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Firefox 6 Should Sort Out Linux GPU Acceleration

Mozilla

Published on 06 May 2011 12:42 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Mozilla
34 Comments

Mozilla Firefox 4.0 was released in March with many new features, including GPU-based acceleration, but on the Linux side this support was disabled. The Mozilla developers found the Linux GPU driver support to be a problem, even with the open-source solutions. It looks like though by Firefox 6 the Linux GPU acceleration will be in better standing.

Under the new expedited release schedule for Firefox, it's expected that versions 5, 6, and 7 of this popular open-source web-browser will be released in the 2011 calendar year. To some dismay, sorting out the OpenGL Linux mess isn't going to happen with the next release, Firefox 5, but it should be on the table for its successor: Mozilla Firefox 6.

Committed to the Firefox nightly build, for what will eventually turn into Firefox 6, there is now safe OpenGL driver detection under X11. The black-listing for this new detection will hold back any AMD Catalyst driver not reporting a version string of OpenGL 3.0 or higher, any NVIDIA driver less than version 257.21, and under the open-source Mesa drivers it will block anything less than Mesa 7.10. Though all Gallium3D-based drivers are currently black-listed too in the Firefox nightly builds.

The black-listing is being done to weed out buggy drivers, but unfortunately even for Firefox and WebGL, the open-source drivers are behind while the proprietary NVIDIA driver is in the best spot. It's sad to see though only classic Mesa drivers are currently making the cut and nothing Gallium3D-based, which basicaly means on a modern Linux desktop, that the Intel DRI driver will be white-listed but modern Radeon and Nouveau drivers will not.

This is the bug in Gallium3D that is crashing Firefox as a result. But the Mozilla developers hope to be able to remove the blanket blocking of all Gallium3D drivers in the near future and hopefully before any Firefox 6 test releases make it out the door.

Read more in this Mesa mailing list message.

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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