As you might have guessed from our domain name, TuxRadar.com, we're big fans of Linux. But being a fan of Linux doesn't necessarily make you a Linux fanboy - the kind of person who blindly ignores anything negative about their passion of choice as if that somehow made it better.
We wanted to find out just how well the Linux version of Firefox faces up against its Windows equivalent, so we ran the benchmarks from all three browser makers to make sure we got a full range of results. Some specifics you probably want to know:
- We used Firefox 3.0.6 running on Windows XP SP3 and Fedora 10. Both were running in 32-bit mode.
- Our test machine was a quad-core Intel Core 2 running at 2.66GHz, with 4GB of RAM and 1.5TB of hard drive space.
- The three tests we used were: SunSpider, V8 Benchmark 3 and Dromaeo (using "Recommended Tests").
- We have marked in red where Linux performance falls behind Windows for a given test, and vice versa. In short, red numbers are the ones that scored lower.
Uses the SunSpider benchmark from WebKit.org. Results in milliseconds; lower is better.
SunSpider (lower is better)
V8 Benchmark Suite
Uses the V8 Benchmark Suite v3 benchmark from Google. Results are measured against a reference system with score 100; higher is better.
V8 (higher is better)
Uses the Dromaeo benchmark from Dromaeo.com. Results measured in test runs a second; higher is better.
Dromaeo (higher is better)
3D Mesh Transformation
Base 64 Encoding and Decoding
Compute Bits in Byte
Compute Bits in Byte (2)
DNA Sequence Alignment
DNA Sequence Counting
DOM Attributes (Prototype)
DOM Attribute (jQuery)
DOM Events (Prototype)
DOM Events (jQuery)
DOM Modification (Prototype)
DOM Modification (jQuery)
DOM Style (Prototype)
DOM Style (jQuery)
DOM Traversal (Prototype)
DOM Traversal (jQuery)
Date Formating (2)
DeltaBlue Constraint Solving
N-Body Rotation and Gravity
Partial Sum Calculation
Prime Number Computation
Prime Number Computation (2)
Recursive Number Calculation
Rotating 3D Cube
Spectral Norm of a Matrix
String Parsing and Searching
Tag Cloud Creation
Traversing Binary Trees
Validate User Input
Answers to some predictable comments
Why didn't you use Firefox 3.1?
We tried using a nightly build of Firefox 3.1 to see how performance might change in the future, but it locked up while running the Dromaeo tests so we opted to leave it for now. To be fair, the browser is still in beta, so it wouldn't really be a good test.
What compile options did you use for Firefox?
We, almost certainly like the majority of Linux users, don't compile Firefox ourselves - we used the stock build from Fedora i686. You could probably squeeze more performance out of Firefox by compiling it yourself using some specific options, but then that would hardly be a real-world test, would it?
Seriously, if you think the excuse "but you didn't compile it yourself!" is worthy, STFU and GTFO.
Did you test Vista?
No. We used Vista in our last benchmark, and it wasn't terribly pleasant, so we're trying XP instead. Some Linux fans might complain that Vista is (reported to be) slower than XP and thus would yield lower results, but according to our site logs 67.48% of our visitors use XP so benchmarking on Vista would also not be a fair real-world test.
Why is Linux slower?
A quick Google can show you that Firefox/Linux performance problems are nothing new, but usually these lie in graphical areas such as slow page refreshes or scrolling. With infamous threads such as this one around, and OpenOffice.org still performing much better on Windows than it does on Linux, it seems more likely to us that the performance problems seen above are less Mozilla's fault and more down to general performance issues on Linux.
Clearly this is an area that's always under construction - people like Michael Meeks take performance seriously, and we're optimistic for the future. Still.
I ran those benchmarks myself and Linux was 1,000,000 times faster than Windows!
Uh-huh. Please don't post this kind of nonsense unless you provide the hard figures from the benchmarks and your system specs and your distro - something like the output from "uname -a" ought to do it.
These benchmarks are artificial and thus worthless - you eeediots!
Hah! This is final proof that LinSUX is a WASTE OF TIME and all LinSUX users are teh GHEY!!!1
Our other box is your Windows box. Now go away.
Think about it: if Firefox is slow because Mozilla's Linux code is weak, then it's a small (if irritating) problem - perhaps the Mozilla developers are more interested in optimising for Windows users simply because there are more of them. But if it's slow because or GCC or some other more general reason, then it's likely to affect a much larger part of your desktop. If you really don't care about performance, why are you reading this in the first place?
Remember, It's hard to be sure whether it's Firefox or Linux that's to blame, but we're hopeful someone will pick up the baton and give Firefox on Linux a kick in the backside to get it moving faster regardless of what the cause is.
This is irrelevant - Linux is better because it's freeeeeeeee!
Yes, we know. There's a reason we use Linux, after all. But given how many computers ship with Windows pre-installed and without an option to get it Windows-less, Windows is effectively $free too.
And yes, we also know you can try declining the EULA and clawing cash back from the manufacturer, but very, very few people do that. The rest of us buy a computer with Windows, blank it, then put Linux/BSD/MikeOS on.
You must hate Linux to post this kind of FUD
We admit the results aren't pretty, but we invite you to reproduce the tests yourself and see how you do - we've provided all the links, so please feel free to report your results below.