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Firefox, Really?
11/22/2012 by
Tech, , , ,

I first started using Mozilla Firefox in 2003 when it was still beta pre 1.0.  It was fast, lightweight, and not clumped with ghost processes that eats up memory and cycles.  Fast forward to November 2012.

Gone is the incremental versioning of Firefox.  They’ve decided to use whole numbers.  Firefox 5 was released June 21st, 2011.  Firefox 17 was released November 20, 2012.  So basically it went through 12 complete versions in nearly 18 months.  Based on the change logs, there were a lot changes including performance and new features, although most of these did not warrant a complete version up.

The one thing that they haven’t fixed and still irks me to this day is their lack of memory management.   When Firefox launches Flash, you are doomed.  It’s inevitable that you will have to restart your browser to clear the insane amounts of memory it uses.  From 2 tabs alone, I’ve seen my memory go close to 1 GB in usage which is plain ridiculous.  Closing and reopening the browser resets it temporarily until time passes.  I won’t lay complete fault on Firefox.  Adobe Flash in general is a terrible way for users to interact with over the web.  Originally meant to be a light interaction tool with animation, the past few years it’s been used way beyond the scope it was originally intended for.  As such, we are seeing resource usage because it simply does not scale well when used as the primary interaction tool.  On the good news though, Adobe is slowly ceasing development of flash due to the HTML5 movement that is going to replace it.

Another issue with Firefox is the load time.  The only plugin I run is Firebug, which allows me to debug websites, but it’s usually turned off.  The load time on Firefox today is significantly slower than its predecessors of more than a year ago.  Mozilla always prouds itself in creating a fast loading browser, but this is not the case today.  You can see this for yourself from the various benchmarks available on the web.

Lastly, Firefox 17 introduces social media integration.  Seriously? It seems most people want a ton of bloated garbage in their browser.  If speed and efficiency is important, I think Mozilla needs to have a base Firefox package where it’s just the bare-bones browser with security and what not.  If people want social media integration, built-in chat clients, or anything else, those should be available as plugins from Mozilla (1st party) or from any other 3rd party.  I understand the desire for them to create an ultimate “package”, but I just don’t see it as a good direction.  Many of my peers instead opt to use Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari as an alternate because Firefox has become crap from the bloat it has.

I also had to downgrade to Firefox 16 because my keyboard was not working with 17.  I’m not sure why, and I really do not care to find out.

In the end, maybe I’m the one at fault here.  I like simplicity and efficiency which the earlier Firefox versions were about.  The most recent versions have indicated that otherwise, and people are visibly upset with the direction it’s going.  In fact, many web developers only use Firefox for its debugging (Firebug).  For your standard no frills browsing, it might be best to stick with Google Chrome or *gasp* Internet Explorer.

  • Temp_acc

    You are speaking right out of my heart. Every single word.

    I really hate to say ‘Good Bye’ to Firefox, but there is not much of a choice. Because what I hate even more is to waste resources on my machine. I’m a developer and my focus is C++. Not .NET or any other memory eater. Even the most complicated GUIs I ever wrote (> 200.000 Lines of code, including Oracle connection and CORBA) will stay below 20MB of RAM usage. I have no idea how I ever could write a application that uses 200M while rendering a single web page … Unfortunately, the guys at Mozilla have figured out how to do so.

    • http://www.awdmatic.com Vic

      I actually read somewhere that some of the Mozilla developers have gone to Google. That would explain a lot why Chrome is grabbing browser market share.

      On a side note, I re-read my post, and I noticed it was just a lot of rambling. I guess I really didn’t know where to start with my rant on Firefox because it was giving me such a fat headache