How to Enable WebGL for Blocked Graphics Cards in Firefox

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WebGL is amazing. Take a look at X-Wing or First-Person Tetris in Firefox. What do you mean it’s not working? My laptop’s two years old but, despite having a reasonable dedicated graphics card, WebGL is disabled in Firefox. Mozilla blacklist specific GPUs based on the driver version number, i.e.

  • NVIDIA cards require a driver numbered 8.17.12.5721 or greater
  • AMD/ATI cards are 8.741.0.0 or greater
  • Intel cards normally require 6.14.11 on XP, 7.15.10 on Vista or 8.15.10 on 7 (although some products are completely blocked)
  • Macs require OS version 10.6 or newer
In general, blacklisting is a good thing. You don’t want WebGL crashing the browser because your card doesn’t support the right number of Z/Stencil ROP Units, 128-bit floating point HDR, anisotropic texture filtering or some other bizarre feature no one understands. Unfortunately, hardware vendors stop producing drivers for legacy products (anything released before last Tuesday). In some cases, your PC vendor will insist on releasing their own modified driver updates and there’s no guarantee they’ll do that. Your graphics card may be WebGL-compatible, but it’ll be blocked in Firefox if the driver version is 0.0.0.1 behind the approved list. Type “about:support” in the address bar and scroll down to the “Graphics” section at the bottom to discover whether your card is suitable. And all you Chrome users can stop giggling — Google is adopting GPU blacklists in their browser shortly.

Big Red Warning

We’re about to bypass Firefox’s GPU blacklist. It’s a dumb thing to do and involves tinkering with dangerous configuration settings. Do this at your own risk: I can’t accept responsibility for any catastrophic PC failures, migraines, plagues, explosions or spontaneous human combustion caused by these changes … But it’s worth the risk to play X-Wing!

Here Be Dragons

Type about:config in Firefox’s address bar and make the following changes:
  • To enable WebGL, set webgl.force-enabled to true.
  • To enable Layers Acceleration, set layers.acceleration.force-enabled to true
  • To enable Direct2D in Windows Vista/7, set gfx.direct2d.force-enabled to true
Now, cross your fingers, restart Firefox and try running a WebGL application. It’s probably best to undo those changes if smoke starts pouring from your PC.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Enabling WebGL on Blacklisted Graphics Card in Firefox

What is WebGL and why is it important in Firefox?

WebGL, or Web Graphics Library, is a JavaScript API that renders interactive 2D and 3D graphics within any compatible web browser without the use of plug-ins. It’s crucial in Firefox because it allows the browser to perform complex rendering of graphics, which is particularly useful for web gaming and other web applications that require high-quality graphic content.

Why does Firefox blacklist certain graphics cards for WebGL?

Firefox blacklists certain graphics cards for WebGL due to compatibility issues or known bugs that can cause crashes or other problems. The aim is to ensure stability and performance of the browser. The list of blacklisted cards is regularly updated as issues are resolved or new ones are discovered.

How can I check if my graphics card is blacklisted by Firefox?

You can check if your graphics card is blacklisted by navigating to the “about:support” page in your Firefox browser. Under the “Graphics” section, you’ll find information about your graphics card and whether it’s blacklisted or not.

Can I enable WebGL on my blacklisted graphics card in Firefox?

Yes, you can enable WebGL on a blacklisted graphics card in Firefox, but it’s important to note that this may lead to instability or performance issues. You can do this by changing some settings in the “about:config” page in Firefox.

How do I enable WebGL on a blacklisted graphics card in Firefox?

To enable WebGL on a blacklisted graphics card, type “about:config” in the Firefox address bar and press enter. Accept the warning message, then search for “webgl.force-enabled” and set its value to true. This will force enable WebGL on your blacklisted graphics card.

What are the risks of enabling WebGL on a blacklisted graphics card?

Enabling WebGL on a blacklisted graphics card can lead to instability, crashes, or performance issues in Firefox. It’s recommended to only do this if you understand the risks and are comfortable troubleshooting potential issues.

Can I un-blacklist my graphics card in Firefox?

While you can’t directly un-blacklist a graphics card, you can override the blacklist by enabling WebGL as described above. However, this should be done with caution as it may lead to browser instability.

How can I update my graphics card drivers to resolve the blacklist issue?

Updating your graphics card drivers can sometimes resolve the blacklist issue. You can do this by visiting the manufacturer’s website, finding the latest drivers for your specific graphics card model, and following their instructions to install the update.

What should I do if enabling WebGL on my blacklisted graphics card causes issues?

If enabling WebGL on your blacklisted graphics card causes issues, you can disable it again by setting the “webgl.force-enabled” value to false in the “about:config” page. If issues persist, consider seeking help from the Firefox community or support forums.

Are there alternatives to WebGL that I can use if my graphics card is blacklisted?

If your graphics card is blacklisted and you’re experiencing issues with WebGL, you might consider using alternative technologies like Canvas or SVG for 2D graphics. For 3D graphics, WebGPU is an emerging alternative, but it’s still in the experimental stage and not widely supported yet.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

firefoxGPUgraphics cardsHTML5 Dev CenterWebGL
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