Compiling Firefox 3 From Source on Kubuntu

Responding
to the innate human desire to have the faster browser possible, I am
almost happy with Firefox 3.  But not quite.  Thus,
the
experiment: compile from source.  This is accomplished as
follows:



0.
Kubuntu does not come with the packages necessary to build from source,
by default.  You must install a bunch of stuff first.
 Fortunately, this is easy.  To install the
prerequisites
necessary to build Firefox from source, open a terminal and type:



apt-get build-dep firefox



1. Download the Firefox source code href="ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/3.0/linux-i686/en-US/">here.

2.  Extract to a suitable place, likely a subdirectory in your
home folder.

3. Open a terminal and go to the subdirectory.  

4.  Run the configure script:



./configure --enable-optimize --disable-tests 
--enable-gnomevfs --enable-application=browser




Note
that the option to enable gnomefvs is optional.  It allows
Firefox
to populate the Applications tab in the Preferences dialog box.
 That actually was one thing that led to me wanting to do this
in the first place.  Enabling optimization is obviously part
of the goal of the
project.  Disabling tests speeds up the compilation time.
Enabling
the browser application is required.



5. make

6. make install

7. Find and run the executable.  It will be in a subdirectory
named /mozilla/browser/app.  Assuming that works, then...

8. Flash will not work.  To install it, download the
tarball from href="http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash">here.


9.
Close your browser, extract the files from the tarball, and run the
install script.  Do this as a non-root user.  It will
install
it in you home folder.  You do not get to choose where it
installs, but that is OK.  



Note that the new program will
call itself "Minefield".  It will use the same profile that
you
were using for Firefox.  



Is it faster?  Seems to open faster.  Does it really
make a difference?  No.  Probably that is why Kubuntu
doesn't include all the stuff to compile things.  Unless you
want something more exotic, or have some particular data-intensive
need, it does not really make enough difference to be worth it.
 If there is some customization that you really need, then it
may be that compiling from source is the only way to do it.
 But often that will entail a lot of trial-and-error.
 You have to really want it, in order for it to be worthwhile.



As far as web browsing goes, most of the delays are due to the network,
not your local machine.



OpenOffice, perhaps, might, possibly benefit.



Also, the difference might be more noticeable on a slower computer.
 


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I notice you give no tips on how to actually measure any difference. My experience (but not with firefox) is that building an app yourself does not improve performance unless you actually rip out features you think you'll never need, or build it staticly linked. Note that 'seems to open faster' is probably due to the executable and shared libs still sitting in the file buffer cache.

Did you have problems with permissions? When I did make install, everything got installed into /usr/local with read permissions only for root.

By Jonathan Birge (not verified) on 03 Feb 2009 #permalink

Jonathon,

I did not have such problems. I unpacked the tarball into a subdirectory in my home directory, and compiled it there. I assume that is how you did it, too. Many files are installed elsewhere, but the permissions were not a problem for me.

Yeah, that's what I did. Weird...

By Jonathan Birge (not verified) on 10 Feb 2009 #permalink