How to prevent Firefox from lagging badly when dragging selected text

This past week I upgraded my system from Ubuntu 8.04 to Ubuntu 8.10. The upgrade was pretty smooth, with nothing much to report except that my system now boots without requiring the all_generic_ide kernel parameter, which is nice. One problem that I immediately started seeing, however, was that my system would freeze up terribly whenever I selected more than a few words in Mozilla Firefox and tried dragging them anywhere. Depending on how large the block of text was, my entire system could freeze up for minutes at a time as it spent several seconds drawing each frame of the text block moving.

Well, I’d had enough of it, and I went looking for a solution. Firefox didn’t always render the entire contents of the selection being dragged-and-dropped; it used to just display a little icon next to the cursor. Here’s how to restore that functionality and remove the lag from the fancy but ultimately unnecessary fully rendered dragging:

  1. Type about:config into Firefox’s location bar and hit Return.
  2. In the filter text edit box at the top of the window, type nglayout.
  3. Double-click on the nglayout.enable_drag_images row to change its value to false.
  4. That’s it! Firefox will no longer try to render the contents of the selection to the screen as you drag words around. For older systems or systems with poor graphical support (like mine, apparently), this is pretty much a mandatory change. Enjoy your new, faster Firefox!

2 Responses to “How to prevent Firefox from lagging badly when dragging selected text”

  1. Greg Maxwell Says:

    Weird. The image-drag cause absolutely zero performance problems on my Fedora 9 laptop with Intel video.

    Then again, I’m not too fond of the image drag in any case: it surprises me, so perhaps I’ll turn it off.

    Now, any idea how to make random pastes into firefox windows *not* visit the pasted URL, and especially not do a google I’m feeling lucky search for it? I’m sick and tired of having firefox ship off fragments of private messages to google simply because I missed a text entry box and pasted them into the background.

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