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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Just How Big is Opera 9.5 (Kestrel) Going to Be?

Opera is an awesome company. If you were wondering where most “innovation” in the world of web browsers came from, you need look no further. Many of the features that other browsers like to claim as their own actually originated in Opera; from in-line search to tabbed Windows, Opera had all of these and many more way before Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Firefox ever knew they existed.

Opera 9.20 introduced a really nifty feature that, having tried it, you’ll find impossible to go back. Simply put, the “blank” tab page is a group of 9 screenshots of your top-nine most-visited sites. It renders the concept of “favorites” obsolete – because most people have this-is-a-good-resource-if-i-ever-need-it favorites and i-visit-this-site-every-single-day favorites. It’s a waste of time to go through the favorites menu (even the cool, new IE7 favorites sidebar/widget/utility) to find that site you visit every other time you turn on your browser, and Opera addresses this issue by making those pages just a new tab away.

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Firefox 2.0 Recap

Besides the ugly new theme, the convoluted “too-cool” first-run website, and the myriad of half-baked features that Firefox 2.0 brings to the scene, there’s a couple of not-so-welcome policy changes in Firefox 2.0 that make us wonder what’s going on at Mozilla. Basically, these changes go against everything that the Firefox team has been doing for the past couple of years, and make it look like Firefox wasn’t run by an open-source community so much as a big corporation with nothing but money on its mind.

When Firefox 2.0 came out, we didn’t really care to review it – after all, there were plenty of reviews already out there from the Beta and RC stages. But now, a month into the RTM release of Firefox 2.0, we find a re-cap being called for.

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