Ubuntu cuts Firefox Snap startup speed by nearly half

Canonical engineers have been working to improve the startup time of the Snap version of the Mozilla Firefox app after the issue caused quite a bit of ranting. The good news is that the latest Firefox Snap, the default browser on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Long Term Support releases, has cut startup times by nearly half.

In an Ubuntu Blog on Friday post on Friday, product manager Oliver Smith explained:

  • Compared to Firefox 101, the startup time after a fresh install was reduced by an average of 50%.
  • In addition, its test results are consistent across a range of platforms and distributions.

It is reported that since Mozilla changed to copy only one environment/language pack at a time on startup (instead of trying to copy all language packs on the initial startup), and the locale will follow the system setting, thus greatly reducing the startup wait time.

Other changes include switching GNOME and GTK-themed snapshots from XZ to LZO, which in addition to improving startup time, also helps improve the performance experience.

Canonical has moved to LZO compression for Firefox Snap, and now the GNOME and GTK-themed Snaps it relies on using the same compression technique for faster decompression/launch.

Canonical is currently working on multi-threading support for decompression, addressing software rendering issues that Firefox uses on the Raspberry Pi, and exploring technologies such as pre-caching.

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