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Mozilla launches MemShrink effort to improve Firefox memory use


DKT27

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Firefox is a memory hog. There, I said it. Some of you might disagree, but the fact of the matter is that even though Firefox 4 (and soon 5) improve memory over say Firefox 3.x, it's still a real hog.

Thankfully, I'm not alone in the belief that SOMETHING must be done. Mozilla is now taking this very seriously and is starting a new effort called, 'MemShrink'. The goal of the group is to target the developer resources required to solve this nagging problem.

"It's pretty clear by now that this is a much bigger problem than any one person can likely tackle," Mozilla Developer, Johnny Stenback wrote in a mailing list posting. "So to help get more attention to this issue we'll be starting up a MemShrink effort, where a group of people will get together to look at the big picture, triage bugs, investigate general approaches, and do some brainstorming."

Finally!! Mozilla is taking very specific aim at this very serious issue.

Now don't get me wrong, Mozilla has been fixing memory leak issues when they pop up. This new team holds the promise of not just fixing leaks, but of making the issue of memory use better.

It's no trivial task, memory isn't just a function of what Mozilla's code consumes. More often then not, purely coded JavaScript with recursive loops and other cycle hogging garbage can suck up memory and CPU. I know that since Firefox 3.6, Mozilla has separated out some processes, but maybe there is room for more of that.

The other issue has to do with target platforms. There are plenty of people out there at have 1 GB or less of RAM. As I'm writing this post now, Firefox 4.0.1 is consuming 633 MB on my machine and that's not abnormal. Simply put, it's just waaay too much RAM for a web browser.

Then again, if you've got 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, you likely aren't all that worried about using 633 MB for Firefox. So maybe it's just a question of focus. Is Mozilla still interested in the mainstream consumer?

Time will tell how effective the MemShrink effort is, but it's definitely a step in the right direction to solving a problem that Mozilla must fix.

MemShrink Wiki on Mozilla.

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I'm not sure how much can it be reduced... Chrome and Opera have the same 500 MB+ memory print if you keep them open for more than a day and visit lots of pages. I think they just cache a lot of stuff. I also think that these large memory needs would be smaller on a PC with just one GB of RAM, although maybe it's possible that I consider the browser/OS tandem too smart :P

For example, right now Opera was on for a few hours and it has 320 MB.

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These days my Firefox revolves around 350MB mark after couple of hours, system RAM is 2GB. It was higher before, I think it all got solved after many ABP updates.

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On my system (Win XP x32 SP3) I use Cometbird and also I've this kind of problems (using mem around 300 MB and I only have 512 MB). I installed FoxBoost and use CleanMem with it's default settings and I lowered memory usage by 100 MB most of the time. Maybe MemShrink be the final solution to that on FF and for CometBird.

Best regards...

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I'm not sure how much can it be reduced... Chrome and Opera have the same 500 MB+ memory print if you keep them open for more than a day and visit lots of pages. I think they just cache a lot of stuff. I also think that these large memory needs would be smaller on a PC with just one GB of RAM, although maybe it's possible that I consider the browser/OS tandem too smart :P

For example, right now Opera was on for a few hours and it has 320 MB.

By default Opera is using dynamics memory cache (which is usually use large memory print), but as user we can easily change this from Settings | Preferences | Advanced | History | Memory cache...

I keep it on 20 MB, it's enough for me...

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Mozilla should start working on the source, not rely on add-ons to provide miracles.

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I agree with you 'Bizarre'. Using externals progs do only 'patch' the problem but not face the problem itself.

Best regards...

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Firefox isn't a memory hog. It's a frigging black hole for memory! After reading the post by Pirri, I tried FoxBoost. It's actually a program called Firefox Plumber and it does work real good! From 300-400 MB previously, Firefox is down to now under 10 MB, usually as low as 6-7 MB even! Thanks Pirri for the heads up to an excellent utility!

Here's even a review of the program on BetaNews!

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RadioActive

Firefox isn't a memory hog. It's a frigging black hole for memory!

:lmao:

After reading the post by Pirri, I tried FoxBoost. It's actually a program called Firefox Plumber and it does work real good! From 300-400 MB previously, Firefox is down to now under 10 MB, usually as low as 6-7 MB even! Thanks Pirri for the heads up to an excellent utility!

Here's even a review of the program on BetaNews!

I'm using a similar program called "Firefox Ultimate Tweaker" and I think it's better than FoxBoost. When I used FoxBoost it caused some instabilities (mainly CPU spikes) which is more reasonable in UFFT.

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I tried one of these awhile back and the thing that happened to me is that I had smaller usage, but FF became unstable and crashed when doing intensive tasks.. and moving quickly..in fact I think I could make it crash by backspacing rather quickly... seems like it was FF3 though..

IMPO.. I think FF does a better job than most browsers.. when you consider the CPU and RAM usage ( analyzable ) while in physical use.. not just setting still.. it really isn't that bad at all.. They all seem to have one area or the other which has that aspect.. I think there was one or two that were fine sitting still but they also used a Disk Cache.. versus storing things in RAM..

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I'm using a similar program called "Firefox Ultimate Tweaker" and I think it's better than FoxBoost. When I used FoxBoost it caused some instabilities (mainly CPU spikes) which is more reasonable in UFFT.

Could you link to "Firefox Ultimate Tweaker" please? Thanks! I've been using foxboost a few hours now and if anything, my system is more stable because ff isn't sucking up all the memory (I have only 2 GB and I usually have 10-15 tabs open simultaneously), I haven't really been keeping an eye on task manager looking at the CPU usage tho
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RadioActive

I'm using a similar program called "Firefox Ultimate Tweaker" and I think it's better than FoxBoost. When I used FoxBoost it caused some instabilities (mainly CPU spikes) which is more reasonable in UFFT.

Could you link to "Firefox Ultimate Tweaker" please? Thanks! I've been using foxboost a few hours now and if anything, my system is more stable because ff isn't sucking up all the memory (I have only 2 GB and I usually have 10-15 tabs open simultaneously), I haven't really been keeping an eye on task manager looking at the CPU usage tho

Its correct name is "Firefox Ultimate Optimizer" and here's a link: http://www.ghacks.net/2008/01/12/firefox-ultimate-optimizer/

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Limit the cache of a modern app like FF to 10 MB? Why would anyone with more than 512 MB RAM do that? FF will most probably function better if you let it cache more items.

There is still this old Win XP mentality that the memory should be almost free&unused. If you have Win 7, things changed, applications now use the memory more efficiently, translated in better performance many times.

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Finally a proper article (yea I'm two days ahead than them :P ):

Mozilla Gets Tough on Firefox Memory Leaks

Mozilla will try to plug more memory leaks in Firefox with a new, aggressive approach that relies on weekly bug triage meetings, the company said last week. "It's become increasingly clear over the last several months that we have a pretty pressing need to deal with increases in memory usage in Firefox," said Johnny Stenback, a Finnish developer who works for Mozilla, in a message on a company mailing list last Thursday. "Since we released [Firefox] 4 (and before, too), we've seen lots of reports about Firefox memory usage being higher than in older versions, and that Firefox memory usage is growing over time."

In response, Mozilla has launched an initiative dubbed "MemShrink" that hopes to put an end to Firefox's memory leaks.

As part of MemShrink, Mozilla will kick off weekly meetings where developers will triage bugs, come up with plans to quash the bugs, and assign them to specific programmers. "It's pretty clear by now that this is a much bigger problem than any one person can likely tackle," said Stenback.

Mozilla has also posted a MemShrink entry on its in-house wiki that provides more details on the project.

In the wiki, Mozilla spelled out its goals, including, "Get the number of leaks reported against a single version of Firefox down to zero, and keep it there."

Firefox has long been criticized for using large amounts of RAM. The complaints have usually centered on the browser's penchant of not releasing memory when tabs are closed, leading to performance degradation or in some cases, locking up the browser.

Mozilla has tried to stop the leaks before. In 2008, a pair of company engineers claimed that work done on the then-under-construction Firefox 3 had paid off, with improved memory-handling compared to earlier versions and rivals.

A year before that, Christopher Blizzard, currently the Web platform director at Mozilla but at the time a director on the Mozilla Foundation's board, said the Firefox leaks had to be plugged if the browser was ever going to migrate to mobile.

Mozilla acknowledged the importance of corking memory leaks on smartphones in its MemShrink wiki. "These factors [of speed, stability and perception] are doubly important for Firefox Mobile," stated the wiki, referring to Mozilla's browser for Android.

The first weekly MemShrink triage meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14.

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The wiki link is dead and I can't seem to find MemShrink anywhere. Can anyone post a working link for it?

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