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The Firefox version which comes in Ubuntu has Pango enabled by default. Pango is a font smoothing library which decreases Firefox speed by up to 45%.

But don’t just take my word for it. Check out some complaints from other people regarding Pango.

To disable Pango in Ubuntu, edit either your .bashrc or .bash_profile file located in your home folder (those are hidden files, so make sure you press Ctrl + H to see them), and add this line:
Then re-source:
source .bashrc 
source .bash_profile
And restart Firefox.

Please note that this fix affects the default, packaged installation of Firefox on Ubuntu installations. If you’ve upgraded your Firefox install manually, it does not have Pango.

[credits: phyx, dreamlogic]