The Null Device

That's not a bug, that's a feature

Firefox crashed for me three times today. It just crashed twice in succession.

The crashes, apparently, are caused by Firefox allocating more and more memory for web pages, DHTML objects and such, never freeing any and, once memory runs out, dying horribly. Apparently our technological civilisation, which has put men on the moon and mapped the human genome, is incapable of implementing a web browser that does not leak memory like a sieve and spontaneously die from time to time.

I've heard it claimed that Mozilla/Firefox's memory leak is not a bug but a feature; the theory being that it's Nature's own caching mechanism, ensuring that the browser runs more and more efficiently (at least until it exhausts all system memory and dies, that is). Which is a nice piece of sophistry.

Anyway, for those using Firefox, there is a minor salvation in the Tab Mix Plus extension's session management facility, which saves your session and, should your browser crash, offers to restore it for you. Of course, should Firefox happen to die when reloading all the saved pages, it could be a problem, but not to worry: another feature (and definitely not a bug) is that, if that happens, Tab Mix Plus throws out some of the pages (seemingly at random) before the next attempt; thus, you eventually get to a set of pages which will reload without crashing, and all is well with the world. What would we do without such self-regulating mechanisms?

There are 4 comments on "That's not a bug, that's a feature":

Posted by: the other anonymous http://toa.poee.co.uk/ Wed Jul 19 05:32:50 2006

Have you tried changing your cache settings?

In 1.5, it's Options Dialog, Privacy Pane, Cache Tab.

As for session saving, Session Manager is better, but IIRC, incompatable with TMP.

Also, the 2.0 crew is claiming all kinds of fixes.

"Apparently our technological civilisation, which has put men on the moon and mapped the human genome, is incapable of implementing a web browser that does not leak memory like a sieve and spontaneously die from time to time."

Yes, and a society which has done all that is still incapable of eradicating trite sayings like this.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/ Wed Jul 19 09:17:45 2006

I have tried all sorts of combinations of cache settings, but to no avail. It appears that they don't cover the involuntary cache that is the memory leak.

Posted by: soubriquet Thu Jul 27 22:46:50 2006

I keep reading these stories of firefox crashing. In my experience, it just doesn't. I use firefox for several hours per day, multiple windows, graphics, music, video, maybe 20+ tabs open. No crashes. Ever.

2.00 gigahertz AMD Athlon 64 128 kilobyte primary memory cache 128 kilobyte secondary memory cache Board: SiS-760 Bus Clock: 220 megahertz 443.01 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity 203.04 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space 512 Megabytes Installed Memory

I'm no geek, I haven't done any fancy tweaks. But for me, Firefox works just fine.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/ Fri Jul 28 00:05:52 2006

Which OS are you using? Maybe it's just the Linux version that's broken.

(And I'm not going to downgrade to Windows just to have a non-crashing web browser.)

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