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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Optimize Firefox by Getting a Custom Build

While you've probably been able to optimize Firefox a lot by going into about:config or installing helpful extensions, you can still go a step further by finding the custom Firefox build that is right for your processor and instruction set. The official build of Firefox is the one that you download from mozilla.com, but it isn't necessarily the best version for your system.

Third-parties (other users like yourself) have built more specialized versions of Firefox optimized for your computer. These builds are unofficial so user beware. Since only one copy of Firefox can be installed on your system, these unofficial builds are either packaged as Zip or 7-Zip files. Just decompress and test them out.

When browsing through the builds that are available, you'll see acronyms like SSE, K7, and so on. These are the instruction sets that are used by your system. SSE refers to Pentium 3 and some AMD processors. SSE2 refers to Pentium 4, Pentium M, Pentium Xeon, and some AMD processors. K7 and K8 refer to AMD processors. Other terms: trunk builds are absolutely bleeding edge Firefox releases so they may not be stable while branch builds are usually more optimized and stable. Choose the right build for your system by getting the build that matches your processor and instruction set.

If you aren't sure what your system configuration is, download CPU-Z, which will list the processor and instruction sets for your computer. Each build is slightly different so you might need to test a few out to see which one works best for your system. Some of the more popular builds include:

mmoy: There are builds for 32- and 64-bit, Intel, AMD, and Apple processors optimized for different instruction sets (SSE, MMX, etc.).

bangbang023: You'll find builds for SSE2-supporting processors here.

Swiftfox: These builds are specifically for Linux-running AMD or Intel processors.

BlueFyre: These builds are optimized for Athlon XP and some Duron processors.

drumsticks: For Mac G5's.

For more, see the Unofficial Builds Forum.


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