Over the last few months, I have com­plained a whole lot about Firefox and GNOME. It turns out, this was due to a prob­lem with my de­vice and not with the browser. More specif­i­cally, I ac­ci­den­tally found out my lap­top had been run­ning with its CPU locked at 800 Mhz for what I be­lieve was close to 13 months!

What a waste for such a good lap­top by Dell.

Let’s walk through this story.

Switching to Vivaldi

I had moved to Vivaldi, then to Brave, and quite quickly, back to Vivaldi.

I left Firefox be­cause I de­cided that my per­sonal pro­duc­tiv­ity was im­por­tant to me, and spend­ing 10-15 sec­onds wait­ing for each page to load was not done. With Vivaldi or Brave — both based on Chromium and there­fore us­ing Google’s Blink en­gine — the web was ~2.5x faster for me.

There was no go­ing back.

Switching to Cinnamon

Doug Belshaw re­cently moved to Cinnamon on his Pop!_OS in­stall. I fig­ured if he likes a no-non­sense com­put­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and is will­ing to switch, I could do. So, I quickly went ahead and in­stalled Cinnamon in con­fi­dence.

Becoming fa­mil­iar with a dif­fer­ent DE

I rec­om­mend GNOME to a lot of peo­ple - be­cause it just works! The work­flow can take a bit of get­ting used to, but there’s noth­ing wrong with it at all. It’s just… dif­fer­ent.

This kind of dif­fer­ent struck me on Cinnamon.

I re­al­ized it did not of­fer a night light fea­ture out of the box, and so I went look­ing for Redshift — a tool I used to use on Xubuntu 16.04.

Then I re­al­ized it did not of­fer any easy way to switch be­tween power pro­files — Balanced, High Performance, Battery Saver — and so I went look­ing for an ap­plet and in­stalled it. It is here that I found out my CPU was locked at 800 Mhz. No power pro­file would change this, nor any kind of work­load - ca­sual or de­mand­ing.

Searching the web

Naturally, I went look­ing on the web, and found a red­dit post from three years ago. Fingers crossed it was­n’t stale ad­vice. Although the orig­i­nal post rec­om­mended re­plug­ging the bat­tery by open­ing the lap­top, some­one in the com­ments men­tioned you could drain the bat­tery to the same ef­fect.

I spent a day drain­ing the bat­tery - Pop!_OS shut me down at 3%. I logged into Windows which ran a long time even though the bat­tery had hit 0%. When it fi­nally did shut down, I gave it some 5 min­utes, pow­ered it on just to make sure it’s fully drained, and then plugged it back in.

A whole new com­puter

When I logged into Pop!_OS, this time with GNOME, I quickly in­stalled a CPU fre­quency in­di­ca­tor from the GNOME ex­ten­sions store. Thanks to be­ing such a main­stream desk­top-en­vi­ron­ment, there were sev­eral op­tions to pick from and one of them worked. I could now see that the CPU fre­quency even while idling was hov­er­ing around ~1 Ghz. Success!

I opened Firefox and the lag was gone! Opening Calendar, Contacts or Mail on GNOME is now in­stan­ta­neous.

It truly feels like I have a whole new com­puter again. I love it!

Supporting a healthy web

Since hav­ing a fully func­tional proces­sor again and mov­ing back to Firefox, I have not even at­tempted to use Vivaldi, even to check its speed now. I re­ally don’t care — Firefox is good enough, I am sure the speed dif­fer­ence is min­i­mal with all the work Mozilla has put in re­cently, and we need to sup­port it for a healthy web. I would claim we have a moral oblig­a­tion to do so.

That starts by show­ing up on an­a­lyt­ics as a Firefox user and hav­ing it make sense for com­pa­nies to make a busi­ness de­ci­sion and sup­port Gecko for their web­sites and web-apps — just like they do Blink or WebKit with­out think­ing all-that-much about it.

Get the browser that pro­tects what’s im­por­tant. No shady pri­vacy poli­cies or back doors for ad­ver­tis­ers. Just a light­ning fast browser that does­n’t sell you out.