Firefox is a very powerfull and versatile browser, but it has the tendancy of doing a huge amount of disk write accesses.
If you hold a modern computer with very fast hard disk, it's no problem.
But if your hard disk is slow or if it is a SSD drive, you then need to minimize to a maximum all the disk write access, in term of responsivness and durability.
This article will explain how to optimize firefox following two main directions :
- minimize the write accesses (very interesting for SSD drives)
- tweak generic parameters for performance boost
Its first effect will be a huge disk write access reduction and ... a real boost in terms of performance !
So lets start to tweak your firefox parameters to rediscover your surf experience.
If you need any detailed information about the parameters described below, just check at the source on http://kb.mozillazine.org/
Most of following options are done thru the about:config page. If some parameters do not exist, just create them (right click in the page).
This article has been done with Firefox 10 on a Ubuntu Oneiric 11.10.
It should work with any Firefox Version 3+ running on any linux distribution.
If your computer hold enough RAM, another easy and efficient tweak is also possible
1. Stop background loading
Firefox downloads webpages from links it thinks you may click. This may make the experience seem faster but really it just bogs down Firefox and your netbook.
In the about:config page, set
2. Optimize Firefox Cache
To speed up the browsing experience and to limit the SSD write cycles, we will place firefox cache on a RAM disk. A very simple way of doing it is to place the cache directory under /dev/shm, which is a tmpfs filesystem.
The main drawback of the setup is that you will loose you browser cache after every shutdown or reboot. But on the other end, it will speed up drastically the browsing speed.
The disk.cache.memory.capacity is the amount of RAM in Kb you want to dedicate to the memory cache (131072 for 128Mb, 262144 for 256Mb, 524280 for 512Mb, ...).
In the about:config windows, set the following keys :
3. Network parameters tweaks
Following parameters in the about:config page will improve your network speed in most cases.
|network.http.pipelining||true||enable pipelining for normal connections|
|network.http.proxy.pipelining||true||enable pipelining for proxy connections|
|network.http.pipelining.firstrequests||true||enable pipelining of first requests|
|network.http.pipelining.maxrequests||8||maximum HTTP requests per pipeline|
|network.http.max-connections||96||number of total HTTP connections|
|network.http.max-connections-per-server||32||maximum number of any type of connections per server|
|network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server||24||maximum number of keep-alive type connections per server|
|network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy||24||maximum number of keep-alive type connections per proxy|
4. SQLite tweaks
Firefox uses sqlite for storage of information like history, bookmarks, etc.
It used to use async i/o, but ran into corruption issues. So it is now using sync i/o which blocks very easily. Sqlite runs six fsyncs per transaction for history changes. History changes happen ever time you go to a new page. If you are doing something else on the system like say a kernel compile, virtual machine image creation, or anything i/o intensive then the Firefox gui freezes, because it is waiting on the fsync to finish. This can take literally a minute to unlock.
You can go back to async i/o thru this parameter in about:config. After making changes and a restart, you will then be running Firefox without fsync.
5. Disable session save
Firefox automatically saves your session every 10 secs so that whenever it crashes, it can restore all your tabs. While this is a useful feature, some of you might find it irritating.
To disable this function, toggle the value of browser.sessionstore.enabled to False
6. Anti-phishing security settings
The anti-phishing features of Firefox may cause it to become slow to start or exit, and might also affect the browsing speed since Firefox apparently contacts google for every http request. The problem is that Firefox maintains a sqlite database that might grow quite big, and reading and writing to this database begins to take some time when it grows bigger.
If you feel that you do not need Firefox to tell you which sites may be suspect you can disable this feature by turning off the following options under the security tab in preferences : "Block reported attack sites" and "Block reported web forgeries"
It can also be done under about:config keys.
After closing Firefox, you need to delete all files beginning with urlclassifier in your profile folder ~/.mozilla/firefox/xxxxxxxx.default where xxxxxxxx is some combination of letters and numbers. Some of these files might be recreated by Firefox, but they won't grow any larger than their initial size.
Here is the command line to delete these files :
# rm -i ~/.mozilla/firefox/*.default/urlclassifier*
7. Content display parameters
These parameters will change the way Firefox is displaying the pages.
It will add some inreractivity during the page display process.
Once you have applied all these modification, you need to restart Firefox for them to become operational.
Your firefox should now become blazing fast ... and it won't tear your SSD drive with its permanent disk accesses.
Hope it helps.