Wandering Thoughts archives


When and where I fell out of love with Firefox

Okay, the title of this entry is a little bit of an exaggeration; I was never really in love with Firefox. But I certainly spent a long time being comfortable with it and that's pretty close. What started me thinking about this is the widely-spread article Everyone hates Firefox updates, which casts Firefox's frequent updates in a very dim light.

For me, this is part of the story but not all of it. Actually, Firefox updates don't particularly bother me by themselves (partly because I do not auto-apply them). What did it for me with Firefox is two factors. The first and lesser is addon compatibility, where for a fairly long time each new Firefox release declared itself incompatible with all old addons. Either every addon you wanted to use had to be updated for the new Firefox or you had to override the compatibility. Since addons are a crucial part of my Firefox experience, upgrading required both a delay and an annoying testing process.

(This default incompatibility was especially stupid because it was often basically artificial. Not infrequently the only update many addons required was to increase the 'compatible with ...' Firefox version number in their metadata.)

But for me the big problem has been that Firefox has consistently gone downhill in performance and 'durability' (the ability to just leave it running). As I've written about before, in the old days I could leave Firefox running for months, even with a certain amount of JavaScript being used every so often, and it performed very well. Since I've updated to modern versions of Firefox, things have decayed to the point where I have to restart Firefox every few days (or less), due to memory bloat and accompanying performance problems. Although I found and fixed one source of memory bloat, the overall problem is still there and I am still restarting Firefox very frequently (for me).

In short, Firefox used to be a program that I could ignore and just count on; it pretty much just worked and didn't need any particular care. These days Firefox requires regular tending and attention. It has stopped being transparent and started becoming a source of friction in my computing environment, something that I have to worry about and concern myself with.

Unfortunately, I don't really expect this to get any better over time. I've come to believe that my browser usage model is very significantly different from what the Firefox developers target; for example, I doubt that they target long-term (multi-day, even multi-week) stability.

(As before, Chrome would be worse for my web browsing. Partly it is that Chrome continues to be a worse environment for addons than Firefox is, and partly it is that Chrome has various little glitches and differences from Firefox.)

web/FirefoxDisenchantment written at 22:20:38; Add Comment

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