firefox

Firefox 3.0 Memory Consumption Greatly Improved

Last time I blogged about Firefox (2.x), I was complaining about how much memory it was sucking up. I have read about how many memory leaks were supposed to have been fixed in Firefox 3 but I had to see it to believe it. So after suffering again from low memory while running VMWare and Firefox (whose memory consumption regurarly climbs to 500MB) at the same time, I decided to upgrade and leave Firefox 2.0 for good. Firefox 3.0beta5 is blazingly fast and I have yet to see it use more than 170MB of memory. Thanks to the all the Firefox developers for finally fixing what was probably the biggest problem with Firefox 2.0.

Update: I also installed it on my Linux machine at home and memory usage and performance with many tabs open is far better than Firefox 2.

Firefox Memory Usage Through the Roof

Firefox's memory usage has just gone nuts lately on my work machine, approaching 1 Gigabyte of RAM usage:
[img_assist|nid=263|title=Firefox Memory Consumption|desc=|link=node|align=center|width=485|height=159]
I have no idea what is causing it. The most likely culprit is either some javascript leak on a page I leave open all the time (like GMail for instance) or a leaky extension/add-on. Here are the add-ons that I use:
[img_assist|nid=266|title=My Firefox Add-Ons|desc=|link=node|align=center|width=50|height=100]
My suspicion is that it might be Fasterfox that is causing the problem. I will disable it and see what happens over the next few days.

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Firefox/Opera Shootout

I've been getting really pissed off lately at how much memory Firefox is using up. I decided to give Opera a try. I opened up the exact same tabs in Opera (about 10 of them) and I got about the same memory consumption. I disabled all the Firefox extensions except for the del.icio.us one (because last time I disabled it and re-enabled it, it totally screwed up the bookmarks menu, and I had to create a new profile from scratch to get it back to normal).

  PID USER      PR  NI  VIRT  RES  SHR S %CPU %MEM    TIME+  COMMAND
 9152 david     15   0  214m 105m  19m S  1.7 10.4   0:24.86 opera
 9057 david     15   0  211m 100m  24m R  3.7  9.9   0:32.72 firefox-bin

This is a big improvement for Firefox by the way, after disabling the extensions. One of the extensions much be leaking memory big time because the memory usage usually climbs to 250MB. Looks like I will have to go and buy some more RAM. I only have 1 Gig right now. with tw 512MB modules. Looks like there is a third slot. Maybe a new 1G module then.

Firefox 2.0 New Features

I just tried out Firefox a couple weeks ago for the first time and started writing a list of the best new features. I let this post bake for a couple weeks to see if I discovered any more new features. I didn't really find many more, just the 5 below:

  1. Spell-checking! This is one of the most useful features in my mind. No more clicking on a button on a website that says "check spelling". Firefox does it for you automatically and underlines misspelled words in red. 100% client-side spell-checking in any language. I have already downloaded the Canadian dictionary for normal user as well as the Spanish dictionary (Argentinian, not Spain).
  2. Built-in support for restoring the previously opened tabs, much like what the Session Manager, Tab Mix Plus, and SessionSaver plugins would do. Firefox 2.0 has a close button on each tab, tab dragging/reordering, and it can restore your tabs if you restart Firefox. It is still missing some features present in Tab Mix Plus, for example, the ability to restore a deleted tab, and the ability to make the tab bar take up more than one row.
  3. Better feed support. Click on a feed and Firefox will add it to your favourite reader. Supports Bloglines, My Yahoo, and Google Reader as well as any local application of your choosing. This should help the enormous number of people out there that still have no idea what a feed or RSS is (although I question whether it really matters if those people never know what they mean).
  4. Automatic updating of extensions. This is a big help, the more that can be done automatically the better. Now when I open up Firefox some days I am greeted with a dialog that tells me about extensions updates and allows me to update them with one click.
  5. The session restore feature leaves form information intact. So apparently this blog post that I am writing write now would be saved if my browser just crashed. I have not tried it yet, but I think this is a significant improvement over extensions like Tab Mix Plus that I thought it deserved a separate mention on its own.

Here are some things that are lacking:

  • Still does not pass the Second Acid Test. Not a huge deal but it means that Firefox still is not a fully standards-compliant browser while Konqueror, Opera, and Safari are.

I highly recommended downloading Firefox 2.0 mainly because some of the extensions out there are only being developed for Firefox 2.0 and may not work with Firefox 1.5. These are the extensions I am using by the way:

  • Adblock Plus
  • Canadian English Dictionary
  • del.icio.us Bookmarks
  • Fission
  • FlashGot*
  • Google Notebook
  • Greasemonkey*
  • Map+*
  • Mouse Gestures
  • Stylish
  • Web Developer

* rarely used

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