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Why I didn't stop using Firefox

Why I didn't stop using Firefox

Posted Feb 9, 2012 13:06 UTC (Thu) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106)
Parent article: Tracking users

I've probably tried every browser invented by man and I always return to Mozilla.

I have tried using Chrom{e,ium} several times but I now fire it up only on occasion if I find a single page/site on which I need to do something outside my whitelisted sandbox. Ironically I find that the performance of Chrome is just too awful compared to Firefox; with Chrome memory usage starts lower but becomes pathological with a large number of tabs, and similarly I start to see weird CPU spikes and major UI lag as I approach 100 tabs. Firefox became more and more unusable over long sessions with a lot of tabs (e.g. >300) in older versions but over the last year has gotten quite a lot better, and its low-tab-count behavior has gotten closer to Chrome.

Chrome's attempt to minimize browser UI and maximize space given over to the web page, a trend which has been followed by IE and Firefox, leads to clunky unusability. In the other browsers I don't have much recourse, but Firefox lets me fix it out of the box. With Chrome and other browsers you need extensions to help make sense of more than about 30 tabs at once, but Firefox has several built in features that make this a breeze: tab pinning, tab groups, and switch-to-tab in the location bar. And then there are the extensions! NoScript, RequestPolicy, FlashBlock, Calomel, ShareMeNot. All essential to secure, safe browsing, more so than any 'privacy' mode.

The major thing that has frustrated me with Firefox is its performance. You can never be too responsive! It just so happens that for my uses all the other options suck more, but for most people they don't. For light browsing Chrome is faster and more responsive; for heavy users Firefox is still the only serious option.

I think that the Mozilla folks shouldn't be too worried about collecting usage metrics, it's speed and the perception of speed which are needed to remain competitive. The only other data you really need is to know which extensions are popular, but you can figure that out from download statistics almost as well.


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Why I didn't stop using Firefox

Posted Feb 9, 2012 17:44 UTC (Thu) by yokem_55 (subscriber, #10498) [Link]

300 Tabs? I tend to think your use case is well outside the mainstream....

Why I didn't stop using Firefox

Posted Feb 9, 2012 17:47 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Serious use just needs serious system. On my desktop with 16 cores and 32GB of RAM Chromium flies even with 300 tabs. Now, if I need 2000 tabs…, yes Firefox is better here, but I think I only ever needed this once for the last year.

Why I didn't stop using Firefox

Posted Feb 10, 2012 12:59 UTC (Fri) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106) [Link]

Don't you find physically managing so many tabs problematic in Chromium?

The UI stalling behavior doesn't seem to be dependant on hitting RAM or CPU bottlenecks, since when it happens I still have idle and under-used cores, and ram is not close to full. As I understand it, Chrome stops giving you "one tab per process" once you pass a certain number of tabs and I'm guessing that's where the problem comes from.

My test system is smaller than yours: 8 cores and 8G RAM, but that ought to be sufficient out to at least 100 tabs.

Why I didn't stop using Firefox

Posted Feb 10, 2012 13:52 UTC (Fri) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

I rarely keep them all in one window. It's easy to move tabs around in Chrome thus I group them in windows thematically and then spread windows over virtual desktops.

Why I didn't stop using Firefox

Posted Feb 14, 2012 13:28 UTC (Tue) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106) [Link]

That explains your success. When I say 100 tabs, I mean per window. Tab title width becomes useless in chrome very quickly, though there are extensions which can make it behave like Firefox.

Why I didn't stop using Firefox

Posted Feb 10, 2012 16:31 UTC (Fri) by KaiRo (subscriber, #1987) [Link]

You will be happy to hear that Mozilla is making a special effort recently to improve responsiveness - internally code-named "project snappy" - and we hope to see results of that hit in the next couple of releases.


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