Build Firefox Faster with Artifact Builds

Working on Firefox DevTools has always been a dream of mine, mostly because it feels like the ultimate way to give back to the development community and those that helped me become a success.  And when I explain who Mozilla is and people ask “Oh, so you work on Firefox?!”, I can finally say “yes”!

Of course working on Firefox DevTools isn’t without its problems, the biggest being that Firefox takes forever to build.  And its effect on a MacBook Pro’s CPU?  Well…here’s a recent photo of me building Firefox:

Build Firefox

Thankfully there’s a faster way to build Firefox for local developer:  artifact builds.  Artifact builds allow you to use pre-built binaries to build Firefox for debugging DevTools (and other features) much more quickly.

Start by creating a mozconfig with the following contents:

# Automatically download and use compiled C++ components:
ac_add_options --enable-artifact-builds # Write build artifacts to:
mk_add_options MOZ_OBJDIR=./objdir-frontend

The trigger a build using mach:

./mach clobber && ./mach build # Use `./mach build faster` in the future

Firefox builds go from an hour (and potentially a call to the Fire Department) to just a few minutes.  If you’re looking to help develop DevTools, Firefox, or simply have your own custom build of Firefox, jump on artifact builds — these mozconfig directives are worth the time!

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