Jun 282013

This news item isn’t the kind of thing you see every day. In March, the company that makes the Firefox web browser (Mozilla) rolled out in test mode a significant new module for the browser called OdinMonkey — and gave credit to Amon Amarth as the musical inspiration for the name. And as of this week that module is now included in the latest Firefox release.

Now I know a few things about computer hardware and software, but the knowledge doesn’t go especially deep, so there will be a limit on how well I can explain what OdinMonkey does. But here goes (and I hope readers who know this stuff better than I do will correct me if I fuck it up):

Every web browser includes a JavaScript engine, which is software that interprets and executes JavaScript (a type of programming code) delivered by web servers, and that allows users to see and interact with web pages on their computers and other personal devices. OdinMonkey is a module for the JavaScript engine embedded in Firefox that will dramatically speed up the execution of JavaScript, boosting performance by 1000% or more, improving the ability to play games online and to use web-based applications. According to an article I found on the ExtremeTech web site:

“With OdinMonkey optimizing this process, code executed this way is only two times slower than native execution (as if the code was executed locally, outside the browser, without the JS-to-assembly transcompiling). While this might not sound particularly fast, normal JavaScript (such as when you load the ExtremeTech website) is maybe 20 or 30 times slower than native code. For comparison, Chrome executes asm.js code at around 10 times slower than native speed, and Firefox (without OdinMonkey) is around 12 times slower than native.

…Not only does it boost performance by a huge margin, but it could also act as a cornerstone for web apps that actually perform like their installed, native cousins. In short, OdinMonkey could finally allow for a web-based Adobe Photoshop or Crysis.”

And now here’s the metal part of this story. According to Luke Wagner, a software engineer at Mozilla who announced OdinMonkey on his blog, this was “the musical inspiration for OdinMonkey”:

Yesterday, Amon Amarth posted this note on their Facebook page:

“Mozilla (the makers of Firefox) named a recent Javascript project for their browser “OdinMonkey”. This name was inspired by our music and we are quite honored.”

Awfully damned cool.

The artwork at the top of this post is also awfully damned cool, but I haven’t found who created it.

OdinMonkey is included for the first time with Firefox 22, the newest version of Firefox, which was released for download on June 25. If you happen to be running the new version right now as you look at this page, grab a horn of mead and celebrate in the knowledge that there’s an OdinMonkey in your computer.


  1. The artist who did the OdinMonkey illustration is John Howard. His signature is on the bottom right of the image. 😉

  2. Woah! I’ve always used Mozilla practically for all 6 years and more. Would liked to know whether it gets updated automatically or whether one will need to redownload browser once again.

    • I think it depends on how you have your Firefox preferences set. It updated automatically on the computer I’m using now. I use a Mac, so I’m not sure how this would appear on a PC, but when I click the “Firefox” tab on the browser and then click on “About Firefox” from the drop-down menu, it shows the version of Firefox that I’m running, which is now Firefox 22.

    • One vaguely remembers Firefox updating itself on Windows, if the preference is set. But, on Ubuntu and such, One needs to periodically check the system updater.

      @Islander & Phro : You better watch out for Richard Stallman’s beard. It’s like being punched by a bear.

      • as you said, FFox updates can be configured in Options in the Tools menu, anyone using this browser can also get an update by going ot the “About Firefox” entry in the Help menu and click the “find updates” button. (in my case – i’m on windoze 7 – the browser first displays messages about a new version available, and after some time of me ignoring it, the browser rebels and autoupdates itself). As for Ubuntu, you don’t have to check anything – the update manager does everything for you and tells you automatically about various updates – recommended, security, etc, etc, all you have to do is decide whether you want some updates or not.
        @ Islander – what you’re describing would look exactly the same on another OS

  3. Nice post! Yeah, many hours of listening to Amon Amarth when writing OdinMonkey. I’ll be seeing them for the first time this Sunday 🙂

  4. The artist is John Howard — he’s done the artwork for many of Mozilla’s JavaScript projects. You can see his work at http://www.monkeyink.com

  5. I use Chrome, myself, but the nod to Amon Amarth is damn cool. and that artwork is killer

  6. happy rakshabandhan

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.