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Firefox Developers Have Issues With Linux GPU Drivers Too

Mozilla

Published on 15 January 2011 09:51 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Mozilla
83 Comments

Mozilla Firefox 4.0 will feature GPU hardware acceleration using OpenGL (or Direct2D/Direct3D under Microsoft Windows) acceleration for WebGL content and even HTML5. This support is there for Windows and Mac OS X, but for Firefox 4.0 the Linux support has been disabled and WebGL is also blacklisted for most drivers. Why? It's the problematic GPU drivers, of course.

A Firefox developer has written on hacks.mozilla.org:
We tried enabling OpenGL on Linux, and discovered that most Linux drivers are so disastrously buggy (think "crash the X server at the drop of a hat, and paint incorrectly the rest of the time" buggy) that we had to disable it for now. Heck, we’re even disabling WebGL for most Linux drivers, last I checked.

If your drivers are decent (some of the closed-source ones can be, nouveau can be sometimes), you do get something akin to Direct2D on Linux through XRender, though. So while you don’t get compositing acceleration, you do get faster canvas drawing and the like. drawImage, for example, can be much faster on Linux than on Mac. But only if you manage to find a driver and X version that happens to not suck.

We do plan to put more work into the Linux end of this, look for workarounds for the various bugs, etc. But we could really use some help from Xorg and distros and the like here.

It's a sad situation, but hopefully by Firefox 4.1 or another point release the open-source Linux graphics drivers will be in a better state. To see what you're missing out on, below is a video from Mozilla demonstrating hardware acceleration in Firefox 4.


About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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