Firefox's Dirty Little Secret

The hype for Mozilla’s 1.0 release of Firefox is far reaching. Lots of non-technical press coverage ensures that many home users and people unfamiliar with the differences between browsers are asking what this “firefox” thing is all about. The fact that browser wars are back is probably a good thing - it will drive development on both sides and hopefully lead to better quality software for the users.

Unfortunately what the Mozilla foundation are being very quiet about is the fact that while Firefox may (and we really can’t be sure yet) have a few less security holes than vanilla IE6 it has a dirty little secret.

I loaded firefox 1.0 this morning and loaded around 7 or 8 tabs (after all, tabbed browsing is one of the biggest benefits of firefox). This afternoon, firefox is using around 85Mb of memory. For 8 web pages. What’s more, if I close tabs the memory usage does not drop. Navigating and opening tabs, however, consistently increases it’s memory usage. I have seen firefox using well over 300Mb at times - bringing my system to an effective halt.

It has now become a regular occurance for me to become bewildered at how slowly my machine is suddenly running, only then to remember that I have firefox open. Closing it down suddenly renders Windows usable again.

The firefox team knew about this before release.

I cannot believe that they released a 1.0 version and went press crazy with such a big problem in the code.

Bugzilla for this issue: here.