On the matter of Firefox and memory leaks…

Recently our original article/rant on Firefox’s legendary memory abuse has seen an increase in comments and views; and I had intended to post the following comment in light of the article’s rebirth and the ensuing discussions in the comments.

The reply turned out to be longer than I’d originally intended, so here it is as its own post.

I’ll try to be as objective as possible in this reply:

The most important thing for frustrated end users to keep in mind is that Mozilla/Firefox cannot be held responsible for cases where incorrectly written plugins and/or extensions cause Firefox to abuse system memory – that’s the trade-off between empowering developers and keeping the code squeaky clean.

Most of the cases reported are indeed caused by one or more extensions or plugins gone awry, doing something they shouldn’t be doing, or something they don’t know how to do properly. Some of the most popular plugins for Firefox are notorious for their memory leaks; but few users realize just how dangerous they can be, and that the Firefox devs cannot really do anything about it.

At the same time, there can be no doubt that Firefox has some memory leaks in the codebase itself. They’re clearly not easily reproducible and they don’t happen very readily nor often enough because the developers have clearly spared no effort in their attempts to address this problem for once and for all. But they’re there, nevertheless.

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