, no amount of blocking ads is going to make Firefox as performant as Chrome.

    The other issue is battery life on mobile devices. Firefox is still a massive battery drain on laptops and tablets. I just migrated over to Edge for my mobile devices because Firefox took a whopping 20% of my new Surface Pro’s battery life with roughly an hour of usage. No extensions or anything.

    **TL;DR: Mozilla’s only chance at clawing back marketshare is if it focuses on engine performance and battery life.**

  8. Yeah I actually recently switched to Edge Chromium just for this reason, it’s the fastest thing I’ve used in a really really long time (destroys Chrome in real world usage as well, and is using less resources with 50+ tabs open). Firefox was a little buggy for me and the slowness was definitely noticeable. I care a lot about privacy too but speed is extremely important to me.

  9. They did, until they didn’t, then they did again, and then the last time they did, they gutted 75% of the extension ecosystem for Quantum, and even then, Firefox got progressively slower once again.

    Mozilla doesn’t have a good track record on speed.

  10. I don’t think Firefox ever stopped caring about speed. In fact, I bet it’s one of their highest priorities. It just doesn’t appear in their marketing as much.

    It all comes down to business strategy. Firefox understands that the majority of users think of them as the “privacy browser”, in direct contrast to Chrome. Users automatically connect Firefox to privacy and that is due to years of hard-work. With that understanding, Firefox presents itself in all its marketing and outreach efforts as a “privacy first” browser. The official Firefox headline is “Firefox is more than a browser. Meet our family of privacy-first products” which is consistent with their brand image. It wants to deepen and entrench that image and it does that by not diluting it with other competing goals.

    To be consistent with the “private first” image, Firefox doesn’t want to dilute its branding in the eyes of the people by pursuing speed. Speed is Chrome’s territory and if Firefox started tying its branding and image to speed, that would turn Firefox into just another Chrome wannabee – not smart. That doesn’t stop it from still prioritizing speed, but it just doesn’t yell it from the rooftops.

    It’s like if Einstein started trying to be the best basketball player. People think of him as a world-class physicist, one of the best, and he earned it. That’s the image they have of him. If he started telling people he’s now trying to be better than Lebron James at basketball, most people would laugh, some would be confused. So instead of being known as a world-class physicist, he’s now that weird nerd trying to play basketball. Is this some kind of midlife crisis? People might think it’s some kind of joke and his image would be damaged. Einstein can work on his basketball skills, sure, but in private.

  11. firefox its fast for me, its not faster than chrome or its clones but firefox its better in features, customization, i dont like the whole focus on speed by removing things that make firefox a better experience over chrome clones, to pursue something that firefox will never win.

  12. 15 add-ons and Firefox is fast in Firefox Nightly. In the meantime, you can improve your speed by changing 3 settings.

    * Preferences > Send websites a “do not track” signal > **Always**
    * Preferences > Prevent accessibility services from accessing your browser > **Check**
    * about:config > `gfx.webrender.all` \> **True**

    My computer is over **10+ years old**. Firefox Nightly (the bleeding edge release) works fast for me. I’m sure you all have newer hardware than I do and if it is fast for me, but somehow magically is slow for you; I’d presume it is something you’re doing. –Older computers, after all, are not getting faster than newer hardware.

  13. I’m just the opposite. I’ve been using FF from the start and have never found it noticeably slower than any other browser. I DO care a lot about the “privacy stuff,” though.

  14. I’m sure that my Firefox speed is affected by some privacy configurations I made and some addons but I agree with you. There should be an optimal state between speed and RAM usage, that’s where FF should go.

  15. Already migrated to ungoogled chromium. Might check back on Firefox maybe on version 100 to see if anything improved

  16. I don’t think performance isn’t a focus anymore, I just guess the low hanging fruit have been dealt with and the rest is much more complex.

    But I agree with the general sentiment. When the whole Quantum triaging for performance problems began it was stated that Firefox was supposed to overtake Chrome in Javascript performance measured with Speedometer 2.0, however it still is 20-30% slower there and that hasn’t changed since the initial Quantum release, where it was closer for a short time.

    Also a lot of promising projects just died, sometimes when their “owner” left the company. The whole Quantum DOM project seems to just have been cancelled. So apart from WebRender, which still isn’t enabled for a lot of configurations, there doesn’t seem to be anything big in the pipeline.

    But I also must say that the x64 version feels better in daily use. The graphics performance (with WebRender) is much better than in Chromium (just have a lot of tabs open and switch them, in Firefox they load instantly thanks to the tab content being rendered preemptively, while in Chromium you always have a noticeable delay). Also I really miss APZ scrolling in Chromium, as soon as there is heavy Javascript it even lags on potent desktop CPUs like my i7 6700k, while Firefox just scrolls as smoothly as ever.

    So Javascript heavy pages are still better in Chromium, but when it comes to the overall performance Firefox feels much better in my opinion.

    Mobile is a different beast. I use Fenix as my daily driver now, because I can’t stand the mobile web without some kind of protection anymore and most Chromium versions form other vendors are terribly outdated and don’t offer a good sync functionality, and it has really improved, but as soon as I use Chrome I notice how it just feels much more fluid. Primarily because touches just feel much more direct on Chrome.

  17. >In fact I think Firefox became a bit slower during this time, but I am only talking about how it feels and without being able to provide any numbers.

    Let the numbers speak for themselves.

  18. Nah, Mozilla knows better than its users what they want. You’re silly for requesting they properly maintain Firefox. They obviously know better than us, so they instead work on duplicating the rendering engine in a slower programming language that doesn’t even render fonts appropiately and crashes your computer if you dare to open more than three tabs, removing UI customization options and bundling proprietary cloud services with the browser.

  19. But firefox is trying to improve the performance overall, in last release they finally enabled the WebRender compositor engine on windows 10 laptops with intel GPUs, perviously it was only enabled on windows 10 desktops.

    However, I do agree that speed and usability is what matters the most when it comes to taking market share back from chrome. In my opinion, features like firefox lockwise are mostly useless, but blocking trackers is a nice thing to have. Also, tracking is just a bunch of javascript that have to be executed on the main thread and it might be the source of some performance issues.

  20. Yeah I agree too. I even tried out brave for a while as they always seem to have claims of great performance but the browser was just too privacy focused for me

  21. “dark pre quantum Era” I wish I could go back to that time when Firefox was actually good, if a bit less user friendly.

  22. Firefox 76 is slow as a shit. It’s a significant difference. Tabs switching now takes a second and the browser has to “think” about it for a second before creating a new tab on command. WTF. Firefox 75 wasn’t like this.

  23. I’m still using a 10 year old MacBook Pro and Firefox runs better than any other browser on my machine.

    I’ve tried Chrome, Chromium, Edge, Brave, Opera and Vivaldi and all of them run much worse than Firefox on my old Mac, webpage loading is fine on all of them but the UI always feels sluggish and my processor has to work a lot harder, RAM usage is more or less the same across them all.

    With Firefox I can watch 60fps videos on YouTube with only a couple of lost frames, any other browsers loses at least 10x to 15x more frames.

    Safari runs fine but I don’t like it that much, in my case Firefox allows my ancient machine to browse the web without much troubles.

  24. webrender is being rolled out

    after that pathfinder and vulkan

    performance is not being improved one day after another, it takes lots and lots of work. new firefox components are written in a new fast programming language: rust. it takes time to ship.

  25. I’m running Nightly on my Surface Book at work. It’s a few years old, with 16GB of RAM, and honestly it feels as fast as new-Edge to me. I’ve got about 15 tabs open, and Firefox is using 2.5GB of RAM.

  26. > most people just value their time waiting for a tab to load, and they value their resources like being able to listen to spotify while reloading a tab on their decade old laptop.

    I can do just that and more with a laptop slightly older than a decade though. I can even do that with *several* Firefox instances running.

    I’ve jumped from 68 to 75 recently and noticed more smoothness and better RAM management. This laptop cannot run WebRender, so the smoothness benefits are coming from elsewhere.

    I don’t know what’s next in terms of big projects that could improve performance, besides continuous general work, but then again I’ve been somewhat out of the loop since 68. I also don’t know what today’s benchmarks say vs Chrome or Edge. Do you, since you are *« afraid that another dark pre-quantum era is just around the corner, lurking »* ?


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