6/17/2006

Firefox Memory Leaks

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Seriously, I have a kind spot in my heart for Firefox. It has taken market share away from Internet Explorer which is good. No one can deny that IE 6 was outdated and full of security holes. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 (which can be downloaded for Windows XP SP2 here, copies most of Firefox's features such as tabbed browsing and RSS feeds. What it dosen't copy is Firefox's poor use of memory. Firefox has been plagued by memory leaks (memory leaks are when a program reserves memory and then never gives it back, causing the whole system to slow down) since it's inception and continues to bogged down by it to this day. Of course, the main cuplrits are user written extensions to Firefox. However, Firefox alone, with no extensions installed, still contains memory leaks. On FreeBSD, Firefox 1.5.0.1 slowly eats up all 1.5GB of RAM I have installed. It takes a few hours for it to eat it all away, but the problem is so bad that I switched to a beta version of Opera. It has no such problems.

The Mozilla team is well aware of Firefox's memory problems, and are working to eliminate them with each release. The folks at mozillazine.org have put together a great guide to help reduce the memory problems, it can be found here: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Memory_Leak

There have also been some memory leak tools developed to help people find and fix the problems. Here's one written in Javascript and HTML: http://lxr.mozilla.org/mozilla/source/tools/footprint/leak-gauge.html and one written in Perl: http://lxr.mozilla.org/mozilla/source/tools/footprint/leak-gauge.pl?raw=1



UPDATE 6/30/06
Well, upon upgrading to Mozilla Firefox 1.5.0.4 I am glad to say that my memory leaking problem has vanished (thank god.) Firefox definitely is superior to Internet Explorer, but an issue like memory leaks can easily steal Firefox's thunder.

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