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Firefox 15 plugs the add-on leaks (blog.mozilla.org)
177 points by AndrewDucker on July 19, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 121 comments

I am very happy that the Firefox team has finally managed to lick this issue. When at every occasion I used to raise this issue, the typical Mozilla Evangelist would answer: "It is because of the add-ons".

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.

I agree. It was extremely frustrating to see the argument "Firefox is awesome because of the add-ons. Oh, you have problems? Why are you using add-ons?".

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 "don't use add-ons", they are stupid.

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.

>One is closed source

Actually, so is Chrome.

The differences between Chrome and Chromium are minimal - aside of Chrome bunding some mostly unwanted plugins:


That list appears to be incomplete. For example, there is a windows-specific closed source software renderer for WebGL that is in Chrome and not Chromium.

Good lord those comments gave me a headache. How do people manage to find that page if they can't manage to figure out what Chrome or Chromium are in the first place?

You're free to run Chromium instead of Chrome. I do.

This is awesome news. The single biggest reason that I initially moved to Chrome, from Firefox, was the memory consumption situation. But lately, Firefox has gotten a lot better, and I've basically switched back to FF now as my primary browser. Hopefully this will make the situation even better.

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.

Chrome and Firefox been using memory at equal proportion. I use exactly two add-ons and comparing FF/Chrome to IE to check on memory consumption, I see IE doing much better.

As a webdev who use Firebug (and Adblock) a lot, I'm so glad about this. FINALLY !

However they are three years too late about that, from a market share perspective.

Firefox lost market share because Chrome was a leaner, faster, and better browser. I have started to hear more stories about folks switching back to Firefox because a lot of their issues with the browser have been fixed. And based on independent review sites like Tom's Hardware, there is no longer an appreciable gap in the performance of Firefox and Chrome.

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.

"I have started to hear more stories about folks switching back to Firefox because a lot of their issues with the browser have been fixed"

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.

As a dev I moved to chrome for all the reasons everyone else did. Now I'm seeing chrome renderer chewing all my ram across multiple processes, and actually have had it crash a number of times. Google, don't think I won't switch again, because I will.

Here's how to import your Chrome bookmarks, history, and cookies into Firefox:


Firefox 4, 5, and 6 were not good releases when it came to memory consumption. Firefox 7 had some big improvements. Firefox 8--14 all had smaller improvements. Firefox 15 has this add-on leak prevention, which is another big win. And we're still working on this :)

>Firefox lost market share because Chrome was a leaner, faster, and better browser.

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 always wonder why Firefox gives the option to update Java and Flash et al when it never works. Has anyone ever gotten plugins to update from within Firefox?

Ha ha, "install missing plugins" is such a zombie feature, I hope some (ex-) development manager from Mozilla cringes every time they see that on a new installation.

Totally. Irritates me to the core. First give an option to update it 'automatically', then tell them "Sorry, please do a manual install'!

I do not prefer chrome's PDF reader.

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?).

How is the permission handling in Firefox better?

Meh, I probably overstepped on that one. I'm not sure how the FF permissions work, and frankly, the extensions infrastructure is one that leaves me a bit queazy. That said, I'd prefer both (or rather, all) browsers acted as I indicated: allow the user to state what data are shared, with what granularity and retention policies, and report on what site(s) request/receive it. Apps can work out whether or not they care to play.

btw, Firefox 14 bundles Mozilla's pdf.js, a PDF viewer written in JavaScript:


Testing the beta on XP (sic), seems to work ok.

edit: still good three hours later, capped around 500mo.

The about:memory feature is useful to get a glimpse into what extensions and tabs are chewing up the most memory, although I haven't had much luck in FF 14 using the GC/CC to correct that. I hope that FF 15 gives the user a bit more intuitive view and control over the memory consumption on tabs and addons/extensions.

Sure, for technical users that might be a nice value add. In fairness though, a regular person shouldn't have to care--Firefox should just work, stay responsive, etc.

In fairness though, a regular person shouldn't have to care--Firefox should just work, stay responsive, etc.

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.

about:memory is primarily intended as a debugging tool, so we can diagnose and fix memory problems. It has been a fantastic success in this regard.

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 :)

FF15 gives a lot more details about memory consumption, because "compartments" (the way the JS heap is segregated) are a lot more fine-grained. In particular, compartments created by add-ons can now be identified. But note that this only covers some add-on memory consumption; the remainder is not reported separately, and doing so is difficult.

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.

For anyone who wants to download the Nightly build for Firefox 15:

Windows version http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/products/download.html?product=...

Mac version http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/products/download.html?product=...

That's the beta version. Release is on 14, beta on 15, aurora on 16 and nightly on 17.

Firefox nightlies are here: http://nightly.mozilla.org/

> Leaky add-ons usually cause zombie compartments by holding references to DOM structures within a web page even after the page has been closed or navigated away from. This prevents Firefox from garbage-collecting the page’s compartment.

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?

Copy them. I can think of no good reason that one would ever legitimately want or need to keep references to a page that is no longer loaded. It's like returning a pointer to a local variable from a C function; you should expect it to be invalid once it's scope is gone! Copying is likely to use less total memory anyway, because it will rarely result in having to allocate new compartments for the plugins, but it will allow an entire compartment for a page to be collected, that is otherwise kept around for the sake comparatively small objects.

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?

Each web worker gets its own compartment, and thus can be garbage collected individually.

Addons have to copy out the data they want before the page closes. It isn't acceptable to keep around all data on a page just to keep a few little bits of information.


Care to clarify?

References are severed. There's no way to stop it.

You'd have to copy out the data you want.

And in practice cutting these references hasn't caused any problems, while fixing another massive problem.

I'm on Aurora right now (15a2), and after YEARS of bitching am cautiously optimistic this is really it!

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).

Wow, that's actually very nice in terms of RAM usage. Right now in chrome, with only 6 tabs open I am using (according to about:memory)800MB of RAM[1]. I may very well switch back to Firefox if I can get performance like that.


Is any of that shared memory? A bit offtopic, but do you typically keep your browser at that width? I imagine I'd be spending much of my day swinging my eyes and head from side to side.

I really don't know.

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 [1]this one. You'll notice that the monitor is just large enough that 2 standard width web pages fit on it perfectly.


Weird. My version of about:memory shows ~600MB used, but the Task Manager in Chrome (Shift-ESC) shows only ~160MB.

Not sure what the discrepancy is there.

Is it normal for a gmail tab to use 250+ MB?

I don't think it's supposed to, and that's what's making me thing it might be time to switch to Firefox.

Only 250MB? For me it's 600-850MB... it's ridiculous.

I am really happy that Firefox 15 stops most of the leaks caused by firebug. Competition is good.

Wuhu, finally! Let's see if FF does not take 1GB after a few days.

You'll have to wait a couple of days - Firefox 15 is hitting Beta either today or tomorrow, I believe.

One of the issues I've seen people complain about is having to close Firefox after a few days. I understand you shouldn't HAVE to close a program, but how are people using their browsers that this becomes such an huge problem?

I don't reboot my desktop for months at a time. Current uptime is 25 days... 25 days ago I moved offices. X stays up. Firefox and Chrome and most of the other applications I use regularly stay up. Why should this be exceptional?

What's faster than an SSD for loading an application? Switching to the already open window.

While this is basically true (and even more so for me, typically 3+ months before a security update finally nags me into rebooting 1 month after it was installed) Firefox saves your open tabs, so restarting takes no time and it is basically like it didn't even happen.

You're right (although re-starting firefox isn't quite an instant thing), but like dsr_, I don't turn my computer off - so why would I ever restart a program unless I need to? Killing firefox and restoring the session might not take a long time, but it's always going to take longer than not having to restart it.

I hibernate my windows PC indefinitely (about 2 months so far). Till firefox 11 or so I had to close it every 3 days or so with 4-5 hours of heavy browsing each day. With latest versions I go for about 8 days without close. More importantly, firefox used to slow down noticeably in between browsing before but now it remains snappy till it starts hitting the disk for paged memory. With this memory leak fixing, I hope to go longer without closing firefox.

What's the purpose of leaving the browser open for several days?

That's exactly my question. Read through the comments here and just elsewhere when it comes to Firefox memory usage and there's usually enough people complaining about how after leaving it open days on end with 20 tabs it uses a ton of RAM.

I used to be an avid Firefox user. I switched to Chrome because it was faster and had all the same extensions I used on Firefox. Why should I switch back? Chrome is still faster no?

Nowadays Firefox typically uses less memory than Chrome (though of course this depends on exactly what you measure and how). It's highly debatable which is faster -- this depends even more on how you measure -- but Chrome certainly isn't miles ahead. Chrome may have all the extensions you currently use, but Firefox still has a lot more; perhaps the next one you'd find useful will be Firefox-only.

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.

If you use a lot of tabs and don't close your browser for long periods of time Chrome is vastly superior to Firefox (and all other browsers) in terms of memory use and stability.

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.

I have 396 tabs in FF right now. That would be impossible to handle for Chromium on my laptop. It starts heavily sweating at 25. Does Chrom(e|ium) do lazy loading of tabs these days? That'd be the main point that makes Firefox much more usable for many tabs to me.

I have over 1000 tabs open in Chrome. I would never be able to reach 500 tabs in firefox before giving up.

> If you use a lot of tabs and don't close your browser for long periods of time Chrome is vastly superior to Firefox (and all other browsers) in terms of memory use and stability.

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.

> If you use a lot of tabs and don't close your browser for long periods of time Chrome is vastly superior to Firefox (and all other browsers) in terms of memory use and stability.

But not in terms of ui, tabs shrink till they hold no text in chrome instead of scrolling like in firefox.

I love the way chrome handles tabs, especially the way they shrink. The icon is enough to distinguish it and even if there is no icon for that page you already know its appromixmate position and can quickly find it (which you just can't when everything scrolls and you have no idea where you are).

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

The icon frequently isn't enough to distinguish tabs especially if you have a bunch of reddit/hacker news/wikipedia/google/tvtropes tabs open. Once it has shrunk to nothing there is little chance of knowing what any tab is except when going back and forth between a couple of tabs. Firefox also has a drop down list and lets you switch to a tab by entering a partial title/address in the address bar.

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).

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).

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.


I hated it too and then I installed the "Tree style tabs" add-on. It's great, they should add that functionality in the vanilla Firefox IMO.

Once the tabs get small chrome hides all the icons. It's awful. Whereas firefox can be configured to shrink tabs indefinitely and it never stops showing the icons.

I don't use Chrome because I think it is bad for the web to be influenced so heavily by an Advertising company.

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.

I wonder if I'm the only person that feels anxious that Gmail + Google Calendar + Chrome + Google Drive + Google Search + Google Docs + Android Phone + Google Maps + Google Voice + ... gives one company an astoundingly deep and unfettered view of exactly everything you are doing, who you are talking to, and even what you are thinking (to the extent it is reflected in those activities) at every waking moment of your life. Rational nervousness?

Maybe, but so far Google has behaved much better that any other company would have in their exact position. Give Apple and Microsoft the same market dominance in online ads and search, and I think we would be a lot worse. Those 2 are behaving pretty badly even when they have much smaller market share.

While some of those things don't have alternatives, some certainly have. You just need to use them.

> Gmail + Google Calendar + Chrome + Google Drive + Google Search + Google Docs + Android Phone + Google Maps + ...

What about: 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 actually still POP my mail (if you can believe it), so I haven't yet adopted Gmail, but I feel the lure. If I want to share my archives across any of my machines, I have to constantly sync them, and I don't really have remote access to my mail, unless I leave it on the server for X days, and then I don't benefit from deep search. But I do get access to my mail and archives going back to 1998 while I'm offline, and that's definitely a plus.

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.

If you use IMAP then you have access to all your mail from anywhere, using a standard protocol.

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.)

I use FF for Vimperator/Pentadactyl. There's no equivalent in Chrome (and never will be because of Chrome's design choices), and it makes every other browser's interface feel hopelessly pedestrian to me now.

Precisely. I was a diehard chrome-lover until I tried pentadactyl.

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.

Unfortunately, pentadactyl doesn't seem to work with Firefox 15, so I guess I'll have to stay at 14. I tried both 1.0rc1 and the latest nightly and neither work.

I just switched back to vimperator for the time being. It's not so terrible.

TreeViewTab extension. Until an equivalent shows up for Chrome I will never...no, strike that, I am physically unable to switch.

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 agree with this. I use the similarly named: tree style tab it is the bees knees, tree style tabs on the left of the screen, its simple and genius. Its the reason firefox is my default browser, despite its gradual slowing as it keeps running

Whoops, this is probably the extension I use. I'm horrible with names =)

When this happens, please visit about:memory and then file a bug or email me the contents.

I did the ff-chrome-ff switcheroo a number of times. Now I generally use both: I find that chrome is a snappier startup and has a better flash runtime (since it does its own rather than relying on adobe). Firefox is more stable / uses less memory for a larger number of tabs.

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!!

> rather than relying on adobe

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.

I find this true as well. Right now I have Chrome open with a number of JS heavy tabs (gmail, analytical, Wordpress dashboard because it apparently hates Firefox). I'll also open up Youtube videos on Chrome because Firefox is always laggy with flash videos.

But the bulk of my tabs are open in Firefox, and I prefer Firebug over the Chrome console for development

Firefox support for WebRTC should be coming soon: https://hacks.mozilla.org/2012/04/webrtc-efforts-underway-at...

I recently switched back to Firefox (as main browser), as its speed improved (for me it even started to feel leaner than Chromium recently), and happily I could again use NoScript and a browser which doesn't send so much information to Google under the cover.

Firefox extensions, from my experience, are much better - even when there are Chrome equivalents. Plus I don't trust the Chrome extension store, whereas I do trust the Mozilla store (all addons, unless marked, are checked by staff).

Same here (used Firefox, switched to Chrome), but I recently switched back. The only reason: I started using Windows on my desktop PC, and the font rendering in Chrome is horrible on Windows.

These days Firefox feels just as snappy as Chrome to me, though this has only recently been the case in my experience.

I know JS isn't the only thing that makes browsers feel slow, but Chrome 20.0 just scored 276ms on Sunspider on my machine and FF 15 (alpha) got 248ms. Honestly I haven't noticed FF "feel" slow in at least a year.

I am also a happy FireFox user, but recently I have found a growing number of websites that won't even let you use their functionality unless you are using Chrome or Safari (Fluid for one: https://www.fluidui.com/editor/live/). It must have something to do with FF's support of certain capabilities, although specifically what I'm not sure.

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.)

Half the time the UA sniffing has nothing to do with capabilities and just has to do with people only wanting to test in one browser and use only one set of prefixed CSS properties...

> I am also a happy FireFox user, but recently I have found a growing number of websites that won't even let you use their functionality unless you are using Chrome or Safari

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.

It's not that unlikely when Google is the author of some of these sites, sadly. At this point they seem to have a policy of writing Chrome-specific things first and then maybe making it work in other browsers and maybe not.

I find (especially on my phone) that sites often have no idea what does and doesn't work in recent versions of Firefox. Sadly, it is worth spoofing your user agent to check whether or not they are right.

I use both browsers, but Firefox is still the primary browser. The add-ons selection is not matched by Chrome.

AdBlock sucks on Chrome due to Google's architecture choices.

Architecture choices or business model?

I'm not close enough to divine the details, but I'm talking about Chrome plugins not being able to block requests. This might appear to be a facility to protect advertising vectors, but I don't know for sure.


This used to be true, not thing have changed since then. Chrome didn't have any WebRequest api, so Adblock Plus for Chrome loaded some JS/CSS in the page and tried to hide/block as much ads as possible. [1]

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 [2] 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.

[1] http://adblockplus.org/development-builds/experimental-adblo...

[2] http://adblockplus.org/releases/adblock-plus-12-beta-for-goo...

I'm not sure what's the situation with other adblocker for chrome.

Been a firefox user since the beginning, and still haven't found a reason to switch to chrome. A "faster" browser doesn't convince me, and I like firefox's UI teaking possibilities. Besides, never had those memory hogging problems everyone talks about (even on a 1GB ram linux desktop).

Why do you think it's still faster?

I have never understood Chrome users.

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 don't like the fact that Chrome acts as a spider for Google's search engine.



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

I think the fault is not just the add-on devs. If anything, the add-on SDK should prevent this by default. I'm not sure when Firefox got so memory-hungry and leaky, but it's the single reason I keep jumping around to Chromium and Opera. Really, really hoping that this time is for real. It's not the first time a blog post like this has been posted by Mozilla.

Hi, I'm the lead of Mozilla's MemShrink project (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Performance/MemShrink) and the author of the linked post.

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.

You're right. I was unfairly accrediting those posts to Mozilla. They were in the blogosphere at large.

Does this mean Firefox will stop blaming add-ons for its own memory leaks?

That's a cool blog post, and kudos to the Mozilla people, but I have to wonder about the mindset of the user whose stuck with Firefox even as his setup was unusable to the point of needing to install a restart button add-on. I mean, I know from being habituated to a given routine, but that seems particularly self defeating behaviour, especially considering that decent alternatives to Firefox exist?

> stuck with Firefox even as his setup was unusable to the point of needing to install a restart button add-on.

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.

I have a bunch of custom addons that I have written for my workflows - moving to other browsers is not an option because they arent as easily extensible as firefox.

That makes sense. Speaking as someone who bought MachTen just to host Emacs on a Macintosh in the bad old days, I am sympathetic. I just am much more of a consumer of browsers than someone who relies on them to hack with.

Just looked MachTen up - http://www.tenon.com/products/mt1.jpg made me nostalgically remember afterstep which was the first window manager I used in linux.

It's simple -- he was using NoScript and Ghostery. Those add-ons don't exist for other browsers. I can imagine that a very privacy/security-oriented user would be willing to put up with some significant inconvenience to use those add-ons.

(It's fortunate that the inconvenience has now been fixed.)

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