Linked by David Adams on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 16:50 UTC, submitted by _xmv
Mozilla & Gecko clones Mozilla Firefox has been listening to recent memory complains, and as a side effect tested the browser's scalability to the extreme with memshrink's improvements. The results are shocking: For 150 tabs open using the test script, Firefox nightly takes 6 min 14 on the test system, uses 2GB and stays responsive. For the same test, Chrome takes 28 min 55 and is unusable during loading. An optimized version of the script has been made for Chrome as an attempt to work-around Chrome's limitations and got an improved loading time of 27 min 58, while using 5GB of memory.
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RE[4]: Comment by Praxis
by Erunno on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 19:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Praxis"
Erunno
Member since:
2007-06-22

I'm the last person to claim that Firefox never had problems with its memory usage having been afflicted by them for years myself (on OS X at least). I'm not blaming Firefox alone for that since various tests showed that at least a vanilla 3.6 has superior memory usage characteristics so Mozilla's claim that its partly caused by extensions is certainly not completely unfounded. But I do blame Mozilla that they've been pimping their extensions ecosystem as one of Firefox' major selling point for years without sufficiently educating the user about their potential hazards (just check the in-browser extension manager. Warnings: none). At the same time they offered no easy to use tools for debugging and also didn't want to take responsibility for extensions wrecking havoc. That's a classic case of trying to eat the cake and keep it.

But I'm also having trouble with blanket statements such as that Firefox has been using too much memory for years. "For years" encompasses vastly different versions of Firefox with completely new or rewritten subsystems and features. Each of these can be a source of regressions and improvements. Mozilla has also been never in denial that Firefox 4 regressed in memory usage (partly because of the new but not fully optimized JIT compiler) but decided to release it nonetheless due already having amassed a delay of several months.

I'm glad that they are making such a public push to improve their reputation here. They still have a sizable market share despite having come under heavy pressure from Chrome and they still employ talented developers and they are the only organization fighting for an accessible Internet. I hope that the latest efforts are not a case of too litte, too late. I'd certainly miss the old fox. :-P

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by Praxis
by _xmv on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 20:12 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Praxis"
_xmv Member since:
2008-12-09

Firefox 4 and beyond has changed their memory management from 3.5/3.6 and it started to use a lot of memory again, hence the big push they're doing now.

This push is also more important than when they analyzed memory issues and fixed them in FF 3.5/3.6 so they're going as deep as they can with it.

It seems it does pay off with more than just "memory savings" and I'm glad.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by Praxis
by Lennie on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 23:21 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Praxis"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I'm kind of sad that Firefox 4 got released like that, but they just had to release it. The FF4 release was just taking to much time.

I don't think there were that many user-visible changes in FF5. Which made people question the reason for the release. I think they maybe could have waited, maybe called it 4.1 release or something.

Also they want Firefox Mobile to work, obviously those devices have a lot less memory to work with. That could really help on the desktop too.

I do think it is the wrong test though.

Having a test where he would open 150 tabs, wait 10 minutes, close many, open some more wait 10 minutes and so on would be much better.

I'm on the daily builds (thus FF8) and I think having FF open all day long works better now. Also the about:memory page now shows a lot more detail.

Anyway I'm glad they are working on it now. I think the problem was, they couldn't reproduce the problems very well.

They also have a reduce-UI-latency project, can't remember the name, which I think is maybe even more important.

Atleast they are now gathering realworld numbers from real users:

http://blog.mozilla.com/tglek/2011/05/13/firefox-telemetry/

Hopefully that gets them the information they need.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by Praxis
by Delgarde on Wed 3rd Aug 2011 23:22 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Praxis"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

what I'm hearing is that FF4/5 don't *leak* memory as much as their predecessors - if you open and close tabs, memory use goes up and down as you'd expect. But they do seem to be using a lot more of it than FF3 - it might not be leaking but it's still a problem on machines that don't have much to spare (like my little netbook). Sounds like that's what they're addressing at the moment...

Reply Parent Score: 2