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Firefox Portable - 64 bit version

br0adband - November 17, 2011 - 7:42am
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Hi there,

I've been using Firefox Portable for several years now as my "primary" browser regardless of what machine I use it on with great success. My question is related to using the 64 bit version of Firefox (which I do presently use with the Firefox Portable runtimes or whatever they're called).

I use custom VS2010 compiled builds posted online that are far more efficient and roughly 20-30% faster than the stock Mozilla provided builds, meaning the ones that PortableApps releases as portable versions. It's easy to do this: the custom VS2010 builds are released as an archive with the firefox folder inside which contains the core browser.

I create a "new" Firefox Portable installation with the latest version available (8 for the moment), then go into the App\Firefox folder and delete the core files, replacing the contents of that directory with the core files from the custom VS2010 compile build files, and then execute the FirefoxPortable.exe and voila...

But, what I've noticed - and it's NOT a problem, so please understand this isn't a request for support for some big serious issue here - is that when looking at Task Manager I still see firefox.exe *32 shown - in other words, the loader is functional but it's still not "pure" 64 bit obviously. The browser I use IS 64 bit, through and through, but now my question boils down to this:

Can someone more knowledgeable than myself find a way to compile the Firefox Portable runtime - I really don't know what to call that thing, sorry - so it's fully 64 bit?

What I mean by runtime is this:

If I do a clean installation of Firefox Portable, it will obviously create the FirefoxPortable folder with all the files inside it including those inside the App\Firefox folder which is the core browser.

Now, if you delete everything inside the Firefox folder you're left with just the "runtime" components for the portable app itself - that's what I mean by runtime.

Or can someone just compile the FirefoxPortable.exe file so it's fully 64 bit, that might work as well.

Again, this is NOT a problem; everything works fine and dandy as it is. I'm just somewhat nitpicky about looking at Task Manager and seeing *32 anywhere - I'm trying to ensure my machine's performance is top notch as best it can be, and anytime the *32 appears that means the Wow6432Node in Windows x64 is going to be called into action and I'm trying to lessen that to every extent possible.

So, if anyone can help I would greatly appreciate any assistance.

Thanks, and have fun, always...

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It's not possible. The language the launcher is written in can only compile 32-bit executables.

(I'll also add that you're spending too much effort for something that will have practically no effect. Try reading a book instead Smiling.)

I am a Christian and a developer and moderator here.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

So instead of "No" the

So instead of "No" the correct proper answer is "Not yet, but maybe someday."

Gotcha. Guess some talented folks need to get working on improving things... Eye-wink


It's a definitive no and will be for quite a while. Simply because there's no noticeable benefit. There's no plans for NSIS to become 64-bit. And I mean no plans at all, not even a future roadmap. Because it's unnecessary. Most 64-bit apps still use 32-bit installers and even 32-bit components. Maybe in 2014 when XP is end-of-lifed and the OSes that are majority 64-bit installs, but not anytime soon. More details on 64-bit portable software is here: The bottom line is that beyond people obsessing over seeing *32 in task manager, it's a lot of noise over nothing for most software.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

"Sometimes, the impossible

"Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!"

Hrmmm... considering that yes, someday when someone talented gets to work on this it'll happen, that sure seems like an oddball choice for a sig when such a wall of negativity gets presented when something "impossible" is questioned, but whatever.

There *are* other methods to making portable apps, not just the one used here by this site, for the record. At least you admitted "but not anytime soon" which was exactly my point all along.

But I do appreciate the responses, such as they are.

Not Impossible

I never said it was impossible. Just because something is possible does not mean it is worth the effort. Most 64-bit apps are simply not worth the effort at the moment. Firefox 64-bit loses out on tons of plugins and has no noticeable performance benefit for the end user. That's why Mozilla itself doesn't have an official 64-bit Firefox build. The bottom line is that there's no reason for us to expend the effort on an unofficial app like 64-bit Firefox. It's a waste of resources. You've offered no reason for doing it other than not wanting to see *32 in your task manager, which is a very silly reason, and you don't even address the negatives (forget using your 32-bit plugins, for instance).

If you'd like to do it, please feel free. Keep in mind that it would be illegal to distribute it branded as Firefox or with the Firefox name, though, as it would have to be an unofficial build (Mozilla does not build official 64-bit releases). So it would have to be called IceWeasel or something. That's another reason why we won't do it right now.

At some point, 64-bit apps may have better performance and a larger install base (currently under 20%) to justify the extra effort and double the size that the apps take up on a portable device. If you re-read that link I gave you, you'll see that this has already been given a lot of thought and we don't do all apps as 64-bit for very good reasons. Even once we do them, the launcher will remain 32-bit so that it can run on every computer and automatically select between the 32-bit and the 64-bit version of the app (see apps like 7-Zip Portable and JkDefrag as examples of this).

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

/me points to all the

/me points to all the "official" Mozilla Firefox Nightly builds currently in progress and notes they've been 64 bit for some time now leading up to a final actual "official" 64 bit version of Firefox in a few more weeks time...

I get the point, really, I do. Been using 64 bit software for close to 20 years now since the "pre-dawn of 64 bit architectures" with the DEC Alpha - I even have one around here someplace along with some Pentium Pro keychains too (best pure 32 bit processors ever made).

As for plugins, I only have one: Flash, and that'll be deprecated soon enough I suppose, even Adobe knows the party's almost over for that, their pulling out of the mobile side of things is just the first step. Tons of extensions, sure, but plugins I have no use for.

Like I said, I get it, this was just a question about making it possible, that's all. I spent some time doing research last night and I already resolved the issue with the 32 bit executable acting as the launcher so, that's a wash.


No Timeline

There is no scheduled timeline for an official Firefox x64 build. Nightly x64 builds of it have been available for a very long time now, but that doesn't mean the version that is currently in nightly is going to have an official x64 release. Some folks speculated it would be available with Firefox 8 (it isn't and won't be). Some folks guess maybe version 9, but again, there are no x64 builds in the beta pipeline for it, so no x64 for version 9. Some people are hoping for version 10, but again, there are no x64 builds of version 10 either. It's all Win32 only and it will be for the foreseeable future.

There won't be an official x64 build of Firefox anytime soon, let alone in a few weeks. And you'll note that Firefox 8 x64 only had about a 10% improvement over x86 on synthetic benchmarks, which means in real world usage it will be much lower and a user will be unable to notice it.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

"wall of negativity"? I see facts, and a reasonable conclusion …

I don't see any "wall of negativity" in John T Hallers posts; in fact I see a nice display of the pertinent facts, and a reasonable conclusion based on those facts.

Also you may notice that 1 is a little bit under-manned at the moment, and that there already a lot of stuff on the plate.

So in the end it boils down to the following:

Q: Is it necessary?
A: No.
Q: Does it make a significant difference?
A: No.
Q: would making it take time that could be put to more important matters?
A: Yes.
Is it possible?
A: Currently: No.

And considering the technical limitations currently preventing it, and the issues that would be caused by implementing (e.g. when running on x86 hardware, the launcher would error out with ‘…\FirefoxPortable.exe is not a valid Win32 application.’, which many would think meant a corrupted file & they'd complain) it if (or when if you prefer) it becomes possible, I personally don't think it's a good idea.
Add that to the fact that Mozilla has no current plans for making an Official Release of Firefox for the x86_64 architecture, and the Pro-FFP-x64 team isn't looking so hot anymore. (Sorry, I'd like to see FFP-x64 [albeit as a hybrid x86/x86_64 version with an x32 launcher] too; but it's just not practical [let alone fully x64 being impossible] yet.)

I've been busy IRL for the past month or two, but I'm back.

Actual Performance

A lot of unofficial builds take awful shortcuts to improve performance. There are 32-bit Firefox builds that will similarly see performance gains. An official Firefox build in x64 would see under 5% performance improvement, and even then mostly in JavaScript handling. Most apps see hardly any performance increase from x86 to x64. The few who do are ones that completely max the CPU like video rendering and file compression. A browser doesn't do that except on a couple pages here and there. So, while it may show up in a specific metric, that metric doesn't reflect actual experience in the slightest. In everyday usage, the 64-bit version is indistinguishable from the 32-bit version. This is why there are no 64-bit official builds.

And, as Chris said, NSIS doesn't compile to 64-bit and is unlikely to anytime soon.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!