4 Firefox rebuilds feed the need for speed

Alternative builds bring speed optimizations and custom features to the Firefox core

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Firefox remixes: Tete's Atelier
Japanese programmer Tete creates his own private builds of Firefox named the Atelier builds. Some of the patches he's created for Firefox are used in other builds (such as Lawlietfox), and his work is presented with a bit more documentation and thoroughness than most custom builds. For instance, Tete documents obvious known bugs, a big plus.

As with most of the other custom builds, Atelier comes with no installer. Unpack the program into a folder, set up a separate user profile (here again, there's no warning in the documentation about possibly trashing an existing user profile), and fire it up. Note there are no 64-bit editions of Atelier, not even of the bleeding-edge version 11 beta branch. And unlike the other third-party builds reviewed here, all Firefox branding remains in place: the Firefox name, the Firefox logo, and so on. I'm not sure if this is permitted under Mozilla's branding and licensing terms.

That said, Atelier's 32-bit edition of 10.0.2 was so snappy that a 64-bit edition almost seems superfluous. The benchmark tests show Atelier builds providing the most noticeable performance improvement over stock Firefox -- borne out by using the browser instead of just running benchmarks on it.

One concession Atelier makes to users who don't want to set up a separate profile is a custom-made portable mode. Enable this (it requires some .ini file hacking) and the program can use any Firefox profile directory you specify, rather than the default one created by Firefox in the Windows user profile folder. This also makes Atelier a little easier than other browsers to hand-integrate into a solution like the PortableApps launcher.

The documentation for Atelier is a little more complete than most of the other custom builds I've seen, although at the same time it highlights that many more ways a custom build can be less dependable than a stock edition. Some add-ons, for instance, don't work unless you manually hack the user-agent string. Localizing the browser requires additional hackery on top of applying the language pack -- and so on.

The Atelier build boasts remarkably good documentation and some of the best performance of any of the builds I tested.
The Atelier build boasts remarkably good documentation and some of the best performance of any of the builds I tested.
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