Internet connection speed has always been a major issue for geeks. Service providers have been constantly uppgrading their service but are the software we use to connect to the Internet evolving at the same pace ?
May be not.! For instance while most of us users have now switched to broadband, popular browsers like IE7 are still configured to use dial-up connections. Fortunately, Firefox 3.0 does support pipelining but the feature is disabled by default. We will need to hack configuration file of Firefox to enable it, so the first step would be to load the preferences by typing about:config in the location bar of Firefox.
Next we will need to find the entry “network.http.pipelining” , (you can use the filter field to find the entry fast ) . As is apparent, “network.http.pipelining” is set to false, double-click the entry or bring up the context menu and click on the “toggle” menu item to set it to true. Since pipelining means sending multiple requests at the same time we will need to modify the entry “network.http.pipelining.maxrequests” to a number greater than the default number 4. Setting this entry to 10 works fine with me (but I urge you to try larger numbers ) . We also need to set “network.http.proxy.pipelining” to true.
Finally, bring up the context menu and create a new integer entry “nglayout.initialpaint.delay” and set its value to 0. This makes sure that the page is rendered immediately and not wait for any interval (0 milliseconds). If everything has gone well, your Firefox should be able to load pages much faster than before. I personally find my Firefox at least twice as fast after enabling pipelining.
If you don’t find much difference even after tweaking the configuration, make sure the preferences are set to as follows –
network.http.pipelining = True
network.http.pipelining.maxrequests = 10
network.http.proxy.pipelining = True
nglayout.initialpaint.delay = 0
Now that we have a much faster Firefox, let us look at the memory usage issue that the browser is frequently accused of. In fact, the reason I started looking into how Firefox can be tweaked to give better performance was a discussion I came across on memory leaks in Firefox. Let us now look at how we can tweak configuration to ensure that the application use less memory without downgrading its performance substantially.
Our first objective would be to make sure that the browser does not take up a huge amount of RAM affecting other applications’ performance. To limit RAM usage, go to configuration using about:config URL and in the filter field and find the entry “browser.cache.disk.capacity“. This page here says that if you have 512 MB RAM a value of 22528 should do but if you have 1 GB RAM you could set the value to 32768. The default value 50000 seems more than there is normally available. Changing the value has worked fine with me on 512 MB RAM , you could try experiment for a larger number.
A lot of times the session history takes up a lot of space even when we don’t need session history. Find the entry browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers and set it to 0.
Another cool hack you can implement is change preference to make Firefox use hard disk instead of RAM when it is minimized. All you need to do is go to configuration by entering about:config in the location bar of Firefox and add a new entry. The entry you add should be named as “config.trim_on_minimize” and should be of Boolean type. Set the default value to true and restart Firefox.
With these tweaks you can make your Firefox faster and more efficient which makes your browsing experience much more fun-filled and productive since you have been able to eliminate many minor delays.