Recent rendering issues on Pale Moon

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Recent rendering issues on Pale Moon

Postby Moonchild » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:43 am

Microsoft has recently (Feb 28th) released a Windows Platform update for Windows 7. This Platform Update can cause issues on some computers using ATI/AMD graphics chipsets, ranging from pixelated/distorted graphics in the browser to (on hybrid systems) Blue Screens of Death.
This is a direct result of the Microsoft update, that has been supplied for a time as a critical update (so may have been installed without your knowledge) but currently offered as an optional update because of these issues. Note that this platform update may also have been installed as a prerequisite for MSIE 10.

So far, this seems to affect:
  • All ATI/AMD HD3000 series graphics
  • All ATI/AMD HD4000 series graphics
  • ATI Mobility chipsets of the same series
  • Hybrid systems of Intel/other graphics and dedicated ATI/AMD GPUs in laptops
  • Legacy video cards of several different manufacturers

Microsoft wrote:[sic: about affected systems] Microsoft is currently working with AMD to find the cause of the problem and determine the appropriate fix. If you have installed the Platform Update for Windows 7 on this computer, we recommend that you uninstall update 2670838.


To uninstall update 2670838, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, click Programs, and then click Programs and Features.
  2. Click View installed updates.
  3. Click Update for Microsoft Windows (KB 2670838), and then click Uninstall.

If you want/need the platform update, or don't have access to system settings/programs/uninstallation because of limited rights, you can work around this issue in Pale Moon by disabling Azure for page content:
  1. (Optional) Start Pale Moon in safe mode if you are having such severe issues the user interface is broken: Hold the SHIFT key pressed down when starting the browser, this will open the Safe Mode dialog box, select "Continue in safe mode"
  2. In the address bar, type about:config and press enter
  3. In the configuration editor that opens, use the filter text field and type in "azure"
  4. Find the preference gfx.content.azure.enabled and double-click it to set it to false
  5. Close and restart the browser

Additional information:
About the Platform Update and details about affected systems: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2670838
Related Mozilla bugreport: bug #812695
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Re: Recent rendering issues on Pale Moon 19

Postby lobocursor » Sun Mar 17, 2013 3:53 am

If I recall I got spoon feed the platform update one day and another I got as "important" an update to MISE 10. So you may get more messages of flaws from Windows side as they iron out the new version of their browser.
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Re: Recent rendering issues on Pale Moon 19

Postby Moonchild » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:37 pm

Update: I'm keeping an eye on the bugzilla discussion for this issue and it's apparently not going to be fixed in Firefox 20, with no progress on a fix yet since it's not clear at the DirectX level what exactly is the cause.

Update2: If there is no progress soon, I may revert Pale Moon to by default use the older rendering path as used in version 15 to work around this issue until Microsoft and/or AMD have worked out the cause and a solution. Mozilla is talking instead about blacklisting affected series of cards (that's millions of users, many of which will otherwise not run into this issue) so they won't get any hardware acceleration at all. I will not be following that same approach and think it is more sane to have people informed about the issue, the cause of it, and to provide a workaround with minimal impact.
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Re: Recent rendering issues on Pale Moon 19

Postby Moonchild » Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:35 pm

Mozilla is planning to axe hardware acceleration on all affected ATI/AMD cards through blocklisting to "fix" this issue (bug #852751). Considering that is very rigorous and also affecting a lot of people that do not have the correct OS/update combination for this bug to show up in the first place, Pale Moon will not follow the same course of action.
If you run into this issue, please use the solution posted here by either removing the Platform Update or switching Azure for content off. Either of those solutions are an effective means to work around this problem without losing noticeable performance.

I will may be switching Azure for content off in the next release as a default, until such time as Microsoft and AMD have ironed out the problem with the platform update; Microsoft is still triaging the issue.
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Re: Recent rendering issues on Pale Moon 19

Postby Moonchild » Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:15 am

It seems the Windows Platform Update causes issues in more than just the browser, and for more than just the indicated ranges of cards. I personally ended up uninstalling the KB and have attempted to post the following to Microsoft, but their feedback site is so broken it won't accept my post, so, FYI here:

Moonchild wrote:I'd like to report this as a bug but am unable to find any other channel immediately obvious to report this bug - maybe you can forward this to the right people if this is the wrong "desk".

The Windows 7 SP1 platform update KB2670838 is causing issues with rendering, with effects reaching over wide range of different applications:

  • Hardware accelerated web browsers (Firefox) -> causes pixelated graphics on some cards (HD3xxx, HD4xxx), this should already be known to you and being triaged.

HOWEVER, I also noticed:

  • Text editors that use normal window drawing, not accelerated (e.g. Textplorer) -> window contents are not updated when deleting text after selecting, causing text to display that was deleted. To "refresh", it's required to scroll the text out of the visible viewport and back in.

This occurs on a system with AMD graphics of a current generation (6870), not legacy.
All drivers and other updates are current.
Removing the KB immediately fixes this issue.

My question is if this additional information would help triaging this bug, and if there is any indication when this would be fixed.


So, anyone who installed this update should uninstall it using the instructions above, and I will also not make a change to Pale Moon to cater to a broken update that is obviously causing issues at the most basic accelerated window drawing layer in Windows. Just do NOT install this update. if it's required for MSIE10, then don't install MSIE10 (you already have a working browser in Pale Moon, and MSIE9 works just as well on Win 7).
If you're using Windows 8 and this is an issue, then there is no current solution, I'm afraid, apart from trying to disable hardware acceleration or parts thereof. Switch off Azure for content in the browser as outlined in the first post to work around this issue

(If you run Windows 8, you would honestly do better upgrading your video card to a later generation one, anyway - legacy cards have poor support for that O.S.)
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Re: Recent rendering issues on Pale Moon 19

Postby Moonchild » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:39 am

We're almost 3 months down the road now with no further update from ATI, Microsoft and Mozilla, all of whom are trying to lay blame on the other.
ATI/AMD blames MS for the update being not to spec, afaict.
MS may likely consider this a feature and not a bug.
Mozilla seems to be reluctant to implement a temporary workaround for affected systems, and seems to want to aim for a perfect "holy grail" solution, which is hard to get if you can't pinpoint the factual cause. It's hung up on trying to find this cause brought to light by the platform update.

The inner workings of DX are not my forté, so I'm not likely to mess with the code myself. Funnily enough, the parameter gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled is still checked in the code, but somehow no longer applies.

The solution therefore right now remains the workaround to either uninstall the Windows Platform update, or to disable azure for content as outlined in the original post. I'm keeping tabs on any movement, anywhere, and will be quick to implement a workaround or solution in Pale Moon on very short notice when it becomes available.
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