I’ve written in the past about compiling recent versions of Firefox for the powerpc under Linux. The Firefox rapid release schedule means that a new firefox release happens almost every 6 weeks. I last wrote about firefox 16, which is now almost 4 releases old. In the past 6 months I’ve been regularly testing firefox builds on the powerpc as they make their way through the development process. I am going to summarize the state of recent firefox versions for ppc users.
Firefox 19 is not a bad choice for 32 bit powerpc users, a number of Linux distributions have ppc packages for this release. Powerpc users of FF19 will find that many images show up with a blue tint. This is due to bug 817356 You can avoid this bug by setting image.high_quality_downscaling.enabled to false in about:config. If your building firefox yourself you can also apply my patch from bug 817356 before compiling to fix this issue.
Firefox 20 has the blue tint issue fixed and should work fine on 32 bit powerpc. Firefox 20 will be released in the next week I hope the community will find it works well but there is always a chance issues will be found when distributions package it.
Firefox 21 goes into beta next week and I have been using development builds of ff21 on my 32 bit PPC machine during the past month without issues. This version includes a bit of additional altivec acceleration (817153) support.
When I build firefox 21 on my ppc32 machine I get ./../dist/bin/libxul.so: undefined reference to `JSContext::updateMallocCounter(unsigned int) errors. I have reported these under bug 846986 and have attached a patch that allows me to get a working firefox. I don’t understand why I am hitting this issue with undefined inlines and on others are not.
64 bit PPC
Running firefox on a 64 bit PPC machine will be more problematic firefox 19 crashes on the first web page you try to view. This is documented in bug 844883. The patch I attached to that bug fixes the issue and will be included in Firefox 22. The patch should apply cleanly against versions 19 through 21. Debug builds will also need the patch from 851859 to avoid a startup time assertion. With these two patches I find that firefox is still crashing on the second or third page. I suspect this is related to the problem being addressed in 840242 but as of now this is still an unresolved issue and I don’t have a a good solution for ppc64 users.
Compiling Firefox 21 or higher requires Python 2.7. Much of my testing was done on a Debian squeeze installation and Debian squeeze doesn’t include Python 2.7. I built my version of python 2.7 (installed in (/usr/local/python2.7) to allow me to compile firefox. The firefox build system will install all of the required python packages in a virtualenv.
Updated: I’ve added the note on 846986 since originally publishing this article.