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PPC Macs 'likely' to be unsupported by Firefox 4

Michael Rose
Michael Rose|@MikeTRose|August 26, 2010 5:45 PM

While it may not come as much of a surprise, it's still going to aggravate owners of aging PPC Macs that the upcoming Firefox 4 browser is probably going to drop support for the older architecture. Mozilla program manager Mike Beltzner noted that the next version of the open-source browser, currently in beta, is not working on PowerPC machines now and the update will not be automatically offered to them.

Computerworld points to two separate technologies in FF4 that are standing in the way of a PPC build: the OOPP isolated plugin system, which prevents browser extensions from gumming up the works; and the JIT (just in time) compiler for the new JaegerMonkey JavaScript engine, which sounds like a drunken simian but is actually supposed to speed up JavaScript compilation manyfold. Neither have a functional equivalent on the PowerPC.

It's not clear if the Camino browser, which does work on both Mac processor platforms and is based on the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine, will be able to update to the Gecko 2.0 platform that powers Firefox 4. In the same message thread, Beltzner allowed that developers could certainly work on a PPC version that left out the two problematic components, but that it most likely would not be allowed to carry the Firefox brand (which has happened before with custom optimized builds for specific architectures). He also pointed out that there aren't development resources within Mozilla to extend support for OOPP and the JIT compiler to PPC, and that outside help has not been forthcoming.

[via Download Squad]