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We don’t have 64 bit support for Linux in 3.5

That’s for Tracemonkey, the new, somewhat faster javascript engine that’s included with Firefox 3.5. Don’t be alarmed then when Firefox 3.5 performs only marginally faster on javascript heavy sites than Firefox 3.0. No 64bit support for the new javascript engine, on the platform where Firefox pretty much dominates. In my view, that should’ve been Mozilla’s first priority on Linux: many linux users choose 64bit because they are not hindered by missing drivers or applications. Linux users are typically more computer-savvy than your average windows or OS X users and could serve as good guinea pigs for a 64bit version of Tracemonkey. In any case, irrespectively of operating system, Tracemonkey ‘feels’ slower than Nitro (or v8) in 32bits too, but giving 64bit linux such a low priority is somewhat dumb, especially given the ever increasing interest and market share for 64bit linux among linux users (after years of requests Adobe released its exceptionally stable 64bit flash player for linux a few months ago). Hopefully a 64bit version of tracemonkey will be included in one of the minor upgrades before 2010, but I feel like Mozilla has made a mistake here.

Update: It seems that there is no 64bit Tracemonkey code, linux or otherwise, which is surprising; I am not exactly clear as to what prevents them from releasing a 64bit version.

6 Responses to “We don’t have 64 bit support for Linux in 3.5”

  1. Fred says:

    The hacks.mozilla article you linked to is censoring posts defending 64-bit OS use.

    Guess they don’t want to be embarrassed.

  2. cosmix says:

    @Fred: If that’s true it’s truly unfortunate. That Mozilla has pretty much ignored 64bits is sad, but if it resorts to such methods to suppress the opinion of people, let alone those that are most aligned with its efforts and ideology it’s very troubling.

    Sadly, even if there are so many technical and political reasons for supporting a 64bit version of Tracemonkey, part of the blame lies with contemporary linux desktop; it’d be much easier for linux users if installing, maintaining and running 32bit applications was as transparent, easy and straightforward on 64bit linux as it is on OS X or Windows. Nevertheless, the fact that Mozilla ignores the difficulties that doing so in the linux realm is hard [well, that’s mostly a packaging issue] is very unfortunate. Hopefully things will get better soon for us 64bit linux users.

  3. David says:

    I haven’t seen any evidence of censoring. You’ll find several remarks from people including myself upset about the lack of Tracemonkey in 64bit. All I found was a guy Mecki trolling the comments.

  4. cosmix says:

    @David: That’s good to hear.

  5. Ciprian Mustiata says:

    For sure the biggest issue on 64 bit TraceMonkey is time and development resources. The biggest download platform is still Windows and the FF is 32 bit even for Win64 machines. So making a 64 bit JIT it will be costly and with no fast return effect. It’s like saying that FF should optimize for SSE4 CPU instructions: it may be nice but is not the best thing to do, or to use the virtualization instructions to offer tab security. May be really cute, but I think that is not the main concern. And the last reason I think is this: 32 bit code works really nice with no extra testing on 64 bit machines. I think that the biggest concern at least for me is not 32 vs 64 bit but the “perceived” speed to be greater.

  6. someone says:

    32 bit code works really nice with no extra testing on 64 bit machines. I think that the biggest concern at least for me is not 32 vs 64 bit but the “perceived” speed to be greater.

    The problem is that these programmes don’t work well in some significant cases. They require 32-bit support libraries that are not yet provided on 64-bit Linux. There are also interoperability problems, e.g. Air 32-bit does not talk to 64-bit Iceweasel or Flash properly, probably because of protocols that differ between 32 and 64-bit.

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