Firefox 75 Released With Flatpak Support; Firefox On Wayland Now Has H.264 VA-API And Full WebGL Support

Firefox 75 has been released today with some important Linux improvements: the application now supports Flatpak and is available on Flathub, and Firefox on Wayland now has H.264 VA-API and full WebGL support. There's also a revamped address bar across all supported desktop platforms.

Firefox 75 Linux

The Firefox 75 release comes with a revamped address bar (screenshot above) with a clean search experience that's optimized for small laptop screens, with top sites appearing when you select the address. There's also improved readability of search suggestions, with a focus on new search terms.

Also, when clicking on the address bar and the search bar, the behavior is now the same across Linux, macOS and Windows desktops: a single click selects all without primary selection, a double click selects a word, and a triple click selects all with primary selection (previously this worked differently on Linux).

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's continue with the big news in Firefox 75 for Linux users.

Firefox Flatpak
Firefox installed using the Flathub flatpak package

This is the first Firefox stable release that supports Flatpak, the framework for distributing sandboxed desktop applications on Linux. Thanks to this, Firefox is now available on Flathub, a Flatpak-powered application repository. This means you can now easily install the latest Firefox release across numerous Linux distributions.

Another important news for Linux users is that Firefox 75 on Wayland now has full WebGL support (some bits of info and links from Phoronix), as well as H.264 VA-API decode (powered by FFmpeg). Mozilla has also finished implementing VP9 VA-API hardware decoding using FFmpeg for Firefox on Wayland, but this didn't make it into Firefox 75. The good news is that it will be available with the upcoming Firefox 76 release though.

The Firefox on Wayland VA-API accelerated video playback should work with Intel and AMDGPU, and this bug report comment has instructions for how to enable it. Essentially you need to:

  • have libva installed
  • enable the GL compositor or WebRender, both should work (to enable WebRender, set gfx.webrender.all to true in about:config - despite what you'll find online, this works in Firefox 75 stable and not just in Firefox nightly; after restarting Firefox verify it's working by going to about:support, scroll to Graphics and make sure Compositing is showing WebRender, like this); also set layers.acceleration.force-enabled to true in about:config, and also make sure layers.omtp.enabled and layout.display-list.retain are also enabled (from Reddit, linked from Martin Stransky's blog)
  • set widget.wayland-dmabuf-vaapi.enabled to true in about:config
  • with all the above steps being performed, run Firefox 75 under Wayland like this (MOZ_LOG is to enable logging - you should see some VA-API related messages when running a VA-API supported video in Firefox): MOZ_ENABLE_WAYLAND=1 MOZ_LOG="PlatformDecoderModule:5" ./firefox (this assumes you've downloaded the Firefox binary archive and you're running the binary from the extracted folder - adjust the firefox path to where you have Firefox 75 installed / extracted)

Since only h.264 videos are supported for VA-API accelerated video playback, and YouTube defaults to VP9, force YouTube videos to use h.264 by using the h264ify Firefox extension.

To enable full WebGL support in Firefox 75 on Wayland (Martin Stransky has shared some more details in this blog post) you need to perform the same steps as above for VA-API (minus the dmabuf-vaapi flag), and also set widget.wayland-dmabuf-webgl.enabled to true in about:config.

Other changes in Firefox 75:

  • Firefox will locally cache all trusted Web PKI Certificate Authority certificates known to Mozilla. This will improve HTTPS compatibility with misconfigured web servers and improve security
  • Direct Composition is being integrated for our users on Windows to help improve performance and enable our ongoing work to ship WebRender on Windows 10 laptops with Intel graphics cards
  • For enterprise users:
    • Experimental support for using client certificates from the OS certificate store can be enabled on macOS by setting the preference security.osclientcerts.autoload to true
    • Enterprise policies may be used to exclude domains from being resolved via TRR (Trusted Recursive Resolver) using DNS over HTTPS

Since I have a desktop computer with Nvidia graphics only (I have no access to my Intel graphics laptop in these quarantine times), I couldn't give this a try, so I can't help you debug stuff in case this doesn't work for you. This is also why this article is a bit messy - because it's basically a puzzle of what I could find in bug reports and other sources (you can also find the sources throughout this article), without the ability to try it myself. Please let me know if anything needs to be added or fixed.

Let's hope all of this will be enabled by default in Firefox soon.

Also see: How To Enable Hardware Acceleration In Chromium On Ubuntu Or Linux Mint (VA-API Patched PPA Builds)

Download Firefox

Firefox is also available to install for various Linux distributions on Flathub and Snap Store (packaged by Mozilla in multiple channels: stable, candidate, beta and esr). You may also receive an update from your Linux distribution repositories with the latest Firefox release.