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Mozilla The Internet

Firefox Going the Big and Bloated IE Way? 653

Posted by Zonk
from the dinosaur-needs-a-diet dept.
abhinav_pc writes "Wired is carrying an article pondering whether Firefox has become big and bloated, much like IE. As the browser's popularity has risen, the interest in cramming more features into the product has as well. Slowdowns and feature creep have some users asking for a return to the days of the 'slim and sexy' Firefox. 'Firefox's page-cache mechanism, for example, introduced in version 1.5, stores the last eight visited pages in the computer's memory. Caching pages in memory allows faster back browsing, but it can also leave a lot less memory for other applications to use. Less available RAM equals a less-responsive computer. Firefox addresses this issue somewhat, setting the default cache lower on computers with less than a gigabyte of RAM. Though the jury is still out on where the perfect balance between too many and too few features lies, one truth is apparent: The new web is pushing our browsers to the limit.'"
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Firefox Going the Big and Bloated IE Way?

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  • is it time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:46PM (#19168983)
    to totally rethink the browser? with broadband becoming more available could websites be built in a way that current browsers don't even let us imagine?
    • Re:is it time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thePsychologist (1062886) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:07PM (#19169461) Journal
      Actually, perhaps it's time to totally rethink the internet. Browsers today are bloated partly because websites are bloated.

      The majority of websites could do with a simple and less cluttered layout like google's website for instance. Compare it to yahoo and you'll see that yahoo has a bunch of "advanced features" like inpage tabs and whatnot. Lots of this extra junk you'll find around the web is javascript that chooses CSS based on browser and that displays advertisements. Lots of it is just poor use of HTML often from WYSISYG programs. More features in language means more junk on website. More junk on website means more junk in browser.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:38PM (#19170117)
        Go look at the source code to Gecko, the rendering engine behind Firefox, Seamonkey, Thunderbird and other projects. In short, it's a mess.

        Part of the problem is the foolish complexity of it. Their whole XPCOM idea sounds nice in theory. But then you actually go to implement it in C++, and it becomes a pile of crap. Soon enough, difficult tasks start to become hard, the damn near impossible tasks can't be done, and nobody really has a good idea of what large portions of the codebase actually does. That's not the way to create an efficient rendering engine. You'll end up with memory leaks galore, and excessive CPU consumption, just as we've witnessed with Firefox.

        Although it's unlikely to happen now, the best thing for them to have done would have been to throw out most of the code released by Netscape, rather than rewriting a lot of it (at the same low-quality level) in the following years. Then they could have re-implemented it using a natively-compiled implementation of Standard ML. One benefit of this would have been an elimination of the memory leaks that we hear to much about today, due to the garbage collection of SML. Additionally, functional languages are well-suited to parsing (ie. of HTML, XHTML, etc.) and language implementation (ie. JavaScript), more so than C++.
        • by ASBands (1087159) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:33PM (#19171163) Homepage

          I once attempted to create a page-rendering engine, starting with XHTML. Eventually, I got a decent-working rendering engine. Unfortunately, anytime there was an error (even a minuscule one), my engine would completely fail. I can't even being to imagine the hell Gecko goes through to render a site like MySpace [w3.org]. I've often thought about a better way to implement a rendering engine, but most involve fixing the web developer's crappy code before attempting to render it, which is not possible in most cases. In C++, you can't compile with an error. Perhaps development software that isn't notepad (my software of choice) should add in validation service in the same way Visual Studio 2005 does.

          The internet: We have the tools to rebuild it, but we don't want to spend a lot of money.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:39PM (#19171261)
            Your renderer did what most renderers years ago should have done: failed outright upon errors. That would have been essentially the same as a C++ compiler not emitting anything upon encountering a syntax error. Unfortunately, the early browser developers, mainly at Netscape and Microsoft, decided to try to handle such shit input. And so today we have crap like MySpace.

            • by Kelson (129150) * on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:59PM (#19172379) Homepage Journal
              I agree -- halfway. Had early web browsers been strict about errors, we wouldn't have so much broken code out there, and cross-browser compatibility would be solely a matter of which features are supported -- not which set of error-correcting assumptions you expect.

              On the other hand, the fact that those early versions of Mosaic, Netscape, IE, etc. would do something with broken code instead of refusing to display it meant that the barriers to entry were a lot lower. It vastly increased the pool of people who could create web pages, and the talent pool. Sure, some people have both artistic talent and programming ability, or have the resources to team up. But can you imagine a web built solely by programmers?

              Eventually the authoring tools would have caught up. But I have to wonder if the web would be as big and diverse as it is now if it hadn't been able to pull in the casual author back in 1995.

              Yes, we have crappily-coded sites like MySpace. On the other hand, 10 years ago the idea of visiting a website was inordinately dorky, and being online meant you were a social outcast. Now, it seems like being offline is considered freakish.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Koikuri (1044000)

                But can you imagine a web built solely by programmers? [...] I have to wonder if the web would be as big and diverse as it is now if it hadn't been able to pull in the casual author back in 1995. [...] 10 years ago the idea of visiting a website was inordinately dorky, and being online meant you were a social outcast.

                But what is wrong with that? Yes, I know... Amazon and Ebay and such depend on the casual surfer, but would it really be so bad if the internet comprised primarily academics and programmers and serious hobbyists instead of primarily preteens (and older folks with the maturity of preteens) with too much time on their hands? Call me an elitist, but I don't feel like it would be much of a loss.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by jgrahn (181062)

                I agree -- halfway. Had early web browsers been strict about errors, we wouldn't have so much broken code out there, and cross-browser compatibility would be solely a matter of which features are supported -- not which set of error-correcting assumptions you expect.

                Right. Well put.

                On the other hand, the fact that those early versions of Mosaic, Netscape, IE, etc. would do something with broken code instead of refusing to display it meant that the barriers to entry were a lot lower. It vastly increased the

              • by Almahtar (991773) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:39AM (#19175461) Journal

                But can you imagine a web built solely by programmers?


                Yeah, it probably would have consisted entirely of porn.
          • by hey! (33014) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:49PM (#19171469) Homepage Journal
            To be fair, the w3.org validator is emitting spurious errors from the very top after failing to find the DOCTYPE declaration. It's obviously trapped in lexical lala land.

            For example, it fails to recognize the head tag here:

            <!-- *** VERSION 2.0 CSS *** -->
            <!-- *** ELS2MWEBNET0756 *** -->
            <html>
            <head>
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          FWIW, I think what you're talking about is a lot of what they're planning on doing for Gecko 2.0.
        • by anaesthetica (596507) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:01PM (#19171669) Homepage Journal
          One of the principal goals of "Mozilla 2" is to subject the codebase to "deCOMtamination". Every instance of XPCOM than can be replaced with C++ exceptions will be, in order to reduce the ill effects of XPCOM that you outlined. Unfortunately, Mozilla 2 is estimated to be released as Firefox 4.0 in the first quarter of 2009--so at least a year and a half from now. This remedy may end up being too little too late.

          Also see this kuro5hin story [kuro5hin.org].
          • by aichpvee (631243) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:17PM (#19171837) Journal
            Too little, too late? And who's going to come along and sink their ship in that year and a half? If Opera were going to do it, they'd have done it by now. Maybe if Konqueror could be a contender if it goes multiplatform (anywhere that runs KDE plus Windows and maybe a native Mac port) with KDE4/Qt4.

            Other than that there really isn't anyone to take their place. Oon windows I highly doubt that you'll see many converts going back to IE, even if microsoft somehow makes it stop sucking with IE8, which I guarantee won't happen anyway.
    • by soleblaze (628864) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:13PM (#19169605)
      It's time to bring back VRML!
    • Re:is it time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:17PM (#19169677)
      As someone who lives out in the sticks, and pays $100/month for a 1.5MBit 802.11 connection, I say no. Keep the web as plain old HTML. Limit flash (And other plugins) to things like embedded video, NOT AS THE ACTUAL WEBPAGE.

      There's still a lot of people out there who are limited to dialup, satellite, or some other jerry-rigged internet connection.
    • rethink the OS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:27PM (#19169881)
      Is there not some way that operating systems can manage caches for applications in a way that certain datasets can be marked as opportunisitic caching. That is, make it as keep a copy of this in any free space, but you can discard it if real memory is needed.
      • by SnowZero (92219) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:53PM (#19170421)
        The OS could send a "SIG_FREE_UP_SOME_DAMN_MEMORY". The best part would be applications that don't handle it would just crash, freeing up lots of memory :) But yeah, your point is valid; An OS managed shared cache could make cache management easier. An easier to add although not quite as elegant solution would be to have that cache be part of the desktop suite; While not fully shared, at least all the desktop apps for one user would be cooperating.
    • Re:is it time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ajs (35943) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:32PM (#19170027) Homepage Journal
      I'm doubtful that there's a substantial revision to the browser that would be useful. Firefox is really not that "large". When rendering small, lightweight Web pages, Firefox is actually not the largest application I run regularly... of course, small, lightweight Web pages are a dying breed.

      That's not really Firefox's fault. Eight Web pages worth of cache is nothing... when you're not visiting a site that has 6 CSS stylesheets, 8 JavaScript sources and 20 images eight pages is a breeze. But visit most Web sites today, and you'll find that that's a dying dream.

      Fortunately, well-designed Web sites can take advantage of this. For example, MediaWiki has tons of CSS and JavaScript associated with each page, but it's shared in common across almost all of those pages, so keeping 8 pages in cache isn't all that much more expensive than keeping one.
      • Re:is it time (Score:4, Informative)

        by Skreems (598317) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:00PM (#19171643) Homepage
        The original files that compose a site are not the problem. You can throw all the raw CSS you can find into memory and not make a dent. The problem is that Firefox is saving the final DOM that's parsed out of those original source files. That's a lot bigger than the raw data, and it's not something that "simple" websites do any better at.
  • Very nice FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:47PM (#19169021) Homepage
    Wow, I actually RTFA and nowhere in there does it say that Firefox is becoming as "bloated" as Internet Explorer. Nope, it says it's becoming as bloated as Seamonkey. Oh the horror. The article is also (as usual) not kind to Firefox as far as the speed and insane memory consumption it suffers from, which thousands of fanboys have spent the past three years desperately denying for some weird reason. To be fair, I use FF and I don't care about the memory problem, but that doesn't mean it's not there.

    Disingenuous FUD aside, I can't for the life of me imagine how IE could be "bloated". It never had much functionality to begin with.

    Kudos to Bashdot. Even the current Digg submission [digg.com] doesn't mention IE at all.

    • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:03PM (#19169393)
      At least when you install Firefox, you don't get some version of Windows along with it :-)

      I mean, talk about bloat!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by acidrain (35064)

      Seriously. I use FF because it has a lot of handy plugins, which could be counted as a healthy form of bloat, not because it is faster or smaller than IE. I have been doing some heavy DOM scripting lately (using Javascript to procedurally generate and update web pages) and FF is actually a little slower than IE when it comes to the things that are typically expensive.

      If you look at the code (painful) or read the Mozilla road map for FF, it becomes clear the current code base is a tangled mess of legacy

  • by kauttapiste (633236) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:47PM (#19169029)
    That's why I never get the first post!
  • well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:48PM (#19169051) Homepage
    Caching pages in memory allows faster back browsing, but it can also leave a lot less memory for other applications to use.
     
    The amount of RAM used for caching pages could be set by the user in the options. I think most Firefox users could handle that.
    • by cjb-nc (887319) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:57PM (#19169281)
      A quick look finds the option to turn off the cache:

      browse to about:config
      search for the browser.cache.memory.enable setting
      set it to false
      restart the browser

      On my machine, that lowers the memory footprint from 125MB to just under 50MB.
    • Re:well (Score:5, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:02PM (#19169371) Homepage Journal

      The amount of RAM used for caching pages could be set by the user in the options. I think most Firefox users could handle that.

      Sure, for geeks. But if we want people to stop using IE we must provide a credible alternative.

      There should definitely be an option to tell Firefox to use less than n megabytes of memory, and let firefox figure it out, instead of setting the memory limit through the number of undo levels per tab.

  • Firefox=Mozilla? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aeron65432 (805385) <agiamba@@@gmail...com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:49PM (#19169063) Homepage
    More than anything it's reminding me of Mozilla, now known as SeaMonkey. The reason I switched from Mozilla to Firefox was because I wanted a smaller, more nimble browser. I didn't want a RSS reader, e-mail, IRC, etc. packaged together. Firefox hasn't integrated all of those yet but it's moving towards it and I don't like it.
    • by eln (21727) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:01PM (#19169357) Homepage
      That's really the problem, I think. Firefox was originally supposed to be just a great browser, as opposed to the bloat that was Mozilla, with additional functionality being provided by Add-ons. Now, though, the development direction seems to be to take the best of the extensions and incorporate them into the main product. It might be better to keep the browser as it is, and then release a separate bundle with Firefox + the most popular add-ons. That way, people that want the slim browser they switched to Firefox for in the first place can have it, while the Firefox team can still have a download that will allow them to crow about all of the great features Firefox has.
    • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:22PM (#19170959)
      What's odd is that Opera packs all that stuff in and more (even a BitTorrent client!), and it's faster and more lightweight in terms of resource requirements. Even the download size is amazingly small. What is it that makes Firefox worse in that regard? The XUL stuff? Convoluted codebase making improvement difficult?
  • Opera! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Romwell (873455) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:49PM (#19169073)
    I guess it is the time now for people to look into Opera, which seems to be able to keep the balance. I think software should not be discriminated on the basis of not being FOSS.
    • Re:Opera! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by glwtta (532858) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:01PM (#19169345) Homepage
      I think software should not be discriminated on the basis of not being FOSS.

      And I think it should. Guess that's why different things matter to different people.
      • Re:Opera! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Timesprout (579035) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:13PM (#19169597)
        Yes, some of us are prepared to use the best tool for the job rather than blindly follow FOSS.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bogtha (906264)

          Sometimes the best tool for the job depends on how far into the future you are looking. Free Software advocates are more pragmatic than you think. You just need to stop thinking about what works today and start wondering about what will work tomorrow. Mark Pilgrim wrote a couple [diveintomark.org] of decent articles [diveintomark.org] about the kinds of problems proprietary software can cause.

          Now I don't use Opera for anything other than testing, so I don't know what kinds of risks that particular software exposes you to. What I do know

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shish (588640)

      I just had the freakiest experience with Opera, and I wonder if anyone here can explain: As some of you may know, in addition to regular back and forward buttons, opera also has a "go where I want" button. I had suspected that it worked by simply finding the end digit in the URL and adding one, ie if you're viewing 42.jpg and hit "go where I want" you go to 43.jpg. But I've just had it figure out that the image after "07.jpg" is "chapter2-01.jpg".

      HOW DOES IT KNOW?!

  • "Less available RAM" (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jaffa (7714) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:49PM (#19169077) Homepage
    Ignoring the poor grammar for a moment: "Less available RAM equals a less-responsive computer" is a bit simplistic. Unused memory is wasted memory, this is similar to the arguments about top(1) on Linux reporting all your memory being used in buffers etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vexorian (959249)

      But seriously man, I am yet to see firefox go above 120MB, I've seen some trolls saying it can get to 500MB! And who cares if you are not able to play those FULL SCREEN games and have your browser open at the same time? And is it so difficult to got to options\Advanced\Set cache size to 0, there should you go if you got infinite bandwidth and a tendency to open a lot of other applications while browsing?

      Oh my god, I just hate how frequent this flamebait is, people won't switch to opera, seriously get over

  • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:50PM (#19169087)
    Firefox has an awesome ability to add-on things very effectively. I don't understand why they don't keep fx slim with with all the proposed additional features as external (and hence optional) add-ons. Perhaps the not-so-computer-literate can use the bloated-up version of fx so they don't have to figure out how to use add-ons (I'm still amazed at how computer illiterate people can be), but leave a streamlined version for us techies to add-on options as we choose.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bfields (66644)

      I don't understand why they don't keep fx slim with with all the proposed additional features as external (and hence optional) add-ons.

      At least some of the complaints I've heard about "firefox bloat" have turned out, on closer examination, to be due to memory leaks in the Flash plugin.

      And that's a disadvantage of plugins: they're complex bits of code that run in the same memory space as firefox and have the ability to screw it up arbitrarily badly, but that aren't part of the main code base, so aren't u

  • Besides the cache (Score:3, Interesting)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:53PM (#19169161) Homepage Journal
    So other than the memory cache, what features could be stripped from FF to make it leaner and faster? I know nothing of its internals, but without any extensions it doesn't seem to have many wasteful features.
    • by Reason58 (775044) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:05PM (#19169433)

      So other than the memory cache, what features could be stripped from FF to make it leaner and faster? I know nothing of its internals, but without any extensions it doesn't seem to have many wasteful features.

      A quick glance at the Firefox features page lists these things, which as far as I'm concerned are bloat as they are not fundamental to a web browser:

      • Spell Checking
      • Search Suggestions
      • Session Restore
      • Web Feeds (RSS)
      • Live Titles
      • Integrated Search
      • Live Bookmarks
      • Pop-up Blocker
      • Accessibility
      • Phishing Protection
      • Automated Update

      I don't see any reason why all of those things are integrated and not seperate addons. And that list gets bigger with each new version.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:45PM (#19170281)
        Face it, folks - Phoenix was about slim, slim, slim. Firefox is NOT - it's about best-of-breed. For all the talk of bloat, take one look at things like the default toolbar layout (simple and streamlined), preferences (compare it to Mozilla or IE), and menu layout (again, dare to compare). Internal things like memory management and feature support may have increased, but the user interface has remained streamlined and efficient. THAT is what is important to the vast majority of users.

        As to the parent post, let's see now:

        RSS Support:
        • Web Feeds (RSS)
        • Live Titles
        • Live Bookmarks

        I could easily see removing RSS support. Firefox's implementation is nothing an extension couldn't do, and do much better. It's a joke for handling more than a handful of feeds, and stifles development of third-party extensions. Gee, and we used to complain about competing against built-in programs...

        Security:
        • Pop-up Blocker
        • Phishing Protection
        • Automated Update

        Can you honestly say a browser should be shipped without these, or even an option to not install them? Especially for the popup blocker - are you insane, or have you simply forgotten what the popup-infested web was like? Phishing protection is unobtrusive and useful, as is auto-update.

        Miscellaneous:
        • Spell Checking
        • Integrated Search
        • Search Suggestions
        • Session Restore
        • Accessibility

        Integrated search was one of the highlights of Mozilla ages ago, and is now a standard feature in every single browser. Firefox/Mozilla did a particularly good job by adopting an existing open format (from Apple's Sherlock) rather than reinventing the wheel. Search suggestions are the latest evolution of that (primarily thanks to Google Suggestions, if I'm not mistaken). Spell check is marginal - many operating systems offer their own - but I don't see how a third-party extension could improve upon it. Accessibility is just critical for those who need it. Session Restore I'm torn on, as many extensions handled it, but not necessarily well. I see that as the Firefox team deciding to take all of the lessons learned from the third parties, and do it right (much like Apple did with iTunes 1.0).

        Bloat is only a problem if it hinders program development, maintenance, execution, or usability. The examples given here don't generally meet those criteria. Most of the features here are simple, self-contained, unobtrusive, and likely have low code and memory footprints.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcrbids (148650)
        I don't see any reason why all of those things are integrated and not seperate addons. And that list gets bigger with each new version.

        For a seminal work that explains this concept to the intellectually unenlightened: Bloatware and the 80/20 myth. [joelonsoftware.com] It's not that bloated, slow software is preferred, exactly, it's simply that so-called "bloat" features are actually an advantage.

        I'd personally prefer that FF has automated updates. I noticed the spell-checker after an update, and think it's kinda nice, althoug
      • by SEMW (967629) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:34PM (#19171171)
        Why does slimming Firefox down necessarily mean removing features? Opera can do pretty much all of the things you quotes and much, much more besides (email client, bittorrent client, customizable to the extent that would need about 15 different FF extensions to emulate, etc.) -- and it still manages to be slimmer than Firefox -- a smaller download (4.7 vs 5.7MB), faster to start, more responsive, a smaller memory footprint, etc.
  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:53PM (#19169165)
    Aside from that, the ongoing issue with Web 2.0 apps and javascript with multiple tabs using the same shared namespace and overwriting variable names still hasn't been highlighted by the security community and as AJAX and web based applications become more prominent, the end user will find more and more applications breaking other applications.
  • Not my experience (Score:4, Informative)

    by niceone (992278) * on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:55PM (#19169229) Journal
    I spend all day^H^H^H^H^H^H^H a few momentes when I would not otherwise be productive, pimping my music round myspace (surely the biggest resource hog on the net) and firefox holds up fine on my 256MB Thinkpad (running ubuntu).
  • by Goalie_Ca (584234) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:58PM (#19169287)
    I used one of the very first phoenix builds. It impressed me because at the time i was using mozilla. Phoenix was literally just gecko + some ui and it was really really light and fast. There was no installer, no control panel (well it was blank), etc.

    I'm very happy with firefox so far. I run half a dozen extensions to give me features like "session saving" etc. Ram usage is not too much of a concern with me. I would like it if the default was to not cache 8 pages back. And on disk cache should be fast enough to retrieve and render. 90% of the time i only go back 1 click anyways.

    Firefox 3 is implementing major changes. Under the hood they are switching to garbage collection and cairo (vector rendering) just to name a few. Cairo is a great abstraction that hasn't fully realized its performance capability. I don't suppose glitz will be out anytime soon. The sql-lite bookmarking looks neat. Epiphany has something similar. But i must admit that i've fully switched to del.icio.us and the extension v1.5.29. That's quite fully featured and it syncs across computers.

    The rss reading capability i do not like at all. That should be implemented as an extension. I prefer to use liferea. There are plenty of firefox features that should be implemented as extensions. That way you can disable them if you wish.
  • by El_Isma (979791) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:00PM (#19169327) Homepage
    Let's make a new and smaller browser, based on the same rendering engine! We'll call it Phoenix or something like that. You know, like it's brand new! It comes from the ashes, it must be good! And we won't bloat it, no, no. We'll make it speedy!

    Where did I hear that before?
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:01PM (#19169361) Homepage Journal
    My MacBook Pro had 512 megabytes when I bought it. That ought to be enough memory for anyone. But I found that running Parallels (a virtual machine that can host Windows or Linux) at the same time as FireFox was completely intolerable, even if I set Parallel's memory allocation to a minimum level.

    Whenever I clicked from one window to the other, I'd get the Spinning Pizza of Death for a minute or so while the other task's memory was paged in. I had to add another gig of RAM before I could switch windows quickly.

    That made this old coder wanna cry. My first Mac had only 512 kilobytes (kilo - not mega) but that was enough for me to write GUI applications with.

    Kids these days don't know how to write code.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:29PM (#19169943) Homepage Journal

      My MacBook Pro had 512 megabytes when I bought it. That ought to be enough memory for anyone.

      With 512MB, your system was probably already swapping, albeit not very much. OSX uses more RAM than there is any possible justification for, and I don't mean for buffers.

      Windows XP is pretty much useless without at the very least 256MB RAM. Oh yeah, you can use it, but you're not going to do anything quickly. You will be constantly swapping. OSX is useless without at least 512MB RAM. You had 256MB too little ram to even play, let alone to have things be efficient.

      Kids these days don't know how to write code.

      Many of us would love it if the entire system were rewritten in tight, efficient code. I suggest you get right on that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by indiechild (541156)
      Expecting Parallels to run smoothly with just 512MB of RAM is absurd in the first place. Even 1GB doesn't really cut it. If you're going to run VMs properly, you need 2GB of RAM or more.

      Mac OS X won't run smoothly unless you have at least 1GB of RAM.
  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:02PM (#19169375) Journal
    Why is the FF file cache so obscure? (kept in hex named files that appear to be indirectly referenced by other map files...)

    One think IE does right is a true file-for-file cache of what you have browsed.

    Sometimes I like to troll thru my "Temporary Internet Files" folder and pick out a few bits for posterity. Especially large .swf or .flv files that I might have watched. The worst is when I watch one of those in FF, then want to grab the file... the easiest thing to do is to watch it AGAIN in IE so that I can go cache-picking later...

    maybe it's just me.

  • become? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nanosquid (1074949) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:02PM (#19169379)
    I don't think Firefox ever was such a lean or efficient browser. It's also buggy and the developers don't seem to care much about Linux or MacOS (bad profile support, inefficient graphics, etc.). Opera and Konqueror both seem better written and better designed.

    I still use Firefox. Why? Because Firefox works well enough, it's up-to-date, compatible, and, most importantly, has tons of useful extensions.

    I hope the Firefox developers will be able to clean up their act, but unless it gets a lot worse, I'm sticking with Firefox, because, on balance, it's still the best browser there is.
    • Yes, it was. (Score:3, Insightful)

      I was there.

      In the early, early days of Firefox, Internet Explorer was pretty slow and bloated. Most of its snappiness came from being "part of the OS". (Or I was a deluded fanboy then, maybe...)

      So, on Windows, you had the choice between Netscape (which was big and bloated), or Mozilla if you were smart (which was also big and bloated), or IE (which was bloated, for a browser). Mozilla was not so terribly bloated, except for the fact that it was a browser/mail/news/irc/dev platform/kitchen sink, and not jus
  • by edwdig (47888) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:03PM (#19169389)
    Firefox was only leaner than Mozilla back when it was called Phoenix and had only the bare minimum UI necessary to be a web browser.

    Mozilla never was slow (at least not after it reached the point that it was good enough to consider using as your standard browser) and really wasn't a memory hog. That perception came about from the people who really didn't want an integrated email program, but absolutely refused to choose "Browser only" when the installer asked what they wanted.

    Around the time of the name changed from Phoenix to Firebird, the two browsers were about on par. By the time the name changed to Firefox, it was already more bloated than Mozilla. The project goals moved more towards grabbing attention than being lean.

    If Mozilla had just made a theme that blended in to the OS (Classic doesn't do a good enough job of it) and put a link on the download page to an installer that only had the browser included, there never would have been a need for Firefox.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilviper (135110)

      Firefox was only leaner than Mozilla back when it was called Phoenix and had only the bare minimum UI necessary to be a web browser.

      I did several benchmarks at the time, and even way back then it was only nominally faster or lighter on RAM. The myth of Firefox being lean and fast is complete marketing.

      If Mozilla had just made a theme that blended in to the OS (Classic doesn't do a good enough job of it) and put a link on the download page to an installer that only had the browser included, there never woul

  • by OffTheLip (636691) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:07PM (#19169475)
    To paraphrase an often heard comments about EMACS way back when, "EMACS isn't an editor, it's a lifestyle". Hopefully Firefox isn't headed down the same path.
  • IE is bloated? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThinkFr33ly (902481) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:09PM (#19169505)
    There are many, many things you can criticize IE for... but being bloated doesn't really seem like one of them. If you RTFA, they compare the growing bloat not with IE, but with Mozilla.

    True, 3rd party add-ons for IE can bring it to a crawl, but that's not IE's fault. The same problem exists in any browser that supports extensibility via a plugin model.

    I use Firefox on XP because it's safer than IE, certainly not because it's less bloated. Firefox consistently uses far more ram (I have several screen shots of Firefox using 1.5GB+ of ram with *no* plugins enabled and just one tab open), dies a painful death due to poor integration with things like Flash (100% CPU Flash advertisements, anyone?), or simply just crashes.

    On Vista I use IE 7 w/Protected Mode. Why? Well, again, because it's safer. But it also has the benefit of returning me to the days when a browser didn't use 2x the RAM of Photoshop. Imagine that.
  • The Wrong Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremy_Bee (1064620) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:09PM (#19169517)
    All over the web today there are stories about FireFox's (supposed) bloat, but no actual facts on whether it is or is not actually "bloated." Since "bloat," to most people, apparently means the state of a program having more features than is necessary, it's hard to see how the average user would ever be able to definitively answer this question. The question is probably better phrased as "Are you having major performance problems with FireFox 2.0?"

    I don't know how the file size (the other definition of "bloat"), of a FireFox installation compares with other browsers but it doesn't seem like an overly large file to download. It also seems to me that when I check my FireFox preferences it actually has a very basic, simple feature set similar to what's available in almost every other browser. If the feature set is roughly the same as other browsers, how can it be rightly called "bloated?"

    I think the problem with FireFox is one of performance, not "bloat" per se. I run FireFox on a Mac with only a single extension and a single theme. My computer is relatively new, the OS is up to date, it has a Gig and a half of RAM and a fast video card. On this machine FireFox is as slow as molasses. It takes ages to start and ages to load a page. It also crashes (a lot!).

    I use FireFox because of AdBlocker and because as bad as it is, it's still the best there is on the Mac right now. This will likely change in October when the new Safari comes out so this summer's FireFox 3.0 release will have to be extremely, extremely good just to keep the same market share IMO.
  • OS Level Control? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hattig (47930) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:10PM (#19169535) Journal
    Why can't the OS, when it sees that it is running out of memory, send a signal/message/henchman to applications and tell them that if they have the ability to give up some memory (i.e., caches, etc), then do so, to keep the system happy. There could be several levels of urgency in the request as well, like "yeah, dude, just thinking here, yeah, could you ease up a little on the memory, cheers!" through to "Sieg Heil! Deine Memory, SCHNELL!!".
  • by Tribbin (565963) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:23PM (#19169809) Homepage
    If firefox becomes bloated I will eat the internet with a fork.

    Get it? 'Fork'? *wink*

    I wouldn't worry to much.

    Oh and give epiphany a try.
  • by Baby Duck (176251) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:59PM (#19170563) Homepage
    Firefox needs to stop cramming information about all your extensions into a couple of Registry-Hell-ridden configuration files. And then they cross-link by hard-to-remember GUIDs rammed into hard-to-read RDF? wtf?

    Look at how extensions are done for Eclipse or JBuilder. It's much cleaner. Don't want an extension anymore? Just delete the JAR or folder. That's it. And it's clean.
  • Not just Firefox. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ant P. (974313) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:07PM (#19170695) Homepage
    Most of my apps are using obscene amounts of RAM these days. Gaim/Pidgin for example, going by the RSS value, is using 32MB even when minimised to systray with no active conversations. The XFCE settings daemon is another 20, and that doesn't even have a GUI. Doesn't help much when I dumped KDE for it in the first place to try and fix exactly this...

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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