More Eee-PC Firefox speed tweaks

swiper_foxI wrote about how Firefox can be really slow on the Eee-PC a few months ago, and offered a simple tweak that helped me back then. Since upgrading to Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) however, that configuration setting didn’t help nearly as well as it did before. Apparently, there were a few more things slowing the browser down. So here’s a couple more things to try.

Don’t display Flash movies by default.

I’ve been using the Flashblock Firefox extension for a while now, and it helps. Flash is very slow on Linux, and with a processor like Intel’s Atom it makes no sense wasting processing power on ads and YouTube movies you weren’t going to watch anyway.

This extension allows you to enable movies from certain domains (such as your own sites, Google Analytics and other trusted sites), and enable other ones with a single click. Installing it is easy, and operating it is even simpler. Another thing to check is whether you’re running Flash 10. It’s a lot faster than 9 was.

Don’t use the second SSD drive for internet cache

My Eee-PC 901 has two SSD drives. The first is pretty fast, but the second, larger one is slow as hell. I have my home folder on the second drive because that gives me a lot more space. But since Firefox writes its cache into the home folder, this can cause really irritating freezes during page loading. Here are a few settings that seem to fix this.

  1. Open a new tab and type about:config into the address bar.
  2. Right-click anywhere in the lower part of the screen and choose new->integer.
  3. Name the new setting ‘toolkit.storage.synchronous’
  4. In the second popup, set the value to 0 (zero). This tells the browser not to wait while writing files.
  5. Create a new string called ‘browser.cache.disk.parent_directory’
  6. Set its value to ‘/dev/shm/firefox-yourusername’. This tells the browser to use a RAM disk instead of the SSD.

I’m pretty sure the first setting (toolkit.storage.synchronous) improves things under any operating system, if the cache folder is on a slow drive. The second is probably specific to Linux (if not Ubuntu). Diverting the cache to RAM also means the cached files won’t be saved when you shut the computer down (which means they’ll have to be downloaded again if you visit the same page), but that seems like a small price to pay.

More speed tweaks

There’s a great post with more about:config setting that may help over at Startupmeme. I personally haven’t seen great improvements, but they might help just a little.

18 Comments

  1. This is a really good post, thankyou.

    Comment by jacob — April 7, 2009 @ 2:21 am

  2. Makes a *big* difference on my Eee PC 900. Thanks for this :-)

    Comment by AC — April 11, 2009 @ 6:31 pm

    • Hi AC. Yeah, I’ve been using it for a week now on my 901, and haven’t had my browser slow down like it used to, not even once. And you’re welcome :).

      Comment by Roy — April 11, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

  3. Hi Roy,

    Thanks for your article. This is a big difference on my EEE PC 900. It has been very annoying to have to wait 5 seconds after loading a new page. This seems to be history. Thanks a lot!

    Comment by Jurgen Goedbloed — May 10, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

  4. Sorry about the beginners question, but should I replace “yourusername” in step 6 with my own user name? If so, how do I find my user name? I don’t have multiple users on my 901….I don’t think I ever set one up?

    After doing these + disabling ipv6 my freezes are a little better…but not gone…so I figure I didn’t do something right

    Thanks

    Comment by Matt — May 29, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

    • Hi Matt. As far as I know it doesn’t have to be your user name, but it needs to be unique for each user, so files won’t be written into the same folder. I used my login name, which everyone has under Linux. You might have it set up so your computer logs in automatically, but there’s a username underneath that somewhere (under Ubuntu: System -> Administration -> Login window).

      Comment by Roy — May 29, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  5. I used the internet cache tweaks on an eee pc 900 with 2G RAM, a 4G SSD, and /home set up on the 8G SDHC card. I’m running Mint 7. This WORKED for me! The hangs prior to tweaking were unbearable. No more hangs after the tweaks! THANKS

    Comment by BobK54 — July 16, 2009 @ 3:40 am

  6. Link: Linux Mint, the perfect starter OS for Mac and Windows refugees. « Andrew Currie on WordPress
  7. Link: Como optimizar firefox para el Eee 901 « Francho i+d
  8. T O P

    Comment by bagus — January 1, 2010 @ 3:01 am

  9. i’ve been using dsl speed, it helps to tweak ur internet performance and boost dsl connection, easy to download and use ^_-

    Comment by kinary — January 15, 2010 @ 2:25 am

  10. Link: Chromium for Linux rocks! | Roy Tanck's weblog
  11. Hey Roy,

    Thanks for the link back! Really appreciate you hooking back to Startup Meme! And quite a good post i must say!

    Comment by Sardar Mohkim Khan — April 6, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

  12. good and nice post i think now not slow again thanks one again for this post

    Comment by keentejoe — August 18, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

  13. Open a new tab and type about:config into the address bar.
    Right-click anywhere in the lower part of the screen and choose new->integer.
    Name the new setting ‘toolkit.storage.synchronous’
    In the second popup, set the value to 0 (zero). This tells the browser not to wait while writing files.
    Create a new string called ‘browser.cache.disk.parent_directory’
    Set its value to ‘/dev/shm/firefox-yourusername’. This tells the browser to use a RAM disk instead of the SSD.

    this line are helpful to me thank your post

    Comment by keentejoe — August 18, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

  14. Link: Linux Mint, the perfect starter OS for Mac and Windows refugees. « ComedyOnHand
  15. Hi Roy!

    Your help seemed to make my Eee-Pc much faster but unfortunately after following your instructions my 3G Huawei E156C modem did not access anymore into internet and I had to get back to the earlier point using restore point and it is again really slow.

    Can you tell me how to fix that problem after losing the internet connection and how to get it back?

    Thank you in advance, Brasileiro

    Comment by Brasileiro — May 28, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

    • I really have no idea how Firefox settings could possible affect that…

      Comment by Roy — May 31, 2012 @ 10:12 am