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Dear Mozilla: Fix Your Damn Browser (jasonlefkowitz.net)
252 points by smacktoward on Oct 13, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 203 comments



Now that AdBlock Plus is fully functional in Chrome/Chromium, we've been moving all of our clients -- a few hundred individuals and businesses -- off of Firefox. So far, everybody's been a lot happier with that.

Firefox is terrible. It's embarrassing. And, I've completely lost interest in arguing over it anymore. The responses from Mozilla, Asa especially, have either been, "We don't think that's a problem", or sometimes, "go piss up a rope". Other people constantly chime in and say, "But I don't have that problem!", as if that somehow makes it better for the many many people who do have problems with Firefox.

Fortunately, this isn't quite Netscape versus Internet Explorer all over again; this time, we have a well-supported third option, too.


The responses from Mozilla, Asa especially, have either been, "We don't think that's a problem", or sometimes, "go piss up a rope".

I don't think this is very fair to the Mozilla folks. From the few people that I've met (and complained to about Android Firefox) the response has been "why don't you grab the latest version and see if that fixes the problems?" And if it doesn't, then the response is "file a bug."

While I don't have any personal experience with Asa, he has responded to this article with exactly the same response (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3108498).


I was referring partly to Mozilla's responses to the reaction from corporate support people over their forced-updates announcements. But, they've also had display bugs around for almost 10 years [1], and they've banned bug submitters over etiquette issues without actually addressing the bug in question [2].

And now for the part that will probably make me really unpopular here: if they fix major issues in an upcoming update, that's great. But, people have been complaining for years about performance problems, and IMO there should have been a show-stopping effort to fix it a long time ago, rather than the incremental efforts that, to many users' perceptions, have made little to no improvement.

The push towards rapid release cycles in many parts of the software industry seems to be leaving behind the principle of getting it right the first time.

Anyway, that's all the time I have for this nonsense, because I've got a couple of projects of my own with unresolved issues, and I don't want to be a hypocrite.

[1]: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=157846, https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=289384, others.

[2]: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=668655#c1, more discussion at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2741660


I think I'm one of those people. Performance of Firefox has always been completely unacceptable to me.

When Firefox came out I continued to use the Mozilla browser. (I wonder if anybody remembers that one.) At that point I couldn't understand why people were so excited about Firefox. To me it looked like the Mozilla browser with a new icon, half the features, double the bloat, and half the speed. I distinctly remember that when Firefox came out Mozilla was a much better browser!


We were also very tired arguing (on bugzilla) about Thunderbird issues that finally we wrote one of our most popular blog articles: Export messages and folders from Thunderbird to Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail: http://blog.nektra.com/main/2009/04/14/export-messages-and-f...


     Firefox is terrible. It's embarrassing.
I do have Firefox occasionally choking, which annoys me as hell, but I'm on Firefox 8.

I do get frustrated, but criticizing a software package that you get for freaking free, especially one that you ow so much to, with such a harsh tone really is unwarranted.

And it really is free in a not-for-profit way. The Awesome bar that the article mentions really saves you from making useless round-trips to Google / being exposed to Google Ads, even if this hurts Mozilla's revenues; on the other hand Chrome's primary reason for being is Google's control on the web, ensuring that Google's search remains the default, which is one reason the Awesome bar will never make it into Chrome.

Also, AdBlock Plus in Chrome has known bugs and limitations because of Chrome, because while Firefox is a platform, Chrome is a product that treats its users like idiots.


Free doesn't play into it. Either something is good or it's not. One of the best aspects of OSS is that there are so many examples of products that are every bit as good, if not better than, their commercial competition. If I give you a free durian sandwich you are not obligated to like it or to hold back your criticism, you should be free to say "dude, this tastes like garbage water."

Indeed, that line of reasoning has even less standing in regard to browsers since the top 4 browsers are all free. Encouraging people to stiffle their very real complaints will only serve to lower the quality of firefox, who does that benefit?


"Chrome is a product that treats its users like idiots."

I found myself agreeing with some of your points, but that comment was unnecessary. It's just two different design philosophies: Firefox allows extension of the browser itself at the cost of completely-silent upgrades and sandboxing, while Chrome treats extensions like miniature web pages.

I agree that Chrome is a strategic move for Google, but it has made some definite contributions (like V8!) to free software. Not to mention it had a very unique interface when it was first launched (very well designed).

Chrome was part of the reason why Mozilla is hustling to improve Firefox. If anything, appreciate Chrome for giving people more options and placing pressure on Mozilla to innovate.


> which is one reason the Awesome bar will never make it into Chrome.

What does the AwesomeBar do that Chrome's address bar doesn't? Heck the Chrome address bar even does autocomplete of search terms when you have it set to use Bing…


When I first started using Chrome, the awesomebar is probably what I missed most from Firefox. On Firefox, I type a partial keyword or two, and pages from history show up which are very relevant. Do the same on Chrome, and I usually have to finish a list of keywords to search Google in order to get to the page I'm thinking of.

I ended up changing my address bar behavior on Chrome, but when I ran Firefox again for a while, I relearned my old behaviors by chance just by trying to search for stuff via the address bar, and instead finding the awesomebar offer what I was looking for with less effort. Once you get used to it, it really is inferior to how Chrome's address bar works. That said, Chrome has lots going for it as well.


Chrome is a product that treats its users like idiots.

Many, many products do that these days.


which is actually a good thing


I disagree heavily. Treating more and more people like they are idiots in all areas of life is the reason we've become a lethargic, consume-drunken shade of society. This needs to stop. We need to force people to think. Think for themselves. Teach a man to fish and all that.


Indeed, only I wouldn't phrase it like that. Maybe "gets out of the way". Remember Krug's "don't make me think"?


"Free" projects lose that excuse when they start making money through third parties (Google pays Mozilla a ton of money to be the default search engine) and make concentrated marketing pushes.

I'm certainly going to treat them like I would any other ad-supported software, and that means treating them like any other commercial piece of software.


Wrong "free".

It's free as in speech, not beer.

Though there's a Free Software implementation of Chrome as well: Chromium.


I switched from FF to Opera a few years ago and I'm still happy. FF really behaves bad, even on fast computers -- my girlfriend uses it and I've seen locks described in the OP. I use Opera on the Windows computer from 2002 and on my Linux Core 2 computer and it's very responsive on both.


For a while the only reason I had Firefox installed was because of Firebug but the Chrome tools are getting to be just about as good and I've pretty much lost all interest in Firefox. I'll still have it around to make sure sites work in it but I certainly won't have it on all my machines.


So, I don't notice much bad with FF, so I don't know what I'm missing. What am I missing? What makes FF terrible and Chrome goodly?


Just to chip in with why I personally refuse to use Chrome:

-A window begins to be unwieldy at 15 tabs, and is impossible to navigate at 20

-Occasional Flash problems render the browser utterly useless for several minutes before it asks whether I am interested in continuing what I was doing

-Not visiting a tab for a while results in a ridiculous wait for it to load

My screen size makes having multiple rows of tabs simply take up too much screen space.

Honestly, I just haven't had any complaints with firefox (beta channel) apart from the recent interesting decision to change dragging tabs to bookmarks to require hitting ctrl - https://groups.google.com/group/mozilla.dev.apps.firefox/bro...


You might like Opera. It handles dozens of tabs beautifully, and you can group tabs into collapsible groups so you can both (a) navigate them and (b) see them all on the screen at once without having to scroll.


And put the tab bar on the left, making keeping an overview of 30+ ungrouped tabs no problemo!


Or hide tabs and the tab bar altogether and use CTRL-TAB to toggle through them, like ALT-TAB does windows. Screen real-estate galore:

http://i.imgur.com/XuMkx.png


You don't turn your status bar off? ;)


Haha, that was actually my first thought too when I looked at my pic, which I took months ago. I do now :)


Hm. That's pretty cool.


> -A window begins to be unwieldy at 15 tabs, and is impossible to navigate at 20

Interesting. This is actually one of the big reasons why I prefer Chrome over FF. FF does the whole "make my tab bar scroll" while Chrome resizes the tabs to fit.

What about Chrome's implementation do you find more unwieldy than Firefox's?


Tab Groups. For those of us who do lots of research and like to keep it organized it's a godsend.

Right now I have 159 tabs open -- I was curious so I decided to count. If I tried that in Chrome I'm pretty sure it would crash and burn hard, not to mention there would be no ability to keep it organized.

I know there are some research workflows that would allow me to do that as well, but I haven't really taken the time to dive into them after I found tab groups.


I'd like to take a moment to recognize how awful the tab groups UI is.

Hmm, new "Tab Groups" button. Wonder what it does!

http://i.imgur.com/x36TA.png

The only way to figure out that UI, including how to exit back to the browser, is through trial and error or Google. At least tabs/tab groups closed in there (seriously, who adds an "x" to an undo changes button that permanently deletes it instead?) go in "recently closed tabs" now!


http://i.imgur.com/WwnW8.png - a screenshot of Chrome with 20 tabs open. As you can see, determining what each tab contains is rather hard. I agree that scrolling the tab bar (using mousewheel, the UI buttons for that purpose are utterly useless) in Firefox is extremely unwieldy, so the only time I use it is to get to tabs I have at either end. "List all tabs" is an amazing feature, IMO.


I don't know about socillion, but Tree Style Tabs is one of the reasons I won't stop using Firefox. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tree-style-ta...


Agreed, and I believe the Chromium guys have been asked for this feature and said they won't do it.

I don't think it is possible with chrome extensions either.


You can, however, get tabs in a sidebar, which works well for n <= 30 or so.

about:flags -> Enable Side Tabs


"FF does the whole "make my tab bar scroll""

FYI, you can use the mousewheel to scroll the tabs.. without, it would be horrible


It's not so much that Chrome is great, as that it doesn't seem to have the faults that Firefox does.

- The "hanging" issue: I literally just replaced a laptop because of this one. On my older laptop, Firefox became unusable, and got worse with each version, not better. I didn't have very many tabs open (~10?), and after about 6 hours or so, hovering the pointer over a link would give me the rainbow pinwheel, clicking a link would give me a rainbow pinwheel, opening a tab would give me a rainbow pinwheel, etc. This stalling issue has been widely reported by a huge number of people, and Firefox has been doing a lot of work on their memory management to fix it, but it doesn't seem to be helping. My girlfriend's newer Windows workstation had the same problem, but to a slightly lesser degree. In her case, Firefox became unusable after a day or two. People often point to extensions, but the only extension she had installed was AB+.

- Crashing. Just yesterday we had a client complaint where, according to them, about half the time they would go to launch Firefox, they would get the message that it was already running but not responding. We've had similar complaints from other clients, including a business client.

What makes this frustrating for me is that, like the OP, I'm pretty sure I remember when Firefox didn't have these problems. It smells like at some point they introduced some kind of terrible architectural change in the browser, and rather than address that directly, they keep trying to patch around it.

It's possible that the very newest version fixes all of these things. We made the decision to start switching off of it almost a month ago, after Mozilla firmly decided to go the frequent background updates route (and without also supporting older versions). If we have to choose to recommend one of two browsers, both of which do frequent updates, then we'll go with the one that seems to give people fewer headaches.


Not to ignore your other points, but there is now a proposal being worked on for having an extended support edition for business deployments:

https://wiki.mozilla.org/Enterprise/Firefox/ExtendedSupport:...


hitting on mozilla is trendy. thats all there is to it. its funny to read how the horrible firefox is faster than chrome and more efficient in many ares too. like type inference. like memory usage. like 2d acceleration.

in fact 99% judge ff on startup time. its mostly due to the ui toolkit xul.


This is Hacker News, where everything anointed by Larry and Sergei is to be revered and worshiped by all, forever and ever, amen.


> Account created after prior account( haploid )was inexplicably silent-banned.

A bit more civility might help you avoid a repeat of that.


My understanding of the "civility" standard is whether I would say it in person. My comments do pass this test.


That's more of a guideline aimed at people who aren't assholes in person.


Brilliant judgement you've made of someone you don't know. I'm sure this particular instance of incivility will garner you plenty of upvotes, however.


I'm just taking what you said at face value. If you come on HN, act like an asshole, and go on to say you'd behave the same in person, then the inference is pretty obvious, isn't it?


Because people disagree with whether your approach is acceptable in any case. It's not that hard to understand.


Jason, we’ve been working on this. There were some big performance improvements in Firefox 6 and 7 and we’ve got a big hang fix that’s just about to hit in Firefox 8.

Can you grab an Aurora or Beta build and see if things are better?


I suffer quite a lot from Firefox performance issues since I need to run two instances on one machine, and Firefox 7 fixed ALL my hanging/swapping issues. Great job on that and I definitely urge everybody to upgrade.

While I'm here I'll add my usual "Dump Firefox? You can pry Tree Style Tab out of my cold dead hands" comment.

That said, I have also experienced the "we are not doing it cause we don't like it no matter how insanely useful it is to corporate users" attitude, eg. the perennial refusal to add overstrike:

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=38415


It seems unlikely that Chrome will get tree style tabs any time soon, despite some popular interest:

http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=99332&...

"If I stop using the dev version, and switch to beta or (shudder) released, and turn off updating, will that give me the tabs back, or is it too late?"


Another satisfied Tree Style Tabs user here. After the AwesomeBar, that's the number two thing keeping me on FireFox. Especially now that version 7 cut its memory footprint in half.


Arch Linux here, Firefox 7.0.1. No hanging, no Flash problems, 15+ tabs is a-okay, and extensions work great. I'm happy!


Bug fixes are nice, but it doesn't change the fact that Chrome is more stable to begin with.


It's endearing that for each comment presenting a criticism of some aspect of Firefox, there's at least one reply from somebody saying, "But /I/ don't have that problem" (see thaumaturgy's top-ranked post).

So great. You don't run into problem x or problem y.

But a LOT of people do. And when I sit down at somebody's computer, and they use Firefox, and they have more than a couple tabs open, it's slow. Inconceivably slow. Especially in light of how snappy Chrome manages to be with a big stack of tabs open.

And then on a modern computer, a nice shiny new computer, things are pausing erratically, and there's lag, and it's slow, and it feels like 2005.

I can hear you leaping to Firefox's defense now: "Sure, but that was only true until 5.323, when they fixed the 'FF is slow as shit' bug!" Or, "yes, but that has never happened to /me/, and I run Firefox on a Pentium I that I spilled a bunch of grape juice on and kick every day."

Congrats, you're either an anomaly, incredibly fortunate, or you limit your number of tabs, restart Firefox regularly, and clear out your history daily. All things that I can assure you, ordinary, non-technical people NEVER DO.

Chrome managed to make a browser that doesn't become unbearably slow under normal usage patterns. Firefox, for all its moral superiority (and I gladly concede that point), has never managed to do that.


The fact is, different people experience different things.

Many people report that Firefox holds up better with many tabs open than Chrome. Perhaps since Chrome has one process per tab, which ends up straining some OSes. And many people report the opposite. It probably depends a lot on the OS, the specific tabs, their number, what addons they have, etc.

There are definitely a variety of bugs that some Firefox users hit, and those users get a frustrating experience. I don't think anyone is denying that. But there are also plenty of users that are clearly very happy. And there are users of other browsers that also hit bugs - for example I recently noticed that Opera was churning my HD for no reason. Never seen that on any browser until then. I had to stop using Opera because of it.


"Especially in light of how snappy Chrome manages to be with a big stack of tabs open."

Numerous benchmarks show that since 5 FF performs far better with a large number of tabs (100+ for example) compared to Chrome. This happens to be my use case so FF is my choice. Tab groups is also a must with so many tabs.


I don't use tabs in any browser, never have, never will. Open preferences, and turn off tabs -- easy. I don't see the need for tabs when the OS provides it's own tabs for all the windows I have regardless of whether it's a web page or not. Tabs within tabs, no thanks.


> Firefox, on Linux at least, is busted. It’s busted so bad that it’s painful to use. And it’s been this way ever since Firefox 3 launched — three years ago.

This is an odd statement, considering that many Firefox devs run Linux. I'm running Firefox on Linux right now, and it works great.

I guess the author of the article is hitting a specific bug. It isn't a general issue that affects all users of Firefox on Linux.


Sure, the impact of any specific bug is limited--but the gestalt of Firefox is of a development process that values press and feature creep over performance and correctness.

I haven't looked back since switching to Chrome. FF ignored obvious bugs for years. X pixmap freeing? Open since 2004. [1] I waited for six years, having to restart my browser every few hours, because it would leak over 2 GB from having a network graphs page open. Startup time? Last time I opened it, six months ago, FF took over 10 seconds to start, cold. Chromium snaps open in under a quarter second.

Then there's developer friendliness. Writing extensions is a complete mess, especially compared to Chrome. Configuration structure is haphazard at best. Profile corruption is a thing. I don't understand how a multi-million dollar foundation can tolerate this kind of experience.

Don't get me started on the rendering bugs. :-/

[1] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=259672


> Sure, the impact of any specific bug is limited--but the gestalt of Firefox is of a development process that values press and feature creep over performance and correctness.

I'm not sure if you are just trolling or not. Assuming not, then since Firefox's development is done in the open, I assume you have some evidence for this - meeting notes or such that show that? Or some other evidence?

The evidence to the contrary seems overwhelming. Firefox's main focus in 4.0 was on performance, see arewefastyet.com for JS, and the major rewrite of the graphics system (Layers) that lets it use things like Direct2D on Windows as just two examples. And as a consequence of those huge efforts, Firefox just won Toms Hardware's speed test, beating Chrome, Opera, IE and Safari,

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/firefox-7-web-browser,30...

Edit: Looks like I'm being downvoted. Please tell me hacker news isn't deteriorating into reddit, where opposing opinions are downvoted by reflex...


Not trolling, but perhaps I was unclear.

First, my information is about a year out of date. I only used FF (well, Mozilla Suite/Galeon/Phoenix/FF) from around 2001-2010, and it's clear the FF team has moved to improve performance since then. Perhaps my impressions from that time frame are no longer valid, but the issues I checked in Bugzilla while writing my post seemed largely unresolved.

I said "gestalt" to criticize not Firefox's actual development process, but the impression one might get as a longterm user (e.g. me.) Things like https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=474718, which stood unresolved for roughly two years. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=185236 went unresolved for almost NINE years--was just fixed last week. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=279048: five years.

    "This is an easily-demonstrated bug that "renders" (so to 
    speak) many pages unusable, or forces designers to impose 
    kludgey Javascript 'fixes' for Firefox users. This bug has
    been around for many versions, and has been mentioned many 
    times.

    Please, please someone on the Firefox team -- take on this project."
It's not just FF: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=12916 is still unresolved, after eleven years, despite a hundred dollar bounty. Bugzilla is full of wontfix/worksforme legal wrangling where users unable to write the patches themselves (and having dealt some with FF's internals, I understand why) are told that their bugs don't matter.

Meanwhile, FF expanded from its stripped-down, single-purpose origins into a memory-consuming beast. On my Linux machines, it crashed daily. I would much rather see crashes, leaks, and slowdowns addressed before building new systems like the Awesomebar, tabs-in-titlebar, phishing prevention, and so forth.

Every developer I know has switched to Chrome. When I ask about it, I hear common rationales: speed, robustness, parsimony.

Does that clarify my criticism? There's a lot of great code in Firefox, but I don't think we should paper over the holes in the software or its development culture.


Aphyr, every single browser engine has longstanding bugs; it's just a matter of priorities.

WebKit doesn't have load events for stylesheets either, for example. It has buggy CSS selector matching, on purpose (doing the right thing was deemed too slow). There are multi-year-open bugs in V8 and Chrome, and that whole project hasn't even had an open bug database for more than a few years.

So I'm not sure the development culture is any different. You just haven't had a chance yet to file a bug and get it ignored by the WebKit folks for a few years. It happens all the time....


You're absolutely right; I've been bitten by chrome/webkit bugs as well, some of which remain unpatched. And Chrome's relative youth means the browser code hasn't acquired the same level of cruft--so I can't strongly infer a difference in process.


> [WebKit] has buggy CSS selector matching, on purpose (doing the right thing was deemed too slow)

Can you substantiate this? (both the buggy selector(s) and the reasoning)

I have no role in any of this; I'm merely interested in the bugs.


> First, my information is about a year out of date. I only used FF (well, Mozilla Suite/Galeon/Phoenix/FF) from around 2001-2010

Oh, ok. The last year was a big year for FF performance: There have been huge gains in speed and reductions in memory usage. FF4 began that, and FF7, 8 and 9 take it even further.

Given that you are talking about the time period before that, I can understand more where you are coming from - performance was a lesser priority then compared to other features. Thanks for clarifying that.


They now fire `load` events on stylesheet loads? Awesome! Shameful it’s been that way for so long. I’ve seen terrible work-arounds like always just firing a faux-load event 100ms after the stylesheet was added to the page, in the wild.


> I'm not sure if you are just trolling or not.

He made a valid and extended argument, one can read and agree or disagree with.

You isolate just a phrase from it and call him on "trolling"?

In general, internet discussions would be much much better if "troll" and "FUD" weren't used to disqualify arguments we don't like (or, maybe weren't used, period).


To throw around comments like "but the gestalt of Firefox is of a development process that values press and feature creep over performance and correctness" - that's textbook flamebait. It's a direct insult to Firefox developers and fans, and its only result will be to start an argument. So it's a natural suspicion that he might be trolling.

In any case, I gave a reasoned response, giving him the benefit of the doubt that he isn't trolling. But if he was, I guess I was wasting my time.

I do agree with you: Internet discussions would be much better if we did not use "troll", "FUD", "flamebait", etc., but also if people did not act in those ways.


> To throw around comments like "but the gestalt of Firefox is of a development process that values press and feature creep over performance and correctness" - that's textbook flamebait.

Sure, but it can also be his honest opinion, that he came to by comparing, say, the minimal changes between Chrome versions and the more evolved FF updates. What I'm saying is, the entirety of his comment matters to see if it's "trolling" or not, not just a juicy quote.


You're right, the rest of the comment was not so bad, and that's in his favor. He could have avoided the flamebait sentence and I would have politely disagreed but had no issue with his comment.


> the gestalt of Firefox is of a development process that values press and feature creep over performance and correctness.

:

> I've recently been running into a number of "benchmarks" where some rendering engines achieve better performance by simply doing the wrong thing because the right one would be "too slow". […] This is not exactly an isolated incident; a number of the performance issues I've run into recently in Gecko have had to do with correctly handling edge cases that this particular open-source engine happens to just not handle.[1]

1. Boris Zbarsky. "Performance vs. correctness tradeoffs". Three Monkeys, Three Typewriters, Two Days. 2009 October 18. http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/bz/archives/020267.html


I run FF on linux for dev work (not on FF itself, but for JS heavy web apps). Actually, I run a whole bunch of different FF versions with different profiles for testing a huge variety of things.

My main gripe is that some of the extensions (NoScript, Firebug and friends) sometimes break things, hog the CPU in one way or another or just plain eat up the heap.

I am fine with this. These are extensions, after all and it's for dev stuff, which I judge by a slightly different standard than 'normal user' stuff.

The latest FF releases especially make me happy because they're adding modern web features and working on UX and performance. And it shows and feels.

I don't care about bookmarks because I don't bother storing those in the browser anymore. Was the choice for storing 'stuff' in SQLite a good one? Yes of course it was. It's the best cross-platform way to store structured data on disk, which is why everybody and his/her dog has made the same choice. Are there inefficient ways in which it is being used? Maybe. Probably? I haven't looked into this, but this is hardly an insurmountable problem.

Sure it felt like FF was lagging behind once the WebKit browsers started coming out (with better JS engines) but the Mozilla Team is back in the game with its new release cycles and updates.

And this makes me very happy.


Has Chrome implemented mathML yet? I user firefox for that.


  http://caniuse.com/#compare=y&b1=firefox+7&b2=chrome+16
  https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=3251
  http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=6606
No, Chrome still does not have mathml.


Well that's nice for you that it works, usually works for me at home.

I run about 200 desktop linux machines and sqlite locking is a common problem on firefox. Users are often completely unaware of how to fix even though they are quite technical.


As mentioned in the article's comments, this appears to have been recently resolved.

Here is the full thread: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=686025


Aha. Now here may be the root cause:

Shawn Wilsher :sdwilsh 2011-09-18 12:33:22 PDT

The problem here is that Places (along with lots of other places in our code) still creates and uses synchronous database statements. SQLite is only threadsafe because it serializes all access to a database connection (this is unlikely to change any time soon).

To make this problem worse, every time we "fix" an area that does this, we end up putting more work on the background thread, which increases the likelihood that the remaining places that need to acquire the mutex on the main thread will encounter contention for the mutex.

Some of you might recall we hit this problem in the run-up to Firefox 4 as well (November/December of last year), and it caused Marco and I to have to reachitect a bunch of stuff in Places for a few months in order to work around it. Until Firefox removes all uses of the synchronous Storage API from the main thread, this issue will keep rearing it's head. (When that happens we can actually use SQLite in a way that stops using mutexs and will likely speed it up too.)


Hmm, from reading the thread it does not appear to have been solved, at least not the underlying problems. What was solved was the removal of a couple of synchronous calls. The fact that there are slow queries on some profiles seems to have been caused by the fact that ANALYZE does not run for some people[1], and this does seem like it has been fixed yet. I should check this for my Firefox profile at work to see if old stats are the reason for it hanging.

So what needs to be fixed ,if I follow that thread, is the removal of all synchronous calls and some solution to either not have to run ANALYZE or run it more often.

1. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=686025#c89


I'll believe it when I see it, pretty doubtful at this point.


Use the workaround that's in that thread. It works today.


Perhaps FF devs have super-beefed-up machines (required to compile FF) that average users don't, and therefore don't see many of the performance problems that average users do?


I run Firefox on Arch Linux on an old Atom-based netbook and on LMDE an old AMD 3200+. Neither have had issues, so it's not the case that Firefox is generically broken on all of Linux.


This longstanding bug has been found and fixed in the past few weeks. There’s a workaround as well (use the Places Maintenance addon to properly index your Places database).

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=686025


I thought I hadn't seen Firefox hang in a while.


I remember one of my co-workers telling me that Firefox was running great for him now that he'd upgraded from 4GB of RAM to 8GB. It finally wasn't slowly grinding to a halt any time he had more than a handful of tabs open for more than an hour or two.

Seemed a bit like Stockholm Syndrome to me.


How long ago was this? There's been a number of memory usage improvements since 3.5.

I had 40 tabs open for the better part of last week and didn't notice a performance hit; and I've only got 2Gb RAM.


I have the latest version and my long running high count tab sessions slow down my system tremendously. OSX 8GB RAM.


I have memory-hemorrhaging problems under various versions of Windows as well. I need to restart at least once a day (I typically have ~8 tabs in use).

But the clincher that made me switch to Chrome a couple weeks ago was that every couple of hours it would decide of its own accord to tear off a tab into a new window, and then hang. This solved the memory leakage, but not in a useful way.

I'm pretty sure that my problems are related to badly-behaving addins. But Firefox doesn't provide any good way to troubleshoot addins (compare to Chrome), and it seemed to me that the process to track down the culprit given that the problem is nondeterministic and takes a couple of hours to manifest would be more difficult than the switch to Chrome.

That said, I'm having some compatibility problems with Chrome. Like, last night the CAPTCHA in the free annual credit report site wouldn't work.


Yeah. I had the same problem with chrome as well. Same setup. Maybe web browsers can't handle how I work with them at the moment. Maybe I'll go down the rabbit hole and try to fix some of the bugs myself.


Earlier this year. Can't remember exactly when. OSX.


I'm running Firefox 7.01 on a 4 year old machine with Ubuntu 11.04. I routinely have 30+ tabs open an never had a problem with speed. Maybe your friend's computer has other woes


These "I have X tabs open" comparisons are very unhelpful. Different sites take hugely different amounts of memory in just the same way that different desktop applications do.

If you want to make a even-slightly quantitative comparison you need to at least start by loading the same set of sites. Then you need to worry about them sending different content (e.g. different adverts) to different browsers.

In the end most people go by metrics like "how responsive does the UI feel", which is fine, although since it's a perception thing it can be influenced by factors other than the actual speed e.g. preconceived notions set by marketing.


Also, the browser plugins in use (e.g. adobe acrobat) have a huge impact.


I have a different problem. Firefox now aggressively trims memory usage - over-aggressively trims it, to the point that switching tabs incurs a 0.5 second pause as it reallocates memory it had thrown away. This is Firefox 7, and is most noticeable in image-heavy websites.


This is just discarding of decoded images; the issue there is not reallocating but having to redecode the image...

There is work ongoing to limit the redecoding to only the things that are visible in the viewport to alleviate this problem.


QFT

Though it's having both IceWeasel and Chromium that's pigging my box.

But yes, with aggressive browsing habits, 4GB simply wasn't enough memory.

40 tabs is a pretty low count for me.


I've got an Asus EEEpc with 2GB of RAM and 4GB swap and I always have Firefox open with 80+ tabs in 4+ windows. After a week or so it'll get really slow when loading and would crash in a day or two if usage continued, so I just kill it and it reloads everything.

This "more than a few tabs" or "more than an hour or two" is craziness? What is your friend running?


See, the problem here is that I do that with Opera on my EEEpc too, except I only have a gig of ram, no swap, and I don't have to kill it every week.

Firefox just doesn't cut it.


Sure, that I'd believe.

What OS are you in? How long do you keep it running like this? Sounds good.


I'm using Fedora 15^, and I think Opera has been running for approximately 3 weeks right now (my current uptime).

^ with Awesome WM, not those gnome/unity/kde memory pigs ;)


I am a bit in the same situation as the author, using Firefox since before it was called Firefox, on all platforms and advocating it very widely.

But, it is hard to go on advocating it. True, they fixed many issues on JS speed and memory with the latest releases (after denying the issues for a loooong time).

However, the slowness of the SQlite backend is quite annoying, as mentioned on the article. The SSL management is beyond ridiculous, especially when the whole model of Certificate Authorities is broken, as the news showed us. The breakage of extensions at each update is abnormal. The Linux integration is abysmal... And yet, at each release, it seems the focuses on UI changes are the more important...

IE9 is now decent, Chrome is really good and Opera too. All most of my developers friends have moved to Chrome...


And yet, at each release, it seems the focuses on UI changes are the more important...

I've seen almost no UI changes in Firefox 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. All the change-logs were basically backend optimizations.


"I've seen almost no UI changes in Firefox 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9."

So.. in the past 2 weeks?

Seriously, that absurd numbering scheme needs to stop too.


Chrome's doing it too. Just ignore the versioning.


In the last 6 months. As you knew perfectly well, of course....


No, actually I didn't know that. I no longer use firefox, and their scheme honestly makes no sense to me. I am convinced they only adopted it so that Mozilla supporters can shoot down any criticism from people who abandoned it more than a few weeks ago by saying "well your criticism is hardly relevant, we're several version numbers past what you were using now!" Notice several examples of this tactic in this very discussion...

But anyway, are they bumping the version number every 1.2 months then? Is that supposed to be obvious?

PS: I would also like to add that "There hasn't been a major UI change in 6 months" is anything but a strong refutation of the original assertion that Mozilla changes up the UI too much. This is another example of redefining "major release" to silence valid criticism.


I am convinced they only adopted it so that Mozilla supporters can shoot down any criticism from people who abandoned it more than a few weeks ago by saying "well your criticism is hardly relevant, we're several version numbers past what you were using now!" Notice several examples of this tactic in this very discussion...

Increasing the version number doesn't fix bugs, but pretty much every time it has been pointed out in this topic, it was "we fixed some issues in that area, please try a newer version".

I don't understand the argument here. You're saying Mozilla is rapidly addressing the issues users are complaining about, and that is somehow a bad thing?

But anyway, are they bumping the version number every 1.2 months then? Is that supposed to be obvious?

The 6 week schedule has been pointed out in every HN thread about FF, and many public announcements before the rapid release system started, and the last 3 releases (not counting Beta and Aurora) have exactly been 6 weeks apart. So yes, it's supposed to be quite obvious by now. Don't ask me where your "2 weeks" figure comes from.


2 weeks was obviously a sarcastic exaggeration, I am not asking you where it came from. This is however the first I've heard that 6 weeks is the new version scheme..

"I don't understand the argument here. You're saying Mozilla is rapidly addressing the issues users are complaining about, and that is somehow a bad thing?"

If that was what Mozilla was actually doing, I wouldn't have issues. In practice nothing ever really seems to change.

No, my point is that there seems to be a bizarre attitude among Mozilla supporters that in order to have the "right" to criticize firefox, you have to continue to subject yourself to its abuse.

Well I've had enough abuse. I've given them the benefit of the doubt time and time again for damn near half a decade now. They now need to make a sincere and dramatic effort to win back my trust. And no, "I've changed, I promise I won't hit you anymore baby.." won't do it this time. Fool me once...

I've moved on to greener pastures, but I will continue to point out what shit firefox is until I see that Mozilla finally has recognized what their users have been saying for years, admits that they were wrong, apologizes, and details (no hand-waving) their recovery plan. Mozilla needs to get on the 12 steps program for bad software development and user relations.


I used Chromium on Linux for 2+ years and switched back to Firefox during the 4.0 beta cycle. I'm much happier with Firefox's extensibility and interface and I haven't had any major issues since going back. The main reason I used Chrome was because it was so much faster in terms of WebGL and JS execution, but now that Firefox is regularly improving and competitive, I am much happier with the experience.


I had to switch to FF 7 (clean install, no addons) for one full day yesterday, and it feels so much slower than Chrome.

I used to be a huge FF advocate, until Chrome arrived. At first I stayed on FF and tried Chrome a couple of times. It lacked AdBlock back then, so I didn't switch immediately. There's no way I'm going back to FF now.


Chrome hang's too, especially when I have 12 engadget tabs open on engadget. Firefox not so much then I have those same 12 tabs. This is on OSX.


As a dev, FF was my go-to utility browser due to Firebug. Google released Chrome, and I found myself using FF rarely.

I rebuilt a laptop recently. After loading it up with software, it was a good 3 weeks before I even noticed that I didn't have FF installed.


I've had a similar experience. I've really come to appreciate Chrome's built in developer tools and have pretty much left Firebug in the dust.


I'm in the opposite boat. I find firebug easier to use for the limited use cases I encounter (mostly scraping html id tags) than Chrome's dev tools.

That said, I still far prefer Chrome as a browser.


I use to be a fan of firefox, but switched to chrome because:

1) it became slow to open. FF use to open within a few seconds, it now opened in no less than 30 seconds.

Strike 1.

1) I then noticed during the 30 seconds that ff was accessing my dish access was crazy. A bug report said it was "working as intended" because it was needing to derive encryption keys for ssl by reading my temp data files on disk.

So 30 sec load time from hdd access at startup is working as intended? Strike 2.

3) ff updates brick extensions. They aren't usable after an update. Just annoying to experience each update.

3) I switched my mums pc to chrome after the resent few ff updates. Too much mental energy and effort to click next/yes to each update wizard step, to then see the plugins out of date too etc, just silly.

She asks "whats this" each time ff asked about updates, after doing it a few times recently and teaching her it was ok to say yes to, I sill just replaced it with chrome that eliminated the support overhead for me.

So I had switched to chrome and it opens fast. No crazy disk access.

It doesn't pester me at all about updates, or break things due to new versions. It just works and gets out of my way.


In Mozilla's defense, they've handled Places-related issues well in the past.

http://shaver.off.net/diary/2008/05/25/fsyncers-and-curvebal...


Yep, same problem. Firefox hangs whenever I try to do anything "intensive" with Places, such as selectively deleting stuff from the history or reorganizing a large number of bookmarks. It's gotten much better than before, though.

Weird thing is, Firefox is still faster than Chrome on my computer (Win7x64). I don't know what's wrong with my computer, but Chrome is noticeably slower than Firefox in day-to-day use. This only happens on this particular computer. Chrome is indeed faster in every other computer I've tried. Very strange.


drink more G cool aid. ff is also faster here. but also on my other comps, except for the osx ones where chrome is better.


I dropped FF b/c of the memory leak. As a test, on a spare mac I wrote a script that launched FF and Chrome simultaneously and visited 10 websites I frequent. They both had similar clean profiles. After roughly two days of continuous refresh/load cycles, Chrome's memory was at 148MB, FF was 988MB.


What version of Firefox? As of 7, memory usage is almost as good as Opera for me.


The fundamental problem with Mozilla is that it is trying to do database queries in its UI loop, and it wants every single piece of state safely on disk after every single click. This results in a huge amount of disk space to get written to disk as you visit every single click. Now I don't know about you, but if my computer crashes, do I really care if everything up to the last click is safely on disk? I wouldn't care at all if the last 10 or 15 minutes of browser history; I don't care if the link colors are a little off due to a some history getting lost on a system crash.

Compounding this is the fact that SQLlite was never intended to be a high performance database. It was designed for portability, and ease of setup. Which is fine, but it means that SQLlite uses many more I/O's and issues many more fsync()'s than would be strictly necessary. (In fact, Oracle doesn't issue a single fsync operation on a transaction commit; it uses direct I/O instead.)

So even if Firefox manages to get rid of all of the various problems that cause its UI thread to block, this fundamental design mistake will cause them to do excess I/O's, which burns battery and burns SSD write cycles. They would be much better off if they kept all of their state in memory, and 10-15 minutes, updated the on-disk database in a completely asynchronous fashion.

And if that means losing some history on a crash, is the fact that a user has visited one web site, but not another, really that important?


> The fundamental problem with Mozilla is that it is trying to do database queries in its UI loop, and it wants every single piece of state safely on disk after every single click

No, this is not true. Since Firefox 3.5 they have avoided this entirely:

https://autonome.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/front-end-performa...

This approach has been largely replaced with asynchronous queries off-the-main-thread, since the temporary tables were actually a performance problem:

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=552023

So they've already done what you've suggested. It turned out to cause problems, and was replaced. AFAIK, there's basically no database queries in the Mozilla UI loop.


They are using asynchronous queries still, and the problem is that they aren't always asynchronous if there are any long-running queries happening in the background. That's the reason for the hang per the most recent bug.

If temp tables were causing problem, then there's something seriously wrong with SQLlite's in-memory temporary tables (or how they are being used). By definition they shouldn't be blocking...


Firefox was creating memory-backed temporary tables and syncing them to disk; however, the process of regularly syncing to disk while using the browser caused issues. It also added to start-up time requirements.

For example, if you don't want to hold the entire history in memory but only the most recent changes, you have to create a view spanning the temporary table and the on-disk table to do history queries (so the Awesomebar returns results from pages you just visited, as well as ones already written to disk) and things get complicated.


Define "regularly", he's talking about 15 minutes. I don't know that I'd even want it done that often. This is not critical data, let the filesystem layers do their job, at which point the RAM used by keeping a (very small, in any event) working set cached is also irrelevant as the filesystem cache takes over.


And if that means losing some history on a crash, is the fact that a user has visited one web site, but not another, really that important?

Yes, it is. Imagine you're typing a long comment, you've copied it into the clipboard just to be safe, and just before you submit, your OS crashes or you lose power.

Or, imagine you're looking for reference information on an obscure API, and you've finally found a useful page after 9 minutes of searching. Just before the 10 minute sync occurs, you lose power, and for the life of you, you can't remember how you got to that all-important page or what keywords to use. Having an up-to-date history would have let you continue working.


That seems pretty far fetched.

How often has that actually happened to you? I can honestly say that in 15 years of web browsing I've never had either of those problems, and don't know anybody who has.

Seems silly to significantly slow everything down for everybody because of a one in a trillion chance somebody will lose power at an inconvenient time.

And hey, maybe if the browser were faster, you'd have time to submit the comment or bookmark the page before the power goes out...


That seems pretty far fetched.

Just about everything important seems far-fetched until it happens (Who imagined spam botnets when designing SMTP? Who would've thought that Therac-25 operators would get fast enough at entering commands to trigger a race condition?).

How often has that actually happened to you?

Since Firefox syncs often, it can't. But, I have lost long comments and e-mails (before Gmail auto-saved drafts) to page/browser/OS crashes, and I've been saved by the history when I couldn't remember the one site that had some answer I needed.

I can honestly say that in 15 years of web browsing I've never had either of those problems, and don't know anybody who has.

Isn't that exactly the sentiment being complained about in the article?

Seems silly to significantly slow everything down for everybody because of a one in a trillion chance somebody will lose power at an inconvenient time.

And hey, maybe if the browser were faster, you'd have time to submit the comment or bookmark the page before the power goes out...

If anything, experience has taught me that catastrophic failures just love to occur at inconvenient times. For example, demonstrations work when you're alone or with other engineers, but as soon as you present to someone else everything stops working.

Besides, I'm not saying browsers should be slower. I'm saying that they should synchronize more often than once every 10-15 minutes and be prepared for edge cases. I'm of the view that software should, where possible, mimic physical objects -- changes are instantaneous and persistent -- with the reversibility of virtual objects.


Hey, nitrogen.

Why you've been voted down so much is beyond me. Lots of IDONTLIKEIT in here and recently in general it seems.

> I'm of the view that software should, where possible, mimic physical objects -- changes are instantaneous and persistent -- with the reversibility of virtual objects.

Are you aware of Stanislav's Seven Laws of Sane Personal Computing or the Loper OS website in general? It's a nice read; thought-provoking, even if you don't agree with everything there.

http://www.loper-os.org/?p=284


Interesting. For the most part, I agree with the principles there. My long-term (i.e. long past my lifetime) goal is to make software like that seen on Star Trek (minus the homicidal holodeck characters) -- no companies controlling things, no proprietary standards, just simple interfaces to do anything and everything. In the mean time, though, I don't think that full system introspection is economically possible for all systems in all places.


It would be great if SQLlite could provide the option of "NOSYNC" tables that might lose recent updates after a crash. However, in order to ensure that the on-disk file is consistent it at least needs write ordering when it does decide to write to disk - "I don't care when this write gets to disk, as long as when it does, this other write has already gotten there too". There's no API to request that without also requesting data be flushed to permanent storage immediately - be it fsync, sync_file_range or O_DIRECT.


actually it does


I actually was thinking the other day if Firefox performance would be improved if SQLite was swapped to a "real" RDBMS like PostgreSQL (or mySQL).


Here here!

I've completely given up on Firefox on my MBP (3.06 Core2, 8GB, 480GB SSD). Between the egregious javascript memory leak and constantly increasing resource utilization it's just unusable. And my fans are running full tilt within 60 seconds of starting it.


Why does there have to be one? I'm happy using both Firefox and Chrome, they each have their own workflows for me.

I have a personal gmail account, and a work google apps gmail account, and recently Google decided you can only stay logged into one gmail account at a time per browser session. So if I want both open, I have my personal one in Firefox and my work email in Chrome. That in general leads to the use of using Firefox for personal browsing and Chrome for work-related browsing.

In Firefox I have all my bookmarks and Stumble Upon, along with RSS feeds and about 400 tabs opened (not loaded with the Bartab Lite addon and organized in a tree with the TreeStyle Tabs addon). In Chrome I have work-related things open, like our issue list and email, so very few tabs, and I use it for quick googling (work or personal). I also have Firefox using websync so I can get at my tabs from school or other computers. Chrome's also nice for having a Private Browsing mode instantly launchable without closing your other non-private session.

Firefox only crashes completely these days, sometimes, when java applets load. Chrome only crashes on pages.


I share the same feeling. It is becoming a pain. If I keep it open for few hours, it inevitably crashes and needs a restart. I started using firefox few years back only because it won't crash and is stable. Not anymore I guess!


Yeah, I have to restart it at least once a day. In addition to "Clear Recent History", how about a "Clear Older History", where I can delete everything older than a month or a week? That would clean out probably more than 95% of the cruft possibly speeding things up. I'm sure there's a way to do this, but how about an easy way for the average user?


Since we’re on the topic of longstanding Firefox issues: Add support for `display: run-in` already. You are the ONLY browser not to support it. http://www.quirksmode.org/css/display.html

Last I brought this up, I was told:

1. that it wasn’t completely defined, and some edge cases can arise

2. that it 'wasn't necessary' as you could 'solve' the problem by adding more (wrapping) markup

3. that `run-in` was going to be dropped from CSS2.1.

None of this is very valid.

1. So do what the other browsers do, and/or when you encounter a weird edge case, fall back to `display: block` (as suggested by the spec).

2. Adding more markup (A) because one browser is being pissy (B) goes against the fundamental philosophies of both CSS (A) and web standards (B). Clearly!

3. It’s only being dropped from the spec because they can finalize the spec if it is 100% implemented by 100% of the major browsers. So this is circular reasoning caused by your ten-year rolling decision to ignore `run-in`.

Run-in is a very useful concept (I’m always tempted to use it on /about.html). Please, reconsider.


> So do what the other browsers do

What other browsers do is completely insane (e.g. removing a block that a run-in has run into makes the run-in just disappear altogether in WebKit), so implementing it would be actively bad for the web.

> It’s only being dropped from the spec because they can > finalize the spec if it is 100% implemented by 100% of > the major browsers.

They can finalize the spec as long as every feature is implemented interoperably by _two_ browsers.

There are three run-in implementations, and they're completely incompatible. The feature got dropped from the spec because the working group couldn't figure out any way to even define a restricted behavior subset that Presto, Trident, and WebKit implement the same way.

So no, Gecko's lack of implemetation here didn't block the spec in any way. The fact that all three existing implementations are completely incompatible with each other and all horribly broken had a lot more to do with it.


I see lots of unfair complaining here. I'm still running FF even on machines with 1GB of RAM, and I actually had troubles with memory leaks on Mac, that were mostly related to some extensions.


Oh well, I've been using Firefox since it's pheonix, firebird days!

I've never evangalised so hard about a piece of software, and every Linux and Apple user owe it a debt of gratitude, in as much that it was a good cross platform browser.

Performance wise, some upgrades have been for the better some for the worst. But don't get too sentimental about past incarnations. I remember there being memory issues in the 2.x line. I saw the browser eating over a half gig of ram once - and I nearly fell off my chair.

Those that have dozens of tabs open - I do think you need to ask yourself why? It just slows your computer down. I think we use them as replacement for bookmarks, which says something about the browser UI.

I've only recently left 3.6 to try out TenFourFox on my power pc - which at first felt a million times better, but after my initial excitement, I noticed it's a bit of a cpu hog. Idling with Gmail open, it seems to be quite greedy. Which suggests to me that there is an inherent problem with the browser - imagine if I had a handful of web apps open.

To say Firefox is broken is a bit strong. It would be better to say it has it's faults and could be faster. If it's DB is a bottleneck - could it be swapped for something else?

I do however think the browser UI is in serious need of some love, and could do with some innovation. It's barely changed. For example tab management is dire.


> Those that have dozens of tabs open - I do think you need to ask yourself why?

Spatial memory. If my tabs are not exactly where I left them last week, I utterly forget what I was doing. (I'm one of those people whose room looks like a mess but I can tell you where anything is -- so long as no-one's moved it.)

If tabs are slowing things down, then the browser should "background" tabs that haven't been used in a while. (I'd say swap them to disk but the OS does this already!) Pause Javascript, Flash, etc.


Don't get me wrong, I have got a bit of a bad tab habit that I'm trying to break. It's all too easy to open loads of them, never to read the content. In the meantime they just use resources.

I think having lots of tabs open isn't good for focus, but that's another topic.

What I was getting at, is that I believe we use tabs as bookmark replacements. Which is stupid because bookmarks are cheap. This shows a flaw in the browser.

To me it's the browser UI that let's you down. If bookmark management were better, you might not use the tabs.

Back to the spatial memory, I have a better grasp of tabs when they bunch - ala Opera and Chrome than when they scroll. I get lost in Firefox pretty quickly, the newer tab management features just don't work for me.

I don't see why you can't have a mix of live tabs, and frozen tabs.

After using Gmail for years - I'm going back to a desktop client rather reluctantly, just because it doesn't use much in the way of system resources while idling.

I was a fan of tabs initially, but in some ways I've gone off them. I'd like the window manager to look after multiple windows better, rather than use tabs.

I'd love to see some radical development in the browser UI.


"If tabs are slowing things down, then the browser should "background" tabs that haven't been used in a while. (I'd say swap them to disk but the OS does this already!) Pause Javascript, Flash, etc."

This would massively break the web. Even throttling setTimeout() calls for tabs in the background caused breakage.


Couldn't agree more. For the past year+, Firefox has been getting noticeably slower and slower, to the point that I would cringe when clicking that little fox planet and thinking of what I could do in the next 3 minutes while Firefox opened.

A few months ago, I finally switched to Chrome 100% and very rarely use the bloated software that is now Firefox.

I used to recommend Firefox as THE browser. Now I recommend people uninstall it.


The version of Firefox that is my favorite is actually pre-firefox. Phoenix was an amazing browser -- it was lightweight, incredibly fast, and the UI was simple and _very_ customizable.

Phoenix, in my opinion, is the original idea and message behind Firefox: a fast and friendly alternative to bloated browsers. Over the years, Firefox has become HUGE. Why make a Firefox 7, 8, 9 etc. if it just keeps adding more things instead of cutting through the glut with the sword of speediness and optimization? Really, all I want a browser to do is pass the acid3 test and be up and running as quickly as possible. Cut everything else out.

I think of Phoenix as like a pamphlet, Firebird (Firefox 1) as a novel, and current Firefox as an encyclopedia. Tucked somewhere within... on a select number of sheets in that amassed bramble of pages and thorns... in there is a browser we all know and love.

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free" ~ Michelangelo

Firefox+Mozilla: please don't stop carving. We appreciate all you do, but it's time to get back to basics.


At least with Firefox you don't have to deal with things like this: http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=41467

When Firefox dropped http:// at least they gave you the ability to turn it back on!


Who cares? The only use case people were complaining about was copy/paste not inserting the http://, which it does now. What, exactly, is the issue, and why are people still whining about it?


That's not the point, the point is that Firefox still gives you the choice, while Chrome devs don't think you should have a choice.


Chrome's FOSS, but it's not driven by the FOSS mentality like FF is. Choice is great, but when it interferes with UX one or the other has to go. Google is a consumer app company, so they went with simplicity and a clean interface. That's their right.

We aren't living in the MS EEE days anymore. You always have the choice to use a different browser. Hell, if you care that much, you can download the source, re-enable the http:// display, and compile it yourself. I really fail to see the problem, here.

Your complaint is that there's no practical difference whatsoever, but that you want to have the choice. That seems to be a pretty minor thing to be kvetching about.


I didn't make any comment or complaint about the practical difference...


whats funny is you got downvotedand his hateful, not so relevant comment like go compile it us upvoted. figures !


In what sense was my comment hateful? Insensitive, perhaps even impolite, sure. But hateful?


I'm impressed by the passion with which people want http:// back in their URLs. Perhaps it's tangential to the original thread, but why's it such a big deal?


> but why's it such a big deal?

Because people copy&paste URLs all the time, and without the http:// they dont work where pasted. Not having http:// when youre copy-pasting feels like a part of your URL is missing.

What I dont know is for whom they are hiding http://? I'd guess there are 2 types of users, those who need the URL, then they need it complete, including the http://, and those who dont need the URL to be visible at all (except maybe the domain name), like they dont need the current path in Explorer. But who exactly needs half an URL which is then only magically completed upon C&P-ing? And those who allegedly dont need http://, why do they need the part after the TLD? From their POV, the arguments part is even more useless than http://.


In both FF and Chrome, copying includes the http:// to the clipboard, so it's all there when you paste. So that's not an issue at all.


Lack of a superfluous http:// is one of the things that I love about Chrome. And, for the record, it is included when you copy from the URL bar in every version I've seen on Windows.


> for the record, it is included when you copy from the URL bar

Yes, but this is part of what makes the "feature" so annoying for usability obsessives such as myself. It makes copy & paste work differently in the URL bar than they do everywhere else and in every other application. Normally copy only copies the text you select. Now when you paste you not only paste the text you selected, but some extra, previously unseen text as well.

I know that once you hide the "http:// you pretty much have to do copy & paste this way, to avoid people pasting incomplete URLs, but it still feels weird, at least to me...


Unless you got the URL from the history search, but didn't actually visit the page. In that case, it omits the http://


It gets in my way doing copy-paste. I don't entirely understand it - it seems to have something to do with whether Firefox is busy or not - but it's easy for a copied URL to simply not have the prefix, which breaks subsequent use pretty frequently (eg. 'google.com' is not a useful Markdown link while 'http://google.com is).


As mentioned, when you copy from the URL bar, you get the http:// prefix so this is a non-issue.


Did you not read what I wrote? That does not always happen.


Because https is still included. It needs to be, so that users know it's a secure connection. This makes https URLs appear more crufty than http URLs. This, in turn, can be used as an excuse to be insecure.

The fewer such excuses there are, the better.


I will take that 'issue' over the sluggishness of Firefox on my Macbook any day of the week.


Firefox after 3 ran like a crippled dog.

I switched to Phoenix, because it was a relief from the bloat of Netscape 6. It's been a long time since then, and running a modern Firefox tends to seem like Netscape 6 bloat.

So I use Chrome. I am agnostic about my browsers. I like speed, speed, speed.


Disable unnecessary extensions and plugins and Firefox 7 will be instantaneous and memory efficient.

Right now on OS X Leopard I have Hacker News, Slashdot, CNBC and Huffington Post (yuck) open in FF 7.01 and FF is using 179 MB.

When I had Firebug and the Stumbleupon tool bar enabled as well as some useless plugins that were enabled by default for media types I don't use, these same tabs were using 440 MB.

Google controls my email, phone, SMS and search information, I will not give them browser level access even if they let you opt out of data collection.

I like Firefox, it works great now and is rapidly improving. Mozilla's rapid release cycles should be applauded.


My sister complained to me about the "hanging" Firefox problem, and disabling stupid extensions fixed it right up. Firefox really needs to have a profile-cleaning mechanism.

These problems people report must be very system-dependent. I've been running Firefox on my 2GB RAM Dell laptop I bought in 2007 for $600 without any issues.


> totally kills the value of the Awesome Bar

I disable the (air quote) Awesome (end air quote) Bar every time I do a fresh install of Firefox.

I hate this damned feature with a passion (thank you, but I already know how to type, so get the hell out of my way!), and if the product doesn't have a switch to turn this damned feature off I'll find a competing product that does. Note that so many people loathed this feature that Mozilla added an option to turn the damned thing off.

And yes, I always do my Google searches by launching a bookmark that has their damned look-ahead feature disabled as well.


"Firefox, on Linux at least, is busted. It’s busted so bad that it’s painful to use. And it’s been this way ever since Firefox 3 launched"

I'm suprised I don't see posts like this more often, specifically about the Linux version. I've been on Ubuntu since 7.04, and Firefox has always felt like beta software, especially when running any Flash media. I get far less crashes on Chrome, so I've started moving away from Firefox and find the Chrome experience much more reliable.


I have the opposite problem: flash will consistently fail to work on a page in Chromium but work fine in Firefox, even though they're using the same copy of libflashplayer.so.


I was going to say that Firefox's lack of innovation and quality in the last couple of years, as compared to Chrome, could be due to lack of funding. But it turns out their revenue is well over $100 million annually, which should be enough to fix bugs. http://goo.gl/g5Upc

Still a good browser, but there's no question they've lost quite a bit of mojo.


Deleting your places.sqlite file is the easiest, but the worst way of defragmenting it. The easiest (if you're using btrfs) is to run:

`btrfs filesystem defragment ~/.mozilla/firefox/*/places.sqlite`

or use ioctl(fd, BTRFS_IOC_DEFRAG, NULL).

As far as I know, this can only be done as root. I'm not sure if other filesystems have similar defrag hooks.

So the correct approach is to make this facility accessible from unprivileged userspace.


I'm excited for Ubuntu 11.10 if only because it means I can flatten and reinstall, thus relieving me of Firefox's performance woes for another few months. It's really crazy the amount of memory it uses and the slowdowns that happen when you keep it open for more than a few hours.


I've had a hanging issue too. Fixed it by disabling MSE real-time protection (20 hangs per day -> 0). Somehow I don't see MSE causing the hangs on *nix though so perhaps a separate issue. Worth a try though for anyone battling.


I have a few issues with the current Firefox, but I use it as my full time browser and I never see a crash.. I'm not sure it's fair to criticize Mozilla itself and not some other piece of the ecosystem like plugins or extensions.


I've also been using firefox since 1.0 and had such problems through 3.6

But 7.0 is the best version yet for me and radically faster on startup and operation (and I use a ton of extensions).

It just took a weekend to get 7.0 to behave like 3.x and then I was happy.


I noticed this problem in Windows along with huge memory leaks.

I've switched to Firefox Nightly and this lag seems to have gone away.

As a bonus, the browser feels as fast as Chrome and it takes several weeks more usage before needing a restart due to slowness.


The new rapid release development cycle has bit Mozilla in the rear. For example, FF 7.0.1 on Vista needs to be run as Administrator. I didn't find this out until it just stopped working on my wife's laptop.


Uh, no, of course it doesn't. Something is seriously fubar on your side.


The automatic updates have to ask for admin rights, is that what you are seeing? You can deny admin rights and it will run fine (without updating). And they know it's not optimal, they're fixing that in the next version.


I'd kill for multi-row tab support in Chrome (TabMixPlus in Firefox or by default part of the browser in Opera). It's the only thing that keeps me from switching 100% from FF.


The problem with FF is that it came to beat something really bad, now they have to beat something really good and are kinda lost in the inversion of priorities.


I feel the same pain ... I've switched away from Firefox now and only use it when I'm compatibility testing my applications/sites.


Sounds like he needs to fix Linux.

Good Luck!


What happened to Firefox focusing on Linux responsiveness? They even acknowledged it as an issue and promised to work on it, but I've yet to see that occur at all.


The _only_ reason I have stuck with Firefox so long is that Vimperator and later Pentadactyl blow all Chromium vim-like addons out of the water. I have finally got so sick of paging issues and unresponsive scripts in Firefox (sometimes to the extent that even the Magic SysRq key could save me) that lately I've been using Chromium + vrome exclusively.


Same. Also the Ant Video Downloader is great for getting indie music and remixes from Youtube (and then ripping the audio out of the Flash with Audacity or something).

FF's plugin capabilities are unmatched, hopefully their new Continuous Integration/Deployment model will enable them to iterate quicker on the performance and other issues.


whats surprising is how well Internet Explorer turns out to be.. when IE10 final comes out I might actually switch to IE for a change.

I turned my pc's screen this morning only to find out that the firefox session i had running from the previous day was consuming 2.5gb of memory.. with 3 tabs open.. whatever those tabs were doing all night .. that amount of memory can only be accounted to a memory leak a river can pass through. and yes i'm using the latest version thanks.


This seems a bit overblown for what amounts to a performance bug in a feature that few people even use (bookmarks).


It's not just bookmarks. It's history and the location bar. He mentions that one of the things which triggers his crashes is using the back button, which is a feature that I think a reasonable number of people use.

(I can't say that I've seen such issues myself... but it's been quite a while since I used Firefox under Linux.)


Do people not use bookmarks? I have thousands of them. What are the alternatives that I'm missing out on? (big xmarks user too so sync is a must)


I have roughly a dozen sites I go to. Most of them happen to have different first characters, so I type "f" and Chrome autocompletes http://fark.com/ and off I go. No bookmarks other than the shared history Google keeps for me.


I use them pretty heavily for reference/todo/toread type of stuff. And I have a terrible memory.


I haven't used the built-in bookmarks feature for years. I checked just now, and I have 10 bookmarks stored (all of them used for quick searching in FF). I still use the concept though, I just offload them to Delicious where they can be properly tagged and shared.


I store all my bookmarks in http://pinboard.in, much better organisation, sorting, faster, cross-os, cross-browser.


Looks great, but I'm happy with what I have now so I'm not too pushed about spending money on a service. I'm also old enough to worry about trusting a site to hang around for 10 years with my data. (and by old enough, read: stuck in my ways enough) Must look into the migration effort though. And browser addon support. Its definitely a sweet looking service.


If you go for the premium service, a bargain $25 a month you get the ability to have it scrape and download every site you bookmark. So even if the site you bookmarked goes down, you retain the content.

Pinboard also has good APIs so you can backup your data. No lock-in.


Jeez, did not know that. I was thinking of writing something like that myself with version control for page updates just to be safe.


Holy crap, its $25 a year. That is a bargain.


Urh, sorry - yes. s/month/year/ Total typo, sorry. Worth noting thats 25 minus your signup fee. So more likely $16 for your first year.


Most (non-technical) people I know just use a combination of the browser history and Google.


Most people use Google, or something like Facebook gets autocompleted.


And the autocomplete relies on the Places system, which is what is hanging (or was, until a few weeks ago).


I'd say I do too, even for stuff I have bookmarked. In fact 80% of my bookmarks provide nothing other than peace of mind for a person with a terrible memory. :)


Most people?


By chance, can you point me to a proof of that usability point? All I have is anecdotal evidence to the contrary, but I have long wondered.




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