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View Full Version : Firefox--once a good browser, now getting creaky



Chuck(G)
July 21st, 2010, 08:23 AM
(Preface: I just updated to Firefox 3.6.7 and am running WinXP)

Increasingly, I'm seeing my Firefox browser, once a great product, going out to lunch. This mostly manifests itself after having closed Firefox having it refusing to start a new copy because the old copy is still ticking away in memory doing who knows what.

This morning, no less than 4 times, Firefox refused to terminate, staying silently in the background chewing up an every increasing hunk of memory. (e.g. in 15 seconds, I saw the working set of my "terminated" Firefox browser jump by 50MB).

Time to try something else, I guess. Any recommendations? (I keep a copy of Opera active on my system.)

ahm
July 21st, 2010, 08:35 AM
Have you tried Google Chrome? http://www.google.com/chrome

wmmullaney
July 21st, 2010, 08:46 AM
I second chrome, it's definitely the best. Got tired of the fox a while ago now, chrome is sleek and seems to be a tad faster.

Good luck!

Dave Farquhar
July 21st, 2010, 08:47 AM
I've definitely noticed more problems with 3.6.6 than I did with previous versions, even the earlier 3.6 ones. I wish I knew what was going on.

I use Google Chrome as my secondary browser. It's really fast, and from a security standpoint, it's the best thing out there right now--it was the only browser that survived the last pwn2own contest. There are a couple of keyboard shortcuts that Firefox has that it lacks, and that's the main reason I don't switch to it permanently. I've been using Firefox since version 0.1 in 2002 when it was still called Phoenix, and I used Mozilla and Netscape browsers almost exclusively since 1994 (during the darkest hours when Netscape was languishing and Mozilla wasn't stable yet I used IE5 and IE6 about half the time) so old habits die really hard. Yikes, I've been using this product line for 16 YEARS?

I'm still hoping that Firefox 4 will be a return to the glory days. If it falters, I'm more likely to switch to Chrome than anything else.

mark66j
July 21st, 2010, 09:15 AM
There are definitely problems with Firefox eating up system resources, and they seem to be there cross-platform (I run it primarily on OS X and Linux). I should do more with Chrome to figure out if I want to rely on it more. Some of the extensions to Firefox are very useful, however.

Windows users might want to try this out, it's supposed to be a Firefox optimized more for speed:

http://www.palemoon.org/

barythrin
July 21st, 2010, 11:47 AM
I think the last memory footprint comparison I saw Opera came out as the smallest. I'm guilty of this too but the other consideration that Mozilla I'm sure wants folks to concentrate on is a lot of the memory leaks are from plug-ins not necessarily firefox (although I think recently it's definitely become bloated over the years). I use IE and Firefox. I have Chrome but I have to disagree with the others, in my experience Chrome has been quite clunky. In fact, it pretty much craps out on my within a day especially if I leave my google gmail open. I'm not sure how it gets so damn slow but after 2 days if I click on it it's a safe bet that I'm going to watch it draw itself onto my screen line by line (like downloading a bmp over dial-up on an Amiga 2000). It's painful and I can't even do a "oops.. don't feel like waiting for you [minimize]" I have to sit there and wait for it to redraw my video memory until I can kill it and wait another day or so before repeating. It's been ok with yahoo mail but anything more than a web page or two at a time it tends to clunk up for me.

Honestly I only really like Firefox because of the AdBlock plug-in but again.. who knows if that's what cludges things up either. I have it for Chrome also. I don't recall finding it for Opera.

barythrin
July 21st, 2010, 11:48 AM
Of course if you're wanting to play it old-school and vintage ;-) You can't beat ob1 (Off by one). Disable all the crap like javascript, active-x, etc and you've got a heck of a safe browsing experience.

glitch
July 21st, 2010, 01:56 PM
If you haven't tried Seamonkey, it's worth looking at -- it's a modern version of the original Mozilla suite. In my experience, it's usually faster than Firefox.

Chuck(G)
July 21st, 2010, 01:59 PM
Of course if you're wanting to play it old-school and vintage ;-) You can't beat ob1 (Off by one). Disable all the crap like javascript, active-x, etc and you've got a heck of a safe browsing experience.

I keep a copy of Off By One around when I'm about to surf something that looks to be dangerous.

Of course, the problem is that the lack of features that make browsing safe can also render some sites completely useless.

TNC
July 21st, 2010, 02:08 PM
I keep a copy of Off By One around when I'm about to surf something that looks to be dangerous.

It's just a frontend to IE. ;)

Look at Midori, a small but powerfull Browser.
http://twotoasts.de/index.php?/categories/2-Midori

Ole Juul
July 21st, 2010, 03:09 PM
There are definitely problems with Firefox eating up system resources, and they seem to be there cross-platform (I run it primarily on OS X and Linux). I should do more with Chrome to figure out if I want to rely on it more. Some of the extensions to Firefox are very useful, however.

I agree, it seems to be cross platform. Of course in Linux we have a big choice of browsers so there really is no such thing as a "primary" browser. That said, I do use Firefox a lot because of the developer plugins. For regular browsing I always keep separate desktops open with each of the following: Firefox, Epiphany, Galeon, Dillo, and Opera. What's that you say, no Konqueror? Actually I think Konqueror is the best browser ever. Firefox can't even come close in functionality. I use it a lot, but because it's also the one I use when browsing my local machine and network it moves from desktop to desktop. I call it my "portable" browser.

The real problem with Firefox is not the features, style, or configuration, it is crappy code. All versions of Ff have had memory problems and personally I think it lacks professionalism. A program that uses more and more memory as it sits there needs to have something fixed - that just can't go on. My fix is to hit Ctrl-Esc every week or so and just kill the whole thing. Then I just have to wait for 30 windows to open again, and I notice that my new 3.6.6 has problems with that, whereas the 3.5 just did what it was told. Still the buggy code continues. :(

tezza
July 21st, 2010, 05:19 PM
i just use good old IE so I'm kinda outta the loop in this discussion. :)

Tez

glitch
July 21st, 2010, 05:48 PM
The real problem with Firefox is not the features, style, or configuration, it is crappy code. All versions of Ff have had memory problems and personally I think it lacks professionalism. A program that uses more and more memory as it sits there needs to have something fixed - that just can't go on. My fix is to hit Ctrl-Esc every week or so and just kill the whole thing. Then I just have to wait for 30 windows to open again, and I notice that my new 3.6.6 has problems with that, whereas the 3.5 just did what it was told. Still the buggy code continues. :(

It's a basic type of memory leak...variables are abandoned but never de-allocated. It's simple to check/fix as you go, but a real pain when you have to audit the source and fix it!

Never call malloc() without later calling free()!

Chuck(G)
July 21st, 2010, 06:03 PM
It's a basic type of memory leak...variables are abandoned but never de-allocated. It's simple to check/fix as you go, but a real pain when you have to audit the source and fix it!

Never call malloc() without later calling free()!

You know, that was one of the "attractions" of C++ over C (and for that matter, OO languages in general); that the system kept track of allocation and the appropriate destructor would be invoked when an object went out of scope.

Firefox (and a whole pile of other products) demonstrates the fundamental computing principle that you can write crappy code in any language. You can write really terrible code even without GOTO statements, eh, professor Dijkstra?

Ole Juul
July 21st, 2010, 06:38 PM
Firefox (and a whole pile of other products) demonstrates the fundamental computing principle that you can write crappy code in any language. You can write really terrible code even without GOTO statements, eh, professor Dijkstra?

For anyone not familiar with Dijkstra and GOTO, here is EWD215 (http://userweb.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD02xx/EWD215.html)
I personally couldn't code my way out of a wet paper bag, but I do think that a program with such a huge userbase as Firefox warrants a little more attention to the underlying problems than it is getting. All the effort is going into "updates".

Raven
July 21st, 2010, 07:50 PM
I never really liked Firefox because when it was taking off IE6 was it's major competitor, and what IE6 lacked in features and security, it made up for in blinding speed. I even ran IE6 on Windows 7 via XP Mode virtualization until it became impossible to browse the web through it. Natively I used SRWare Iron, then Chromium, and now I've just bit the bullet and switched to Chrome - it's way faster, less buggy, etc.. Even if I don't trust Google for a second, they've struck gold with Chrome (irony) imho.

Dave Farquhar
July 22nd, 2010, 04:17 AM
Windows users might want to try this out, it's supposed to be a Firefox optimized more for speed:

http://www.palemoon.org/

Thanks for that. I messed around with it a little, and so far, it's promising. I don't know if all the claims about it are true, but it loads fast, and it renders Google Maps as fast as anything I've seen.

NathanAllan
July 22nd, 2010, 03:18 PM
Firefox is my browser of choice on my home computer, still running great, as Chrome doesn't support Windows 2000 at all. It might not be the most secure but I use a host of security software as well, and so far so good nothing has gotten through.

IE is totally out for me, unless I have to use it for some page that absolutely requires it. Very few, but when I use it, it's version 6.0.

For some reason Seamonkey crashed on my system, has to be because it's win2k.

OB1 is what I still use on the win95 machines, though for internet they are almost useless.

Dave Farquhar
July 22nd, 2010, 04:52 PM
I still run W2K on one system; I don't think I got my first XP box until 2007. There was nothing wrong with 2000 when XP came out. Unfortunately it's the end of the line for security patches, but if you're reasonable and prudent, it should be OK for a while yet. Lots of people are still running some flavor of Windows 98, and I think W2K is a much better choice than that. The late betas of W2K were better than 98 ever was.

Under 2000 you won't have a whole lot of choices. Firefox, like you say, and maybe Opera. Not sure on its requirements. I've tried Opera a few times but never could quite get used to its user interface so I always ended up switching back to whatever the current Mozilla browser of the time happened to be.

vwestlife
July 22nd, 2010, 05:42 PM
I noticed a large increase in CPU load and hard drive access when upgrading from Firefox 2.x to 3.x. Since then I've pretty much given up on it. I now use Opera 10.01. I tried Opera 10.5x, with its new rendering engine, but it screwed up a bunch of things and isn't any more stable, so I switched back. Opera has its issues, but it's *fast*, and I can constantly open and close it as needed without causing any noticeable memory leaks.

Raven
July 23rd, 2010, 10:03 AM
I'm sure you can get Chrome to run on 2k with no problems. See this forum post (http://win2kgaming.site90.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=7) and perhaps peruse the forum a bit. This site is a group of people who've gotten almost anything that runs on XP but not 2k to run via API extensions (like KernelEx but for Win2k).

Even if you're perfectly happy with Firefox, it's worth a try just for fun - also it could help you run other things that you might want to run.

Edit: Yes it's definitely possible, and easier with Chromium than Chrome apparently because there's no installer version checks to bypass (but it can be done). See http://win2kgaming.site90.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=100&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

Unfortunately Chrome hasn't been coerced into running on 9x yet, but I can dream.

Ole Juul
July 23rd, 2010, 09:00 PM
With all this talk, I got inspired to finally install Chromium. The .deb went just fine. It looks pretty good and the speed does appear to be faster than even Opera. I'll use it for a while and see how it goes. So now I have 6 different browsers open at all times.

Tetrium
July 24th, 2010, 01:32 AM
So now I have 6 different browsers open at all times.

Which ones? I'm using 3 browsers, Opera, IE and Firefox

Ole Juul
July 24th, 2010, 01:53 AM
Which ones? I'm using 3 browsers, Opera, IE and Firefox
Firefox, Galeon, Epiphany, Opera, Dillo, and now Chromium. I actually use Konquror a lot too but it is my "default" so it mostly only gets used when I click stuff. It's really the best in many ways. That's what I use for sound files and prefer for photo albums. Elinks gets used a bit, but not much because I prefer to do text browsing on my DOS machine.

However, I've been playing with the Chromium browser for the last couple of hours and I've searched everywhere for how to change configuration. The built-in config is actually very good, way better than most, but is missing some things. I think one needs to learn JSON markup to change things. I believe the file is ~/.config/google-chrome/Default/Preferences but it is possible that one can add another. There's not a lot of information on the net yet. What I absolutely need to change is the tab thing. I must have links open in a new window and not tab, otherwise I won't get much use out of it.

Raven
July 31st, 2010, 11:42 AM
The only problem I have with Chrome, which ironically just made me switch back to Firefox again for another stint, is that it's Adblock is still comparatively primitive. It works 100% fine for image ads, which it didn't before, so it's making progress.. but it fails to block video ads prior to and during flash videos, making watching things hosted by BLIP quite annoying. I'll use Firefox again for a while until Opera (DAMN is it's new UI nice) or Chrome manage an Adblock solution that's comparable.

Lorne
July 31st, 2010, 11:54 AM
Have you tried Google Chrome? http://www.google.com/chrome


I've always used Internet Explorer (tried Firefox once and didn't like it), but I just installed Chrome, and wow, it is fast.

Ole Juul
July 31st, 2010, 01:29 PM
Firefox isn't too bad as far as the interface is concerned. It responds quickly to Alt-leftarrow which is one of my tests of a browser. (Opera has a BIG problem with that, but I haven't tried the new version yet.) However, as I've said above, Ff has a memory problem.

Since this thread started, I've begun to not use Ff as much. However, even with less intensive use Ff eats up all the memory and actually goes into swap! In a decade of using Linux, I have never, ever, seen another program do that. Restarting the GUI every week is unacceptable and rebooting is unthinkable to me, yet recent Firefox versions force me to go to those extremes. It is outrageous. I think Ff is getting more than creaky. If they don't do some fundamental rewriting, it's ready for the bit bucket. It's only good for casual use or those that reboot daily.

I've had a couple of weeks now with Chrome (actually Chromium) since this thread inspired me to install it. It's still looking good but it is becoming clear that it is not finished. The problem to me right now is that there is no user CSS. From my reading this is deliberately turned off (Issue 2393) for the time being. I also found out that user CSS is required for W3C standards compliance so I'll be waiting for it.

Raven
August 1st, 2010, 10:34 AM
There's a big difference between Linux and Windows with these browsers - Firefox doesn't have the memory leak issues on Windows, but it's still a hog, and it's slow (compared to Opera and Chrome). Chrome is fairly new to Mac and Linux, as it was initially developed solely for Windows, so it will take a bit before it's on par on other platforms, but it will get there.

Chuck(G)
August 1st, 2010, 10:48 AM
There's a big difference between Linux and Windows with these browsers - Firefox doesn't have the memory leak issues on Windows, but it's still a hog, and it's slow (compared to Opera and Chrome). Chrome is fairly new to Mac and Linux, as it was initially developed solely for Windows, so it will take a bit before it's on par on other platforms, but it will get there.

In my experience, you've got it reversed. As I noted at the top of this thread, on several occasions, I've closed all FF windows, only to discover that it's still executing, growing its footprint by about 50 MB/minute, doing only diety knows what--and requiring termination through the task manager. I've found it to be more stable under Linux.

Ole Juul
August 1st, 2010, 03:43 PM
. . . I've found it to be more stable under Linux.

That must be pretty bad then, because I've just about had enough of it under Linux - despite it's many good points. I wonder just how different the various implementations are. Not just Linux vs Windows, but also the various iterations of Firefox under each of those.

Chuck(G)
August 1st, 2010, 03:45 PM
That must be pretty bad then, because I've just about had enough of it under Linux - despite it's many good points. I wonder just how different the various implementations are. Not just Linux vs Windows, but also the various iterations of Firefox under each of those.

To be perfectly frank, I haven't updated my Linux copy in dog's years, which may be the reason that it's still working.

Ole Juul
August 1st, 2010, 03:57 PM
To be perfectly frank, I haven't updated my Linux copy in dog's years, which may be the reason that it's still working.
I recently updated mine to 3.6.6, and it didn't help. It might actually have gotten worse.

sombunall
August 1st, 2010, 04:14 PM
The only problem I have with Chrome, which ironically just made me switch back to Firefox again for another stint, is that it's Adblock is still comparatively primitive. It works 100% fine for image ads, which it didn't before, so it's making progress.. but it fails to block video ads prior to and during flash videos, making watching things hosted by BLIP quite annoying. I'll use Firefox again for a while until Opera (DAMN is it's new UI nice) or Chrome manage an Adblock solution that's comparable.

That's my reason for staying with firefox. I also want olive text on a black background without destroying the integrity of web pages and toggles on/off at the click of a button. Is that so much to ask?

EvanK
August 2nd, 2010, 03:36 PM
I'm pretty happy with Firefox 4 Beta 2.

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/beta/

billdeg
August 3rd, 2010, 04:24 AM
I wish they'd limit the updates to once say every other month.

shawn510
August 3rd, 2010, 06:03 AM
I've rolled Firefox back to 3.0.x on all my systems. I consider it the last stable release. 3.5 and 3.6 have been nothing but problems for me so far.

Raven
August 4th, 2010, 09:09 PM
I rather like 4b2 so far - much better than 3.6 anyway, closing the gap between it and Chrome, but still far off; they apparently are shooting for "within 20%" performance of Chrome in Sunspider benchmark, and near-equal to Chrome in Google's benchmark - as far as JS goes.

Edit: Irony, I scroll up and read some more posts and EvanK said the same thing I did about Firefox 4b2.. :P

Captain Midnight
August 12th, 2010, 04:31 PM
It's like most software: just keep adding patches on top of it until it's got to process so much code to a simple task it's worthless. What ever happened to the day when a piece of software did something no other software did before it? Now it's just about one-upping the other guy because your software can display a purer shade of blue. I think a good "punishment" for young programmers with that mentality should be stripped of all of their fancy equipment and given a C64 and told to write a useful program in assembly. If we had people like the 64 guys still writing software like that today, Windows XP would fit on a ROM chip, load in 5 seconds and crash maybe once a year, if that.

commodorejohn
August 27th, 2010, 11:07 AM
Feh, Chrome. Because Google just wasn't running enough of the internet :|

Personally, I stopped upgrading Firefox after version 1.5.x and have just kept using the last pre-2.0 version - Firefox 2 is where it started getting too bulky for my tastes. I've had very few problems with it (although I did have to change the ident string to get YouTube to stop bitching at me when Google decided to use it to pimp Chrome.) Maybe you're using some plugins that aren't compatible that far back, though. Another option is K-Meleon, (http://kmeleon.sourceforge.net/) a sort of Firefox re-jiggering that's Windows native, sacrificing cross-platform portability for a much lighter footprint (I've run it on Pentium II systems with basically-acceptable results.) It takes some fiddling with about:config to get it to behave like Firefox, as some of the default settings are pretty damn strange, but it's pretty good otherwise.

CP/M User
August 27th, 2010, 01:58 PM
Not sure which web browser it is, though one of them out there doesn't understand all the different protocals (FTP for example), try typing in a FTP link into the forum and it changes this to add the HTTP at the beginning! :D Seems like it worked fine on mine in the same forum and works for anyone using Microsoft browser! :satisfie: Could only put it down to the Browser they were using! :D

Raven
August 31st, 2010, 02:12 AM
I just tried K-Meleon, hadn't come across it in a long while, and it seemed much more usable. I ran a performance test using the Chrome benchmark to compare FF4 Beta 4 and K-Meleon current and FF4 was faster by about 10x in javascript. I didn't have the patience to run a full sunspider benchmark, but that's a pretty wide gap.. Probably a good choice for older machines, though, as you said.

commodorejohn
August 31st, 2010, 05:17 AM
Yeah, it's good, but it's not for everybody. IIRC, isn't Firefox 4 using some newer, more efficient Javascript engine? I expect that hasn't made it over to the K-Meleon code base yet, but hopefully in the future...

Raven
September 1st, 2010, 07:47 PM
Try Arora out, it's FF-based and blows K-Meleon out of the water. Lack of Adblocking and sliiiiiiightly unstableness made me stick with FF for now though. I'm really just waiting for flash video ad blocking in Chrome and then I'm out of the FF party.

Ole Juul
September 1st, 2010, 08:57 PM
Raven: I'm really just waiting for flash video ad blocking in Chrome and then I'm out of the FF party.

I still can't imagine how the idea of a default browser is supposed to work so I continue to use a number of them simultaneously and Firefox stays in the roster for now. I haven't found a copy of Chrome yet, but Chromium is looking good. Unfortunately it is very, very beta. I can't leave it up for more than a few days before it has eaten ALL my memory and chewed through a huge chunk of swap which should never be used any more on a modern OS. I guess what I'm hinting at, is that there isn't really a good browser yet. They ALL need a lot of code polishing before they're truly ready for the desktop, as they say nowadays. Hopefully Chrome, or the open source Chromium, will be that browser.

Raven
September 2nd, 2010, 10:55 AM
Well you must keep in mind that you're on *nix, and most of the development efforts are focused on Windows. The *nix versions will get polished too, but not as quickly - at least not for commercial browsers (Opera, Chrome).

There are copies of Chrome (not Chromium) for *nix too, Google has a DEB repo, or you can download a binary. I've used both it and Chromium, little difference on *nix as of yet, though - the underlying code just isn't polished on *nix yet.

MysteriousGreen
September 27th, 2010, 09:24 AM
I switched to Chrome recently because Firefox was giving me problems more and more often. It would often slow down my computer more than normal, and sometimes crash for no reason. Chrome is just so much faster, and with its growing library of extensions (starting to rival Firefox's plugins) it's definitely my browser of choice.

Chuck(G)
October 14th, 2010, 08:37 AM
I just uninstalled Firefox, purging cookies, history, etc. I received a call from a customer service rep at CDW trying to verify an overnight order for a Mac pro charged to one of my credit cards. The card number is toast and so is Firefox.

It could be that an online vendor was hacked and it's not Firefox, but I can't take the risk.

BTW, the pattern seems to be a $1 "test" charge to Netzero, followed by the big ticket charge.

Anyone else have this happen?