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Last I rebooted into Win8 I saw Firefox had pixel-perfect scrolling - like Ubuntu has with Nautilus, gedit and some other apps. When will Firefox for Ubuntu have scrolling that doesn't act like mouse wheel clicks?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aditya, falconer, guntbert, Jorge Castro, Eric Carvalho Feb 11 at 0:29

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First, as a little background for those who don't know what pixel-perfect scrolling means. (I didn't know myself, but I did some research and want to share that here.) Usually when you scroll on a touchpad (right edge or two-finger) or a tablet device, what happens is that the X server intercepts those signals and translates them to normal mouse wheel scrolling events. While this is a straightforward, legacy-safe way to implement it and works with all applications, it doesn't provide the kind of "smooth" user experience you may know from, for example, Android tablets or smartphones. (Source: Jussi Pakkanen's development blog)

Now there has been some effort on Canonical's side to ameliorate this situation. With Canonical's uTouch gesture stack combined with an X server with an up-to-date libXi (XINPUT client interface), smooth scrolling becomes possible, if the application supports it.

In fact, smooth scrolling was patched into Chromium using OIF Grail Library (formerly utouch-grail) and OIF Frame Library (formerly utouch-frame) about one and a half years ago. However, as far as I can see this was more of a proof-of-concept. Find more information here:

Now, as for the question itself: When will this make its way into Firefox? I can't give a definitive answer - in fact I suspect there is none - but I can speculate. An implementation of a gesture-recognizer in Firefox in terms of the previously mentioned technology stack would have to be implemented either (a) by the Canonical people who develop that technology stack, (then submit it to upstream Firefox as they did for Chromium), or (b) by the Firefox dev team itself.

I guess the Firefox dev team would only do such a thing if this framework became a widely adopted standard, which so far is not the case. You might ask at the MozillaZine forums, but I suspect if you mention uTouch or Open Input Framework they won't know what the hell you're talking about ;)

A better option would be to address the Canonical people who develop that technology, specifically, the Canonical MultiTouch project group. Browsing their site gives the impression that the project has been somewhat dormant (at least, low-activity) for something like a year. My guess -and this is but a wild guess- would be that with Canonical now working on Mir as a replacement for X, their focus may have somewhat shifted. That is, the development of these libraries interacting with X and providing multitouch features and the like, will probably be integrated in a somewhat more streamlined way into Mir.

So to sum it up, I would bet as much: you won't see such a feature in Firefox until Mir is actually deployed on Ubuntu. Mir is to replace X sometime after Ubuntu 14.04 "Trusty Tahr", so look forward to that. Now there's certainly no guarantee this will work as soon as Mir makes its way into Ubuntu. I am not involved with Mir development and I can't say where their priorities lie. However, since Canonical is quite concerned with human-computer-interaction and is even targetting tablets and smartphones now, I believe you will see such features implemented rather sooner than later. :)

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I thought Mir was going to replace it sometime after 14.04? BTW I found this bug for GTK3 upgrading Firefox, IIRC all the GTK3 applications have good non-jumpy scrolling. So voting for this bug might be the best way to support smooth-scrolling Firefox: bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=627699 –  NoBugs Feb 11 at 2:32
    
Indeed, you are quite right, apparently Mir won't replace X in 14.04. Makes sense, since that's going to be an LTS version and Mir will be a pretty fundamental change. I edited my post accordingly. My information was a bit outdated: I think at some point they did plan to replace X with Mir in 14.04, but it seems they dropped that. Well then, maybe in 14.10 ;) Btw, I voted on that bug, but it seems like a long shot. –  Malte Skoruppa Feb 11 at 10:01
    
Funny there was no mention of the most obvious and earliest examples of pixel-perfect scrolling and panning in Apple Mac or iPod or iPhone. –  user29020 Apr 29 at 22:12

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