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How Maintainable Is the Firefox Codebase?

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the self-referential-fox dept.

Firefox 127

An anonymous reader writes "A report released this morning looks at the maintainability level of the Firefox codebase through five measures of architectural complexity. It finds that 11% of files in Firefox are highly interconnected, a value that went up significantly following version 3.0 and that making a change to a randomly selected file can, on average, directly impact eight files and indirectly impact over 1,400 files. All the data is made available and the report comes with an interactive Web-based exploratory tool." The complexity exploration tool is pretty neat.

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Does this guy know what Firefox is? (4, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year and a half ago | (#43732995)

>> A number of modules, namely, accessible, browser and security, frequently appear among the most complex modules. Further investigation may be helpful in identifying why that is the case.

Does this guy know what Firefox is?

Re:Does this guy know what Firefox is? (2)

CrimsonKnight13 (1388125) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733025)

Maybe he's referring to the Mozilla codebase as a whole rather than just Firefox in itself?

Re:Does this guy know what Firefox is? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733639)

A virtual machine running an operating system that by accident happens to have a (rather mediocre) browser? Just like Chrome?

All that was missing was the relabeling. I guess that's done with "FirefoxOS" and "ChromeOS". ;)

Now all we need, is to port Linux to it. ... Oh wait! [jslinux.org]

Re:Does this guy know what Firefox is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734387)

Well, judge for yourself [almossawi.com] .

Looks like a pretty intense geek, to me. Note where he currently works.

Re:Does this guy know what Firefox is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734639)

I see, so he doesn't know.

Re:Does this guy know what Firefox is? (2)

game kid (805301) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734413)

What is a Firefox? A miserable little pile of sources.

But enough code... Have at you!

Re:Does this guy know what Firefox is? (2)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#43735525)

What is a Firefox? A miserable little pile of sources.

Really? I was under the impression that, traditionally, a Firefox was a miserable little pile of memory leaks. Although these days, that doesn't quite seem to be the case as much as it used to be.

Re:Does this guy know what Firefox is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43736205)

*wooosh*

Re:Does this guy know what Firefox is? (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#43736987)

I got the joke. I was joking back, but apparently that wasn't caught by your detector.

I was contemplating whether I should have added that second line or not. Do, and people will think I'm serious and not realize I'm just joking as well; Don't, and people will get offensive thinking I'm trolling and just slamming Firefox for the hell of it. But for stability these days, I figured credit is due, because I've slammed Mozilla/Firefox enough in the past.

Trojan warning (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733017)

MSE just told me that it found this on the site: http://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/threat/encyclopedia/entry.aspx?name=Trojan%3aJS%2fIframeRef.K&threatid=2147679863

Re:Trojan warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733065)

Is there actually a trojan on the site?

Re:Trojan warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733129)

If your Mom goes there, I sure hope so!

Re: Trojan warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43735743)

But what if she prefers Durex?

Re:Trojan warning (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733249)

Considering that MSE takes even longer than Clam to identify new ANYTHINGS, I'm not sure how much stock I put in that report.

Re:Trojan warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734535)

The report is actually correct. Microsoft Security Essentials (which is actually a great antivirus) thinks there's some funky IFRAME code that might redirect to a malicious website. When that threat was analyzed the target servers were unreachable though.

So? (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733033)

It finds that 11% of files in Firefox are highly interconnected

Figures like this would be more useful if they were put in context. What is a "normal" level for connectedness? What is the level for the Linux kernel, or for GCC? Compared to other similar sized projects, is 11% good or bad?

Re:So? (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733075)

Normal probably isn't so useful here, but it would give some context. 11% of files being highly interconnected could be a sign of incompetence on the part of the developers, or it could be a sign that they're engaged in sound design by splitting off commonly used methods into their own files and treating them as libraries.

I'd suspect that the latter is the case here.

Re:So? (3, Informative)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733383)

It's crucial to know the distribution of that 11%. If they were all located in one area, it might be as you say, But if the 11% was comprised of a few files in each major module, then that'd be bad.

You want the bulk of your program doing the actual work to look like a tree. You don't want the bulk of your program to look like a mesh (graph). This is especially true of your core components.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734339)

...you do know that a tree is an acyclic graph, right?

fun graph theory fact: prove that in any tree with N nodes, there are exactly N-1 edges.

that's why, as you say, it would be nice to have a tree structure.

Hah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734455)

There's no such thing as a (non-trivial) acyclic graph. A non-trivial acyclic digraph however...

Re:Hah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734759)

Most trees have some notion of directedness anyway, in that the parents and children have an asymmetrical relationship (any node can have multiple children, but no node has more than one parent).

Re:So? (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733285)

It finds that 11% of files in Firefox are highly interconnected

It means 89% aren't...which sounds much nicer.

Re:So? (2)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733985)

So, Nearly 90% of the Firefox code is of high quality and very maintainable.

Re:So? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733743)

Not only that. The number is entirely meaningless, if we don't know *how* they are interconnected.

If they are interconnected through a well-defined and stable interface, they can be connected as much as they want... it doesn't matter!

What counts is the *modularity*! How much can you treat everything as independent modules? How much can you change the *implementation* without causing trouble.

Because if they are cleanly separated that way, they are no different from being completely separate projects or programs.

It's when things become "frameworks" that all the alarm bells go off.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734383)

It's really a branch-leaf problem. Good design has many leaves (i.e. terminal points of code -- consider all of the
functions str* are leaves, for example) and a few branches with their trunk. Usually everything should point in a single
direction, that is to say str* functions can called from *anywhere*, but they better not be calling fprintf or fopen, etc.
An extreme example, but to the point.

C++ code's design can appear to be much more interconnected than it actually is and too, can be much more
interconnected than it actually needs to be because of its model and tendency to over-complicate things in the
name of "good" OO design.

In the rush and bustle of corporate life, good design most times falls by the wayside and it's difficult to justify
the re-factoring of "working" code.

Largely Irrelevant (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734479)

There are lots of measures of a code's "maintainability", with interconnectedness being just one of them.

More to the point, that's what code tests are for: to make sure changing one thing doesn't break another. Talking about the "health" of the code base without knowing about test coverage or effectiveness is pretty damned meaningless, regardless of "interconnectedness". My view is that Ali Almossawi's paper is therefore a waste of dead trees.

Re:So? (1)

sootman (158191) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734519)

Good, obviously. It goes to 11!

Fork (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733039)

Well, to deal with this is to fork Firefox, and start with a real simple browser - no tabs, plugins, add-ons, etc.... - and call Firechick, or Firepup, or SparkFox, or SparkPup, or AweFuckit!We'reStartingOverFox

Re:Fork (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733089)

Why?

Re:Fork (0)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year and a half ago | (#43736005)

So it will fit on a dongle?

Re:Fork (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733095)

You know that you don't have to load things in tabs if you don't want to, right? And I highly doubt that you're going to have any meaningful performance improvements by loading up different windows. Plugins are there for every browser and the worst offenders tend to be things like Flash which aren't always easily avoided. Extentions themselves aren't usually a problem if you don't install badly behaving ones. And many of them do actually help out with performance, noscript anybody?

Re:Fork (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733339)

Plugins are there for every browser and the worst offenders tend to be things like Flash which aren't always easily avoided

Except that Flash is easily avoided ... if you don't want Flash, don't install it, and don't use sites which require it.

You might decide that there's stuff you can't live without, and I definitely agree that in company environments it can be damned near impossible as it seems there's usually one or two things you need which requires it.

But if you decide you don't want it and won't use it, it's actually not difficult at all to avoid. I've been doing it for over a decade, and it hasn't been on any of my own machines. My work machines, I've never been able to avoid having it, but only in IE which is the browser of last resort for those company things you have to visit a few times each year (like the ethics training courses we all know and love).

You just have to decide that not having it is worth more than the sites which need it, and there hasn't been a single site which made we think "OK, for this I'll install Flash".

Re:Fork (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734979)

Of course you need Flash. Even YouTube is not able to offer all videos in HTML5 format.

Re:Fork (0)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43736695)

Of course you need Flash. Even YouTube is not able to offer all videos in HTML5 format.

Who cares about random cat videos? I watch maybe 5 YouTube videos a year.

Re:Fork (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43737131)

There is a lot of good content on YouTube. But besides the point, I watch almost all my TV shows over the internet, since I don't have a TV or cable. Hulu can be used without flash, but there aren't any non-flash based sites with illegal TV streams on them. Not every show makes it to Hulu. No flash means you'd have to torrent those shows. That is riskier, often slower, and uses more bandwidth, but you do get them in higher quality.

Plus, sometimes you run into websites entirely made in Flash. I wanted to look up the menu of a Japanese restaurant. It was all in Flash.

Re:Fork (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43737185)

Who cares about random cat videos? I watch maybe 5 YouTube videos a year.

There is really good stuff in YouTube these days. Not just cat videos or dogs on skateboards.

How about bigthink [youtube.com] or EEVblog [youtube.com] , for example?

No Script sucks because the net sucks (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733345)

OK let's start with:

noscript anybody?

I loaded it. And every single website I use - like my library, credit union, broker, SLASHDOT, Amazon, etc ... will not work correctly without their scripts running. I can't even login without having to "Allow all scripts''

Why "Allow all..." because, every goddamn website calls a myriad of different other websites for god knows what the fuck they're doing.

I TRIED to selectively whitelist websites and all I got was half functional shit- and not being able to access my account many times.

I mean really Web "Engineers" - WTF?!?!

It seems that every one of you point call asshole like google analytics and other advertizing shitholes.

And this social media shit. I mean really, do you have to have those stupid fucking buttons for Facebook, Google+, and every other narcissistic fucking web site out there?!?

Hey kids! Wanna get rich quick!?

Start your own business that caters to societies insatiable need for narcissism: See Apple, Harley Davidson, every luxury car or product maker out there, Facebook, Google+, every goddamn reality show, people registered on Slashdot, the real loosers who are registers under their Google+ or Facebook accounts, ....

Appeal to people's vanity and get rich.

At least the Christian myth about Satan is correct: people are suckers for the 7 deadly sins.That's how to get rich! Follow Satan!

See every TV preacher that has ever existed

Re:No Script sucks because the net sucks (2)

liamevo (1358257) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733793)

Don't blame us, blame the marketers and SEO people.

Re:No Script sucks because the net sucks (1)

Garridan (597129) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733863)

No you don't need to allow all ever. I allow all for my school's domain, and nothing else. Those social media buttons don't even show up for me on most pages 'cause they use a third-party javascript loader. On the very rare occasion that I can't get a site to work, I switch to private mode (ctrl-shift-p) and allow all there. I like to use half-broken websites. I break the half that tracks me / loads cpu-intensive flash ads / makes the page take 10 seconds to load. If they still manage to annoy me, up comes firebug and *whoops*! There go the page elements I didn't like. Grayed-out content? I think not!

Re:No Script sucks because the net sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734165)

It's up to us, the engineers, to provide for people alternatives to Facebook, Twitter, ad networks, etc... Pointing out the problem without offering a solution other than "unplug your computer" is not useful.

Re:No Script sucks because the net sucks (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734953)

You could just install ghostery, which generally JustWorks (TM).

Condescending (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733437)

And you realize that all those features add on to the codebase, riiight?

And you realize that adding to the code base adds on to its complexity, riiight?

ANd you realize the GP was being sarcastic, riiight?

And you realize that you come across as a condescending ass, riiiight?

I await your ad hominem with pleasure so I can crush you your feeble intellect with my mighty logic.

Re:Condescending (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43737169)

LOL, you're just mad because I'm smarter than you. Considering the fact that you're comment has absolutely no substance to it, I'm comfortable taking my chances.

Re:Fork (1)

Garridan (597129) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733777)

You missed the obvious FireFork.

Got a trojan warning (5, Informative)

dasapfe (856009) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733067)

Ha, ha! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733271)

I'm running Puppy Linux at the moment and do not care about your silly little Windows virus alert!

Re:Got a trojan warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43736699)

Absolutely! I had an alert about a file which Microsoft Defender does not recognize. Deobfuscated it and saw a typical Malware Exploit Kit. Had to recheck browsing history to find that it occurs on the second link of this article. To check, just turn on the network profiler or like and see that an iFrame link tries to reach 67.213.213.23. At the moment it results in 502.

Law of demeter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733097)

Aint actually a law its more like guidelines...

Looking at dependancies from the perspective of file level seems like a mostly arbitrary and useless means of demarcation to me.

counting files today (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733131)

and tomorrow we'll count the lines of code and spew more meh

Re:counting files today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43736159)

Yeah, can't wait for the 2nd part. I bet in the end it turns out, that those 11 interconnected files belong to a single application!

Not to worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733161)

It's OK, we can fix it by hacking together a bunch of Perl scripts!

"Went up significantly following version 3.0" (0, Redundant)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733303)

is it a coincidence that 3.0 is when they started versioning up like crazy every two weeks? I think not!

Um, you forgot to go AC when you trolled. (3, Informative)

Gordo_1 (256312) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733577)

Really? The version number thing again? Hasn't that been played out yet? Incidentally, 3.0 is not even close to when they moved to a rapid release cycle.

Re:Um, you forgot to go AC when you trolled. (3, Insightful)

NotBorg (829820) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733751)

Hasn't that been played out yet?

Nope. Trolls echo forever.

Re:"Went up significantly following version 3.0" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733579)

That actually started with version 4.

Re:"Went up significantly following version 3.0" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733585)

is it a coincidence that 3.0 is when they started versioning up like crazy every two weeks? I think not!

They started that with 4, but nice try.

Re:"Went up significantly following version 3.0" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734109)

Version 3, version 4 - what's the difference? So he was off by 20 minutes. Big deal.

Re:"Went up significantly following version 3.0" (1)

NotBorg (829820) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734065)

FTA:

4.2 Switching to the rapid release cycle (RRC) has had a positive impact on maintainability

"Crazy" seems to be working just fine.

I'm interested in seeing analysis of WebKit/Blink (4, Interesting)

0x000000 (841725) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733307)

I am wondering how this stacks up to a project like WebKit/Blink, as well as seeing that project against the original KHTML. Sure it is a renderer/HTML layout/JavaScript engine only, and won't contain the browser chrome like Firefox, but I think it would be interesting to look at.

Many people have also suggested that WebKit is easier to embed into various different environments (more so than Gecko) and that it has been able to evolve faster mainly due to the code base being cleaner, and I wonder if this holds true when looking at it from a complexity standpoint, or is it more complex but simply laid out better and in a way that is easier to understand?

Re:I'm interested in seeing analysis of WebKit/Bli (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43735915)

Many people have also suggested that WebKit is easier to embed into various different environments (more so than Gecko) and that it has been able to evolve faster mainly due to the code base being cleaner, and I wonder if this holds true when looking at it from a complexity standpoint, or is it more complex but simply laid out better and in a way that is easier to understand?

Dave what's-his-name (can't remember his last name, but one of the original authors of Phoenix/Firefox who moved to Apple and turned KHTML into Webkit) said that the Gecko codebase was "baroque" (cue jokes about how baroquen it is), but that a lot of how convoluted it was had to do with how far it went to try to make sense of broken HTML. He specifically said there's a lot of stuff Gecko can handle that Webkit can't because they're rare edge cases and allowing for them complicates the code badly.

Yes, I can hear the Apple fanbois already starting to froth at the mouth. Take it up with Dave, he said it.

I also remember some complaining about a Firefox developer making changes to Gecko in an attempt to make his own development easier which made it much more Firefox-specific than it had been or was supposed to be. Prolly find references to it with Google if you really wanted to.

LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (5, Informative)

revealingheart (1213834) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733489)

According to recent comments [mozillazine.org] (continued on the next day's thread), the win32 compiler that Mozilla use is approaching the 4GB limit, after which LibXUL (which Firefox depends upon) will no longer compile.

It's currently at 3.5GB, and at the current rate, will reach the limit in approximately 6 months: Chart of memory usage of LibXUL during last 90 days [mozilla.org]

While I think that Servo will produce a more decentralised design than Gecko and XUL, the memory limit will be reached well before that. With Windows XP support ending next year, Mozilla should consider migrating to x64 as soon as reasonably possible, keeping x32, but focusing on stripping large and extraneous code above new features.

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733547)

Sounds like a good point to refactor

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733895)

According to recent comments [mozillazine.org] (continued on the next day's thread), the win32 compiler that Mozilla use is approaching the 4GB limit, after which LibXUL (which Firefox depends upon) will no longer compile.

It's currently at 3.5GB, and at the current rate, will reach the limit in approximately 6 months: Chart of memory usage of LibXUL during last 90 days [mozilla.org]

Well that's easily solvable, just run a PAE kernel... oh, wait...

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (2)

InvisiBill (706958) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733929)

Reminds me of http://developers.slashdot.org/story/11/12/14/1725205/firefox-too-big-to-link-on-32-bit-windows [slashdot.org] ... As one commenter in that thread asked, haven't they switched to x64 compilers yet? (Apparently there are issues getting the x86 version to compile properly on x64.)

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (2)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734707)

I think something is seriously wrong when a program becomes too large to be compiled.

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43735523)

to be linked not compiled... if you use link time optimization, the memory usage grows fast

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733995)

Switching a few command line options to the compiler would completely resolve the issue. The downside is that it'll take longer to compile.

Realistically though, if your hitting those limits, the compiler isn't the problem, the code is.

Bloat much?

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734057)

Mozilla's problem is making the build process work on 64-bit systems. If you're going to accuse Firefox of bloat because of the 4gb barrier, then check out Chromium's requirements sometime.

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (2)

coolsnowmen (695297) | about a year and a half ago | (#43735629)

It has to do with the compiler optimizations that profile code more than it has to do with code bloat.

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734151)

Old news. And Chrome was hitting that first. There was an article some time ago about that.

Serious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734807)

I'm not compiler-knowledgeable. I've heard that the current mem usage is high partially due to "profile guided optimizations", but...
why does the compilation process for a browser of a few hundred megs require 4GB of memspace?

Honestly, I'd like to get some insight - can anyone here provide "a layman's guide to mem usage by the linker"?

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43735035)

I don't get it. Couldn't you just use a 64-bit compiler and set it to produce 32-bit binaries?

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43735325)

The complier they use, VS I think, see the thread if you want, can't do that.

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (5, Informative)

HoserHead (599) | about a year and a half ago | (#43735359)

I'm a Firefox developer.

This is slightly inaccurate. We aren't running out of memory to link Firefox, we're running out of memory to run Profile-Guided Optimization (PGO) on Firefox.

PGO looks at what is actually executed during a given workload and optimizes based on that. It can be a pretty big win — 30% in some workloads —so we work pretty hard to keep it going.

Unfortunately, PGO needs to have not only all the code, but all the intermediate representations and other metadata about the code in memory at one time. (That's why we're running out of memory.)

Unfortunately, MSVC doesn't support producing a 32-bit binary using their 64-bit compiler.

(FWIW, Chrome has *always* been too big to use PGO.)

Re:LibXUL on Win32 approaching 4GB memory limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43737379)

It would be great to see Firefox start producing 64-bit builds for Windows as a result of this.
Any chance of that happening?

Context is important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733581)

For some web application or something similar trivial, i would care.
However, a full featured modern web browser is in no way trivial. AI, compiler building, an own network stack, several rendering backends, a dozen of parsers, a GUI system and a very complex plugin system are involved; at least.
A complete web browser is literally (yes, literally) an operating system on top of your operating system; one can be happy if the code is somewhat not total crap.

Lots of pretty numbers... (3, Insightful)

DrStrangluv (1923412) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733613)

... that have no meaning at all.

Impacting 8 files on average would be horrible... for a project with 8 files. But how many is that relative to the size of Firefox?

11% of files in Firefox are highly interconnected... but how does that compare to other projects of similar scope?

The one value in that summary that had any meaning at all was the comment that the percentage of interconnected files "went up significantly following version 3.0". That at least has some relative measure we can use as a base.

Re:Lots of pretty numbers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43733823)

It depends on the value of those 8 files. You can pull a brick out of a bridge with no problem, but if its a keystone that may not be the case...

The article is pretty vague though so I wouldn't give it too much thought.

Re:Lots of pretty numbers... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43733833)

I'm also wondering what "impact" means here. "Indirectly impact" doubly so.

Re:Lots of pretty numbers... (3, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734013)

I'm not an expert and of course wouldn't read the TFA but from reading the headline and a good part of the summary, I've deduced that "impact"="bad" and "Indirectly impact"="scary bad".

Hope that helps.

Who cares? (0)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734083)

Firefox is forthing me to update the flash player, even if *I know* that I only visit one web site with flash on it with it.
In other words: it refuses to work. (That means I have to shut down all other browsers with roughly 100 tabs/windows, unacceptable!)
Since ... don't know which version? You can not disable autoupdate anymore. Unfortunately the developers believe they may change look and feel arbitrarily.
I for my part use an very old firefox for one specific web site. Otherwise I use Chrome and Safari and consider to try Opera again.

Is anyone still using it? (0)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734095)

I gave up on Firefox around version 1.4 when it became clear it was no longer anything like the lean, mean lightweight browser I was looking for, and once was it's apparent target. The bloat factor caused it to become irrelevant after that.

Re:Is anyone still using it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734207)

Most modern computers have memory going to waste. Why would anyone care of Firefox uses some of it.

Re:Is anyone still using it? (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734421)

Oh please, even on a super computer the Firefox UI is as slow as Molasses. I can say that since I use Firefox everyday as my main browser. Why should I stick up for something that I know has issues. He wasn't even talking about RAM, he was speaking of lightness, like Midori for instance; Firefox use to be lean and mean like Midori.

I haven't personally looked into it, but I'd be highly interested in a Fork that brings it back to what it use to be. I can't find any information, but for Linux, as of last year the 3x branch of Firefox was still being updated; but don't quote me on that.

Re:Is anyone still using it? (1)

amorsen (7485) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734789)

The main complaint about Firefox, right from the start, has been memory leaks. You are rewriting history, Firefox was never lean and mean.

If anything Firefox is like Emacs in that the median power of computers is increasing faster than the resource consumption.

Re:Is anyone still using it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43737661)

Firefox was "lean and mean" compared to the Mozilla suite that preceded it. In that context, it's true.

As an absolute statement, no, far as i can tell it was never true. Although it seems pretty snappy when I run it under windows 7.

Re:Is anyone still using it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43737617)

I've been using the same PC since version 3 of Firefox, and it's only become more and more snappy, responsive and pleasant to use. It's hardly a supercomputer, either, just a standard multicore wintel box.

I really don't know what you're talking about. Do you run a billion addons on Firefox, then compare it to a clean install of Chrome? Do you happen to have an even older computer with some obscure drivers that make it run poorly?

Because when you say you want it back "the way it used to be" you're really asking for it to become a slower pile of mostly-obsolete tech. Surely you realize that, so I have to assume you're just out of your mind.

Next you'll be telling you'd rather use Windows 95 for your modern gaming, because you'll settle for a practically ancient web browser for your modern browsing.

Re:Is anyone still using it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734285)

Bullshit. If it were irrelevant you wouldn't have clicked on every last FF article to profess its irrelevance. The truth is that it's so relevant that you feel threatened enough by it to leave your mark everywhere.

P.S. You forgot to tick "Anonymous Coward"

Re:Is anyone still using it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734593)

Yeah, no kidding. It's total bloatware compared to Chrome, I mean it's a whole 10 megs smaller as a binary, uses substantially less RAM, and even bundles a working MathML implementation. Fuck Mozilla.

Re: Is anyone still using it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734861)

GG Firefox! http://caniuse.com/mathml

Re:Is anyone still using it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43735117)

I gave up on Firefox around version 1.4 when it became clear it was no longer anything like the lean, mean lightweight browser I was looking for, and once was it's apparent target. The bloat factor caused it to become irrelevant after that.

Back in the day you could use open source software to make an old computer faster, but sadly that's always not the case anymore. Windows+IE is way slicker than Ubuntu+Firefox. Surely you can use some lightweight DE/browser, but by using commercial software you don't have to make that kind of sacrifices. This message is modded down.

Re:Is anyone still using it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43735709)

I love firefox, because the depth of the user interface customization leads to some simple features that work nearly flawlessly that cannot be done on other browsers. i guess i am mainly and talking about scrollbar anywhere, but there's also the tab manager layout window that works well for managing my daily work as a programmer, and the app tabs (or pinned tabs) which i have come to appreciate over the years.

damn i love firefox, may it live forever, even if it always suffers memory leaks and needs to be restarted every 10 days or so

The code base was not designed for concurrency (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734141)

It's a real problem. The Firefox dev team gave up on running add-ons in a separate process (the "electrolysis" project) because the code base was too single-thread oriented. Remember, some of the code dates back to Netscape. There's talk of reviving that project now, [internetnews.com] but it's mostly talk and meetings.)

Refitting concurrency tends to be very hard and the result tends to be ugly. You get something like Windows 3.x or MacOS 6/7, where easy things are complicated for the wrong reasons.

Re:The code base was not designed for concurrency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43734851)

True, but they've spent a good year or two working towards improving their codebase for various efforts, including the Electrolysis project. It might not just be talk, they're quite serious about improving the process/threading model in Firefox, if for no other reason than to improve Firefox OS.

Re:The code base was not designed for concurrency (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43736129)

There are clearly people working on Mozilla who 'get it', but the project management seems adverse to tackling anything long-term or difficult. They also like to officially deny that real problems exist. Just as a random sample of tech geeks, how long were people here bitching about Firefox memory usage while we were fed a line of excuses. I recall reading the blog of the lone dev who started what came to be known as the Memshrink project, which, when it was done, management loved to tout, but before that "didn't matter".

The bz on multithreading the browser has been open for, what, 12 years? As of 2011, it wasn't a problem anymore. "ooh, mobile, new shiny!"

This is one area where Chrome runs circles around Firefox. Their tech people get to work on things they think are valuable and management supports them. They take on hard projects (i.e. forking WebKit). If anything, it should be the private non-profit that can take these risks!

So, guess which browser is an irrelevant pig dog on my 2-year-old smartphone...

Those who ignore History... (1)

theatreman (931919) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734617)

Oh the history - the netscape codebase being so complex a complete re-write was necessary...

Re:Those who ignore History... (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43734823)

Quite correct. After 4.7 (circa IE5) they chucked it and Mozilla was born after several more years of re-development.

I've no idea how bad the old code base was but I'd imagine based on past experience they would have done a cleaner job this time around.

Re:Those who ignore History... (1)

jensend (71114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43735661)

Well, things would be cleaner to re-implement this time around if they had to do another rewrite, because cross-platform development is now a basically solved problem.

In 1998, getting one codebase that would work on things like various ancient Unices, "DOS-based" Windows (95/98/Me), and Mac OS 8/9 was a very difficult task. Beyond the lower-level concerns, few good libraries would work across all targets. C++ itself was a mess when trying to work across different systems and compilers- many things could not be counted on to work everywhere until some years after the first C++ standardization in 1998.

So Mozilla wrote their own 'toolkit' (kinda) and portability/compatibility stuff, their own code that did much of what the C++ standard library really ought to do, and a lot of other stuff.

With modern operating systems, modern cross-platform libraries, universal C++03 support and widespread support for most of C++11, a rewrite would be a very different story today.

RTFA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43735645)

The conclusions of the research are very positive and shed a very good light on the health of the code. Why is everyone commenting like the conclusions are the opposite?

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