As new innovations continue to push the envelope of what's possible on a modern PC, hardware acceleration has been finding its way into many common applications. In recent versions, Mozilla Firefox now allows users to enable hardware acceleration in the web browser's settings.

In this guide, we'll talk about Firefox's hardware acceleration. This will include a brief introduction to what it is and how it works, as well as how to enable or disable the setting on a Linux system. Keep reading if you want to give hardware acceleration a try, potentially speeding up your web browser a great deal.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • What is hardware acceleration in Firefox?
  • How to enable or disable hardware acceleration
Hardware acceleration enabled in Mozilla Firefox
Hardware acceleration enabled in Mozilla Firefox
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software Mozilla Firefox
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

What is hardware acceleration?

Mozilla Firefox utilizes hardware acceleration the same way most any application would. Normally, Firefox's computing operations would take place in the system's processor - the CPU. Using hardware acceleration allows Firefox to utilize other components of a computer for processing, namely the video card.

In recent years, video card technology has skyrocketed, and software developers would be remiss to ignore their processing power. Enabling hardware acceleration in Firefox will usually result in a speedier and more responsive web browser, especially if you're doing resource intensive tasks, such as playing a 4K video.

Hardware acceleration could work differently on some systems. For this reason, it's recommended that you try enabling it and poking around for a bit, before determining if you'd like to leave the setting enabled or not. We'll show you how to do that in the next section.


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Enable or disable hardware acceleration

If you haven't already installed Firefox, check out our guide for downloading and installing Firefox on Linux.

  1. Start by launching Firefox. We'll need to access the advanced configuration options, which can be opened by entering about:config in the address bar. You may be warned that you're about to access some advanced configuration preferences - just click "accept the risk and continue."

    Proceed to the Advanced Preferences menu of Firefox
    Proceed to the Advanced Preferences menu of Firefox
  2. In the preferences search bar, type layers.acceleration.force-enabled. When the option appears, it will say "false" if it's disabled, and "true" if it's enabled. To toggle this setting on or off, click the right most icon, indicated with an arrow in the screenshot below.

    The hardware acceleration option in Advanced Preferences menu
    The hardware acceleration option in Advanced Preferences menu
  3. Once it's been toggled on (or off, if you prefer), close all Firefox instances and open the browser back up.

    Hardware acceleration enabled in Mozilla Firefox
    Hardware acceleration enabled in Mozilla Firefox

With hardware acceleration enabled, try resuming your normal web browsing activities. You will hopefully notice a performance improvement when it comes to switching between tabs, opening new windows, or playing videos. If your system is exhibiting problems with the new setting, you can always follow the same instructions above to toggle the setting off again.

Conclusion

In this guide, we saw the step by step instructions for enabling or disabling hardware acceleration in Mozilla Firefox on Linux. We also learned about what hardware acceleration is and why you may wish to use it with Firefox. For further tinkering with Firefox, check out our guide on Firefox and the Linux command line.

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