Firefox (maybe other browsers, too) causing various performance problems including freezing

System or applications may become unresponsive.
Running realtime monitoring apps may report ample main memory, GPU memory and CPU resources are available, in extreme cases <maybe> VRAM (GPU memory) might show less available but is not a consistent factor.

Web browser running, today likely can be any web browser but today the most affected seems to be Firefox.

Disable hardware acceleration in the Browser. On Firefox,
Edit > Preferences > Advanced >Uncheck box for hardware acceleration

From my current research, current browser technology does not manage resources used by the relatively new HTML5 Canvas element very well. Canvas is a “drawing” feature that enables and supports both 2D and 3D objects to be written, including animations. Historically, particularly 3D animations can produce a significant rendering load, so hardware acceleration can be desirable, but to implement properly requires competent GC which may not exist yet.

Performing widely available benchmarking tests available on the Internet, I have not yet been able to pin-point the exact Canvas technologies that likely are causing problems except for WebGL (no surprise). It may also be related to my personal habit opening 0ver 20 browser tabs and windows during research.

In any case, early investigation results and results from running Benchmark tests consistently show that disabling hardware acceleration in the browser will at least partially mitigate the problem, remains to be seen whether the problem can be or is fully addressed which is doubtful short of refusing to surf HTML5 Canvas sites which is likely impractical.


Aye, I notice a lot of freezes and stutters of browsers today. If I check the gpu-internals in chromium it tells me ‘Mesa’ is not sufficient or reliable enough to enable hardware acceleration by default. If I force it enabled it works fine though. Will have to do more advanced tests of webgl.


Can’t remember the last time my browser crashed
on Linux or Windows.

Try this stress test

WebGL - Benchmark

Running the “medium” test, with hardware acceleration my FF browser freezes approx cubes/4100frames
Running the “low” test, my browser freezes at approx 8100 frames.
With hardware acceleration turned off, it runs all the way somewhere to “Mass…” trying to load a Java applet before it fails.

From what I’ve read, various Canvas issues have been found and addressed in all types of browsers on both Linux and Windows but WebGL is one of the remaining big outstanding problems(and there are likely others).


(Chromium) I get the java applet thing too, but the rest of the webgl works fine. No crashes or slowdowns. Will try on Firefox.

Edit: I should note my driver is mesa 9 from the xorg repo. Intel gpu.

> ‘WebGL - Benchmark’ (

No problems at all. I think your machine may have a problem.
Mine stopped during Mass and asked me to download Java,
which I’m not going to do. I have no need for Java and
its constant security issues.

Firefox 16.0.1 on OpenSuSE 11.4 with KDE 4.8.4

> Firefox 16.0.1 on OpenSuSE 11.4 with KDE 4.8.4

also: proprietary nVidia driver 285.05.09 on nVidia 9500GT.
box is Intel Core 2 quad 4GB memory