Firefox continues gaining market share, software flaws

Excellent news! My favorite web browser, Mozilla Firefox, has gained market share yet again and now commands 21.53% of the market. That’s a far cry from several years ago when Firefox was just coming out and Internet Explorer was by far the dominant browser. I still remember all of those sites that only worked in Internet Explorer, and because alternative browsers weren’t very popular, companies got away with it. Now that Internet Explorer “only” has 67.55% of the market, no one dares make a site that requires it, thus alienating a whole third of potential customers. I can’t even remember the last time I saw an IE-only site.

Unfortunately, while Firefox’s market share is gaining, the software itself is gaining more and more problems. Firefox crashing has become a daily occurrence for me. I remember when it used to stay alive for months — barely. At least it now saves the list of open tabs and allows you to resume them upon restarting, but you still lose lots of logged in sessions and it’s just a big hassle. And while it is true that most Firefox crashes can be traced back to Adobe’s Flash plugin, there’s no excuse for Firefox allowing a bug in a plugin to crash the whole application. Google Chrome found a fix for this by running each tab as a separate process. Firefox needs to do the same, or else it won’t keep gaining market share for much longer. As much as I hate to admit it, Firefox has some pretty significant flaws.

7 Responses to “Firefox continues gaining market share, software flaws”

  1. arensb Says:

    Another big reason my Firefox sessions end is memory leaks: either it grows too bloated and crashes, or I kill it before that. Having each tab run as a separate process would help with that as well.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    I can’t say I really have a problem with memory usage in Firefox. I’m running Ubuntu 64-bit with 4 GB of RAM, which is rarely all used. Even then, the OS intelligently figures out what to swap, so with another 6 GB or so of on-disk swap, I never run out of memory. The only time I shut down Firefox is never — its uptime is limited by however often it decides to crash.

    Seeing as how 2 GB DIMMs can be had for as little as $20 each, there’s no excuse for not maxing out memory. Unfortunately I have a cheap Dell system that maxes out at 4 GB :-/

  3. arensb Says:

    Yeah, this is mainly on the FreeBSD box at home (I’m in the process of migrating to a beefier Ubuntu box, but haven’t figured out how best to move the mouse with the keyboard, which is extremely useful when one of the cats decides to take a nap on my arm. Any suggestions?) and on the Sun at work, which IIRC doesn’t take $20 DIMMs.

  4. Gregory Maxwell Says:

    Use nspluginwrapper then some plugin crash will (usually) not take out the browser. Fedora does this by default. It’s not without a cost: the fundamental browser plugin design requires all kinds of ugly behaviour, So it’s impossible with the current API to both sandbox and be fully compatible. I think you’ll agree that a few more flash crashes and glitches, and substantially slower flash performance is a small price to pay (chrome suffers from this too, as I understand it) for a browser that doesn’t crash.

    Interesting enough: Flash is the number one cause of firefox crashes by a significant margin. Of course, you could also do as I do and simply don’t run flash. You can still get to most of the popular video sites with the various downloading tools available, which has the side benefit of keeping you up to speed on the downloading tools should you need them. … it also avoids your client being counted as one more reasons sites shouldn’t adopt open video technology.

    Arensb: What firefox are you running? I’ve found the 3.x train to substantially less leaky than 2.x was.

  5. T2A` Says:

    I can’t remember the last time FF3 crashed on me. I’d blame a shoddy Linux port before FF itself. Also, if you’re not running Flashblock by now I have little sympathy. And not only that, aren’t you the one who keeps 400 tabs open at once rather than use a temporary bookmark like everyone else? D:

  6. shadey Says:

    I have these problems with my Windows version of Firefox 3. I had no complaints about version 2 other than the terrible memory leaks requiring me to restart firefox after a number of hours/days. Now I have this problem too with version 3 (albeit not as bad) along with random crashes all the time which is just quite simply frustrating after a while. Firefox even crashed while applying the 3.0.6 update, I mean wtf. I use flashblock and various other blockers etc too.

    I am also guilty of keeping a large number of tabs open for a long time, isn’t that the whole point of such an awesome feature? We all know how bookmarks just get lost amongst the rest, or end up being too lazy to ever go back to them and stumble upon them one day whilst doing some house cleaning.

    I’m not really having a rant at Firefox either, I think it’s great. I just miss the stability and solidness of version 2.

  7. knacker Says:

    Honestly, though my bookmarks are well organized, I never use them. I have the URLs for all my favorite sites memorized.

    If there’s a temporary bookmark I need, some reference for some API I’m just learning etc… I drag it to the desktop… where it’ll get cleaned in the course of normal computer use, rather than clog up some list.

    It also helps because don’t remember things by name, but by physically *where* I put them. Since the desktop preserves the locations of icons on the screen, it adds an extra layer of convenience. They call that using the computer spatially, and it’s unfortunately going out of style right now… the major implementer of it was always Apple, and they seem intent on copying the way Windows works for Mac OS. The open source community also backlashed majorly against one of their desktop environments that tried to implement it. But that’s a discussion for another time.