Mozilla, please give us a better browser in Firefox 4

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Open Letter to the good folks at Mozilla:

Dear Mozilla team,
I hope you are having a good time screwing up Firefox. I have had Firefox 2.0.0.9 open with 19 tabs on, and current RAM consumption is ~192 MB. I do not have much qualms about memory usage because I have installed memory of 2 GB. However, any time I switch tab groups (via a tabgroups extension), Firefox just hangs up and CPU usage shoots up.

Many sites load excruciatingly slow. Javascript executes even slower, with my GMail and Google Reader panes taking ages to load. When I hit “Work Offline”, the page loads normally, sans the JS/AJAX functionality. Numerous extensions are poorly optimized and suck up resources, which I had to find out by experience.

Does the above letter sound familiar? These are problems that I have had to face, ever since switching to Firefox 2. Slow loading sites, huge memory usage and occasional CPU excess usage have all been common place now, since the inception of Firefox 2.

The reason

Ever since the development of Firefox 2 began, the dev guys at Mozilla have focussed on moving Firefox from being just a browser, to being ‘the platform’ that can house all your online needs. The extensions that came out, along with several built-in functionalities are a testimony to this. We have had Live Bookmarks, content filtering, security checks etc. Now you know the problems of CPU usage!

Popular perception is that memory leaks have caused the extreme RAM usage. However, Mozilla itself has specified that memory usage is caused by a ‘feature’ that they included – caching of pages. They seem to find it useful to have a data backlog of all pages you have visited, so that they can be loaded quicker if you go back. However, I am yet to find it useful, and as such, hate it.

Apparently, Mozilla has heard the backlash by its passionate user community, and has prioritized fixing of this feature. Firefox 3 beta1 was out recently, and tests indicate that CPU usage and crashing has been reduced, though memory usage stands steep. Firefox faithfuls hope that this will be fixed.

However, I am not very hopeful of these problems being fixed in v3. Mozilla has thought up about these problems quite late, and may not be able to incorporate fixes for all problems. Moreover, I have a feeling that they did this as to stop the bitchslaps from users. I wish Mozilla would improve things in v4. I wish !

While you are on Firefox, you might want to go over these tips to reduce Firefox’s CPU and memory usage.

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