More Like a Fox Than a Hog

Firefox 3 is out, and they’re trying to break a record for downloads today. I grabbed mine earlier and it installed in a snap with no problems. I only use like three plugins and all were supported. (Well, I had to get a new version of the del.icio.us tagger, but I did, and it seems to work.)

It’s got a host of new features, or so I’m told. I can’t really tell you much about them because I don’t really care about most of them. The one question I had was: is it still a memory hog?

A while back I began looking for a new browser because although I like Firefox, it was just getting to be too much of a memory glutton. It would easily grab over 400MB of RAM, not release any of it, and then slowly begin failing. (Its favorite trick at these times was to act as though when I did Ctrl-C I didn’t REALLY mean “copy”.) I had to shut it down about every other day for fear of it shutting down on its own. And I wasn’t doing much heavy duty stuff with it. Like I say, I run a total of three plugins. I tried other browsers, but I didn’t find any I liked as much (partly due to the presence of the AdBlock plugin.) So I stuck with it. (People suggested all kinds of tweaks to get Firefox to reduce its memory load, but none of them worked.)

They promised better memory management in Firefox 3, so I’ve been trying it out. With my previous version, I could get the memory up to about 250MB in no time. With this guy? I can’t get it to break 200MB, and I’ve been trying for a while now. And what’s more, after you’ve closed some tabs and reduce the browser? It — and I’m going to type this slow so you can fully comprehend what I’m saying — it releases memory it no longer needs. I know! Even I think I sound crazy saying that!

I’ve tried it on BoardGameGeek, which has tons of AJAX and stuff that usually makes Firefox scream in pain. Nothing. Google Maps? No problem. Opening up a kajillion tabs of Flickr images? Piece of cake. Two Flash games at once? I’m sorry, did you expect something to happen? Hell, it opens up Onion AV Club pages, which are so laden down with embedded crap that they’re the only web pages in the world that actually have measurable weight and it didn’t blink. It all goes without a hitch, taking only tiny, polite bites of memory and scraping its plate when its done. In addition or as a result, everything seems to go much smoother and faster.

So I recommend the upgrade. Oh yeah there are all these other things it does now, I’m sure, but really I’m mostly interested just in how well it shows me some damn web pages, and it does that very, very well.

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3 Responses to More Like a Fox Than a Hog

  1. Kurt says:

    Preach on, brother Dave. I’ve been using FireFox 3 for a couple of weeks now and it’s made a BIG difference for me as well. I was routinely dying with a relatively small load. Only Anna was able to run hundreds of open tabs for weeks on end. I found out that she turns off java-script. At any rate, this is a great application and kudos to the Mozilla staff for making such a great product.

    I will add, however, that even a slow and buggy firefox 2 worked better than IE.

  2. Lanf says:

    I was using Firefox 3 since Ubuntu’s new release, where they made the Beta 5 FF3 the default installed version. I guess we just went to the stable release. I never had the problems you described, but wooo I definitely see the performance increase.