Firefox spinning wheel bug

Quick Fix: Firefox Tabs Becomes Blank, Showing Nothing But A Spinning Wheel

If you’re using Firefox version 55 or above and you seem to encounter a bug that causes tabs to become blank, showing nothing but a spinning wheel, here’s what you can do.

Updated Sep 20, 2017Quick Fix

New versions of Firefox (starting 55.0 and above) are shipping with a new technology called Electrolysis, or “E10s” for short, which basically is meant to make use of contemporary PCs’ multiprocessing power in order to deliver the user with better performance.

That technology apparently, still is a little rough around the edges and certainly could use some tuning since, it seems, it also brought some new bugs along with it.

One such bug you probably have noticed yourself causes Firefox tabs to become occasionally blank yet showing a never-ending spinning wheel, also known by the its professional term as throbber.

The spinning throbber might give the impression that if you’ll just wait a little while it’d stop spinning and your opened tab will reload again, however, not only it never stops spinning, users who’ll try to simply refresh the page/tab they are on will find that it is refreshing exactly to the same state.

As of current, a bug report has already been submitted to Mozilla’s bugzilla and while the bug is still being investigated for a proper solution, the following will help you workaround it until that proper solution is found.

Apparently, the bug is being caused due to E10s lacking support of the various common Linux desktop environments and their compositing capabilities. Therefore, you have to options to work around it:

Either turn off Firefox’s E10s feature until the bug would be fixed (may entail performance drawbacks in Firefox),


Set your desktop environment’s compositor to a fixed state (may entail performance drawbacks in applications other than Firefox).

How to Turn Off FireFox E10s

In order to turn off E10s feature navigate Firefox into the following address: about:config > click I accept the risk! when asked whether you’re sure you want to proceed.

Disable E10s in Firefox (having 2 options may indicate environment override)

Disable E10s in Firefox (having 2 similar options may indicate environment override)

Use the top search box to search for the option: browser.tabs.remote.autostart and double-click to toggle it.

Another option is to toggle: browser.tabs.remote.force-enable in case your environment is overriding the above option.

Restart Firefox for changes to take effect.

How to Fixate Compositor (example assumes KDE)

In order to fixate your D.E.’s compositor, that is set it to a permanent state (instead of auto or override by applications), go to your D.E.’s System Settings select the category that hosts the compositor feature, in KDE it’s Display and Monitor and untick Allow applications to block compositing.

Disable applications override compositor (KDE)

Disable applications override compositor (KDE)

The option should take effect immediately, no restart/logout required (on KDE).

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