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Firefox Going the Big and Bloated IE Way?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the dinosaur-needs-a-diet dept.

Mozilla 653

abhinav_pc writes "Wired is carrying an article pondering whether Firefox has become big and bloated, much like IE. As the browser's popularity has risen, the interest in cramming more features into the product has as well. Slowdowns and feature creep have some users asking for a return to the days of the 'slim and sexy' Firefox. 'Firefox's page-cache mechanism, for example, introduced in version 1.5, stores the last eight visited pages in the computer's memory. Caching pages in memory allows faster back browsing, but it can also leave a lot less memory for other applications to use. Less available RAM equals a less-responsive computer. Firefox addresses this issue somewhat, setting the default cache lower on computers with less than a gigabyte of RAM. Though the jury is still out on where the perfect balance between too many and too few features lies, one truth is apparent: The new web is pushing our browsers to the limit.'"

cancel ×

653 comments

is it time (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19168983)

to totally rethink the browser? with broadband becoming more available could websites be built in a way that current browsers don't even let us imagine?

Re:is it time (5, Insightful)

thePsychologist (1062886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169461)

Actually, perhaps it's time to totally rethink the internet. Browsers today are bloated partly because websites are bloated.

The majority of websites could do with a simple and less cluttered layout like google's website for instance. Compare it to yahoo and you'll see that yahoo has a bunch of "advanced features" like inpage tabs and whatnot. Lots of this extra junk you'll find around the web is javascript that chooses CSS based on browser and that displays advertisements. Lots of it is just poor use of HTML often from WYSISYG programs. More features in language means more junk on website. More junk on website means more junk in browser.

Re:is it time (5, Funny)

soleblaze (628864) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169605)

It's time to bring back VRML!

Re:is it time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169677)

As someone who lives out in the sticks, and pays $100/month for a 1.5MBit 802.11 connection, I say no. Keep the web as plain old HTML. Limit flash (And other plugins) to things like embedded video, NOT AS THE ACTUAL WEBPAGE.

There's still a lot of people out there who are limited to dialup, satellite, or some other jerry-rigged internet connection.

Firefox 2.x crashes all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19168991)

Most annoying thing are the crashes of Firefox 2.x! I don't care if it eats a lot of memory (I've got 2GB - who wouldn't these days?) or is bloated, but I can't stand the crashes!

Re:Firefox 2.x crashes all the time (4, Informative)

slayermet420 (1053520) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169055)

I'm running 3/4 of a gig, and I've never had Firefox crash. And I have BOINC running all the time. My CPU is spinning pretty high all the time, and I tend to have a good bit of my RAM being used all the time. So I don't know what you're doing wrong dude.

Re:Firefox 2.x crashes all the time (4, Funny)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169489)

My attempt to get modded up (any positive mod) by only quoting grandparent, parent, and the summary(and in that order). . . here goes:

Most annoying thing are the crashes of Firefox 2.x! I don't care if it eats a lot of memory (I've got 2GB - who wouldn't these days?) or is bloated, but I can't stand the crashes!

I'm running 3/4 of a gig, and I've never had Firefox crash. And I have BOINC running all the time. My CPU is spinning pretty high all the time, and I tend to have a good bit of my RAM being used all the time. So I don't know what you're doing wrong dude.

Firefox addresses this issue somewhat, setting the default cache lower on computers with less than a gigabyte of RAM.

Re:Firefox 2.x crashes all the time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169493)

You say you have two gigabytes of RAM like it means something. DDR? DDRII? 333? 400? 667? 800? Boosting technology on your motherboard? CPU to match?

I looked into my RAM recently, I have 2 1gig sticks running in dual, and I know for a fact many people are getting less use out of 4 gigabytes of RAM. I'm just saying, its a big number, but there is an even bigger amount of leeway.

Back on topic, the RAM topic is a bad one because IMHO any browser should be able to still run very easily with 512mb RAM, and run okay on 256mb - if it's set up correctly.

Re:Firefox 2.x crashes all the time (4, Insightful)

Movi (1005625) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169759)

256MB ? Holy crap! I don't understand why people think we need at least 512MB to run anything decently! In 2001 i was running on 64MB and i can remember i could run a web browser (granted it was IE, but nevertheless!) Winamp and some other stuff. And people _expected_ it to run smoothly with only 64MB ! I know it 6 years from that time, Moores law and such, but i still wonder - why this insane amount of hardware requirements? Notice that Opera for Symbian must run with 8MB of RAM and it has to share. And there's no virtual ram, so swapping is not an option. This of course doesn't count Flash. Right now both of my boxes have 1GB of Ram, and i don't plan on upgrading that number anytime soon - I don't play games (consoles are for that, and my Gamecube has about 48MB combined too!), i don't run VMs and i don't even have a swap partition - it never got touched anyway.

Very nice FUD (5, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169021)

Wow, I actually RTFA and nowhere in there does it say that Firefox is becoming as "bloated" as Internet Explorer. Nope, it says it's becoming as bloated as Seamonkey. Oh the horror. The article is also (as usual) not kind to Firefox as far as the speed and insane memory consumption it suffers from, which thousands of fanboys have spent the past three years desperately denying for some weird reason. To be fair, I use FF and I don't care about the memory problem, but that doesn't mean it's not there.

Disingenuous FUD aside, I can't for the life of me imagine how IE could be "bloated". It never had much functionality to begin with.

Kudos to Bashdot. Even the current Digg submission [digg.com] doesn't mention IE at all.

Well... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169393)

At least when you install Firefox, you don't get some version of Windows along with it :-)

I mean, talk about bloat!

Re:Very nice FUD (0, Troll)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169585)

Wow, I actually RTFA and nowhere in there does it say that Firefox is becoming as "bloated" as Internet Explorer. Nope, it says it's becoming as bloated as Seamonkey. Oh the horror.

That's rather ironic, considering that Seamonkey (formerly Mozilla suite) without mail/news/irc is the lean alternative among Gecko-based browsers, and Firefox has always been far more bloated than plain Seamonkey.

Regards,
--
*Art

Re:Very nice FUD (2, Interesting)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169745)

Yes, and it's doubly FUD because it's based on "anecdotal reports" from the kinds of people who thing that -funroll-loops makes your Linux kernel 20% faster. Firefox is and always has been faster (uses less CPU) and more efficient (uses less memory) compared to IE and even compared to Opera. Try the browser buster memory test and you will see that Firefox beats other popular browsers by a factor of 2x to 4x. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/attachment.cgi?id=240 026 [mozilla.org]

Re:Very nice FUD (1)

kooky45 (785515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169783)

Is that because the Digg submission was censored?

well no wonder (5, Funny)

kauttapiste (633236) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169029)

That's why I never get the first post!

Like IE? More like Linux, I'd say! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169049)

The past 3 days I've been looking for a decent Linux distribution, easy to install in 3G of disk by a non-hacker. Awful!

Re:Like IE? More like Linux, I'd say! (0)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169093)

Remember the days that a Linux install took up half the space of a Windows install?

Re:Like IE? More like Linux, I'd say! (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169509)

PuppyLinux (on a DVD-R) takes 0MB space (though for effective use it needs lots of RAM or a swap partition). Can't get much smaller than that.

Re:Like IE? More like Linux, I'd say! (2, Interesting)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169599)

Well I suggest you check out a base Windows Vista install. A fresh installation of Vista in a VMWare machine yields approximately 7.16GB. ^_^ A complete Linux install (GNOME/KDE, apps, QT + GTK, etc...) still requires less than half that disk space.

well (3, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169051)

Caching pages in memory allows faster back browsing, but it can also leave a lot less memory for other applications to use.
 
The amount of RAM used for caching pages could be set by the user in the options. I think most Firefox users could handle that.

To turn off the cache (5, Informative)

cjb-nc (887319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169281)

A quick look finds the option to turn off the cache:

browse to about:config
search for the browser.cache.memory.enable setting
set it to false
restart the browser

On my machine, that lowers the memory footprint from 125MB to just under 50MB.

Re:To turn off the cache (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169377)

A quick look finds the option to turn off the cache: browse to about:config search for the browser.cache.memory.enable setting set it to false restart the browser On my machine, that lowers the memory footprint from 125MB to just under 50MB.
Thats fine if you want to free up some RAM, but what if you have plenty, maybe you would want to to cache more than just 8 pages.

Re:To turn off the cache (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169573)

Yeah, thats just perfect.

GRANDMA, LISTEN ITS ABOUT:CONFIG

ABOUT WHO NOW?

CONFIG!!!

KENNY FIG???

Seriously, the devs should ship the product with a low memory footprint to begin with and let the power users tweak this as they like.

Re:To turn off the cache (1)

NinjaTariq (1034260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169765)

I do that and it drops the memory from 131Mb to 125Mb. Hardly a HUGE drop.

Re:well (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169351)

Other browsers don't have the need to have the user set memory limits and they have very fast forward and back page and tab switching.

The memory problems Firefox has seem to have the usual open source project response: "It's not a problem since it would be a major hassle to fix"

Re:well (4, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169571)

So I've disabled page caching.
My FF has not been up to 800 MB like it has before, but it still gets up around 200-300 MB.
For a damn browser, that is retarded. I mean, entire servers used to have less RAM that that and could do far more than process and display html/images.

Re:well (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169813)

I have a feeling a lot of that RAM may be taken up by certain extensions. It also depends a lot on how your browse. I constantly open and close tabs, which would explain quite a lot if the memory used by pages from the closed tabs isn't freed up.

Re:well (4, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169371)

The amount of RAM used for caching pages could be set by the user in the options. I think most Firefox users could handle that.

Sure, for geeks. But if we want people to stop using IE we must provide a credible alternative.

There should definitely be an option to tell Firefox to use less than n megabytes of memory, and let firefox figure it out, instead of setting the memory limit through the number of undo levels per tab.

Re:well (2, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169441)

The amount of RAM used for caching pages could be set by the user in the options. I think most Firefox users could handle that.
Sure, for geeks. But if we want people to stop using IE we must provide a credible alternative.

There should definitely be an option to tell Firefox to use less than n megabytes of memory, and let firefox figure it out, instead of setting the memory limit through the number of undo levels per tab.


Firefox would have to default to something, doesnt mean you shouldnt be able to change the default amount.

Re:well (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169703)

That's not what I'm saying at all. Right now, if you want to reduce the amount of memory Firefox uses to enable you to click the back button faster, you have to set a per-tab limit. This is dumb. I mean, it's nice to have that option, but for it to be the only means of controlling that limit? Stupid. There should be a nice fat "never use more than x megabytes of memory" option, and you can fill in the value of x. If the browser starts to run out of memory, it can prompt you and ask if you'd like to increase the memory limit. It needs to be as easy as possible for average users, who do not feel the same joy that you or I might when we figure out some computer-related esoterica. They just want to surf myspace and look at pictures of half-naked teenage girls.

Firefox=Mozilla? (4, Insightful)

Aeron65432 (805385) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169063)

More than anything it's reminding me of Mozilla, now known as SeaMonkey. The reason I switched from Mozilla to Firefox was because I wanted a smaller, more nimble browser. I didn't want a RSS reader, e-mail, IRC, etc. packaged together. Firefox hasn't integrated all of those yet but it's moving towards it and I don't like it.

Re:Firefox=Mozilla? (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169357)

That's really the problem, I think. Firefox was originally supposed to be just a great browser, as opposed to the bloat that was Mozilla, with additional functionality being provided by Add-ons. Now, though, the development direction seems to be to take the best of the extensions and incorporate them into the main product. It might be better to keep the browser as it is, and then release a separate bundle with Firefox + the most popular add-ons. That way, people that want the slim browser they switched to Firefox for in the first place can have it, while the Firefox team can still have a download that will allow them to crow about all of the great features Firefox has.

Opera! (5, Insightful)

Romwell (873455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169073)

I guess it is the time now for people to look into Opera, which seems to be able to keep the balance. I think software should not be discriminated on the basis of not being FOSS.

Re:Opera! (5, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169345)

I think software should not be discriminated on the basis of not being FOSS.

And I think it should. Guess that's why different things matter to different people.

Re:Opera! (5, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169597)

Yes, some of us are prepared to use the best tool for the job rather than blindly follow FOSS.

Re:Opera! (1)

Kesshi (990960) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169399)

I guess it is the time now for people to look into Opera

The last time I seriously used Opera, about 3-4 years ago, it crashed on over two thirds of the flash programs I tried to run. You know the little waste-of-time games people made back then. Now with flash being used for a lot more than just waste-of-time games, I am wary to even think about Opera.

Do you use Opera as your primary browser? And how well does it handle flash applications now?

Re:Opera! (3, Informative)

Racemaniac (1099281) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169543)

i use opera as my primary browser, and haven't had it crash on any flashes ever, although getting shockwave to work appears to be hard (due to a bad installer from adobe... i haven't bothered to get it to work yet, but from what i heard, i'd have to install firefox to get shockwave into opera -_-)
all in all i love it as a primary browser, sometimes i encounter an incompatible site, and then i switch to IE because i know it's a site i can thrust, and otherwise i work with opera, knowing that so few people use it that noone bothers to write exploits for it.

Re:Opera! (1, Offtopic)

Kesshi (990960) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169719)

i use opera as my primary browser, and haven't had it crash on any flashes ever, although getting shockwave to work appears to be hard

I will be the first to admit that I am far less geeky than the average /. user, and I have to ask.... What's the difference between flash and shockwave? I've almost always head the two terms used together a la "Shockwave flash!" Sometimes with "Macromedia" attached at the beginning.

Perhaps my old Opera woes were from macromedia and not flash. Though now I'm assuming and I don't like that.
Also, do you know how well does Opera works on YouTube & Google Videos? Those are two of my favourite places on the internet. Chances are I'd stop using Opera if it doesn't work on as little as 10% of those videos.

Re:Opera! (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169711)

I use Opera on Windows because Firefox has decided to mysteriously crash on me whenever I try to start it. Its flash support is fine but its Javascript support is horrible compared to Firefox.

Re:Opera! (1)

Romwell (873455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169737)

I have been using Opera as my primary browser since v.4, and never had this problem. In particular, I don't have this problem now, and visit newgrounds.com almost daily =)

Re:Opera! (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169419)

I think software should not be discriminated on the basis of not being FOSS.

I think software should be discriminated against on the basis of not being FOSS. If there is a FOSS alternative, I would rather place my energy there, because I want to promote Free Software.

Every time I look into Opera, I am annoyed and wind up back on Firefox. I've done this with every major version released since FF 1.0 so far.

Your mileage may vary! I'm not against choice. But Opera is no choice IMO.

Re:Opera! (2, Insightful)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169481)

I do. Other people can use it - fine - but if I can't see the source, I don't know whats in it and I'm not very trusting. For all I know Opera is grabbing and selling information such as my web history. I know what fx does with the passwords it stores - I can see the code. How do I know Opera doesn't use it to log into my gmail account? I can watch whats going in and out of my ethernet and wireless card, but even so opera could be using some undocumented "feature" of a closed-source operating system to make sure I don't see it. I'm not trying to convert others to F/OSS too actively, but I'm pretty dedicated to the idea. Firefox still has a long way to go before it falls enough for me to seriously consider a closed source browser. Hopefully someone will fork fx and fix these issues - or if not I can. Because, you know, its open source.

Re:Opera! (2, Insightful)

OrangeSpyderMan (589635) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169763)

I do. Other people can use it - fine - but if I can't see the source, I don't know whats /i>[sic] in it and I'm not very trusting.

I call bullsh1t on this. You've reviewed all the source of all the pgms you use? Stop this argument, please, it's not a real reason to choose one over the other unless you're actually willing to go through the source of every one of them, and I doubt you have the time, and if you do - you should do something better with it :) .

Re:Opera! (1)

OrangeSpyderMan (589635) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169797)

OK OK - I fscked up the html in there. I'm whipping myself as we speak, no point in doing it for me ;)

Re:Opera! (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169831)

I call bullsh1t on this. You've reviewed all the source of all the pgms you use? Stop this argument, please, it's not a real reason to choose one over the other unless you're actually willing to go through the source of every one of them

You can save your specious arguments for an audience that will buy them. We don't have to review the source of all the programs we use to gain the "transparency" benefit of Open Source or Free Software. The idea is "many eyes", not "my eyes".

"Less available RAM" (3, Informative)

Jaffa (7714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169077)

Ignoring the poor grammar for a moment: "Less available RAM equals a less-responsive computer" is a bit simplistic. Unused memory is wasted memory, this is similar to the arguments about top(1) on Linux reporting all your memory being used in buffers etc.

Re:"Less available RAM" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169687)

The problem isn't about excess memory being wasted. Rather, it's a problem with Firefox often taking memory that could be better used by other applications.

I tend to leave Firefox running all of the time. It's not unusual for it to be consuming upwards of 800 MB of RAM, even after only a day or so. Keep in mind that I'm talking about its resident consumption, so this is physical RAM being consumed. Now, I'm a poor soul with only 1 GB of RAM. That means that once I start even just OpenOffice alongside Firefox, my system is thrashing quite severely. So switching between the two applications becomes essentially impossible due to all of the swapping that has to take place.

Streamlined Version (5, Insightful)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169087)

Firefox has an awesome ability to add-on things very effectively. I don't understand why they don't keep fx slim with with all the proposed additional features as external (and hence optional) add-ons. Perhaps the not-so-computer-literate can use the bloated-up version of fx so they don't have to figure out how to use add-ons (I'm still amazed at how computer illiterate people can be), but leave a streamlined version for us techies to add-on options as we choose.

Re:Streamlined Version (1)

smiltee (1099075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169265)

There are many levels of computer illiterates. I have to frequently explain to my parents how to attach a file to a e-mail and they don't get the computer concept at all. These kind of people would not see the hell of a difference between IE, Mozilla, Safari, streamlined Firefox, standard Firefox, etc. as long as it works. They don't care about RSS, pop-ups, etc. So the principal interested here is the maintainer of the house PC. And I think only a streamlined versions should be available.

I quit FF a long time ago. (1, Interesting)

ViX44 (893232) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169135)

Did anyone not see this coming? It's clearly a case of needing to become what you are fighting, and the thing about open expansion options, like the toolbars, is that they will expand out of control. Viz, that old screenshot of an IE window with every installable toolbar in the world consuming the entire screen but a sliver of browser space at the bottom.

I hate to shill, but I went Opera a long time ago when FF first started trying to do too much and I never once turned away. The only time I use it is on a fresh Linux install with FF -integrated-; I think it's Ubuntu or SuSE that integrates it so you can't remove it without disurpting the OS...didn't a certain Borg-led OS company do that once to ill-effect?

FF's best route at this point is to integrate into the program in an efficient manner the best features of the most popular toolbars, and add a limit on the plugins... three perhaps. As long as toolbar adding is unlimited, people will bloat their installations and then complain as if it's FF's fault. A limit will inconvenience, but not drive off, much of the user base, and impose a bit of discipline.

Re:I quit FF a long time ago. (0, Troll)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169313)

That's the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard. Unless of course you work for Opera and believe you would somehow benefit from me running it, since extensions are the thing that keeps me using Firefox over Opera even though the gtk dialogs annoy the hell out of me.

Re:I quit FF a long time ago. (2, Informative)

jcgam69 (994690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169321)

I hate to shill, but I went Opera a long time ago when FF first started trying to do too much and I never once turned away. The only time I use it is on a fresh Linux install with FF -integrated-; I think it's Ubuntu or SuSE that integrates it so you can't remove it without disurpting the OS...didn't a certain Borg-led OS company do that once to ill-effect?
I disagree. Firefox can be removed from linux just like any other program.

Re:I quit FF a long time ago. (3, Insightful)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169331)

If people want to bloat up their browser, I don't see how thats your problem. Now, when the browser comes bloated so that you can't slim it down without spending a good bit of time cutting chunks out of the code, it becomes a problem. If they took things like spellcheck out - slimming the base fx - and allow me to chose if I want it in or not, that'd be nice. But what do you care if I want to put a bigjillion plugins on?

Re:I quit FF a long time ago. (1)

Novus (182265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169467)

I hate to shill, but I went Opera a long time ago when FF first started trying to do too much and I never once turned away. The only time I use it is on a fresh Linux install with FF -integrated-; I think it's Ubuntu or SuSE that integrates it so you can't remove it without disurpting the OS...didn't a certain Borg-led OS company do that once to ill-effect?
openSUSE 10.2 works fine without Firefox (I prefer SeaMonkey myself; Firefox just seems like it has bits missing all over the place). However, running KDE without having Konqueror installed is a bit tricky.

From my point of view, Firefox has a lot to gain by adding features, in particular by adding simple things that SeaMonkey has (for example, showing the last visited time in the history view, or having an UI control for turning GIF animation looping off). Extensions help quite a bit, though.

so true (0, Redundant)

smiltee (1099075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169137)

My Firefox uses from 100-150mb of RAM and I am just doing browsing here, not playing a 3D game or doing video editing. When my computer is slow, I always suspect Firefox and it's frequently his fault. It is still a good browser - but I would like a brand new fork, like a Firefox Lite or something.

Re:so true (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169477)

I've been running Firefox for three days now, have had from 1 to 3 windows open with 2 to 8 tabs per, and right now it's using ~123MB. I have 12 or 13 extensions loaded and I'm using a nonstandard theme. When my computer is slow, I always suspect Beryl (and I'm usually right.)

Memory And Performance Rot (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169159)

On OS X Firefox feels sluggish compared to Safari which is all native UI elements. The amount of time is very small but very noticeable where it feels like the non-native GUI is taking more time to refresh the entire app.

But the main problem I have with Firefox right now is after a while it uses up so much VM that just changing tabs starts to chug. And even if it hasn't leaked to the point of swapping when switching tabs, having even a few tabs open seems to degrade performance. It feels like there is extra and unecessary work going on in non-visible tabs.

I find I have to quit the who app and restart it more and more. The tab session reload extension helps but there is definitely some sort of memory/threading performance rot going on.

Re:Memory And Performance Rot (1)

aegisalpha (58712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169811)

At least on OS X we have Camino, though whenever I use it I miss some of my extensions from Firefox.

Re:Memory And Performance Rot (3, Insightful)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169823)

It seems that there is a magical responsiveness threshold which humans tolerate, and as the processing power and memory sizes grow, the applications follow along, staying just below that threshold. Usually the reasons are increasing amounts of shared libraries and scripting languages, which allow us to build more application per unit programmer time. We get more features and modern applications, at the expense of a sluggish environment.

This performance penalty is perhaps hard to notice. The easiest way to experience it is to run some old applications; they absolutely scream on modern hardware, to the point that the instant response becomes almost worth the loss of extra features. This is probably why things like xfce prosper.

Besides the cache (2, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169161)

So other than the memory cache, what features could be stripped from FF to make it leaner and faster? I know nothing of its internals, but without any extensions it doesn't seem to have many wasteful features.

Re:Besides the cache (3, Funny)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169433)

So other than the memory cache, what features could be stripped from FF to make it leaner and faster? I know nothing of its internals, but without any extensions it doesn't seem to have many wasteful features.

A quick glance at the Firefox features page lists these things, which as far as I'm concerned are bloat as they are not fundamental to a web browser:

  • Spell Checking
  • Search Suggestions
  • Session Restore
  • Web Feeds (RSS)
  • Live Titles
  • Integrated Search
  • Live Bookmarks
  • Pop-up Blocker
  • Accessibility
  • Phishing Protection
  • Automated Update

I don't see any reason why all of those things are integrated and not seperate addons. And that list gets bigger with each new version.

They want Camino? (2, Interesting)

wal9001 (1041058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169163)

To me it sounds like requesting that Frefox turn in to Camino for Windows/Linux. As Firefox has become more and more popular, Camino has taken a back role, reserved for use on Macs by people who aren't impressed by massive lists of features that they'll never touch. In all honesty, I think Firefox is a great example of what open source projects should try to avoid as they become more popular. One developer may think that adding the capability to change the text color of individual lines by middle clicking and pressing Left, Left, Right, Up, A, S, Enter, followed by a hex color code would be an excellent idea, but that doesn't mean that it will add anything to the overall capability (or usability) of the software. Addons do have their place, but even they have become overcome by feature bloat these days.

Shared Javascript Namespaces (4, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169165)

Aside from that, the ongoing issue with Web 2.0 apps and javascript with multiple tabs using the same shared namespace and overwriting variable names still hasn't been highlighted by the security community and as AJAX and web based applications become more prominent, the end user will find more and more applications breaking other applications.

Unholy RAM and CPU eating (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169179)

I don't think there's any disagreement that FF eats up unholy amounts of RAM and CPU cycles. But the worst was when trying to use Flash, as it would consume until it crashed the code I was working on. Unfortunately, for a long time that was the first question I would ask people when the software crashed. Somethings wrong if I think (correctly) your browser is the most likely cause of a crash

I love Opera which I see as lean and mean (I use it on a 133 Mhz laptop I keep for sentemental reasons).

Not my experience (3, Informative)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169229)

I spend all day^H^H^H^H^H^H^H a few momentes when I would not otherwise be productive, pimping my music round myspace (surely the biggest resource hog on the net) and firefox holds up fine on my 256MB Thinkpad (running ubuntu).

-1 troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169257)

" Caching pages in memory allows faster back browsing, but it can also leave a lot less memory for other applications to use."

1. That's no feature bloat,
2. if a big page is say 500k, we're talking about a 4MB ram cache which is 0.5% of the ram on this PC in front of me. Or about 1% of what Vista takes.

Phoenix user since day 1 (3, Interesting)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169287)

I used one of the very first phoenix builds. It impressed me because at the time i was using mozilla. Phoenix was literally just gecko + some ui and it was really really light and fast. There was no installer, no control panel (well it was blank), etc.

I'm very happy with firefox so far. I run half a dozen extensions to give me features like "session saving" etc. Ram usage is not too much of a concern with me. I would like it if the default was to not cache 8 pages back. And on disk cache should be fast enough to retrieve and render. 90% of the time i only go back 1 click anyways.

Firefox 3 is implementing major changes. Under the hood they are switching to garbage collection and cairo (vector rendering) just to name a few. Cairo is a great abstraction that hasn't fully realized its performance capability. I don't suppose glitz will be out anytime soon. The sql-lite bookmarking looks neat. Epiphany has something similar. But i must admit that i've fully switched to del.icio.us and the extension v1.5.29. That's quite fully featured and it syncs across computers.

The rss reading capability i do not like at all. That should be implemented as an extension. I prefer to use liferea. There are plenty of firefox features that should be implemented as extensions. That way you can disable them if you wish.

Re:Phoenix user since day 1 (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169497)

Phoenix was literally just gecko + some ui and it was really really light and fast.
That sounds like Epiphany [gnome.org] . I'd switch to Epiphany, but there isn't a rich library of extensions for it as there is for Iceweasel/Firefox. And, of course, there's always Dillo [dillo.org] .

Who cares? Opera's better! (1, Interesting)

Backward Z (52442) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169323)

I still fail to understand why people make such a big deal out of Firefox. Personally, I find Opera to be a much more elegant, usable, and stable browser.

The mouse gestures are so good, I catch myself trying to use them in Windows Explorer/My Computer.

Re:Who cares? Opera's better! (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169801)

Opera is closed source. So long as there is a viable open-source option, I'll use it over anything closed source. Firefox has a number of mouse gesture plug-ins, which I have become sufficiently used to I've tried them in nautilus accidentally. I know a lot of people don't care if a company hides things in the code which could cause them harm - but I'm a bit overly-cautious. Don't underestimate the zealously for open-source a lot of /.'ers have.

Oh! Oh! I know! (5, Funny)

El_Isma (979791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169327)

Let's make a new and smaller browser, based on the same rendering engine! We'll call it Phoenix or something like that. You know, like it's brand new! It comes from the ashes, it must be good! And we won't bloat it, no, no. We'll make it speedy!

Where did I hear that before?

dsfafreavgBBBBBB (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169355)

@choppermad

think ur gud dont u nub

u awp me on dust fukken f4g

FireFox is a huge resource hog (3, Interesting)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169361)

My MacBook Pro had 512 megabytes when I bought it. That ought to be enough memory for anyone. But I found that running Parallels (a virtual machine that can host Windows or Linux) at the same time as FireFox was completely intolerable, even if I set Parallel's memory allocation to a minimum level.

Whenever I clicked from one window to the other, I'd get the Spinning Pizza of Death for a minute or so while the other task's memory was paged in. I had to add another gig of RAM before I could switch windows quickly.

That made this old coder wanna cry. My first Mac had only 512 kilobytes (kilo - not mega) but that was enough for me to write GUI applications with.

Kids these days don't know how to write code.

Re:FireFox is a huge resource hog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169647)

Oh Noes. Running a full OS under the the pig that is OSX is slow!!!1. Get a better host system, n00b.

Re:FireFox is a huge resource hog (1)

Lumbergh (1053438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169665)

I agree with you completely on the "kids these days can't code" notion.

Spinning Pizza of Death, though? Where on earth can I get a pizza that looks like that?

Slightly ot... a nit pick about the file cache (4, Interesting)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169375)

Why is the FF file cache so obscure? (kept in hex named files that appear to be indirectly referenced by other map files...)

One think IE does right is a true file-for-file cache of what you have browsed.

Sometimes I like to troll thru my "Temporary Internet Files" folder and pick out a few bits for posterity. Especially large .swf or .flv files that I might have watched. The worst is when I watch one of those in FF, then want to grab the file... the easiest thing to do is to watch it AGAIN in IE so that I can go cache-picking later...

maybe it's just me.

become? (4, Insightful)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169379)

I don't think Firefox ever was such a lean or efficient browser. It's also buggy and the developers don't seem to care much about Linux or MacOS (bad profile support, inefficient graphics, etc.). Opera and Konqueror both seem better written and better designed.

I still use Firefox. Why? Because Firefox works well enough, it's up-to-date, compatible, and, most importantly, has tons of useful extensions.

I hope the Firefox developers will be able to clean up their act, but unless it gets a lot worse, I'm sticking with Firefox, because, on balance, it's still the best browser there is.

Firefox stopped being lean a long time ago (4, Insightful)

edwdig (47888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169389)

Firefox was only leaner than Mozilla back when it was called Phoenix and had only the bare minimum UI necessary to be a web browser.

Mozilla never was slow (at least not after it reached the point that it was good enough to consider using as your standard browser) and really wasn't a memory hog. That perception came about from the people who really didn't want an integrated email program, but absolutely refused to choose "Browser only" when the installer asked what they wanted.

Around the time of the name changed from Phoenix to Firebird, the two browsers were about on par. By the time the name changed to Firefox, it was already more bloated than Mozilla. The project goals moved more towards grabbing attention than being lean.

If Mozilla had just made a theme that blended in to the OS (Classic doesn't do a good enough job of it) and put a link on the download page to an installer that only had the browser included, there never would have been a need for Firefox.

Re:Firefox stopped being lean a long time ago (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169815)

IIRC, the group that started Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox did so mostly because they were fed up with administrative holdups. Too much management by committee, so to speak. They wanted to remake the UI and couldn't within the Mozilla project, so they forked and made their own browser. The goal was not so much a leaner browser, but a better browser UI. It would be surprising if Firefox were leaner than the suite. They use the same rendering engine, after all, and the UI is not the big memory hog.

Bloated if using M$. (2, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169403)

I'll consider Firefox "bloated" when it requires a 10 GB OS and a supercomputer to run the latest version. They still port Firefox to Win 98, don't they? Sans Adobe Flash and Windoze, it's still slim and responsive on my 233 MHz PII. The community is constantly cleaning the code and it shows.

The free world, comes with choice as well as code sharing. I prefer Konqueror which is also slim and there's always Dillo or Opera to play with. There are also "slimmer" versions of Firefox like Galeon.

But it does require a supercomputer! (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169613)

Back in '96 I discovered that my 150 MHz PowerPC 604 was about half the power of the original Cray 1, which cost millions of dollars.

My current MacBook Pro has a 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo CPU. If that's not a supercomputer, I don't know what is.

I paid good money for these gigahertz dammit (or actually, my Mom did...) and I want them doing useful work for me, and not covering up for sloppy, inefficient coding.

Firefox isn't ported to Win98 anymore (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169785)

They still port Firefox to Win 98, don't they?

Firefox is not being ported to Windows 98 anymore. I don't remember the reason why though but it had nothing to do with it being a memory hog.

Firefox problems (1)

slashthedot (991354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169423)

Firefox has unfortunately become a memory hog. It often becomes unresponsive and almost everyday it's been crashing. Fortunately, it now has that continue from last session option which has saved my sessions many times.
Firefox is still my default browser in all the systems I use. Opera is the 2nd choice.

Firefox, the new EMACS (3, Insightful)

OffTheLip (636691) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169475)

To paraphrase an often heard comments about EMACS way back when, "EMACS isn't an editor, it's a lifestyle". Hopefully Firefox isn't headed down the same path.

IE is bloated? (3, Insightful)

ThinkFr33ly (902481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169505)

There are many, many things you can criticize IE for... but being bloated doesn't really seem like one of them. If you RTFA, they compare the growing bloat not with IE, but with Mozilla.

True, 3rd party add-ons for IE can bring it to a crawl, but that's not IE's fault. The same problem exists in any browser that supports extensibility via a plugin model.

I use Firefox on XP because it's safer than IE, certainly not because it's less bloated. Firefox consistently uses far more ram (I have several screen shots of Firefox using 1.5GB+ of ram with *no* plugins enabled and just one tab open), dies a painful death due to poor integration with things like Flash (100% CPU Flash advertisements, anyone?), or simply just crashes.

On Vista I use IE 7 w/Protected Mode. Why? Well, again, because it's safer. But it also has the benefit of returning me to the days when a browser didn't use 2x the RAM of Photoshop. Imagine that.

Going back 8 pages needs 1 Gig of RAM (1)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169511)

How can it be that storing visited pages takes so much memory that it only makes sense with more than 1GB of RAM? That sounds like the real bloat to me. A transferred page is usually 1MB (much less in most cases). An efficient way of storing the rendered version should not be 3 orders of magnitude bigger, which seems to be the real problem here.

The Wrong Question (4, Insightful)

Jeremy_Bee (1064620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169517)

All over the web today there are stories about FireFox's (supposed) bloat, but no actual facts on whether it is or is not actually "bloated." Since "bloat," to most people, apparently means the state of a program having more features than is necessary, it's hard to see how the average user would ever be able to definitively answer this question. The question is probably better phrased as "Are you having major performance problems with FireFox 2.0?"

I don't know how the file size (the other definition of "bloat"), of a FireFox installation compares with other browsers but it doesn't seem like an overly large file to download. It also seems to me that when I check my FireFox preferences it actually has a very basic, simple feature set similar to what's available in almost every other browser. If the feature set is roughly the same as other browsers, how can it be rightly called "bloated?"

I think the problem with FireFox is one of performance, not "bloat" per se. I run FireFox on a Mac with only a single extension and a single theme. My computer is relatively new, the OS is up to date, it has a Gig and a half of RAM and a fast video card. On this machine FireFox is as slow as molasses. It takes ages to start and ages to load a page. It also crashes (a lot!).

I use FireFox because of AdBlocker and because as bad as it is, it's still the best there is on the Mac right now. This will likely change in October when the new Safari comes out so this summer's FireFox 3.0 release will have to be extremely, extremely good just to keep the same market share IMO.

Firefox is written in Java, IE is written in C++ (-1, Troll)

Jadware (1081293) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169525)

How can we ignore the most simple explanation for why Firefox doesn't scale well? It's written in JAVA. Until they fix this bug, it will only get slower and use more memory. IE could stand to be more modular, yes, but then spyware would be even easier to write. The way things are headed, even the browser will eventually be a remote app... back-ended with an IBM mainframe and competed against by an Apple iCluster of rotten fruit filled with bugs!

Re:Firefox is written in Java, IE is written in C+ (1)

azdruid (893225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169773)

Firefox is not written in Java.

OS Level Control? (3, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169535)

Why can't the OS, when it sees that it is running out of memory, send a signal/message/henchman to applications and tell them that if they have the ability to give up some memory (i.e., caches, etc), then do so, to keep the system happy. There could be several levels of urgency in the request as well, like "yeah, dude, just thinking here, yeah, could you ease up a little on the memory, cheers!" through to "Sieg Heil! Deine Memory, SCHNELL!!".

Stupid, biased and subjective article (0, Troll)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169539)

gobbling up every remaining scrap of a computer's memory

Sure, firefox sometimes uses more RAM than expected... but "gobbling up" all available RAM? FUD

Statistics are hard to come by, but our own experiences with the browser include crashes, memory hogging, molasses-slow page loads and the spinning beach ball of death.

Ok... so they're guessing now. If statistics are hard to come by then what on Earth is the rant about? Unsubstantiated nonsense. Molasses-slow page loads? I'd like to add my own subjective assertion here... The pages load just as quick as in IE. There, I said it... My own assertion sounds hollow, why should I regard Wired's comment with any more authority?

Oh, and the dreaded extensions. Once you install 524 extensions, firefox crawls to a standstill. How insightful. And, as a bonus the 12-million extensions use up heaps of RAM--who coulda guessed.

Bloat is good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169555)

What is good enough for OpenOffice sure is good for FireFox.

add-on's... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19169671)

I would take out a lot of the features and allow for features to be added depending on what you want to do. Just turn it in to something like that and you could easily reduce the size and memory requirements of the browser. Thats just my idea though...

If you really want fast and light... Lynx32 (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169717)

Try Lynx32 [fdisk.com] . Oh, you wanted graphics and sound and flash? Well, I sure do feel like the US Army in Baghad then, between the infidels (IE) and the complacent forces of benevolent dictatorship (FF). Carry on.

But in all seriousness, Lynx rocks, and I've never heard of a single security issue with it. It can even read and post to Slashdot.

Freezing (1)

ozric99 (162412) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169721)

Can anyone recommend a fix for the way Firefox freezes up all tabs and windows on certain occasions. You can see a great example of this here at Slashdot. Scroll down the main page right clicking interesting stories to open in new tabs for later perusal. By the time you get to the 3rd or 4th story the entire browser slows down, adn a few clicks later it'll totally freeze. Sometimes a box will pop up asking if you want to "Continue" or "Stop Script". When this happens not only is the current tab affected, but all tabs in all windows become totally frozen and only become usable once the script in question has finished. Firefox 2.0.0.3 on Windows XP.

Bloated in many ways (1)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169777)

It's not just bloated in ram, there's a lot of feature bloat, but for the most part, I like what bloat there is. My biggest complaint is "leaks", and the worst ones aren't ram but rather x windows. Run "xwininfo -root -children" on a machine after firefox has been running for a while. In addition to all the named firefox entries, there will be many saying "has no name" that are also firefox. Run it long enough (I suspend my laptop and keep it running for months), and you'll eventually get the famous:

Xlib: connection to ":0.0" refused by server
Xlib: Maximum number of clients reached
your_app_here: unable to open display ":0.0"

So basically you can't open another window until you kill firefox. There's no warning, no slow down, no cpu spikes, so you can be in the middle of something important with 10 tabs open and have to close the whole thing down to get any other app up. Despite all this, it remains my favorite browser because it supports standards and lots of developer and user friendly plug-ins.

If firefox becomes bloated (2, Funny)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169809)

If firefox becomes bloated I will eat the internet with a fork.

Get it? 'Fork'? *wink*

I wouldn't worry to much.

Oh and give epiphany a try.

Quick IE7 vs Firefox comparison (1)

anss123 (985305) | more than 7 years ago | (#19169827)

If you count Firefox with extensions IE7 doesn't stand a chance, so I'll keep it to the basics.

IE7 have a nice and clean user interface, but it is not as polished as the UI of Firefox. For casual browsing, such as I'm doing right now, IE7 is IMO ahead.

IE7's favorite menu is neat, Firefox could do worse than copy that, the history function is however a step down from IE6. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

Slashdot do not render correctly in IE7 (comments occasionally render on top of each other). Firefox have a wee bit of trouble with complicated pages on Wikipedia (table borders flicker in and out).

As for bloat, Firefox seem to be the slightly more bloated browser, but the additional functions are useful and I miss them in IE7.
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