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Mozilla MemShrink Set To Fix Firefox Memory 375

Posted by Soulskill
from the old-processes-never-die,-they-need-to-be-killed dept.
darthcamaro writes "If you're like a lot of Firefox 4 users out there, you've probably noticed that Firefox has a serious memory problem — it uses more than it really should. At long last, Mozilla developers are finally set to take this issue seriously with a dedicated team called MemShrink that are focused on the problem. 'It's pretty clear by now that this is a much bigger problem than any one person can likely tackle,' Mozilla Developer Johnny Stenback said."
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Mozilla MemShrink Set To Fix Firefox Memory

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  • by demonbug (309515) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:12PM (#36407006) Journal

    Any gains they make will be eaten up by the rapidly increasing version number.

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:16PM (#36407044) Homepage

      64 bits is only 8 bytes. An unsigned 64-bit number can take Firefox all the way up to version 18,446,744,073,709,551,615.

      So that should take them at least until through next Thursday.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      void *myHeap = malloc( get_version() * 100 * MEG ).

      Three opportunities to reduce total memory usage, there.

    • I think at least part of the problem is perception. Most people seem to have this mindset that using RAM is bad, and the more memory you have free and unused the faster your computer will be. These are the same people who think they're increasing their computer's performance by turning off superfetch, etc.The problem with this perception is that it's completely stupid.

      Programs load data into memory because memory is fast and your disk and the network are significantly slower; hundreds or thousands of times

      • Naw, efficient programming is the hallmark of good code.

        Here, my machine seems to take a long time to recover "Firefox is in use" after you close an instance. That's annoying.

      • by mrnobo1024 (464702) on Friday June 10, 2011 @08:20PM (#36407532)

        Most people seem to have this mindset that using RAM is bad, and the more memory you have free and unused the faster your computer will be. These are the same people who think they're increasing their computer's performance by turning off superfetch, etc.The problem with this perception is that it's completely stupid.

        Programs load data into memory because memory is fast and your disk and the network are significantly slower; hundreds or thousands of times slower, and pointlessly unloading the data from memory increases the risk of having to go back to the slower disk or network to retrieve it later. If you still have RAM available, it is actually detrimental to your system performance to free this data.

        If it were possible for programs to allocate caches that work like the filesystem cache, where old items get discarded automatically to make room for anything more important, then this would make sense. But in real life, when a program written with that "unused memory is wasted memory" philosophy has filled up RAM and you start another program, the first program will have to go to the swapfile. Return to it later and it'll take forever to become usable again, while it gets re-loaded 4kB at a time. (I'll usually just kill the firefox.exe process and restart it when this happens, because that's actually faster)

        • Yes, that's basically what I said. The problem isn't that Firefox can use a lot of RAM, but rather it isn't paying attention to the amount of RAM available to the system and acting accordingly. On all platforms you're going to have the ability to check the amount of memory actually available to the entire system, as this amount decreases Firefox can begin to proactively free memory used for the oldest cached data.
          • by mysidia (191772) * on Friday June 10, 2011 @08:48PM (#36407692)

            as this amount decreases Firefox can begin to proactively free memory used for the oldest cached data.

            So your suggestion is that each application running should be fine allocating a huge cache and changing its memory footprint according to how much memory it sees available on the entire system, instead of the OS making a decision?

            I am not sure I am convinced that the outcome of that methodology is optimal. If it were; I think i'd favor "number of pages swapped in/out per second" over amount of memory free, though.

            I am trying to imagine the interactions of 4 or 5 different applications all running with a huge cache, and the same behavior.... when memory usage is low, all 5 applications prepare a huge cache -- their huge cache causes the total memory free to drop, eventually to 1MB... now, suddenly, all 5 applications will use a bit of CPU time proactively freeing up large swaths of cache -- CPU will be 100% running for a couple seconds, as processes adjust their memory.

            After all 5 apps reduce their huge caches, suddenly there will now be a lot of memory free --- so much memory free, that one or more of the applications might immediately see an opportunity for increased caching.

            So what mechanism will protect fairness? Each application will believe its cache is important, but who's to say one of the applications isn't more important to the user, or having more requests more frequently made of it (so that the user's performance will best if application X's cache is bigger versus application Y).

            There seems a fundamental weakness here, involving each application trying to make their own memory management decisions about cache --- the application making the decision to expand its cache may be the one the user cares about the least, and the one whose cache is the least useful.

            The OS is in a position to make decisions and mediate in regards to the working set needs of processes, and the user's actual usage patterns. The OS knows which running process makes the most demand of its cache -- the other processes don't know much about each other.

            • First off, for better or for worse there's no way for an OS to actually free an allocation used by an application in either Linux or Windows. There is no mechanism in either the page or heap allocation APIs in either operating system to declare an allocation in such a way as to let the OS know that instead of paging this memory to disk when low on memory, it should instead just free it and let the application know it has done so. It's a good idea, but it doesn't exist. Secondly, the OS really doesn't have a

        • by QuoteMstr (55051) <> on Friday June 10, 2011 @10:37PM (#36408290)

          If it were possible for programs to allocate caches that work like the filesystem cache, where old items get discarded automatically to make room for anything more important, then this would make sense

          The system you describe is called malloc()!

          In a system with a unified buffer cache (essentially, every OS in wide use except OpenBSD), it makes little difference whether a page of memory comes from a private memory allocation (e.g., a heap allocation), a memory-mapped file, or the OS's disk cache. When a process needs a page not already present in memory, the kernel's memory manager tries to find an unused page. If one is available, it hands it to the program that requested memory.

          Otherwise, it looks for an in-use page, saves its contents, and hands the just-freed page to the program requesting memory. If that page is "dirty" --- i.e., it's backed by a file and somebody's written to that part of the file, or it's a private allocation backed by the page file --- the memory manager writes the page out to disk first. If the page isn't dirty, the memory manager can just discard its contents because it knows it can reconstruct it by reading back the original file.

          When the memory manager has to go to disk to satisfy a request for a new page, it's called a hard fault. The mission of the memory manager is to reduce the number of hard faults, because hard faults are slow. The fewer hard faults you have, the less time will be spent waiting for the disk, and the faster your system will run.

          The most important part of the memory manager is page replacement: i.e., how the memory chooses what page to evict in order to satisfy a memory allocation request. Most systems use an approximation of LRU (i.e., least recently used), throwing out pages that haven't been accessed in a while. It doesn't usually matter where a page came from. The only important factor is how recently it was accessed.

          So, you can see that there's no difference between a program mapping a file into memory and modifying it, reading and writing it using file APIs, and just manipulating an equal amount of information in buffers created with malloc. To the kernel, all memory is made up of pages.

          The "go away for a while" problem isn't caused by any particular memory strategy. It's an artifact of the memory manager's LRU approach. How does it know that the pages corresponding to Firefox are going to be used again? If some other program needs those pages, the older ones will be discarded. There is nothing applications can do.

          Instead, the OS itself has to be tweaked to preserve interactivity. Sometimes the memory manager will prefer disk cache pages to malloc-backed ones. Sometimes (e.g., for Windows SuperFetch) the OS will try to identify pages belonging to activate applications and try harder to keep those in memory. Some systems favor keeping executable pages over private allocations. You can tweak the page replacement algorithm, but the basic idea, that all memory is made up of pages subject to the same management scheme, applies.

          Ultimately, it's ridiculous to hear people talk about programs "keeping things in memory" like we were still dealing with DOS 6 and OS 9. The actual situation is a lot more subtle, and silly memory counters don't even come close to giving you a good picture of what's actually going on.

          In short, don't worry about fine-tuning what's "in memory". Don't change behavior based on total amount of memory in the system. Operating systems (OpenBSD aside) ALREADY DO THAT. Just let the memory manager do its job, and give it enough information (via interactivity information, memory priority, etc.) to do its job properly. Don't try to hack around problems at the wrong layers.

          • by adri (173121) on Friday June 10, 2011 @11:15PM (#36408502) Homepage Journal

            Ah, the sounds of someone spewing the 80's virtual memory rhetoric.

            There's more to it then that. I could go into it, but I'm supposed to be studying for a psychology exam, so I'll be brief.

            You assume that the OS will make sensible paging decisions. You assume you can hint to the OS that you're going to make sensible paging decisions. You hope the application, which is likely big, multithreaded and such, is doing the sensible thing of not wrapping large accesses to "memory things" (eg big trees of data, as an example, or image caches, or whatever takes up more than a small bit of RAM) in mutexes. You assume that your application is using memory in a sensible fashion, and not simply using a few bytes here and there in each allocated chunk.

            The trouble is, application writers have been taught from an "early" age that hey, memory is cheap, the OS will handle paging out unused bits, so please go right ahead and use it without caring about how it's used. This is how you end up with application behaviours which include, but aren't limited to:

            * walking a tree requires a page in (ie, a random disk read) for each tree node touched. Because each node is malloc()'ed, and although on modern implementations small objects are packed into pages, your 10,000 tree node is going to likely be spread across multiple pages based on when and how often you allocated them ('temporal location');
            * this also means your memory use versus memory allocation isn't terribly efficient ('fragmentation');
            * your mutex protected data structures are suddenly now mutex'ing _page disk access_, so whilst the OS is busy paging in your data, all other threads currently trying to do stuff that requires that mutex (which may even not require paging in) suddenly has to stop and wait for your page-in to complete.

            It's a real shame that memory management has really stopped progressing since virtual memory systems were made. They're convenient, but they hide the worst case behaviours from unknowing coders. Then those worse case behaviours become _very_ worse case behaviours which can't be changed without a fundamental rearchitecture of your software. Likely what people are realising here.


      • And of course both IE8/9 and Chrome take rather more RAM than FF...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10, 2011 @09:25PM (#36407908)

        Using ram is 'good' and 'superfetch' are good too huh?

        How did that info get into memory. Oh thats right by me waiting for it to load from either the internet or from disk.

        Back when I used vista turning superfetch off was the #1 way to make the computer usable. Superfetch was too aggressive in loading things. Turn computer on wait 15 mins (no kidding) before I could use the start button. It was even so aggressive it would keep memory full at all times. Meaning as programs freed and used memory the disk was thrashing ALL the time. It was noticeably faster and measurable too (I measured it many times thinking guys like you must be right). Win 7 is a whole different story (it actually works).

        As for using too much memory. Using less does mean better performance. *IF* done right. But how much of that information in this case is just 'leaks'? A leak is never going to be used. Meaning windows needs to keep track of it and page it out a some point (meaning less performance at some point).

        To bury your head in the sand and say using memory is bad is stupid. But so is using it all up is good. But think about this I have open 1 tab right now to type this in. It is using 250 meg (and that is just what is paged in meaning something in the program touched it). WTF is it doing... That is a seriously crazy amount of memory to be using to have this page open which about 30k. That is some serious overhead there. From this old 80s/90s programmer I look at that and think wtf dudes. You KNOW you can do better than that.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Uhhh...noooo...if you are using a percentage of unused RAM that is ONE thing, having your program suck up RAM like a Bangkok whore and then mercilessly beat the page file like a pimp that hasn't gotten his money is quite another, thanks ever so.

        I'm typing this on a 1.8GHz Sempron with 1.5Gb of RAM that I use as a nettop. This is roughly equal to what the average netbook is, actually it has 500Mb more RAM that most current netbooks, and what I have found is that while Chromium based like Comodo Dragon make

      • i don't have a problem with firefox eating up all my memory. but what i do have a problem with is that after 2-3 days, firefox starts eating up 20-30% cpu! even if i close all of my tabs and look at a blank tab, the cpu usage is continuous. then i have no option but to restart firefox. battery life is affected, the computer runs hotter, etc. and the best thing? this was not a problem in any of the previous versions.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        That would be completely true if machines don't have any swap. Most people have a fairly large swap however--larger than their amount of actual physical memory--and on the same disk as their data.

        What this means is that the larger your footprint, the higher the chance of part of your program loading from the hard disk when you're context switching. Sure, a program with a smaller memory footprint has the same issues, but when there's less of it on disk (even if the percentage is the same), the perceived cont

    • by couchslug (175151)

      I run Ubuntu 32-bit PAE, and the 4GB/process memory limit leaves me another 4GB after Firefox uses it up. :)

  • ...for one post-hoc team to fix after the rest have gone on a rampage. Still, I suppose it's better than not having such a group.

    • by maxume (22995) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:26PM (#36407114)

      My experience has been that both leaks and overall memory use have gone down between 3.0 and 4.0.

      At the moment, Firefox is at about 375 megabytes, with 16 tabs open. It has been open for 3 weeks. I do have browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers set to 3 and the anti-malware databases disabled though.

      • by mooingyak (720677)

        Same experience here, and without using either of those settings. FF4 is still a hog, but not nearly as bad as FF3 was. I would restart FF3 after I'd left it running for more than 2 days. FF4 seems to get me closer to 5 or 6 days before I notice a problem.

  • I do not mean to sound like a troll, but it seems all browsers are consuming more and more memory. Chrome being the worst (due to every tab being sandboxed?), Safari is equal to Firefox.

    Why is memory usage increasing so much in recent years? Firefox is currently consuming 450MB on my machine with only a few tabs open.

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:21PM (#36407080) Homepage

      A lot of it's got to be the increasing size of web pages in general. Now that most folks have higher bandwidth connections, web designers don't focus on keeping the download size small.

      Multiply that increase by the size of your cache (how many times can you click "back" without hitting the disk?) and you can see the full scope of the problem.

      • by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:29PM (#36407136) Homepage

        A useful new feature in latest Nightly versions from Mozilla is about:memory. It gives you a full tree view of where the memory is being used. Of my 360MB which the browser is currently using, 101MB is JS, 46MB is storage (you back button and memory cache), 70MB on "heap-unclassified" whatever that is. JS seems to be the biggest consumer of memory.

        • by MrEricSir (398214)

          That's odd that they're making a distinction between Javascript and "storage." After all, isn't (most) Javascript associated with a specific page?

          • by billcopc (196330)

            It probably means memory allocated by the JS interpreter itself, whereas "storage" is more of a file and bitmap cache. Just guessing here (though I have hacked on Firefox code in the past).

          • Storage refers to cookies, local/sessionstorage JS APIs, and the WebDB APIs.
            • Whoops, that's actually Chrome's definition. It seems like Firefox is looking at its SQLite databases which it uses to store profile data.
              • >SQLite databases which it uses to store profile data.

                Which would include, among other things, "cookies, local/sessionstorage JS APIs, and the WebDB"

        • 70MB on "heap-unclassified" whatever that is

          It probably means exactly what it says, heap* allocations that haven't been marked as anything in particular.

          * The heap is where allocations made with the likes of malloc and similar constructs are allocated from (contrast with the global variables which have fixed locations and the local variables which are located on the stack).

        • by Raenex (947668)

          JS seems to be the biggest consumer of memory.

          Good to know. Less memory usage, yet another benefit of running NoScript.

        • A useful new feature in latest Nightly versions from Mozilla is about:memory. It gives you a full tree view of where the memory is being used.

          Is this per-tab or global?

          I need a 'top' like function for Mozilla that will tell me which tabs are using resources (usually a flash object that snuck by me).

          Does FF5 let me use 'top' proper with per-page processes?

    • by Seumas (6865)

      That's all? 450mb? I just checked and the latest version of FF4x is currently using 2.1gb on my system.

      Anyway, I thought Firefox didn't have a memory leak? It's just how firefox is *supposed* to behave. That's what they've been saying since 3.0. You can go back to countless threads on Slashdot rehashing the same thing. "Firefox is using insane amounts of memory"... "Shut up, dumb ass, you don't know anything! It's SUPPOSED to use a gig or two!"

      • by MrNemesis (587188)

        Wish I had mod points for you. But you also forgot to mention the people who say "Shut up dumb ass, you've clearly got a shitty system and/or are incompetent!" or the "Shut up dumb ass, you're obviously using the wrong/too many extensions!" as well as the "Shut up dumb ass, you've got too many tabs open" and the "Shut up dumb ass, you're not meant to keep it running for days!" crowd.

        To those of you who can manage to open a hojillion tabs and keep them open for months at a time, congratulations, we're happy

      • My SeaMonkey nightly (probably similar to FF5, or did they branch with 4?) is 1.8 GB Res and 2.8 GB Virt on Linux, but I am well north of 100 tabs right now...
        Still not hitting swap 90% of the time with 4GB RAM and Awesome WM

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Firefox doesn't have a memory leak. Or at least none of any note. I'm curious how you're managing to use 2.1gb of RAM, I have yet to see my copy on Windows, Linux or FreeBSD manage that. I rarely if ever see the browser use more than 300MB.

        It definitely could happen, but I'd want some indication that it's the browser itself and not the typical assortment of plug ins.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Why is memory usage increasing so much in recent years? Firefox is currently consuming 450MB on my machine with only a few tabs open.

      I just checked and ... you're right. Same here (Windows 7 x64). I have eight tabs open, memory usage is 450MB and counting. And I can just sit here and watch Firefox's memory usage slowly go up... and up... and up... while I do nothing. What's more, some people I know have a habit of leaving the browser running for days with hundreds of tabs. Not me. I'm so old fashioned that not only do I put my computer to sleep when I walk away from it, but I actually close all my running apps before I do so. So Firefox

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Yeah that is the other thing that gets to me, what EXACTLY is FF doing that the memory keeps going up even when I'm not touching the thing? What finally got me to switch to Comodo Dragon (Chromium based) over FF 4 was I had just opened my usual tabs on the little nettop I use as a low heat/low power browser at the shop (a little Athlon XP with 2Gb I got off a customer) when I got called away to the phone. One thing led to another and I ended up busy for the better part of the day, and when I finally get bac

    • To be honest, Firefox could be using double the amount of memory it currently does, and I wouldn't care. Firefox's biggest problem is that its performance isn't consistent. Use it for any amount of time and you'll notice that quite frequently the entire UI will freeze for long periods of time (0.5s-1s) for unknown reasons, which is extremely annoying. I don't care what it's doing, it shouldn't be freezing the UI. No, I don't have any extensions (except Firebug, which is Firefox's only compelling feature). A

    • by blair1q (305137)

      "Why is memory usage increasing so much in recent years?"

      It's always been increasing. There's nobody tracking it (maybe; I'm sure the interwebs can find someone going all OCD over it) as there's no Moore's Law for Memory Usage to be kowtowed to every time it increases, but the design of OO code libraries means that enormous things can be hidden behind a simple instantiation.

      The solution is more orthogonality, but software is fairly fractal, so if your program has a very rich feature set (and browsers are t

    • by Huntr (951770)

      I think that's about right and if I had mod points I'd give you some. I've been an Opera devotee for 12-13 years. Opera has always been pretty good at memory management, IMO, but nowadays, it uses as much as the next browser. Right now, 6 tabs open for the last 2 hrs and I'm sitting at about 512 megs used. Of course, it doesn't seem to be as big a deal when systems are built with 6-8 gigs minimum as the standard. Even so, I'm still relentlessly concerned about every spare resource my rig uses.

    • by BZ (40346) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @12:39AM (#36408908)

      There are several things going on here:

      1) JS JITs. These optimize for speed of compilation and speed of generated code; small size of generated code is not really something being optimized for except insofar as it helps one of the other two metrics. In the case of Firefox, just deciding to JIT a little less aggressively late in the 4.0 cycle saved a good bit of memory when JS-heavy pages are open.

      2) Images. Sites are using more and more bigger images, in addition to larger and larger scripts. With images you have the options of decompressing on draw (slow, typically) or storing decompressed images in memory (uses lots of memory). Guess which one browsers are typically doing?

      3) Leaks in webpages. By this I mean web pages that allocate more and more JS objects and have them all reachable (e.g. by sticking things in an array that's hanging off the Window) so the web page uses more and more memory. gmail did this until recently; they were working on fixing it last I checked. This means that if one of your "few tabs" is gmail and you've had it open for a while a lot of that memory could be actually being used by gmail.

      about:memory in Firefox is being improved to make it easier to answer the "what's using the memory" question, at least....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:14PM (#36407030)

    Don't be a Chrome Clone, make the next release Firefox 4.1.

  • I love Firefox. I don't think it takes too much memory. Sure it could use more but its not so bad. Right now for example its using 128M (after being open for days) on a 4G machine which is fine.

    • 435mb currently. One tab open to slashdot, on OS X, and no plugins installed. It's about the same (+/- 50mb) on Windows 7.

      It has been open for about 6 hours.

      • Re:not too bad (Score:5, Informative)

        by dbc (135354) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:34PM (#36407192)

        OS X here -- I usually have 8 to 12 tabs open. I almost never see memory usage below 500M, and it usually grows to about 1G after 2 or 3 hours. Firefox 4 for the Mac is seriously broken w.r.t. memory usage IMHO, and if they can't fix it fast, I'll probably be switching. I clobbers the performance of the whole system when it hogs that much memory. I'm tired of having to restart FF all the time.

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          I already did - I used to use FF on OS X but dropped it like a rock with FF4. They stepped backwards, at least on the Mac with 4.

          However, I'm not much better off with Safari - with the Adblock extension it has a memory leak that causes it to gradually consume all available RAM after a couple of days being open. Quitting and reopening it works (closing all tabs does not). Chrome is ok (and I use both browsers side by side) and is slightly faster than Safari and doesn't chew up quite so much RAM - crucially I

        • What add-ons are you using? One of those could be contributing to that rather high RAM usage.

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      It seems like certain pages will dramatically increase the memory consumption of Firefox. I've found that opening multiple pictures from facebook using multiple tasks can take easily 200MB (in addition to what Firefox was already consuming). The problem is of course that in the case of pages such as Hotmail, Yahoo, and sometimes Facebook itself, Firefox fails to re-claim and free that memory after closing the tabs.

      This will also happen in Gmail if you have many javascript features open. Chrome seems to m
  • by muffen (321442) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:20PM (#36407070)
    Bundle in MagnaRAM [] with Firefox.
    • by waddgodd (34934)

      When they make magnaram for Solaris/SPARC, let me know, until then, kindly keep your platform-dependent solutions to yourself.

  • Firefox desperately needs to lower its memory usage. I've been using FF4 for a while now, and it's using 200MB. It's gotten so bad that I installed an addon to provide easy restarts - twice a day or so, I reboot the browser.

    Yes, 200MB would be fine if the computer was just being used for web browsing, or even just office stuff. But I use this machine for gaming a lot - a a recent convertee from Chrome, I'm used to being able to start up a massive memory-hog game without needing to close out my browser.
  • If they could prevent a bad script or plugin from taking the whole browser with it, that would be great.
      It really needs a way to see a list of what scripts and plugins are running, what resources each is consuming and the ability to kill them individually.
    A list of currently open tabs would also be good, especially if it also had a history list for each tab (bonus points for making it editable, with drag and drop, etc.).

    • by hedwards (940851)

      This is a much bigger problem in my experience. I know that they are working on that, but it seems to be taking ages. I do appreciate the effort that's going into the tab isolation, but until they do that, this sort of problem is going to persist.

  • They closed the memory leak bug with wontfix. NOW all of a sudden they care about memory? Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it.

  • The good news is, the team has produced a plugin that reduces the browser's memory footprint to 25 Mbytes.

    The bad news is, the plugin takes up 300 Mbytes.

  • Firefox uses massive amounts of memory, but it's not as bad as Opera which I'm starting to suspect has a serious memory leak. On my system at the moment - Window 7 ultimate 64 bit with 6Gb memory, Firefox is using 336Mb, but Opera, with less pages open, is up to 445Mb and it's using 4% CPU in the background too. I used to use Opera a lot, but increasingly I'm relegating it because of this issue.

    OTOH Chrome seems to be becoming increasingly frugal over how much it uses.

  • Yay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:46PM (#36407298) Journal

    At long last, Mozilla developers are finally set to take this issue seriously

    Yay, it only took 5 years of bitching for them to actually look into it instead of blaming addons or your profile.

    • by sirsnork (530512)

      Yup, too late to get me back, I put up with the memory usage and the random lock ups of several seconds when it was loading an intensive page all the way through version 3, when they were all still there in version 4 I switched to Chrome. I lost a few addons that I love but the grief just wasn't worth it anymore.

      • by Rufty (37223)
        Don't forget the 10 minute battery life and knee-searing temperature if you tried to use Firefox on a laptop. Went to Chrome and won't be going back.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      I'm speculating, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to thank the increased competition from Chrome for this.

      It's about time they dropped their delusions about their marketshare loss due to Chrome's features (or lack thereof) and realized it's the speed that attracts people. It was the same with IE5. Its speed made people continue to use it. Its security problems made people look for alternatives, Firefox being the popular alternative at that time, but Chrome offers both and that's why people switch to it despi

  • I noticed this problem with Firefox and bought tons of RAM for both my Windows 7 64-bit and my Ubuntu-64 machines. Weirdly, they don't take full advantage of the extra RAM and I still get sluggishness as these programs appear to be paging to disk. I therefore welcome this advancement.

    PS: If anyone has tips about how to get more memory to FF, I would greatly appreciate it.

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Are you hitting the 2GB limit? A 32-bit program will typically only allocate up to 2GB at a time, since that's all it can map in userspace. (It can allocate more, and change the mapping window, but not many programs do that). A 64-bit program has (by the standards of modern PCs) an infinite space to map memory into. There are 64-bit versions of Firefox, but you have to go find them; the default, especially on Windows, is 32-bit even with a 64-bit OS.

      One simple way to increase the prioritization of the proce

  • Pinpoint (Score:3, Interesting)

    by globalist (1332141) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:50PM (#36407320)
    This is easily reproduced in FF4 when you load a page with lots of images. The mem tends to grow proportionally to the size of the images on the page. But this is the only scenariou where the mem usage is different from other browsers and needs looking into.
  • As far as I'm concerned, Firefox could also use a DiskShrink team, although perhaps DiskPerformance would be more accurate. My site uses OpenAFS across several locations with 6Mbps to tie them together. The workstations run Debian squeeze with Xfce. It all works fine, but in the beginning we soon discovered that Firefox wasn't going to cut it. Although it was our preferred browser, even with its cache disabled it was too slow when the user volume, which contains the home directory, was not on the local fil
  • by binarybum (468664) on Friday June 10, 2011 @08:17PM (#36407518) Homepage

    I hope this isn't just targeted towards firefox. Thunderbird is an unwieldy beast of an email app as well. No good reason that checking my email should involve consuming 200Mb of memory.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      The problem I have with Thunderbird is the frequent freezing of scripts. It's good for them to work on cutting down the RAM consumption, but I do think it's a good idea to keep in mind the context in which this is all taking place.

    • by dkf (304284)

      I hope this isn't just targeted towards firefox. Thunderbird is an unwieldy beast of an email app as well. No good reason that checking my email should involve consuming 200Mb of memory.

      There is a separate issue there with levels of caching of information; with some IMAP servers (notably Exchange — boo! hiss! — which I happen to be stuck with, and most of the workarounds listed out there on the 'net are outdated with recent Exchange installations as they rely on functionality that MS withdrew) there's a problem with the code that decides whether a mailbox has changed in an incompatible way and which results in a mailbox being downloaded repeatedly despite no change at all. I've

  • Can you get your MemShrink guys to look at Nautilus and gnome-panel when they're done? :)
  • Firefox 4 usually uses about 900MB of RAM after running for several days. This is not acceptable. But flaws in Chrome keep me coming back to Firefox.

  • When are they going to do something about CPU utilization? Firefox very regularly pins the CPU (well one core of a processor anyhow, showing it's not multithreaded well) at 100%, sometimes after just a few minutes, to the point where I can't File -> Exit, forcing the use of either task manager (on Windows) or kill -9 (on Linux). I've even blown away my profile, followed the usual tips, and yet it still happens. Now I can understand blaming a poorly-coded extension, or a corrupt profile, but why does it c

    • by dlgeek (1065796)
      Are you sure that isn't flash? I've seen this happen but it's VERY consistent that it's flash that's actually causing it (but the plugin runs in the firefox process space). Actually, I see my CPU automatically jump from around 10% to 75% (out of 200%) as soon as I open a page with flash in it, up to around 100% (one core) when I play a flash video, then back down to 10% as soon as I close that tab.
  • With the 8 tabs I normally have open in FF, eventually the CPU usage will spike when I'm switching from one tab to another and it will lock up for several seconds. Looking at it with the task manager, it says Firefox (Not Responding). WTF is with that? I close it, reopen it, restoring the same tabs, and I'm OK for a while. Annoying. I tend to simultaneously use FF, Chrome and Opera on XP. FF is the only one with this problem.
  • I just closed Firefox. Let's open it back up again. It opens one google tab and is using 120 megs private bytes and 361 megs virtual according to Process Explorer. Not too bad.

    Now let's open up 50 tabs, all for for []

    After spinning for a bit, Firefox is now at 396 megs private and 717 megs virtual. Let's close 49 of the tabs. After letting it sit for a little bit it drops to 333 megs private and 717 megs virtual. Let's repeat that a few times without closing the wind
  • by FlyingGuy (989135) <> on Friday June 10, 2011 @10:54PM (#36408388)

    he problem is with programmers.

    We all remember when every byte of ram used was worried about because RAM was a precious resource.

    Now we have programmers who have drank the kool-aid of "Hey Ram is CHEAP and programer time is expensive.

    Need another feature? Oh just compile is some humongous library that some other guy wrote that is so poorly written that not even the smartest linker can avoid linking in every dam line since every thing is interdependent on everything else.

    This is objects gone insane. Need another property, another method, just pile it on, don't waste time refactoring the code so that you get what you need with the smallest footprint you can get.

    Programmers need to re-boot their brains and start coding like memory is a precious commodity because it IS when everyone wants to have 100 tabs open in their browser, plus eclipse, plus gimp, plus this plus that plus the other and do all of this when re-compiling the entire Linux kernel.

  • With me it's never Firefox per se that does it, it's xulrunner and flash.

    Computer's ground to a halt?
    Hard drive paging like a mofo?

    Why yes, xulrunner and flash are using 90% of all physical memory. Yet again. And I have flash-control plugins that only start the flash apps I say to start.

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)