Firefox 81 Enters Beta with GPU Acceleration Enabled by Default on Linux

Firefox 81 Beta

While the Firefox 80 web browser is making its way into the stable software repositories of some of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions out there, Mozilla already pushed the Firefox 81 release to the beta channel.

Firefox 81 has been in the Nightly channel until today, but when a new stable Firefox version is released, the current Firefox version in Nighly moves to Beta, and the next version (Firefox 82 in this case) takes its place.

Firefox 80 introduces a highly anticipated feature for Linux users, namely VA-API/FFmpeg hardware acceleration for video playback on systems using the traditional X11/X.Org Server display server.

But the GPU acceleration feature is disabled by default, so you would have to open the about:config page and enable the media.ffmpeg.vaapi-drm-display.enabled and media.ffmpeg.vaapi.enabled options.

With the upcoming Firefox 81 release, it appears that Mozilla has enabled the GPU acceleration by default.

Looking at the about:config page, I noticed that the media.ffmpeg.vaapi-drm-display.enabled option is set to “true” while the media.ffmpeg.vaapi.enabled option is disabled.

I don’t know if this is how the feature is supposed to work, but the media.ffmpeg.vaapi-drm-display.enabled preference uses the DRM VA-API display instead of the native one.

Either way, this is good news for Linux users. However, enabling GPU acceleration only takes a minute or two, but having it enabled by default should save you some time I guess and it also proves it’s stable enough for production use.

Until Firefox 81 hits the streets, you have enough time on your hands to play with these two hardware acceleration options, enabling either one or both at the same time and test how video playback works.

On top of that, Mozilla also extended its WebRender GPU-based 2D rendering engine for AMD Evergreen hardware (a.k.a Radeon HD 5000 series of GPUs) on all supported platforms, including Linux systems, as well as for Mali-Gxx devices. Yet, WebRender remains disabled by default on Linux in Firefox 81.

Firefox 81 also promises to add support for hardware media keys for controlling media playback. Users will be able to control media playback via hardware media keys on a keyboard, headset or virtual media control interface.

If you want to give Firefox 81 a test drive right now, you can download the beta release right now from Mozilla’s FTP server. However, keep in mind that this is a pre-release version, so don’t use it on a production system.

Last updated 4 years ago

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