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Mozilla The Internet

Firefox Going the Big and Bloated IE Way? 653

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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  • by slayermet420 ( 1053520 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:49PM (#19169055) Journal
    I'm running 3/4 of a gig, and I've never had Firefox crash. And I have BOINC running all the time. My CPU is spinning pretty high all the time, and I tend to have a good bit of my RAM being used all the time. So I don't know what you're doing wrong dude.
  • "Less available RAM" (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jaffa ( 7714 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:49PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:52PM (#19169159)
    On OS X Firefox feels sluggish compared to Safari which is all native UI elements. The amount of time is very small but very noticeable where it feels like the non-native GUI is taking more time to refresh the entire app.

    But the main problem I have with Firefox right now is after a while it uses up so much VM that just changing tabs starts to chug. And even if it hasn't leaked to the point of swapping when switching tabs, having even a few tabs open seems to degrade performance. It feels like there is extra and unecessary work going on in non-visible tabs.

    I find I have to quit the who app and restart it more and more. The tab session reload extension helps but there is definitely some sort of memory/threading performance rot going on.
  • Not my experience (Score:4, Informative)

    by niceone ( 992278 ) * on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:55PM (#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 cjb-nc ( 887319 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:57PM (#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.
  • by jcgam69 ( 994690 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:00PM (#19169321)

    I hate to shill, but I went Opera a long time ago when FF first started trying to do too much and I never once turned away. The only time I use it is on a fresh Linux install with FF -integrated-; I think it's Ubuntu or SuSE that integrates it so you can't remove it without disurpting the OS...didn't a certain Borg-led OS company do that once to ill-effect?
    I disagree. Firefox can be removed from linux just like any other program.
  • Re:well (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:02PM (#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.

  • Re:Opera! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Racemaniac ( 1099281 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:10PM (#19169543)
    i use opera as my primary browser, and haven't had it crash on any flashes ever, although getting shockwave to work appears to be hard (due to a bad installer from adobe... i haven't bothered to get it to work yet, but from what i heard, i'd have to install firefox to get shockwave into opera -_-)
    all in all i love it as a primary browser, sometimes i encounter an incompatible site, and then i switch to IE because i know it's a site i can thrust, and otherwise i work with opera, knowing that so few people use it that noone bothers to write exploits for it.
  • Re:Very nice FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by acidrain ( 35064 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:27PM (#19169889)

    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 api's and the the Mozilla team is really looking forward to the chance to rip out a lot of crap and clean things up.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:29PM (#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.

  • by JackHoffman ( 1033824 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:39PM (#19170145)
    Automatically storing files locally with contents and names that are defined remotely is a security risk. It would not be a security breach in itself, but it could create an opportunity to exploit unrelated bugs which would otherwise not be remotely exploitable.
  • Re:Opera! (Score:5, Informative)

    by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:44PM (#19170267) Homepage

    Proprietary software is not practical, especially in the long term.

    That's got to be the dumbest argument I've heard in favor of Free/Open Source Software in a long time. Look at IBM's mainframes. I don't think you could get more closed or proprietary. Yet, many businesses have stuck by them due to the fact that backwards compatibility is never broken on those machines. Heck, you could run OS360 packages from the 70's on the modern zOS machines without a problem.

    I think its just a bit extreme to say that no proprietary solution is practical in the long term. It depends on the application, the stability of the provider, and the relationship that you have with the provider. These three criteria apply whether the provider is the open-source community or a private company.

  • one word. dillo. (Score:2, Informative)

    by eteepell ( 1053086 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:54PM (#19170451)
    fast as a rocket on freebsd with P133.
  • by Vardyr ( 947047 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:05PM (#19170653)
    The Firefox/Firebird/Phoenix project was started with the intention of being a lean browser based on the Gecko engine because the Mozilla Suite (now Seamonkey) was so massively bloated that it was easier to essentially start over than it would've been to attempt to slim down the main codebase. Firefox absolutely did not start out being more bloated than Seamonkey, otherwise it would've betrayed the entire purpose of its existence.
  • Re:Freezing (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:06PM (#19170659) Homepage Journal
    There is no fix for that, because all your firefox tabs/windows are part of the same process. They're all created by the same process. The only fix is to run multiple copies of firefox and I don't think firefox likes it when you do that.
  • Not just Firefox. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ant P. ( 974313 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:07PM (#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...
  • Re:Freezing (Score:2, Informative)

    by Myen ( 734499 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:15PM (#19170835)
    To be more correct, Firefox (well, Gecko) is largely single-threaded. All of the UI, DOM, and JavaScript [*] happen on the same thread. This particular case sounds like it's trying to lay out the page in the non-visible tabs, in which case there is indeed nothing you can do other than start a new process, due to Gecko limitations.

    [*] For internal code, it is possible to use threads in a very small subset of JS (in particular, XPCOM components that don't have any interaction at all with the UI). That won't help in this case.
  • by skarphace ( 812333 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:47PM (#19171419) Homepage

    Most annoying thing are the crashes of Firefox 2.x! I don't care if it eats a lot of memory (I've got 2GB - who wouldn't these days?) or is bloated, but I can't stand the crashes!
    Startup firefox like so: `firefox -p`. Add a new profile, use that one instead. Profile corruption is usually the cause of firefox crashing. All you have to do is move things over you still want like your bookmarks and go from there. It's a good chance that this'll fix your problem.

    A user of mine had this problem yesterday. 5 minutes on Mozilla's knowledgebase does wonders.
  • Re:is it time (Score:2, Informative)

    by nawaman ( 1093059 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:48PM (#19171441)
    I think one of the reason (rather than the caching) FF use more memory that Konqurer or Opera (but I don't think it's that much) is that it use XUL. But XUL is one of the most important why FF is so expansible. Then I think that's considered necessary. :p
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:49PM (#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 *** -->
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:52PM (#19171505) Homepage Journal

    Oh so Open Source is all about relying on someone else to review the code for you? Please tell me how this is different from a software house paying QA guys to do it
    You make the same argument as JordanL did [slashdot.org]. The answer [slashdot.org] is the same: we need many eyes reviewing in the interest of the public, not many eyes reviewing in the sole interest of the company.
  • by RebelWebmaster ( 628941 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:53PM (#19171535)
    FWIW, I think what you're talking about is a lot of what they're planning on doing for Gecko 2.0.
  • Re:is it time (Score:4, Informative)

    by Skreems ( 598317 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:00PM (#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.
  • by anaesthetica ( 596507 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:01PM (#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].
  • Re:Very nice FUD (Score:2, Informative)

    by detect ( 227148 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:12PM (#19173111)

    except that restarting a web browser seems about the stupidest thing ever.
    Google Sync [google.com] is your friend.
  • by EvilRyry ( 1025309 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:17PM (#19173143) Journal
    It's not a matter of when Konqueror goes multiplatform, its when. And the when is scheduled for October this year. Although Konqueror is a very lightweight browser with low resource consumption, its not quite as quick as Firefox or IE, and it lacks some fancy features (such as Midas support).
  • by SEMW ( 967629 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:28PM (#19173257)

    The end result of it is that you have a browser that looks 'relatively natural' on a wide variety of platforms and can be easily extended and themed
    But not only does Opera run on more platforms than Firefox does, but it's also just as themable [opera.com] as Firefox is (not to mention considerably more customizable out of the box without having to mess about editing css files by hand). Your argument doesn't really hold up.

    Firefox also has better support of a number of standards (MathML, SVG, Javascript 1.7) that Opera has little/no support for (they support SVG tiny, but that doesn't seem to do too much).
    If you're trying to argue that Opera has worse support than Firefox than standards, I don't think you're going to succeed. The only major omission is MathML. You have SVG in your list, but in my experience, Opera has considerably better support for SVG than Firefox does -- you claim it only supports SVGT, which may have been true in version 8.0, but is no longer since 9.0 (incidentally, version 9 was also the first to completely pass the Acid2 standards test, which Firefox stil doesn't; not that that's a big problem for Firefox, but if you're criticising standards in Opera I thought I'd mention it). And, of course, the list of standards that Opera supports but Firefox doesn't is quite considerably bigger than vice versa (NavLinks, Web Forms 2.0, VoiceXML, WML, DOM3, etc.).
  • by tvjunky ( 838064 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:53PM (#19173531)
    Or you might just enter about:cache in your address bar.
  • by indiechild ( 541156 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:06PM (#19173637)
    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.
  • Re:is it time (Score:3, Informative)

    by Seraphim_72 ( 622457 ) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:10AM (#19174601)
    Interesting. Because my elinks is running in X it defaults to using X to display images. When I am on a dumb terminal it uses aview [sourceforge.net] so I dont even have to mess with images, sure, ascii sux for images, but then again - I can display them any way I want to.


  • by NullProg ( 70833 ) on Friday May 18, 2007 @10:39AM (#19178711) Homepage Journal
    I refuse to use FF2 anymore. It takes FOREVER to save images, and even worse, while it's taking forever, it essentially locks up FF, leaving it unusable for up to 2 minutes at a time. This is completely unacceptable, IE3 with a 56k connection saved images faster.

    Delete the downloads.rdf from whatever directory your profile is stored in. Instead of complaining you could have just googled for "firefox slow downloads".


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