I have 60 tabs open now (in FF), and this is after closing most of them, on a 32-bit system with 4GB of RAM. I regularly hit over 200 tabs when browsing.
On top of those there are "recent research" for any problems I am currently working on, which is usually at least one window each with a search results tab and a few tabs I opened from there (after pruning the ones that were not relevant in the end.
Plus there are the tabs I am "actively" using (which is pretty much always at least five at the moment: two mail clients, two social networking sites, and a page containing the results of various service monitors which updates every minute or so).
I often see FF taking a bit more than 1Gb RAM particularly if I have complex pages that auto-update a lot (Zimbra, facebook, so forth) open, though often closing it and restarting with the "reload last session" option brings that down by at least 60% (I assume the "extra" is stuff cached in RAM and/or memory allocated and not yet released due to fragmentation in FF's internal memory management - both situations being "resolved" by the restart)
Maybe you don't feel bogged down but I feel bogged down for you :)
Similar usage with 3.x rarely exceeded 300MB and FF would remain open for weeks.
Tree-mode tabs help a lot (I'm still looking for a good Chrome plugin for this), "Tree Style Tabs" for FF5. Since trees group related tabs (I've got a subtree open for HN right now), and collapse, it helps to manage them.
As with grandparent poster, I'll have several windows, across several desktops, task-oriented. News, mail, site monitoring, research, reference(s) for languages / tools, etc.
200 tabs is probably a high count, but well over 100 is very doable.
It's just a way of keeping the 'flow' of a browsing session in the browser itself, so you don't have to keep all that in (mental) memory.
I do use Firefox, which works fine even in my 2GB laptop and with a bunch of extensions installed.
I've also switched back from Chrome to Firefox because Chrome doesn't scale (nor does it have all the extensions).
That's just one use case, but there are certainly many others.
I just dislike opening images inline or all loaded into one separate tab, because then it turns saving individual images into a mouse-driven task rather than a keyboard-driven task.
As an aside: what do you use to browse Hacker News on your phone?
It is also the main reason why I can't/won't switch to Chrome - no Tree Style tabs.
This morning I had about 30 tabs open when I came into work, all documentation or reference of some sort that I will use in the next few hours. And thats about the lowest I ever get, if I'm looking up something new to me or complex it will easily shoot over 100.
The more state I can leave up on my desktop, the better.
If there were better management within the browser -- non-visible tabs were eventually unloaded, with any page-state (forms data, etc.) saved -- then you wouldn't have the memory bloat problems that occur.
The thing is that it's a very large virtual workspace to spread things out over. So long as it's organized, it's really useful.
Look to movies especially of researchers in the 1970s or 1980s who'd spread clippings and papers over all horizontal surfaces in an office, tape/pin them to a wall, etc. You want to be able to scan quickly through the space at eye-speed, not have to dig into files / organizers / storage / regenerate the information every time you want to look at it.
It's why you'd rather have a large monitor -- you can strew windows over it and see more, rather than have to manage windows and go through them repeatedly.
For those of us who write software being able to discretely switch to a certain doc with ctrl-tab or ctrl/cmd-# is much quicker and efficient than navigating N times throughout the day just to reduce the # of tabs.
Your tab related OCD shouldn't enter into our workflow ;-)
I guess I just suck at my job.
On average I have 5 groups hacker news, reddit, slashdot, google reader, google searching and documentation group. When I work I frequently move around google searching and documentation group. In my leisure time I go to other group.
For example during working I need to search about some feature of a library. I open the top tab of the google searching group middle click on the link I am interested which opens in the new tab in the group. If some time later I need to see the page again just go to the google searching group and get the tab. This way I can easily organize my tabs.
We don't read the same things apparently.
I recommend a vertical tab addon (I use Tree Style Tabs) else you'll wear out your scroll wheel on the tab bar :)
Thats exactly the extension I use! I'm really happy with it, it gave me the ah-ha moment that working with multiple tabs doesn't have to be prohibitivly painful. Thanks to it I decided to change my taskbar to be vertical too and haven't looked back. It makes for more wasted space if you're not busy, but is worth it, as UI wisdom tells us scanning horizontally is a lot harder for the user than vertically (and thats when everything fits on the screen).
Lately I've been trying to keep them down because of memory constraints (tab/process model in Chrome).
Perhaps I need to take another look at my addons, but I only have four (firebug, web developer, ad block, and diigo), so I really doubt they are the cause.
For some time during the 2.x and 3.x series, firefox would leak memory from closed tabs -- the memory usage would keep going up and up with tab churn, and I'd have to restart the browser to get the memory footprint back down. I don't see that with v4 or v5, and I usually restart the workstation before I need to restart firefox.