Tuesday, October 04, 2011

super seven: the fox is on fire

All hail Nicholas Nethercote!

When Mozilla launched Memshrink to finally do something about all the memory that Firefox never seemed to let go until it had to shrug, I discovered Nicholas Nethercote's blog. Since then I have been reading every new post on his blog, enjoying his writing style and also learning a lot about performance tuning and about the innards of Firefox (I didn't know just how much sqlite was used in all those add-ons). I also waited eagerly for Firefox 7 so that I could see the results of all these fixes and last week I didn't hesitate a moment when I saw the pop-up in the system tray telling me that Firefox 7 was available. Mercifully, the only hacks I needed to get two add-ons working were familiar ones that I had effected when Firefox 5.0 was rolled out.

A few minutes later, after Firefox was back up and running, I could see the difference. I spent some time playing with about:memory?verbose, because the output now contained information about the various compartments that were using memory. Firefox was not lurching to chomp away memory. Instead, it seemed more well-behaved and offered strong testimony to everybody who had worked hard to plug all those leaks and free all that heap.

The only cloud in this silver sky was a news article screaming that Chrome was poised to take over from Firefox as the second most popular browser. Perhaps all these fixes have come too late. Perhaps the article didn't analyse the data correctly and fairly. I don't care much right now as long as Firefox 8 promises to shed even more lard.

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