Monday, April 14, 2008

Javascript comparison of WebKit and Firefox 3 Beta 5 on Ubuntu

This weekend I had a small pet project I did that gave me a need for a webkit based browser on Linux (Ubuntu 7.04). While I could have used Konqueror I was more interested in a later source base and so downloaded the WebKit r31738 source from Actually, after a couple simple apt-get install for the development library this source package will compile just fine on a rather stock Ubuntu 7.04 and runs well (Ref: ). The default UI shell for the webkit core is ultra basic but all I need for testing against this rendering engine. One can use webkit as the engine for Epiphany ( ) if you want a nicer wrapper.

I was curious to try this new engine (more specifically it's javascript aspect) against my current favorite browser Firefox in the form of Firefox 3 Beta 5 ( ). A tried both the Dromaeo test suite (still in early release, review notes at: ) and Sunspider from: My platform is rather paltry Athlon 64 3200+ and 2 gigs of memory running the afore mentioned Ubuntu 7.04.

Firefox 3 Beta 5: (3282.80ms) (3287.60ms)
SunSpider: 6794.0ms

WebKit (3260.60ms) (3225.40ms)
SunSpider: 5794.8ms

In the Dromaeo test there is for all practical purposes no difference between the two javascript engines. Sunspider showed a 1.17 factor favor toward the Webkit engine. There has been a lot of recent new traffic over acid3 testing and other performance metrics ( ). The Firefox ecosystem around its amazing set of add-ones ( ) is without question a key factor for me. The Mozilla foundations strong effort on standards, highly open and extensible platform win over a few percentage points from a Javascript benchmark. The acid3's focus on DOM scripting is important to me and so I would like to see that arrive in the Gecko engine though some of the comments of Mike Shaver ( ) and Rob Sayre ( ) regarding this do make sense to me.

I'm a loyal Firefox user and nothing I have seen from the Webkit camp has yet to give me any pause, though I am glad they are there. We need competition and pressure to drive development forward. It's always good to compare and I am still in a situation where as a developer I need to have various engines around for testing. I also played around with the new Next-Generation Java Plug-in ( ) and was very impressed with it as well. Especially the easy javascript to applet communication the new plugin delivers.

take care

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