back to article Mozilla forces Firefox 7 on memory diet

Firefox 7 has been released with a promise from Mozilla its browser is less of a memory hog. The new version of Mozilla's browser will consume up to 50 per cent less of your system's memory than past editions with most users clawing back 20 and 30 per cent. Firefox 7 apparently achieves this thanks to a project started in June …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

FAIL

The key word of course, is UPTO

as for me Firefox 7 seems just as bloated as previous releases. It seems Mozilla are trying to get themselves out of a pickle with a crap product by applying slick marketing to the problem.

It's otherwise more commonly known as polishing a turd.

3
18
Silver badge

Well my experience of FF7 so far has been pretty good. I generally leave FF open with a zillion tabs in various tab groups on my laptop, and rarely shut the laptop down (takes too long to boot, so it get sleep/hibernate). FF6 would slowly leak and cause me to have to shut down the browser, restart it and then restore tabs, but so far today FF7 is being pretty good. I am seeing a memory footprint approx 40% smaller than before, and during the course of the day it hasn't proceeded to nibble its way through more and more.

So all in all, well done Mozilla guys!

2
0
Headmaster

"Upto" isn't a word.

0
0
Bronze badge

66 tabs open, 23 with pages loaded, and 135 in Too Many Tabs

I see about 345 mb consumed RAM vice 550-640 mb. But, that might be because I restarted the browser in offline mode so the load-up excluded all the graphics. I am sure that if I refresh ALL those 42 named-but-as-yet-emptied tabs, RAM consumption will peg.

If a page goes errant or the disk drive thrashes its ass off, i yank the ethernet to make everything time out so I can kill the errant tab.

0
0
Silver badge
WTF?

Cold day in hell...

A new version of a large program using much less memory than the old??? Hard to believe. I have never seen it happen before. Normally bloat just grows without limits, as versions progress. Gotta test that Firefox version.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

And of course.

Anyone with even an ounce of tech common sense in their head knows that to get the best performance, it's better to USE any unused memory rather than let it sit there in your system going to waste.

The key goal is to make a memory model that can achieve the best use of what memory you have available and be able to hand it back to the host OS at any given time, a scalable rendering engine, like what Opera have, that can be run on a featurephone, a smartphone, a tablet or a desktop, with however much memory is available.

Mozilla are playing marketing tricks on idiots, and those people that love to stuff their PC's with vast amounts of memory have just wasted their cash thanks to Mozilla's new choice to go for a small memory model over an adaptable memory model.

7
15

No idea why you're being downvoted so much, because you're absolutely right. With the amount of memory in current systems, it rarely, if ever, gets used all.

Agressive in-memory caching then seems to be a very logical choice. With this decision, Mozilla is taking a step back.

3
6
Orv
Linux

Re: And of course.

Not sure I entirely agree. I mean, I agree with your general point; but it doesn't do the user any good to have an application hanging on to memory it doesn't need. Ideally the OS should be using that idle memory for things like disk caching, but it can't if applications have it allocated.

1
0
Silver badge

@AC

You are right but also overlooking the obvious. The task to divide memory should be left at the underlying OS, not with a single application. All memory which FF gobbles up cannot be fairly distributed between other parts of the system, and might even cause nasty side effects.

Memory should be used, but the OS should be the ones calling the shots. Applications should only use what they need and leave it at that.

Caching? Can be done in a multiple of ways. And here too goes my statement above; if you manage to leave it up to the OS then maybe even 3rd party programs can have some mutual benefit from it.

2
0
FAIL

Reading...

You did read that the memory reclaimed was due to a framework or methodology of detecting and squashing memleaks, right? It's not that they unload pages that are in the background or the like, simply fixing buggy code that leaves allocated mem floating unreferenced.

3
0
Stop

It's not a bug, it's a feature!

Firefox hasn't had a memory model that makes best use of memory by using as much as is available - it's just had a problem with memory leaks, among other things. That's only 'adaptable' in the sense that it will eventually waste all your memory, no matter how much you have.

0
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Some more tech common sense

"it's better to USE any unused memory rather than let it sit there in your system going to waste."

Thats OK thinking in a simple single-tasking OS. Or maybe in a phone OS with one dominant foreground task.

But in a modern multitasking desktop OS, applications cannot really know what memory is truly unused. These OS'es also do not have any protocol for telling applications "could you please give me a bit of memory back, if you dont' mind?". Applications that presume to own all memory make for a horrible user experience: Try to go to another application, or even open the desktop "start" menu or equivalent, and it's swapety swap for a while.

Also, like the Mozilla guys note, lessening the memory footprint can improve performance even without swap problems: more of the data stays hot in the processor cache. There is nowadays a very large speed difference between accessing data already in the cache, and going all the way to main memory.

Yes, applications should allocate more memory when they can put it to good use, and no, they may not waste it as if it were a free resource. Most of what the Mozilla developers did was hunting memory leaks and other cases where memory stays allocated for no good reason, and that is what all good software engineers should occasionally do.

2
0
Bronze badge
Trollface

Never seen a new version shrink?

Well, I have. But then what would an old RISC OS user know?

0
0
Flame

@ "tech common sense"

More common sense: Applications written by pigs will run like pigs.

I am dealing with an application written by a software design pig such as yourself, which floods my server with unreclaimed zombies as if they were the only person on the server, and not even init ought to be able to fork a process. It just wouldn't *do* to know what you need and hold your crapware to that, would it?

If I ever find out where you live, in very short order, your doorbell will be ringing and there will be a flaming sack of dog crap on your doorstep for you to stomp out. Schmuck.

0
0
Bronze badge
Meh

never mind that

Will it bugger up any important addons, like FF5&6 did??

3
2
Silver badge
Thumb Up

I don't have many add-ons: PageSpeed and Screengrab are incompatible; Firebug, NoScript, Web Developer and YSlow all are. The newer release cycle generally breaks less than the old one.

One area I'd really like to see Mozilla work on is support for web forms. FF is as bad as IE in this respect and actually worse than IE 10 with only required and a couple of types (URL, e-mail) supported. C'mon guys, it can't be that difficult.

Memory use in something like a browser that is supposed to use a memory cache to speed up operations is difficult to get right - the in memory cache should be as big as possible without needing virtual memory but difficult to know for an app when the OS is going to want to park it to disk - but Firefox has always had a bigger memory footprint than Opera or Chrome at start up.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Add-On Compatibility

It's 99% compatible:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/compatibility

0
0

Seems ScreenGrab should work.

It works in 10.0a1, but it's reporting incompatible so you may need Add-on Compatibility Reporter installed to use it.

0
0
Bronze badge
Terminator

That may be the case, but then this whole version numbering thing that FF has going on now since the demise of FF3.x or thereabouts is a little misleading IMHO. The move from 5 to 6 was not a major move as such, and I doubt that the move from 6 to 7 will be either. Less breakage happens as a result.

0
0

About time too.

It popped up last night at home on one machine telling me that 7 was here so I thought I'd give it a look. It did seem slimmer so I used Help->About to update the other.

All of my machines in the office are still telling me it's up to date at 6.0.2 though. Ho hum. I'll just keep closing it each night (and occasionally randomly thoughout the day on the Win7 x64 machine) for now then.

0
0
WTF?

Really?

Just checked on mine, old firefox with three browser windows totalling 11 open pages used 170 ish mb, new uses 777.5mb mind you that is still a lot less than chrome with 2 tabs open is currently consuming 1.1Gb

1
1
Bronze badge

I'm a big fan of Firefox but I've given up believing their claims of better performance or less memory. I like the feature set and I'm used to it so I keep it.

Firefox 7, 1 tab open (this one) firefox is using 120MB of RAM.

IE9, 1 tab open same page 62MB

Chrome 80MB

Opera 62MB

So looks like still a way to go.

2
3
Anonymous Coward

RAM usage

The change is NOT visible when looking at ONE tab.

Do the following:

(1) Open say 30 tabs in Firefox and then open the exact same ones in IE, Opera and Chrome.

(2) Leave those open for say 5 mins

(3) Check RAM usage for all

(4) Close them and leave only one tab

(4) Check RAM again.

The point of the MemShrink project is that Firefox will release unused RAM much more quickly than the earlier version.

Have a look at this:

http://lifehacker.com/5844150/browser-speed-tests-firefox-7-chrome-14-internet-explorer-9-and-more

2
0
Silver badge

So really, the improvement are only of use to madmen who have 30 tabs open? What about improvements for the 99% people of people who just have 5-10 open at any one time? A sane number...

2
5
Anonymous Coward

Number of tabs

Firstly, I would argue that having 30 tabs open does not qualify one as a madman...

In any event, I take your point, the above was just an example, it works just as well with the 10 tabs that (sane) people use.

2
0
Bronze badge

I'm a MADman, man... Haven't you heard this one:

"A clean desk is the sight of a sick mind"? I cannot limit myself to just 10 or 20 tabs. Bookmarks are not always enough, hehehhe....

0
0
Silver badge

Seems OK

All the add-ons worked (but then I had frigged a bunch of definitions for the move to 6).

ACID3 is no worse that it was on FF6 (100/00, but there are notices when you click on the "A").

Memory...on tab open "El Reg" (but I have had quite a few open) and it is sucking down 353mb (and I have a lot of add-ons).

0
0
Bronze badge

needs a custom temp file path, so you can store images on a temp drive and not have to wipe you main drive OS freespace every week

0
2
Bronze badge

who thumbs down.. you only need 200mb partition to act as a temp drive on your home desktop PC and store all internet junk on, when loading FF it can easily create new folder that inherit user profile security settings

you main OS drive has 90% less usage, and you only have to defrag once every 6 months.

FF sucks not letting users set a custom path for internet junk files

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

You sir, fail at Google. This setting has been available from the beginning!

Type "about:config" into the address bar.

In the filter, type "cache" to see the settings related to caching.

There's a setting there to completely turn off the cache if you like: "browser.cache.disk.enable"

To choose the folder, create a setting "browser.cache.disk.parent_directory" and set it to whatever you want.

0
1

...

I can only imagine you were thumbs-downed because your idea isn't really useful. First, if you were worried about security, you shouldn't be using an OS that offers a defragable filesystem. And if you were using a decent OS, it would be trivial to store your Firefox temp files wherever you want, through mount points or symlinks.

But mostly, thumb drives are crap. You're usually lucky to get 2MB/s sequential write on most of them, and that will add significant latency to your browsing, even on relatively slow connections. And a thumbdrive is about the last thing you should be using if you're worried about security.

Also, though I can't be bothered to figure out, I would be willing to bet that you /can/ change the profile path in Firefox, with a bit of work, but probably without recompiling.

0
3
Bronze badge

google sucks like the internet, and having todo all that to set a custom cache folder path is some nerdy linux rubbish

and it wont automake needed folders on a office network, if the network has a temp file drive, to bin every month when it dies

0
0
Bronze badge

most offices use windows as the non IT work OS, most domains on a network will not have more then a 100 pc`s on, then a 1tb £45 SATA drive can be used and everyones cache folder with constant use all day and have its short life span and be chucked in the bin without no actual downtime or whatever, people just wont be able to browse all day long for a change

0
0

The main problem I have with Firefox is when you close it, then decide maybe 30 seconds later you need it open again (or click a link, or whatever) and it pops up a stupid 'Firefox is already running but not responding' box. Why does it take such an insane amount of time to cleanly exit? If it's compressing databases or defragging its history or reticulating splines then why on earth not do that during the hours of idle time I typically have the browser open during the day, rather than upon shutdown? And why do it every single time it closes? Modern apps shouldn't take 30+ seconds to close and go away... especially something as frequently spawned as a web browser...

3
0
Anonymous Coward

simple

It takes a long time to delete the 2GB worth of pr0n in your cache!

6
0
WTF?

Seh-ven?

Wasn't it not that long ago people were preparing to roll out FF6?

We love these companies that keep rolling out new versions this quick.

0
1
Silver badge

A thing to remember

Most browsers will adjust their footprint to take more memory if a PC has more memory. Open a bunch of tabs and the browser will hold the parsed DOMs of each tab plus the session history, plus compiled JS, plus parsed CSS, plus any raw files in memory if it has the space. Basically it caches stuff and will flush the cache or prune expired items when memory "pressure" gets too tight.

Obviously that's not the same as memory leak bugs or inefficient structures which should be fixed. but personally I'd prefer my browser to utilise the space on the PC to enhance performance rather than let it stand idle when it's doing very little good.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

as long as it does improve

Firefox memory diagnostics keep getting better and better, with for example js compartments shown at least to some extent, and apparently less and less dark matter (unknown) memory allocation with each release. No reason anymore to just blindly complain about 1 GB+ memory use without at least glancing at about:memory.

Starting out with a clean profile and seeing what happens when adding the add-ons might also help pinpointing the problem (it might even be the profile is corrupted, which is why memory use is huge - it's happened to me).

0
0
Silver badge
Holmes

Odd..

I had a look at my memory, and it has containers that relate to pages I am no longer on?

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Firefox?

Are they still making that?

1
10

I've been using Firefox for years

But the screen freezes and crashes when I download even the smallest of files are starting to annoy me. Time will tell. I'll give it another couple of versions. If it stays the same, I'll have to consider shifting.

Suggestions?

0
1
Boffin

Suggestions?

I have all the major browsers installed, because I build my own website and want to check that it looks OK for everyone*.

I used Google Chrome as my default browser for about a year, because it was so fast, but I finally got fed up with the number of websites that wouldn't render properly, and switched to Firefox. I used Firefox for about another year, but the horribly slow startup and shutdown times (I have a laptop, and I'm often changing locations) finally pissed me off enough that I decided to switch to Opera. I used Opera for only about 2 months, because the bugs and non-standard behaviour were so annoying. I've been using Safari for about a month now, and find it reasonable - it's a bit limited (especially compared to Firefox) but seems to be stable, and to work with every website I've visited so far. Of course, if your system is different from my Vista installation with 2G RAM, your mileage may vary.

I think I may have forgotten to mention IE, but I'm fairly confident that you're not considering that as an option. If you are, you're on your own.

I hope this helps.

*Yes, I realise that pro web designers don't do this. I'm such an amateur that I even bother making sure that my HTML and CSS validate.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Strange

I've just moved from Chrome back to FF for the same reason.

0
0
FAIL

It deleted No Script

Firefox v7 removed No Script when it installed. There are no compatibility issues, it decided to removed this important Add On and keep bloody quiet about it.

I contacted the developer of No Script, Giorgio Maone, and discovered I'm not the only user to have the same problem.

Obviously, No Script is doing too good a job.

1
0

Did the same to me.

Also deleted another addon I used to block stuff. Wish I could remember its name so I could re-install it

0
0
Silver badge

Me Too!

Yes, I fired up FF7 and noticed that a page that should have failed didn't, and discovered the lack of NoScript. Immediate re-install at that point.

0
0
Silver badge

Not here

Seeing this article prompted me to upgrade - Noscript and Adblock both survived the upgrade.

Odd.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

this is odd

As it also deleted my buddies no script but not mine. Odd

0
0
Silver badge

But not always...

I upgraded the laptop and it didn't lose NoScript. However, I'm not sure whether that's because it already had the latest version of NoScript installed (FF rarely gets restarted on my desktop machine so updates are relatively slow) or some other mysterious cause.

0
0
E 2

It *should* use less RAM

Having removed the status bar, the menus and almost all the other user feedback widgets, Firefox should use less RAM... there is less browser there.

1
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums