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Run a faster Mozilla with anti-aliased text Web Browsers
Over on the Macworld OS X Forums, 'd00d' published a pointer to a Mach-O build of Mozilla with a patch to enable ATSUI (Apple Type Services for Unicode Imaging). What does that mean in plain English, more or less? Mach-O can be faster than normal CFM coding, and ATSUI allows Carbon apps to have nicely anti-aliased text. [edited - see comments for a link about a Mach-O vs CFM speed discussion]

I downloaded the build and tried it out. It's notably faster and pages now render just as nicely as they do in OmniWeb. Not everything works (plug-ins and some CSS stuff gave me some trouble), but it is a peek at what Mozilla could be. Unfortunately, there's no indication that Mozilla 1.0 will follow this direction; it will still be a CFM-based non-ATSUI application.

If you'd like to check it out for yourself, you can download the Mach-O Mozilla build from the page of 'stevekstevek.' Make sure you download all three files and then read the README.rtf file for instructions on how to make it work.

It's a shame this won't make it into the 1.0 production tree for Mozilla; I guess that leaves Chimera as possibly the best bet for an anti-aliased, speedy, Mozilla-based browser at the moment. [edited]
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mach-o is not intriniscally faster than CFM
Authored by: bryanzak on Apr 10, '02 10:58:23AM
I can't believe you're taking a guy named 'd00d' at his word.

mach-o binaries are NOT intrinsically faster than CFM. And in fact, it's quite possible that CFM binaries, even with the tiny bits of glue needed to talk to mach-o binaries, might be faster than mach-o binaries.

This issue was discussed at length on the Mac Games Development list a few weeks ago. You can check out the archives yourself at

(I'd post a direct link, but the search is down right now.)

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Authored by: robg on Apr 10, '02 11:11:25AM

It wasn't d00d's word I was taking, but what I had read elsewhere concerning CFM vs Mach-O. But I wasn't aware of the discussion you linked to; I'll definitely give it a read.

As an aside, the guy's username doesn't mean much one way or the other to me. Glancing through the registrant names here, for example, is often an entertaining thing to do ;-).

Thanks for the pointer;

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Mach-O Mozilla will be default...
Authored by: sabi on Apr 10, '02 10:58:29AM

Just after 1.0. It's way too late in the release cycle for them to change over, given the number of problems that need to be resolved in the Mach-O version, and that changes in many more parts of it aren't shared with non-Carbon builds (e.g., networking uses sockets directly instead of the bridge through Open Transport).

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Just an FYI:
Authored by: risc_abacus on Apr 10, '02 05:08:36PM
According to Steve Dagley at Netscape
CFM is the Mac OS X route to Mozilla 1.0 as well as the next major Netscape release. Only after that will we switch to mach-o as our primary Mac development target.


Since all the Mac developers at Netscape are focused on the next Netscape release (MachV) the CFM build is what we're concentrating on. That's not to say that work isn't happening on mach-o, such as for plugins (which Chimera needs), but I wouldn't expect the primary Mac development target for Mozilla to switch to mach-o until MachV ships. What Mozilla milestone that will correspond to I don't know but I expect the transition will be as rapid as possible. And yes, MachV should be based on the Mozilla 1.0 branch.

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Link to Mach-O CFM discussion
Authored by: rselph on Apr 10, '02 01:23:49PM
Here's the link to the discussion on the apple games list. You will have to login as "archive" with password "archive".

It's very detailed, and covers a lot of compiler and loader internals. My take on it is: from the user perspective, there's no difference between the two formats.

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Link to Mach-O CFM discussion
Authored by: cubixe on Apr 10, '02 07:13:30PM

the username/pass is "archives" not "archive"

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Link to Mach-O CFM discussion
Authored by: bryanzak on Apr 11, '02 02:28:26PM
btw: this is a benefit of moving to mach-o as opposed to cFM...but it's mostly a developer benefit.

It's easier for developers to use some OS X technologies like Quartz and whatnot because the APIs can be called directly as opposed to needing a tiny bit of glue to access them from CFM apps.

Also, it's a tad bit easier debugging with GDB and using some of the other tools on a mach-o app as opposed to a CFM app. But, those are fairly minor issues.

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ATSUI in Mozilla
Authored by: risc_abacus on Apr 10, '02 05:01:40PM
ATSUI will be in Mozilla just not Mozilla 1.0. Steve just used Simon Fraser ATSUI patch and modified it to build under (g)cc.

As of right now you can expect to see ATSUI in nightly builds for Mozilla 1.1alpha. No need to say its a shame that Chimera will be the only Mozilla 'product' with nice text.

See mozilla bug number 121540

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Meant for 1.0...
Authored by: robg on Apr 10, '02 06:19:53PM

Sorry I didn't write more clearly -- I meant for the 1.0 release branch. But the postings here have (as always!) provided much more information than I expected. Thanks for the quotes and references; great reading and great news for future versions of my browser of choice.


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Meant for 1.0...
Authored by: risc_abacus on Apr 11, '02 09:56:00AM

I tend to get carried away talking about Chimera... sorry I misunderstood where you where coming from.

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I like the old anti-aliasing better
Authored by: ToastyKen on Apr 11, '02 05:42:02AM

I don't understand why everyone likes the Cocoa anti-aliasing better than the Carbon one (i.e. the one used in Internet Explorer). The old one renders things nice and crisp and clean, whereas, except for really large type, the new one leaves things with fuzzy edges.

I wish there were a way to get the Carbon anti-aliasing in Cocoa apps, not vice versa!

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I like the old anti-aliasing better
Authored by: bryanzak on Apr 11, '02 02:09:47PM

Because what you're seeing in Carbon anti-aliasing (which is really just the old QuickDraw anti-aliasing) in a If recall correctly, QD AA only uses 4 levels of color mixing.

"Cocoa" anti-aliasing, which is really Quartz (Core Graphics) anti-aliasing uses up to 256 mixes. Much, much better.

Your comment is the first I've heard saying that QD AA is better. I don't know anyone, including about 30 artists, that aren't in love with Quartz. (Of course, that comment will likely bring people out of the woodwork :)

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