Firefox 89 on POWER

Firefox 89 was released last week with much fanfare over its new interface, though being the curmudgeon I am I'm less enamoured of it. I like the improvements to menus and doorhangers but I'm a big user of compact tabs, which were deprecated, and even with compact mode surreptitously enabled the tab bar is still about a third or so bigger than Firefox 88 (see screenshot). There do seem to be some other performance improvements, though, plus the usual more lower-level changes and WebRender is now on by default for all Linux configurations, including for you fools out there trying to run Nvidia GPUs.

The chief problem is that Fx89 may not compile correctly with certain versions of gcc 11 (see bugs 1710235 and 1713968). For Fedora users if you aren't on 11.1.1-3 (the current version as of this writing) you won't be able to compile the browser at all, and you may not be able to compile it fully even then without putting a # pragma GCC diagnostic ignored "-Wnonnull" at the top of js/src/builtin/streams/PipeToState.cpp (I still can't; see bug 1713968). gcc 10 is unaffected. I used the same .mozconfigs and PGO-LTO optimization patches as we used for Firefox 88. With those changes the browser runs well.

While waiting for the updated gcc I decided to see if clang/clang++ could now build the browser completely on ppc64le (it couldn't before), even though gcc remains my preferred compiler as it generates higher performance objects. The answer is now it can and this time it did, merely by substituting clang for gcc in the .mozconfig, but even using the bfd linker it makes a defective Firefox that freezes or crashes outright on startup; it could not proceed to the second phase of PGO-LTO and the build system aborted with an opaque error -139. So much for that. For the time being I think I'd rather spend my free cycles on the OpenPOWER JavaScript JIT than figuring out why clang still sucks at this.

Some of you will also have noticed the Mac-style pulldown menus in the screenshot, even though this Talos II is running Fedora 34. This comes from firefox-appmenu, which since I build from source is trivial to patch in, and the Fildem global menu GNOME extension (additional tips) paired with my own custom gnome-shell theme. I don't relish adding another GNOME extension that Fedora 35 is certain to break, but it's kind of nice to engage my Mac mouse-le memory and it also gives me a little extra vertical room. You'll notice the window also lacks client-side decorations since I can just close the window with key combinations; this gives me a little extra horizontal tab room too. If you want that, don't apply this particular patch from the firefox-appmenu series and just use the other two .patches.