Firefox - Is it a lost cause?

yojitani

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Apr 28, 2005
1,855
10
An octopus's garden
Firefox has been my sole browser for years, even though it's always had little irritating issues.Because the plugins and flexibility are so useful I've never really used Safari or Opera or any of the other browsers for mac (although I've tried quite a few out). However, about 5 months ago I decided to switch over to Chrome, just to see if I could get used to it. I found that, in fact, I got used to it very quickly. There are a few little FF functions that bring me back and, because they are particularly important now, I decided to move back to FF.

Here, as my kids would say (well versed in Pee-Wee Hermanisms), is my big BUT: FF is just impossible to use. 10.0.2 stutters on who knows what and drags to a deathly crawl if it's been open for a few hours. Right now I'm running a test: a brand new user profile, no plugins, downloading two large files (100MB & 250 MB). It's been open 25 mins and is consuming 266 MB of real memory, 100 MB of private memory, and between 1.8 and 16 (!) GB of virtual memory. Chrome, which I'm using now, has two windows open with about 15 tabs open in each window. It is consuming 166 MB or real mem, 100 of private mem, and 250 of virtual mem.

Is there a fix in sight for Firefox or is it a lost cause? There are so many things I dislike about Chrome (mostly that it's owned by Google), but functionality isn't one of them. I'd really like to go back to FF, but it seems less and less able to function.
 

Brad9893

macrumors 6502
Feb 8, 2010
493
1,442
Hiding Under the Genius Bar
I ditched Firefox for good because of the same issue. I routinely had about 15 tabs open in one window, and it was using around 2 GB's of memory. In addition, it just made my system crawl. Performance issues were abound; beach balls of death and screen freezing. Not to mention, my battery life went to hell. When Firefox was open I would only get around 3.5 hours on a single charge (and yes, I made sure the dedicated graphics was on the integrated Intel).

I switched to Chrome, and the problems have all but dissipated. I have around the same number of tabs open; the Chrome app itself is using 140 MB's of memory, and once you add up all the memory used for each "Google Chrome Renderer" process, it's probably close to the same amount being used. I don't know why I have 15 tabs open and it will use 2 GB's of memory, and other people can have 30+ open and have it use wayyyy less. But, with Chrome, performance is much much better. I haven't gotten a beach ball or freeze ever since I switched. To make things even better, I am actually getting the 7 hour battery life that Apple advertises (just while browsing of course).

I didn't want to switch to Chrome, and I still prefer Firefox as a browser. I like the themes and the much better extension support. However, Firefox really made things unusable, and it seemed really bloated to me. So I ditched it. Whenever Mozilla releases a new update (around every 6 weeks I think) I open up FF and update it in hope that it will work better. It hasn't (I tried 11.0 the day it came out too). Things haven't been good with FF in a long time IMO. It hasn't given me a good experience since 3.6.

That's just my experience though. Your mileage may vary.
 

blueroom

macrumors 603
Feb 15, 2009
6,374
25
Toronto, Canada
I switched to Safari since Lion as I really like the sync between devices and how little screen space it required. I used to use FF but it offered me nothing I couldn't get with Safari.
 

yojitani

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Apr 28, 2005
1,855
10
An octopus's garden
I switched to Safari since Lion as I really like the sync between devices and how little screen space it required. I used to use FF but it offered me nothing I couldn't get with Safari.
It depends what you need. Extensions like Zotero work best in FF. Safari does not (don't know if this is still true) allow you to choose multiple search engines in the search field. That is a really invaluable function for me in FF.
 

Macman45

macrumors G5
Jul 29, 2011
13,196
133
Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
It depends what you need. Extensions like Zotero work best in FF. Safari does not (don't know if this is still true) allow you to choose multiple search engines in the search field. That is a really invaluable function for me in FF.
It doesn't...:( It's a wrench though and of course I will still have it on my IOS devices iPhone 4S and iPad....But it's time to change my three Macs over...
 

Brad9893

macrumors 6502
Feb 8, 2010
493
1,442
Hiding Under the Genius Bar
It depends what you need. Extensions like Zotero work best in FF. Safari does not (don't know if this is still true) allow you to choose multiple search engines in the search field. That is a really invaluable function for me in FF.
There is definitely the extension thing. I love using Read It Later, and the Firefox extension is really the best. It took me awhile to find a suitable replacement in Chrome, and even then it's not as good.

Being able to switch between search engines in one of my most missed features in any other browser I've tried. (I don't really like the merged web address and search bar.) In FF/Safari/Opera, if I wanted to look something up in Wikipedia, I could just switch the input to "Wikipedia" and then look it up. Now I have to go to the Wikipedia homepage, and then do it. Not hard, just seems a bit of a hassle with the added step.

I also miss the ability to reopen closed tabs. That is something I really miss. In other browsers you can just go back through your history and then reopen the page, but it's not as good, and you can't get the "exact" tab back.
 

BigDukeSix

macrumors 6502a
Sep 22, 2010
718
0
34.6700N 118.1590W
I use FF normally. I know this is not quite on topic, but it really does irritate me that FF will not 'remember' my computer when I go back to my credit card or banking sites. It always asks me for the extra security answers. Do any of you FF masters know how to fix this?

The only thing I don't like about Safari is that there are a couple extra steps to get new windows to open in separate tabs, unless I am missing a step.
 

JAT

macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2001
6,451
122
Mpls, MN
I use FF normally. I know this is not quite on topic, but it really does irritate me that FF will not 'remember' my computer when I go back to my credit card or banking sites. It always asks me for the extra security answers. Do any of you FF masters know how to fix this?
Sounds like a cookie issue. That is really up to the bank to store prefs. So, maybe you have it blocked? I could add: my bank has the same thing, and it works.
 

Mackilroy

macrumors 68040
Jun 29, 2006
3,614
58
I tried using Firefox for a while, but when it consumes half my CPU power with no tabs open – yeah, that's silly.
 

dyn

macrumors 68030
Aug 8, 2009
2,708
383
.nl
I see very little differences between webbrowsers nowadays in terms of memory usage, cpu usage, speed of the interface and speed of webpages. When I look at the figures the OP posts this is exactly underlining what I'm seeing here: nearly no difference. The only really difference is the virtual memory. When people start talking about virtual memory my alarm bells go off. In 99% of the cases people have no idea what it actually does. When you look at what virtual memory actually is than you'll see there is not much to worry. The difference can be clarified by the simple fact that one has been running longer than the other.

Let's not forget that in UNIX world memory is used as a cache. This causes a higher memory usage than in systems that don't do this. This in both cases is not a bad thing. It depends on what you want. Doing it this way can speed up things quite a bit which would be considered as a positive thing by most users.

I'd not worry about the memory usage, it is normal in both Firefox and Chrome in this case. The difference would be in responsiveness which has little to do with memory usage (other things influence this, memory is only one of many). In some cases there can be quite a difference between browsers on the same machine. No idea why this is but it happens and it can happen out of the blue (iow something has been fine before but suddenly it acts up while nothing has changed).
 

yojitani

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Apr 28, 2005
1,855
10
An octopus's garden
I see very little differences between webbrowsers nowadays in terms of memory usage, cpu usage, speed of the interface and speed of webpages. When I look at the figures the OP posts this is exactly underlining what I'm seeing here: nearly no difference. The only really difference is the virtual memory. When people start talking about virtual memory my alarm bells go off. In 99% of the cases people have no idea what it actually does. When you look at what virtual memory actually is than you'll see there is not much to worry. The difference can be clarified by the simple fact that one has been running longer than the other.

Let's not forget that in UNIX world memory is used as a cache. This causes a higher memory usage than in systems that don't do this. This in both cases is not a bad thing. It depends on what you want. Doing it this way can speed up things quite a bit which would be considered as a positive thing by most users.

I'd not worry about the memory usage, it is normal in both Firefox and Chrome in this case. The difference would be in responsiveness which has little to do with memory usage (other things influence this, memory is only one of many). In some cases there can be quite a difference between browsers on the same machine. No idea why this is but it happens and it can happen out of the blue (iow something has been fine before but suddenly it acts up while nothing has changed).
Thanks. While I am aware that VM matters very little in terms of memory-related performance, I really don't know if VM figures can be read as indices of other performance related problems. I assumed that they could be read that way. I suppose I could have said this all a very different way:
My computer's CPU temp shoots up, its fans roar, FF becomes sluggish and eventually other running apps slow down until I close FF.

Also, while the actual RAM readings were within normal, I was running FF from a new profile with no extensions, no bookmarks, etc. and had had it open only 25 mins, yet it was consuming 100 more MB of RAM. Chrome has extensions etc installed. That suggests a rather significant difference in memory management between browsers to me.
 

Great Dave

macrumors regular
Oct 19, 2007
116
0
I love Firefox

I am using 11 beta8. And I love it.

I leave it open, running for days... no issues here... and it is super quick.

And, the features are second to none.

So, I say don't give up on it. Maybe you could post on one of the firefox forums or submit a bug to mozilla and see if someone can help you out as to why you are having so many problems.
 

A Hebrew

macrumors 6502a
Jan 7, 2012
846
0
Minnesota
The FF age is long gone.

If you are running a mac you are fortunate enough to have access to Safari which can handle most stuff (Safari is Anti-Flash intensive though)

Chrome is the superior browser all-round though.
 

Nermal

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 7, 2002
18,690
1,185
New Zealand
I wrote the exact same thing last night but edited it out. It's true. 3.6 was the best.
I went from 3.6 to 10 at work and the URL bar drives me nuts. Sometimes the site that I'm trying to get to is 4th or 5th in the list. For example, if I want to look at BayBus (the local bus timetable site), I start typing "www.bay" but the dropdown list first shows four other sites containing the word "bay" in their title tags (but not with URLs starting www.bay), and only after those four other sites do I finally get www.baybus.co.nz. Why can't it be at the top?!
 

Rudy69

macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2009
623
571
I switched to Chrome this fall because FF just looks like crap under Lion :/ I keep Aurora around and update it about once a week to see if that's going to change but it doesn't like it will any time soon :(
 

yojitani

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Apr 28, 2005
1,855
10
An octopus's garden
I am using 11 beta8. And I love it.

I leave it open, running for days... no issues here... and it is super quick.

And, the features are second to none.

So, I say don't give up on it. Maybe you could post on one of the firefox forums or submit a bug to mozilla and see if someone can help you out as to why you are having so many problems.
FWW I haven't given up on it completely, but it's my #2 browser now. I suppose I could submit a bug report to Mozilla. I've followed their usual troubleshooting steps (create a new profile etc.) to no avail though. I'm running a mbp C2D 2.53 with 8GB RAM - I really shouldn't be experiencing these problems. FF runs fabulously on Win7 in Bootcamp...
 

sexiewasd

macrumors regular
Mar 14, 2012
208
2
Back in Your Head
I use firefox when ever it comes to working on the web. The web developer toolerbar and firebug extensions haven't been beat yet, but for everything else it's 100% chrome for me. It's the syncing via google account that really keeps me, but also for the most part chrome stays out of my way and lets me just do what i want to, the same reason I was using firefox actually.

Safari seams like it might be nice, but I don't have any reason to learn to use it any where other than on my iPod. Opera and IE are kept around only for testing sites, but I hate them, so bloated.
 

dyn

macrumors 68030
Aug 8, 2009
2,708
383
.nl
I suppose I could have said this all a very different way:
My computer's CPU temp shoots up, its fans roar, FF becomes sluggish and eventually other running apps slow down until I close FF.
That sounds like the cpu needs to do more work which doesn't imply a memory problem.

Also, while the actual RAM readings were within normal, I was running FF from a new profile with no extensions, no bookmarks, etc. and had had it open only 25 mins, yet it was consuming 100 more MB of RAM. Chrome has extensions etc installed. That suggests a rather significant difference in memory management between browsers to me.
Yep it can. The only problem that it isn't this easy to say. You can only compare when you load the exact same websites in both browsers. Another thing is the caching, webbrowsers will use memory as a cache because of its speed. It depends on how this is set up in the browser (either by default or by the user/sysadmin (think policy here)). One browser can have a bigger cache than the other. If you really want to find out what is happening you should try some tools which can do exactly that. Tools like dtrace for example.