One of the shortcomings of Firefox web browser when compered with Google’s Chrome or Chromium for instance is that, it’s a bit slowish (loading the browser itself and web pages). However, over the past few months, Firefox developers have put a lot of efforts and as a result, the soon to be released Firefox 13 is said be a bit more faster than the current and the older releases.
But then again, there are other web browsers based on the Firefox code which are optimized for certain platforms (plus hardware) and perform slightly better than the original Firefox. ‘Waterfox’ for example is such a web browser that is optimized for Intel SSE2 and AMD’s ACML technologies and 64-bit processor instruction sets (won’t run on 32-bit operating systems and only support Windows).
Though it’s not like impressively faster than the original Firefox, but, since it has few optimizations of its own such as being a native 64-bit browser (Firefox currently does not support 64-bit natively, it’ll come in the near future) it did outperform Firefox under some benchmark tests.
I did a quick benchmark test using the ‘Peacekeeper benchmark’ and Firefox scored a total of 1576 points where Waterfox scored 1664 points.
But under the ‘Text parsing’ test, Waterfox scored about 400 + more points than Firefox did which is the main reason for its higher overall score.
So perhaps due to that somewhat ‘bigger’ difference in the ‘Text Parsing’ efficiency, ‘Waterfox’ did seem to load web pages slightly faster (there wasn’t a big difference and it was so small that most might not even recognize it).
Also because ‘Waterfox’ is a 64-bit software application, it seems to be using a bit more of your RAM than Firefox does. All the add-ons that run on Firefox should run in ‘Waterfox’ natively and as soon as Mozilla releases a new version of Firefox, ‘Waterfox’ developers too update their browser pretty quickly and use the same numbering system. I also liked its Blue colored icon as well :).
The next version of Waterfox will include few significant changes such as:
*. AMD LibM integration (math functions library for AMD CPUs).
*. Will use ‘TCMalloc’ memory allocator for efficient (or reduced) memory management.
*. Will be compiled using C++.
Can I use both browsers ?
Well, yes you can. However, you can only run one at once. Meaning that, if you ran Firefox first and tried to open Waterfox later, then it will still load Firefox. And when you install Waterfox without removing Firefox, then it’ll import all of your Add-ons and bookmarks automatically too.
Another thing, if you use it alongside with Firefox and decided to uninstall it and choose to remove ‘personal data and customizations’ from the uninstaller, then it’ll remove all the bookmarks, add-ons, saved passwords etc in Firefox!!. So make sure to backup those data first!.
Mozilla releases bug fixes between its official releases and I’m not sure if ‘Waterfox’ developers update their browser whenever Firefox releases bug/security related fixes. But since it’s based on Firefox code, I didn’t encounter any issues such as crashing for instance. Then again, I don’t usually open a big number of tabs etc which puts significant pressure on the browser otherwise. Still, I think it’s pretty stable.
If interested, you can download it from this Waterfox home page. Make sure you’ve installed MS Visual C++ Redistributable before installing it.
Again, don’t hope for miraculous speeds though, because there won’t be any!. Good luck.