My counter to this was that the whole Raison d'être for Firefox is its add-ons community. You cannot claim that there are great benefits to this approach while simultaneously ignoring the problems caused by it.
Better late than never. It is critical to have a popular browser alternative to Either IE or Chrome.
One is closed source and the other is produced by a company whose entire revenue model is built around showing you the most targeted ads possible in the maximum number of ways possible.
You can't have it both ways! (Also: users don't care what subsystem is causing the problem, it's your brand which suffers)
That said, I'm happy for them and I'll start giving FireFox a shot again.
If someone says "you might want to be careful enabling 20 add-ons because the chances of them all being well-written and interacting nicely is low, in which case you might need to do some experimentation to see if one or two of them are causing undue problems", they are a realist.
Having said that, it is nice that we are killing off an entire class of memory leaks in one fell swoop.
Actually, so is Chrome.
And that's good for everybody. Competition is a Good Thing and it would be a shame if Chrome become so dominant as to completely displace Firefox. A healthy ecosystem with a great Firefox and a great Chrome, along with IE, Opera, Safari, etc., should benefit everyone in the long run.
However they are three years too late about that, from a market share perspective.
As regards market share, Firefox's market share would be in the low single-digit percentages if all was lost. This is indeed not the case. With the profiling and telemetry tools and infrastructure, the Firefox team has built a foundation that will ensure future releases do not regress memory usage and overall browser snappiness. Market share is a fickle metric for success because it is amenable to change. The strides made in the last few months by the Firefox team have paved the way for adoption growth in the future. Let us have a constructive conversation around what they need to do next to ensure more switchers among the HN community.
There was a time, some number of releases ago (a year ago?) when FF's memory problems became too much for me, and I used Chrome(ium). I never liked it, personal preference.
Finally some time within that last year FF became acceptable again, then more than acceptable, and I came back. I have not noticed my browser for months now, which is all I ask of any program: I don't want to see or notice the program, only what I'm working on with it. Don't make me notice you, it's distracting.
Although I use Firefox, Firefox is not actually my browser. Firefox plus the particular addons I install is my browser. To me they are very different things.
Not to mention secure. Sandboxed PDF reader, java whitelisting, sandboxed and auto-updating flash, etc while FF and IE were arrogantly telling users "Fuck you, update your own add ons, they're not our problem" even when all the exploits were from these add ons. Now IE and FF ape some of these features. I can't wait to hear the next angry Asa Doztler diatribe aimed at enterprise IT admins and their demands. Asa is a roadmap on how to lose users and quickly become 3rd best.
Good to hear FF is starting to get competitive again. I hope this trend continues.
I use XPDF, mostly like how it works (I generally dislike PDFs, but that's another issue).
Auto-updating is a misfeature on a package-based Linux distro (e.g.: any sane one).
The extensions management is better in Chrome. But not the permissions handling. I'd prefer to tell my browser what it is/isn't allowed to say about me, and for extensions to sort out the damage (is it worth it to you, Mr./Mrs. Extension Author, to forgo marketshare if user declines to provide some/all data?).
edit: still good three hours later, capped around 500mo.
In fact, that isn't fair. Software has never been like that, and it's irresponsible to represent to non-technical users that it's possible.
It also gives add-on authors and web application developers a chance to do the same.
If some (advanced/heavy) users are also able to use about:memory to diagnose and work around problems they encounter, that's a nice side effect. As long as some of those users remember to file bug reports, that is :)
about:memory is quite intimidating, I'm hoping to implement soon a vastly simpler version that will give a simple per-tab breakdown and be understandable by normal users.
Firefox nightlies are here: http://nightly.mozilla.org/
If an add-on relies on persistent references to closed pages by design (such as a form data history plugin), is there a way to adapt it to this new feature to not let Firefox sever it's references under the assumption that it's a memory leak?
This actually seems to me to have a lot of implications for the design of garbage collectors generally. In theory, correct garbage collectors are never supposed to collect objects that may still be used, which in practice usually means "that are reachable". But, we've already got such a thing as "weak references" to fudge that a little. This seems like kind of the opposite idea- having a sort of "superstrong" owner reference such that once it goes away, you know that the object will never be used again (or shouldn't be, anyway, with future uses constituting bugs), and can be collected despite what other references might exist.
It also seems like one of those obvious-after-the-fact genius ideas to have garbage collection running independently per compartment. Do Web Workers, e.g., get their own separate garbage collection, too? Any kind of shared-nothing concurrency model ought to be able to do the same thing to improve GC pauses; are there language implementations (I'm thinking probably Erlang here) that actually do that?
You'd have to copy out the data you want.
Just a few weeks ago I was closing FF once a twice a day as it approached almost a GB of RAM. Now it's holding steady at under 230mb! I have few extensions, but use firebug. I knew it was part of the problem but it's unfortunately essential for me.
With this fixed perhaps they can now work on tab isolation, another of their last major issues, (instead of rearranging the interface again).
Also, yes, I do often keep read at this width. Web pages usually do not span the entirety of it, so the eye movement is kept to a minimum. However, I spend most of my day in a view closer to this one. You'll notice that the monitor is just large enough that 2 standard width web pages fit on it perfectly.
Not sure what the discrepancy is there.
What's faster than an SSD for loading an application? Switching to the already open window.
None of which means that you actually should switch back: Chrome is a great web browser. But it isn't obvious that you shouldn't.
Even if you don't use any add-ons at all. I've always taken issue with Firefox, it has the broadest support and community centered around add-ons - but if you actually use any add-on the browser becomes completely useless. I've been bitten so many times in the past that I barely trust any add-ons on any browser, eventhough I've only had issues with Firefox.
Hopefully it will be better now.
That has been the opposite of my experiences, I am sitting on 100 tabs with 800MB of memory used in firefox. Sometimes I have 200+ with 1.5 GB of ram used.
Actually, just looking at chrome://memory-redirect/ in Chrome, it compares firefox's and chrome's memory usage.
Chromium 1,394,260k 877,088k (about 40 tabs)
Firefox 889,576k 62,692k (about 100 tabs).
Now this is on Linux, but I haven't used Firefox on windows recently to compare properly. One good explanation for all this is that the tab-per-process model means that you have a memory overhead for each process, so you naturally have more memory usage per tab.
But not in terms of ui, tabs shrink till they hold no text in chrome instead of scrolling like in firefox.
The firefox tab scroll feature is probably the feature I hate the most, in any browser (yes, you can disable it - but bad defaults stink and you can't just go around and change the settings in everyones browser).
First time I've come across someone that doesn't hate it :o
I remember Firefox used to have the bad behaviour like chrome(back in the 1.5 days) and I would occasionally use an IE shell called crazy browser to do my extremely many tab surfing(I also used 2 browsers partially so I could surf something else while 70+ political blogs or webcomics were loading since browsers tended to freeze for a long time on that back in those days).
I much prefer the Firefox tab scroll feature, compared to Chrome's way of handling tabs. The handy "show all tabs" dropdown is nice as well. Between the two, I find managing large numbers of tabs to be easier and less painful in FF than in Chrome.
Ultimately, Chrome exists for Google to increase it's advertising profits. It's a clear conflict of interests.
Plus, Firefox is a great browser and works really well on my reasonably high spec'd laptop, so it's not so difficult to be idealistic here.
> Gmail + Google Calendar + Chrome + Google Drive + Google Search + Google Docs + Android Phone + Google Maps + ...
Gmail + Google Calendar + Firefox + Dropbox/Wuala + DuckDuckGo + Live Docs + Android Phone + Nokia Maps + ...
Of course, you could go Google free if you want, I just pointed the alternative that doesn't regress in usability and convenience from what you currently use.
I've been looking for a good, self-hosted version of Gmail that can replace my POP for a while, but the main reason why the lure of Google is so strong is convenience. And cost. And to some extent, reliability. Living a Google-free life is definitely doable but it can come at a cost (time, expense, convenience, functionality, reliability). That's the main tradeoff.
GMail supports IMAP, but then so do many other mail servers.
(You can also use a web front end like RoundCube, if you want to.)
Now I realize that any tiny reduction in perceived speed (not due to slower JS or loading, but probably some of chrome's UI speed tricks) is made up for by the lack of a context switch between terminal and browser.
It pains me because I have to restart Firefox every few days or else it turns into a slow, memory-eating blackhole. But, sigh, I cannot live without that extension.
I do believe in the mozilla mission for an open web, and it's got fairly comparable performance overall, so I use it for my main browsing / firebug. Chrome's for flash-heavy sites and playing with webrtc occasionally.
Inspector on chrome has certainly become quite good -- I've missed firebug less and less over time as I started using it. Though Firefox's new built-in developer tools are really sweet and might add enough functionality for me to miss in the near future. They're adding a command line thing that is super cool!!
I may be over-thinking this, but in case you didn't know, Flash Player in Chrome is still developed mostly by Adobe. Chrome has a different plugin API, I think, and some extra sandboxing, but the core parts of Flash Player in all browsers come from the same Adobe-owned codebase, including Chrome's bundled version.
But the bulk of my tabs are open in Firefox, and I prefer Firebug over the Chrome console for development
These days Firefox feels just as snappy as Chrome to me, though this has only recently been the case in my experience.
This is pushing me to use Chrome for those reasons - so I hope that FF fills whatever gap is causing sites to exclude FF (oh, and IE, Opera, etc.)
This seems unlikely as FireFox user share was bigger then Chrome until recently and is much bigger then Safari. Except for Mobile, where I think the dominance of Android/ios has led to a lot of use of webkit specific features.
Since Chrome 14 (i'm not totally sure about this version) WebRequest api where implemented, but only as experimental api (you would have to enable them from chrome://flags), and Chrome >17 enable them by default.
So Adblock Plus >1.2 beta  and Chrome >17 should block ads just like Firefox. It's possible that there are some small difference, but that's likely a bug and should be reported.
I'm not sure what's the situation with other adblocker for chrome.
Chrome is easily the worst browser on the market, short of IE <= 7. It is slow and grossly unstable. Across multiple computers and OSes, across the past few years, this has been my consistent experience with Chrome, so it's not just my current install.
I would rather use IE 8 than Chrome. As a web dev, I loathe my time testing in Chrome. When a bug report comes in, more times than not, the answer to "which browser?" is "Chrome" because V8 is buggy as hell. And the developer tools are simply worthless because they inject markup into the freaking DOM.
I've been using firebug for quite a long time and I can't even remember at what version things went off the rail. But ever since Firefox would consume 70% of my CPU and 2GB RAM which is complete nonsense.
Because of these memory leaks, I migrated to Chrome for browsing the web and constantly having an open tab for Gmail (because that was the only browser that wouldn't go banana on RAM), but still use FF for doing front-end development
Can you tell me what you mean by prior blog posts "like this"? I remember http://blog.mozilla.com/nnethercote/2011/08/09/firefox-7-is-..., because I wrote it, but it was accurate -- FF7 did have some very large improvements.
This "Mozilla claims memory consumption improvements in every release" zombie lie is something I hear a lot, but it's just not true.
That seems hyperbole to me. As I have commented on HN several times before FF was the only full featured browser that worked for my browsing habit. I browse from a old laptop that only has 512MB of RAM. On this m/c I would keep some 300 or more tabs open for months on end, without shutting FF down or rebooting the laptop.
What I did have to do was reset the default cache sizes and some caching policy sizes, disable flash, and have an add-on that unloads the content of an idle tab. So strictly speaking I didn't have all of 300 tabs loaded in memory (but that was a good enough approximation for me).
I agree FF can hog a lot of memory, but I think it was and is eminently usable if one is willing to tweak the about:config settings a bit and install a few helpful plugins like flashblock etc.
(It's fortunate that the inconvenience has now been fixed.)