Mozilla

Upgrade your graphics drivers for best results with Firefox 4

Benoit Jacob from the platform engineering team has a blog post on how to best take advantage of hardware acceleration and WebGL in Firefox 4, namely: Upgrade your graphics drivers!

Firefox 4 automatically disables the hardware acceleration and WebGL features if the graphics driver on your system has bugs that cause Firefox to crash. You still get all the other benefits of Firefox 4, of course, just not the newest graphics features. But for best results, you need an up-to-date graphics driver that fixes those bugs.

If you’re planning to develop using WebGL, you need to also spread this message to your users, so they will be able to experience the awesome results of your hard work.

17 comments

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  1. Weaner wrote on March 7th, 2011 at 12:10:

    INB4
    “Meh, why?”
    “Never change a running system.”
    “My neighbor’s brother-in-law heard of someone whose computer exploded after a driver update.”

  2. David wrote on March 7th, 2011 at 20:22:

    I have a Lenovo ThinkPad R61, with a NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M graphics card. I have to get my drivers through Lenovo, and the latest one (at http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-67890) has the version number “7.15.11.7693″ which seems to be on a different numbering system than “257.21″ above for standard drivers.

    NVIDIA’s website has no newer drivers, it instead directs me back to Lenovo’s website.

    about:support reports the following

    Adapter Description: NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M
    Vendor ID: 10de
    Device ID: 0429
    Adapter RAM: 128
    Adapter Drivers: nvd3dum nvwgf2um
    Driver Version: 7.15.11.7693
    Driver Date: 11-14-2008
    Direct2D Enabled: Blocked on your graphics driver. Try updating your graphics driver to version 257.21 or newer.
    DirectWrite Enabled: false (7.0.6002.18107, font cache n/a)
    WebGL Renderer: Google Inc. — ANGLE — OpenGL ES 2.0 (ANGLE 0.0.0.541)
    GPU Accelerated Windows: 0/1

    I’m not sure whether this is worth filing a bug or not.

    1. Jonathan wrote on March 18th, 2011 at 08:47:

      Download the latest stable drivers from the NVIDIA website. Don’t chose the “manufacturer approved drivers” (they’re not called exactly that, but you’ll recognize the option). I just updated my T61 to the latest 266.XX drivers. Works like a charm.

  3. Пожар wrote on March 8th, 2011 at 02:38:

    Nvidia drivers (above 257.21) have some issues with dual-monitor views (under windows 7).
    ( http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=105413 )
    The last working driver that i found is the 182.5. Sorry guys, but until nvidia can’t get this working, i won’t update my drivers…

  4. Benoit Jacob wrote on March 8th, 2011 at 06:10:

    Already known issue — will make this more clear in Firefox 5. Only look at the 5 last digits, e.g. 7.15.11.7693 –> 176.93. That’s not current enough.

    1. David wrote on March 8th, 2011 at 09:06:

      Okay, sounds good. Thanks for the explanation!

  5. Nox wrote on March 8th, 2011 at 08:54:

    @David

    You could try the official NVIDIA drivers anyway.

    Also, just look at the “driver date” and you’ll know it’s too old.

    1. David wrote on March 8th, 2011 at 09:08:

      I tried that, but the official NVIDIA drivers are incompatible. I have to use the Lenovo drivers, because they have some modifications related to the LCD backlight, opening and closing the laptop, etc.

      1. Weaner wrote on March 8th, 2011 at 14:39:

        AFAIK, those are normally handled by ACPI entries, mainly delivered by the BIOS.

  6. Yuhong Bao wrote on March 8th, 2011 at 20:30:

    How about a Driver Check, similar to the current Plugin Check, that detects outdated graphics drivers? Upon a crash determined to be resulting from a driver, this could be automatically invoked.

  7. Steven wrote on March 18th, 2011 at 04:01:

    For my Thinkpad T61, I have downloaded a more recent NVidia driver from
    http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/drivers

    That site takes the official NVidia drivers and then adds some lines to the .inf file to allow the driver to run on machines where the laptop manufacturer does not support updating drivers directly from NVidia.

    You can use Windows Device Manager » Display Adapters » » Properties » Details » Hardware IDs to see the dev and subsys IDs for your card.

    Seems fine for multiple monitors/suspend and resume so far. (I only use VGA on this oldish laptop). I noticed the Windows Experience index went down a little, and the version of Lenovo Access Connections that I used won’t start. (So I’ve uninstalled it)

  8. Khaled wrote on March 23rd, 2011 at 06:20:

    I have an Acer laptop with Intel HD graphics (Core i3 330M) and I can’t update to the newest drivers because Acer hasn’t provided any updates (and they probably never will). I tried installing the official Intel graphics drivers, but alas, no dice. My PC isn’t even a year old and i can’t enjoy hardware acceleration or WebGL in Firefox? That’s just stupid. IE9 does hardware acceleration like a champ and Chrome makes no fuss about WebGL.
    Any hope of a future update/solution from Mozilla?

  9. Benoit Jacob wrote on March 23rd, 2011 at 08:54:

    @ Khaled:

    First of all, Chrome has now adopted our blacklist for ATI and NVIDIA. Their Intel blacklisting looks strange, so I’d assume it’s still in flux
    http://src.chromium.org/viewvc/chrome/trunk/src/chrome/browser/resources/software_rendering_list.json

    If you want, you can always force-enable WebGL and other Graphics features, see:
    https://wiki.mozilla.org/Blocklisting/Blocked_Graphics_Drivers#How_to_force-enable_blocked_graphics_features

    1. Khaled wrote on March 23rd, 2011 at 15:50:

      Thanks, I wasn’t aware Chrome was also blacklisting outdated drivers.
      I know I could force-enable those features, but somehow it doesn’t feel right. I don’t understand what the reasoning behind the blacklist was. Was it because the outdated drivers caused serious problems or did the developers just not want to support them?
      I’m still hoping Acer will come through. I mean, I can’t be the only one complaining :)

  10. nemo wrote on March 24th, 2011 at 14:43:

    Outdated drivers crash browsers :)

  11. Chris Thomas wrote on March 25th, 2011 at 08:45:

    DRIVER SCANNERS: I was reluctant to try these services (such as Driver Cure, Driver Detective, Driver Genius, etc.), but now after doing many side-by-side tests of them, I think they’re a great thing. Driver Cure is the most user-friendly in my opinion, but they all work fine. Yes, these are yearly subscription services because it scans your system thru their database each time you scan, and their driver databases are ever expanding.

    With an older system, the respective manufacturers of all the older hardware parts that comprise your computer will not be offering newer drivers for their older hardware components forever….you get to a point where you have the most recent driver that respective manufacturer will ever offer for that respective component. In other words, subscribing to Driver Cure (for example) is a good idea when your computer is relatively new, as this is when the hardware component manufacturers are most likely to be regularly coming out with newer and newer drivers for their components, but as the computer ages some, you likely are wasting your money for yearly subscriptions to a driver scanner because you will seldom if ever see new drivers for you old components. If you upgrade (install) some new hardware components on your computer, THEN regularly checking for updated drivers for that respective component becomes an issue again.

    In general, DRIVER SCANNERS SAVE A LOT OF TIME and hassle for busy folks who don’t have all day to fart around with their computers, constantly looking for the most recent drivers for every piece of hardware on their box manually, just to save a few bucks. Also, the Microsoft driver lookup tool built into Windows (start menu>control panel>system>hardware>device manager>….) is terrible, as I’ve seen Driver Cure locate new drivers MANY times when the Windows tool says that “no newer drivers exist”.

    Chris

  12. Dre Tuch wrote on October 25th, 2011 at 14:45:

    I’m in love with Firefox but this lack of hardware acceleration for me really sucks. I have a Sony Vaio VPCCW23FD and the latest driver the manufacturer offers is in the 188.xx range. I’ve tried several ways to force the system to install a later driver but it just won’t budge. Am I truly doomed to absolutely never have hardware acceleration? IE doesn’t mind the version, Chrome didn’t mind when I forced acceleration on it and Opera just works out of the box. Why is Firefox so damned picky?

    Should I just be using Opera instead?

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