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Windows 7: "Color ringing" on text, ATI video card, only with Firefox

01 Jun 2013   #1

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 
"Color ringing" on text, ATI video card, only with Firefox

This problem in Firefox started around the time of the V13 video drivers for ATI HD* video cards (I have an HD4850 running v13.1 and an HD5770 running v13.4). Or, it might have been around the time v20 of Firefox came out (I'm currently using v21.0). Don't know exactly.

So the problem may be tied to v13 of the ATI video drivers, or it might be to a recent version of Firefox. Unclear. Since the issue does not show up with Internet Explorer but only with Firefox, I decided to post the question here rather than in the Video sub-forum.


Anyway the problem is that text displayed or in a composition window (like this, as I write) often seems to "vibrate" with colors around the letters. Kind of like a "video convergence" problem on an old CRT, where the RGB guns were not all focused on the same spot.

Seems that scrolling the page up or down can often cure the problem (as the screen is re-painted), or most often it just kind of disappears on its own after a while, for some reason.

Anybody else notice this?

Here's what it looks like. Amazingly I was able to get a screenshot before the "color ringing" disappeared and everything was once again perfect black text.




My System SpecsSystem Spec
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01 Jun 2013   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Well, whoever the culprit is... either (a) ATI Catalyst v13.1 or higher, or (b) Firefox v20 or higher... the "workaround" seems to be to TURN OFF HARDWARE ACCELERATION IN FIREFOX.

Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> General tab, and then un-check "use hardware acceleration" item in the Browsing group.

That definitely eliminates the symptom.

But it also has the undesirable (for me, anyway) effect of eliminating all of the benefits of hardware acceleration! And in particular, on SevenForums because of the forum software and the method of presenting text in posts, when hardware acceleration is disabled the text lines in posts have a horizontally closer together character spacing, and also a vertically closer together line spacing. This makes it slightly "denser" than when hardware acceleration is enabled and things have a slightly larger horizontal and vertical spacing for the identical text.

I went through a similar story last year when Firefox blacklisted Catalyst 12.8, automatically disabling hardware acceleration because of instability issues. I had to go back to Catalyst 12.6 to be able to retain hardware acceleration, at least until ATI resolved the driver issue in 12.10.


So for now, at least I understand that I'm not crazy, and that there's nothing really wrong with my systems.

The problem is definitely software somewhere, either in Catalyst or in Firefox, but obviously it's a relatively new software problem. And hopefully it will eventually go away as one or the other software vendors corrects something which is at the heart of the problem.

In the meantime, I'll "live with it" (annoying as it is) since it kind of generally self-disappears as I scroll pages up and down, which is "good enough" for me. I prefer how things look on this forum with hardware acceleration enabled, so that's the biggest influence for this decision.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2013   #3

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

New information on this problem, as learned from the MozillaZine forum in response to my thread there.

Turns out this is a known problem and was "born" due to Windows 7 Platform Update KB2670838 (MSIE 10 Prerequisite), a Microsoft update for IE 10 as documented in this Firefox bug report.

And it turns out there is a "better" solution/workaround for this, other than disabling Hardware Acceleration. Turns out if you instead disable support for Azure content this will accomplish the desired result and the "color fringing/ringing" symptom will disappear. So you can keep hardware acceleration, by disabling Azure.

In the address bar enter: about:config
look for pref: gfx.content.azure.enabled double-click to toggle the setting, and restart the browser.

This should fix it for you. Did for me.

Note: the problem is specific to Firefox, not to IE (not surprisingly).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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02 May 2014   #4

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Well, looks like this one has returned with FF29.

Here are some examples...





This time disabling Azure content seems to have no effect.

It does seem disabling hardware acceleration works, although I don't want to operate this way.

Still ATI HD4850 video, but running with Catalyst 13.9 WHQL drivers, Windows 7 Pro x64.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 May 2014   #5

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Happens on gray and black backgrounds as well.

Again, "use hardware acceleration" is checked. When this is turned off the symptom goes away.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 May 2014   #6

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit Build 7600 / Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP3
 
 

Quote:
To enable the workaround for this bug:
1) Make sure you're running Firefox 26 or higher
2) Go to about:config
3) Right click anywhere in the content area, create a new Boolean called "layout.paint_rects_separately" (without the quotes) and set it to true
4) Restart the browser This setting is expected to become the default at some point, but right now it causes some performance regressions.
I took that from here:
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bu...id=812695#c414

I added that fix on my desktop and works perfectly, try it and enable hardware aceleration.
Ah... since FF28, the azure content configs have no effect anymore, better to leave that to defaults...
And lastly, this fix must be set for any profile you may have in Firefox (if you got more than one)

This is happening because FF has some issues with IE10/11 plattform update... maybe the engine cannot handle the subpixel feature like IE does... Opera or Chrome don't exhibit this bug -I assume Chrome doesn't use hardware acceleration, that's why... Opera seems to be OK though...-

Hope it helps
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 May 2014   #7

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Ok. I've solved my own problem by doing a complete uninstall of Firefox and deleting all of the related folders and data, after first doing an EXPORT of bookmarks to HTML for backup, so that I could then IMPORT them once the fresh reinstall was done.

Then I did a fresh install of FF29, IMPORT'ed my just backed up bookmarks, re-customized.

Voila!!! No more "color ringing" on text, even though this is the same machine with the same HD4850 and the same Catalyst 13.9 drivers. Still using "use hardware acceleration" and haven't added the suggested addition to PREFS, as it wasn't needed apparently.

I'm guessing the problem stemmed from my long series of many migrations of old FF versions with simple installs of the newer versions right over the older versions, including (and here's where I probably got myself in trouble) starting from the data contained in "old profiles" if I needed to re-build a Windows environment from scratch. I suspect I really should have been doing what I did just now, which is to just EXPORT my existing bookmarks, and install FF from scratch in branc new systems, and then IMPORT the bookmarks backup.

I'm sure it was the detritus from the older PROFILES contents which was likely at fault for me.

Anyway, with the just performed complete uninstall/clean, followed by a new install-from-scratch of FF29, recovering my bookmarks from an HTML backup (which really should be done every so often anyway, just for good measure), my "color ringing" problem is gone.


NOTE: I didn't even try adding the new prefs alternative to the old Azure content fix, as I honestly just sensed the problem really was the "garbage" I must have accumulated in my PROFILES over the years, re-using old content when I really should just have worried about retaining bookmarks. I don't mind re-customizing if necessary.

I had a hunch this would work, as I now have installed FF into three newly built systems, all of which have ATI video and none of which had the "color ringing" symptom as my one problem system did. All the other systems were built installing FF from scratch and then customizing, whereas my problem system had been using this "garbage dump" of re-used PROFILES for many years.

Case closed (I hope).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 "Color ringing" on text, ATI video card, only with Firefox




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