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Firefox Mozilla Software The Internet Hardware

Firefox To Let Users Control Memory Usage (bleepingcomputer.com) 213

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Mozilla engineers are working on a new section in the browser's preferences that will let users control the browser's performance. Work on this new section started last Friday when an issue was opened in the Firefox bug tracker. Right now, the Firefox UI team has proposed a basic sketch of the settings section and its controls. Firefox developers are now working to isolate or implement the code needed to control those settings [1, 2, 3]. According to the current version of the planned Performance settings section UI, users will be able to control if they use UI animations (to be added in a future Firefox version), if they use page prefetching (feature to preload links listed on a page), and how many "content" processes Firefox uses (Firefox currently supports two processes [one for the Firefox core and one for content], but this will expand to more starting v54).
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Firefox To Let Users Control Memory Usage

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  • Host files (Score:2, Interesting)

    You can reduce memory usage by using a custom host file to control malware and advertising. They are the biggest usage of memory.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You got this wrong. It should not be hosts files. It should stop at the level of your router, so you can protect all your computers and mobile devices with a singe configuration.

    • You can reduce memory usage by using a custom host file

      But how do you do exceptions? I can't do:
      0.0.0.0 *
      and still read reddit.com.

      For that matter, * doesn't really work either.

      And adding aliases on a single line stops after 640K bytes -- it's like that's enough for everyone. Why can't I place every single FQDN on a single line? Stupid DNS. ;-)

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Yeah, hosts files are so limited that they're worthless. How do you block every host in 116.128.0.0/10 or 42.208.0.0/12 in a hosts list?

        My router can not only block netmasks, but block by ASN. So when Chinanet in Gongzhou adds more IP addresses, it will already block them.

        But still, you need a blocker can do content based blocking. A hosts file or firewall rule cannot block ads here on /. where the ads are served from the same server - you'd block the non-ad contents too.
        Adblock Plus/Latitude most certai

    • https://pi-hole.net/ [pi-hole.net]

      Much better and protects the entire network.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      uBlock Origin supports hosts file, but also wildcard and CSS selector rules. Also throw in Privacy Badger while you are there.

    • First of all, host files aren't flexible enough: I want to be able to block domains conditionally (e.g. block Google subdomains except when I'm visiting a Google page directly).

      Second, even if something running on the router were good enough, I'd still want a uMatrix-like browser extension for making it easy to add new rules to it anyway.

      Really what I'd like is for uMatrix rules to sync between the browsers on all my computers, and then for the subset of the rules that are always-deny (in uMatrix parlance,

  • This is confusing. Whenever somebody pointed out that FF uses a lot of memory, FF supporters would come along and tell those people that they're wrong and that FF doesn't use unreasonable amounts of memory. But now they're putting in ways to limit the memory usage! So those FF advocates were wrong: FF can use too much memory!

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      I also don't like the UI, who needs sliders and whatnot when all they need to add are the following config toggles:

      [X] Use 100% of CPU performing almost any operation.

      [X] Consume GB of memory with more than a handful of web pages open.

      [X] Leak memory.

      [X] Burn up CPU and run down the laptop battery while doing absolutely nothing.

      Then you could just uncheck all those enabled-by-default options and get decent performance from your browser.

    • Yes there is a lot of blaming the user in software and especially in open source where it is public. But often we have a lot of users pining for those 8 bit days where wonderful software ran on under 256k of ram. Not realizing the limitations of these systems and why you were suppose to spend $50 on what today would be a throwaway app. Most of the work in these old apps was about trying to get it it fit then work as expected.
      You would need an early 32bit (80386) PC to play an MP3 fille. A lot of what is

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @08:44PM (#54219017)

    I would've voted for fixing the memory leaks, but I suppose this is an option too...

    • They're working on that, too. Firefox is fast becoming the best browser.
    • In my attempts to track down why Firefox has huge memory problems but Pale Moon v26 does not (and Pale Moon v27 does), I've determined that bad caching policy is responsible for memory consumption, not leaks.

      Firefox will cache the hell out of everything it encounters regardless of the limits you set for the memory cache, up to a certain percentage of total available memory. In recent versions of the browser, most internal memory management settings not in the preferences file seem to be set to "-1" (fully

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @08:45PM (#54219021)
    Nor do I care. I switched to Chrome years ago because FF flat out got slow, so much so I decided "hmmm, FF, IE, or Chrome. Let's try Chrome".

    Chrome was much faster. 2.5 years ago I got a new laptop with a much faster processor and a lot more RAM. I kept Chrome. It works, usually.

    I fire up FF once a week. My supermarket website (Vons) doesn't work with Chrome (could be the add ons, don't really care). But until Chrome starts to suck I don't feel any need to return to FF as my daily browser.

    TLDR; piss off your long term users, they turn into long term users of something else
  • Cool, Opera had that feature 10 years ago.
  • GOOD direction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @08:55PM (#54219053)

    This is a very good step in the right direction. There are non-majority but very valid use cases where one might need to limit memory and especially CPU usage and threading when wanted. For example, on hosted or application servers that serve thin clients. Please give as much control to users and system administrators as possible.

    This also holds just as important for single-user systems. One thing I hope they especially pay attention to is some way to quell the rampant misuse of local resources by websites that throw more and more meaningless "fancy" effects at us. Barely a site remains that doesn't fade in and out every single element, loads endlessly, creates tight busy loops, presents continuous animation for no real reason, etc. It just chews through CPU and on battery powered devices, it unnecessarily decimates stored power, it presents never ending barriers and distractions to getting to useful information on sites. Give us tools and settings to slow and limit such nonsense. Return control of our resources to us.

    In the past, Firefox was all about CHOICE and CONFIGURABILITY. For years as Firefox has become "Chrome-ified" in look and mission, user choice has wrongfully and systematically removed in favor of "simplicity". Stop trying to be Chrome, it is not helping anyone!

    Firefox stands as the only remaining main-stream, completely open source, multiplatform browser developed by a community model. Here is a last chance to prevent it from become totally obscure.... EMBRACE USER CONTROL. Differentiate yourself based on that. It is something Chrome sorely lacks. We need real choices and real competition, not a world left with one browser controlled by a single information overlord who lives based on tracking, capturing, and sharing information about us. Been there, done that.... Mozilla set us free once. Please be there to prevent us from sliding back into it again :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gravewax ( 4772409 )
      I think it is already too late to save firefox. It has alienated and pissed off so many of its previously loyal userbase that I doubt it can recover now. It is all downhill from here on out.
      • Don't underestimate how many disloyal people there are. I use chrome 99% of the time, but if firefox becomes a better experience I'll switch. Most of us aren't religious about browser use, we aren't pissed off at or alienated by firefox, we simply found it was no longer the best choice.

        • I think you have actually just demonstrated the problem. firefox SHOULD NOT be chasing people that think Chrome is a great browser, being a clone is not the way to go. They don't have the resources or funding or distribution machine that google has to compete in that way, it is a recipe for death and has been well demonstrated by their farely rapid decline in marketshare, they need to address go back to addressing the browser audience that wants the power in their hands, sadly though I think it is too late
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Exactly.

            The people who left Firefox because they love Chrome won't be coming back. The people who left Firefox because it's becoming too much like Chrome won't be coming back as long as Mozilla is chasing the first group by making Firefox more and more like Chrome.

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      Here is a last chance to prevent it from become totally obscure.... EMBRACE USER CONTROL. Differentiate yourself based on that. It is something Chrome sorely lacks.

      Have fun storming the castle! It'll take a miracle [statcounter.com]...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's already taken far too many steps in a BAD direction to ever find its way back. In fact, it continues to RUN in that direction, bolting on crazy things to its chassis whenever and wherever possible.

      I use and endorse Palemoon. (https://www.palemoon.org/)

      It's what Firefox used to be before all the "update it for the sake of increasing the version number every couple days" idiocy ensued.

  • After two to three days, my firefox memory runs out of control and then I have to restart it.

    And then things are fine for two to three days.

    Right now I have 12 tabs open and it's using 923 mb of memory and 2.7% of cpu (on an i7).

  • The new Performance page will allow tech-savvy users to control how much RAM Firefox will be using. The more "content" processes Firefox will be allowed to use, the more responsive the browser will get, and the easier will be to handle tens or hundreds of tabs.

    The downside is that more "content" processes means more RAM usage, but if users have RAM to spare, this shouldn't be a problem. It is a problem, though, on older systems. This is where the new Performance section comes to help, allowing users to p

  • Facebook is a monster. It can easily use over a gig.

    Yeah I know many Slashdotters pretend not to use it, and some actually don't.

    Also, this sounds like 80s memory management eg turn off prefetching forever. Why can't we tell our browsers what to let go of first eg:
    1. Prefetching
    2. LRU tabs.
    3. Hi-res images.
    4. Bloated JS sites eg FB.com. Heck, worth putting in special rules for this monster.

    Have a default then allow it to be accessible and changed for the rest of the session. Also, a box to ask it to ret

    • First off, prefetching is insane. Some of us have old, slow computers. We don't have gigabit internet connections and dozens of GB of RAM. Prefetching maxes out our connection all the time and makes the computer swap like crazy. No wonder I thought Firefox was a piece of crap.

      Second, hi-res images. Ever since computer display resolution started going up, websites have been increasing their images. I don't NEED nor WANT a fucking 4K JPEG that's 30MB because my display only has 1280x1024 pixels. So my compute

      • by rnturn ( 11092 )

        Hardly Firefox's fault. You're not the first to notice that web site developers have gotten incredibly lazy over the years. The practices like you just described seem to the norm now. Adding more Firefox (or any other browser, for that matter) user controls isn't going to do much of anything to solve that problem.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        I don't NEED nor WANT a fucking 4K JPEG that's 30MB because my display only has 1280x1024 pixels.

        How does the server know that your display has only 1280x1024 pixels, not 3840x2160 pixels, before sending the JPEG? Or would you prefer that sites send images sized for 320x480-pixel phone screens and then replace those with images sized for 1280x1024 screens only once JavaScript runs?

  • was what those engineering geniuses were always responding when people complained that FF was using 10~50 times as much memory compared to any other mainstream browser. Somehow I still don't believe them.
  • it seems my preferred settings are the exact opposite of what the default ones are.
  • I became a Palemoon user a while back simply because Firefox stopped being worth a damn about half a year ago. It's too slow to open and uses WAY too much RAM. It even runs like crap on a new MacBook (dodges thrown vegetables). I think they put too much eye candy work into it rather than in performance. But, computers aren't actually getting much better as far as RAM and Gz are concerned in the last decade and probably won't if everything goes to cloud computing. You're going to pay outrageous prices for a
    • I do think newer versions perform better, i.e. Firefox 51, 52 are good.
      Slow to open? I've not noticed as for five seconds to open something that will run for hours or weeks, I don't care. But yes it will gobbles resources, unless you seek to use lightweight web sites only!
      By this point computer hardware without RAM slots feel dumber and dumber. Like, bringing the max RAM limit to 32GB or 16GB (on Atom) or 64GB or possibly more could be a reason to upgrade from old hardware.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is just another bandaid that will break, and that won't address the root cause of the problem at all.

    JUST FIX THE GODDAMN MEMORY LEAKS.

  • A long time ago on an internet far far away, there was a setting in crusty old browsers like Netscape Navigator that allowed you to control whether you wanted images to load automatically. It's the new old thing!
  • I would rather have a fix so i wouldn't have to restart firefox once every few days because it eats 25%-35% of CPU without any tab running videos or animations. And this is with ublock installed.

  • One setting that I always use is to disable the tabs animation. In about:config, search for browser.tabs.animate and toggle to false.
  • The thing that seems to be slowing down firefox more than anything for me is the bookmarks toolbar at the top. I love my bookmarks toolbar but as it get filled up with more and more links it really bogs down Firefox. If you right click on one of you links in the horizontal bookmarks bar at the top > properties > delete the name = nice simple icon in the bookmark bar. I've go nearly 50 of them now running along the top of firefox and its just sooo handy but you feel it when it comes to performance. Thi
    • Others might not like to hear this but this might get fixed for good when Firefox hits version 57 and it doesn't include XUL for the interface anymore. I'm not even blaming XUL, I think it's been great - Firefox just looked like a normal desktop application no matter the OS, I'm just saying the GUI implementation will be different.
      If that theory works out, you might try Firefox Aurora 57 a few months from now and see if it's fast.

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