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Firefox 9 Released, JavaScript Performance Greatly Improved 330

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the and-they-say-functional-programming-is-useless dept.
MrSeb writes "Firefox 9 is now available — but unlike its previous rapid release forebears where not a lot changed, a huge feature has landed with the new version: the JavaScript engine now has type inference enabled. This simple switch has resulted in a 20-30% JS execution speed increase (PDF), putting JaegerMonkey back in line with Chrome's V8 engine, and even pulling ahead in some cases. If you switched away from Firefox to IE or Chrome for improved JS performance, now is probably the time to give Firefox another shot."
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Firefox 9 Released, JavaScript Performance Greatly Improved

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  • by Turnerj (2478588) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:15AM (#38432490)
    Speed was only half the issue that drove people away, the actual rapid releases and incompatibilities with add-ons with these releases among other things.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Agreed.

      Actually, I still use an older version of Firefox. The "MeTo ChromeAlike" interface of the newer versions annoys the hell out of me. It's still faster than any version of IE I can use with current rules by my employer. Never cared for the Opera or Chrome interfaces, and I don't trust Chrome for security...

      So, maybe it isn't that I stopped using Firefox, so much as that I haven't bothered upgrading. Firefox 4+ versions have been kindof like Windows ME or Vista, IMO.

      • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:40AM (#38432614) Homepage Journal

        So you don't trust the security of a browser that's actively having its bugs fixed, but you're not upgrading the browser you have - a browser for which there must be known exploits?

        • by Lennie (16154) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:44AM (#38432634) Homepage

          Actually 3.6 currently still gets security updates, but don't count on that remaining true for long.

          • by RDW (41497)

            Actually 3.6 currently still gets security updates, but don't count on that remaining true for long.

            Possibly until April, then they're talking about a new LTS-style 'extended support release' supported in parallel with the crazy dev cycle of the main product as a sop to 'enterprise' users:

            https://wiki.mozilla.org/Enterprise/Firefox/ExtendedSupport:Proposal [mozilla.org]

            'Extended' seems to mean a year at best, though, and they won't exactly be encouraging widespread use ('The ESR will not be marketed through mozilla.com properties other than the Enterprise wiki page, staging servers, and/or blogs.').

      • by Warma (1220342) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @08:01AM (#38432718)

        This probably isn't worth a post, but I want to give Firefox props for the option of turning that interface off. I did so, and got back the clean and simple interface from Firefox 3.x.

        I actually I tend to exclusively use programs that allow this, as Interfaces differing from the visual standard set by all your other programs is distracting.

      • by Inda (580031)
        I installed an add-on/theme/toolbar changer about 2 years ago. I couldn't tell you the name (from this work PC) but it was something like "minimalist".

        It has survived all updates.

        I couldn't even tell you what the "MeTo ChromeAlike" interface looks like, as I've never seen it.

        Peeps, if you don't like how FF looks, change it. It was one of the thing that drew us all to FF in the first place - the ability to change stuff we didn't like.
    • I'm staying with FireFox (3.6) solely for the extensions.

      I have accepted the compromise that flexible configurable browser would be always losing in the performance department. And I'm fine with it.

      All this rabid JS/etc performance is only needed on the handful of websites I actually do not use. Neither I see the live feed scrolling or sweeping or slide-out or fade-in thingies, a modern replacement of marquee [wikipedia.org] and blink [wikipedia.org] tags, as something I'm sorely missing.

      • by Lennie (16154)

        It also helps to improve the performance of the interface.

      • by AbRASiON (589899) *

        Yep, I keep getting mocked for using 3.6.
        Fact is, they keep patching the security - it's at 3.6.24 - it was like 3.6.11 when they first released 4.0
        It's slow, no question - but ALL my addons work AND it's not ugly, it works precisely how I want from a user interface perspective.

        I will change, no doubt - but it's unlikely I'll go to another version of FF.

      • by rmstar (114746)

        I'm staying with FireFox (3.6) solely for the extensions.

        I'm hearing that a lot, but the fact is that all the extensions I use (firebug, abp, it's all text, and some others) just run fine with the latest firefox too. What addon is it that does not work?

        • I'm staying with FireFox (3.6) solely for the extensions.

          I'm hearing that a lot, but the fact is that all the extensions I use (firebug, abp, it's all text, and some others) just run fine with the latest firefox too. What addon is it that does not work?

          Poor choice of words on my part. It is not that I stay with 3.6 for extensions - it is that I'm staying with FireFox (the browser) for extensions. Last time I was checking, most my extensions should work on the new versions. The last one missing was the "rein, das Monochrome" theme and even it was updated few months ago.

          Re 3.6. I have some subtle customizations applied in the about:config which one can never be sure that new versions still provide. Neither I can't recall now all the customizations appli

    • 368m for three tabs, really Firefox what gives. Let alone on both my Mac and W7 machines it has started to freeze on occasion to the point I actually have force quit it instead of waiting for it to wake up.

      They are pulling a Netscape 4.xx lately and that isn't a good thing.

      • 23 tabs over two windows and FF3.6 is using a working set of 358MB. I swear I've never seen the rabid memory problems that every other FF user apparently gets.
        • by TheLink (130905)
          It's often due to buggy plugins. The problem with Firefox's single process model is if a plugin or Firefox leaks, you often can't free up memory by closing windows or tabs. You have to close everything.

          In contrast even though Google Chrome might actually leak more, you can usually just close the offending tab, and the memory is freed up. You can even reopen the tab without having to log in again. So if a page gradually leaks memory, you can close it once it gets to big and reopen it again. All without losin
    • by eexaa (1252378)

      Rapid release isn't the actual problem for extensions - most of them are OK whenever you manually edit them and expand their version-support range. Basically, it is just another example of "why version number checks are totally wrong". I hope they can improve it soon with feature-presence checking or something similar.

      • by pankkake (877909) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @08:48AM (#38433032) Homepage

        I hope they can improve it soon with feature-presence checking or something similar.

        They do it already, and automatically bump the version numbers (sure, it could be done better). I've never had issues with incompatible extensions and the rapid releases, with 30+ extensions. I guess the complaints are coming from people who don't actually use Firefox.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Not even the rapid releases, but rather the insistance on incrementing the otherwise completely meaningless and arbitrary major version every release.
      It seems more and more marketing people are getting involved with FOSS nowadays. I appreciate they want to help, but I wish they wouldn't, or atleast not get involved with the actual product.

    • by Rolgar (556636)

      Is Mozilla necessarily the best browser now? Considering the number of people switching, I guess not. But there are reasons I prefer Mozilla despite the issues others have raised. I like that Mozilla is independent of the pure profit motive. I don't trust Chrome for privacy as much as I do Mozilla. I also like to use Google for GMail, Search, Documents and maps. By using Mozilla, I hope that I can give Google good incentive to play fair to keep me as a user.

      I like Sync. By supporting the third browser, I h

  • by biscuitlover (1306893) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:22AM (#38432532)
    ...then you're probably still dealing with the fallout from that time when you switched your brain for a sponge
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:36AM (#38432600)

    .... you don't even have a rough idea of how big the changes are , whether there will be compatability issues and so forth. I'm sure the coders have done a good job but whatever marketdroid imbecile thought that every new release must have a major version number markup should frankly be shot. And then forced to use IE 6 for the rest of his days.

    • by revealingheart (1213834) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @08:02AM (#38432726)

      I don't think it's as bad as you make out. I get the impression that version numbers were to be depreceated and replaced with the terms Beta; Aurora and Nightly. Features would be mentioned as landing on Nightly/Aurora, appearing in users' browsers in so many weeks time. Releases themselves (every 6 weeks) aren't news in themselves. If Firefox developers communicate this clearly to reporters, then perhaps perceptions will change.

      If users would still benefit from version numbers (e.g. for tech support), then I have a suggestion to make:

      Next year, Firefox will be releasing version 12. On that version, there's the option of transitioning to a date-based system, with major versions following the year, and minor versions being incremented every 6 weeks. After version 11, the 1st release with this format would be 12.1; the 2nd release, 12.2; and so on. Here's how it looks like in practice:

      * 10.0 January 31, 2012
      * 11.0 March 13, 2012
      * 12.1 April 24, 2012
      * 12.2 June 5, 2012
      * 12.3 July 17, 2012
      * 12.4 August 28, 2012
      * 12.5 October 9, 2012
      * 12.6 November 20, 2012
      * 13.1 January 1, 2013

      Switching to a date-based system has the advantage that users will know what the current version is without having to report it, as the year corresponds to the version. Firefox in 2012 would be referred to as version 12. Reporters would focus on new and upcoming features in Firefox primarily, so that stories have a talking point and posters' comments are pertinent, primarily focused on features and improvements.

      An example of an open source group who uses a similar format is Ubuntu (who base the version on the year, and the minor version on a 6 month schedule). Versions matter with this format; but there's still a sense of progression. We know what the version will be in 3 years time - even if we don't know what the features will be. Now try to imagine what Firefox's version would be with the new system, compared with the old one.

      Consider that this is an issue that would involve a minor change; would benefit users and reporters (reducing confusion); and improve the quality of comments (on Firefox itself), then I think that Firefox developers will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

      If they do want to focus more on development than on numbers, they would benefit by switching to a date system. I hope that some of the Firefox developers read this, as the value of changing merits the effort involved.

  • At work I use FireFox(3.6.x) for some websites and Chrome for others. IE when forced to
    At home I use FireFox for most websites and Chrome with no desktop or start menu icon for other websites. Sure we can share a login and desktop and you can see the web history dear. :)
  • Beta? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pierre (6251) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:47AM (#38432652)

    Looks like its actually just a Beta for Firefox 9?

  • Oh joy! (Score:2, Funny)

    Almost time to play "plug-in roulette". Which ones will work, which ones not? Where the compatibility is, no one knows!
    Still this is just a Beta, maybe I'm being overly pessimistic.

  • by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @08:08AM (#38432748)

    Firefox > help > about> "firefox 8.0 checking for updates... firefox is up to date"

    www.getfirefox.com

    good news your firefox is up to date

    tfa

    Firefox Beta Release Notes

    • by ojintoad (1310811) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:28AM (#38433354)

      Parent is almost exactly right.

      When you have the headline "Firefox 9 Released" it is implied that the release is official and current. You expect that if you try to update your software through the normal update process, it will work. So they are right to expect the update to work.

      The fact is that Firefox is getting released today and yesterday was an unofficial release, and as of me trying at 8:25AM Eastern Time is not available through normal update channels (i.e. help > about). The linked Extremetech article [extremetech.com] was in fact titled Firefox 9 unofficially released and states:

      Ahead of an official release tomorrow, Firefox 9 has winged its way to various mirrors across the web and is now available to download from the official Firefox website — no messing around with a hammered Nightly FTP server this time, oh no!

      The fact that the summary writer neglected the word "unofficial" or this very important detail that it is rolling out isn't the fault of anyone reading the article and speaks to the grand tradition of poor summary writing that Slashdot readers have grown to love/hate.

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:28AM (#38433348)
    How is it possible that the default installation of Firefox does not include a setting to disable plugins? Opera and Chrome have this nifty feature where you can start plugins individually by request.
  • I thought inference was mandatory in a dynamically typed language.

    • by rjh (40933)

      No: in fact, very few runtime-typed languages support type inference. What happens instead is that the value gets tagged with a type. E.g., in Python, when I type "x = 3", the variable x has no type attached to it, but the value 3 has the type 'int' attached to it. When the system needs to know type information, it queries the value.

      Type inference is a little bit of a hard thing to do in runtime-typed languages. Not impossible, but ... interestingly wacky. Basically, the runtime environment has to be a

  • Once I found NotScripts, I recently switched to Chrome and found perceived speed decrease in loading. It might be due to a different order of loading visual elements (different from what I used to), so I pay attention to this.

  • I've always ran Firefox and still do, but I have to say. My plugins stop working almost every time they update these days. It makes me use Firefox less and less.

    The best thing about Firefox was that it viewed sites that other browsers didn't (not talking about IE here) and it's plugins. Firefox could do every thing. Now, each release it breaks everything. :/

  • by J'raxis (248192) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:07PM (#38436454) Homepage

    ...can I just expect all the sites already bloated with slow, broken JavaScript to just increase said cruft by 20-30% to take advantage of this?

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