Firefox 6 Should Sort Out Linux GPU Acceleration
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.