Firefox is slow and buggy (but I'm hooked anyway)

Firefox is slow and buggy (but I'm hooked anyway)

Summary: Does Mozilla Firefox have weaknesses and bugs? Heck yes, some whoppers. So why do I still use it? Two words: Extensions and Community.

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TOPICS: Browser
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A couple weeks ago I wrote an article about my experiences with the IE7 pre-beta, pointing out some problems with it and explaining why I was sticking with Mozilla Firefox. Boy, did I get a lot of responses! I want to address and elaborate on one particular thread that was mentioned a few times, and that is the feeling that the weaknesses and bugs in Firefox are being downplayed in the media in general and in my article in particular.

So does FF have weaknesses and bugs? Heck yes. Firefox is one of the buggiest programs I use. This is not a review, but I have to say that Firefox is one of the buggiest programs I use on a day to day basis. Here are a few of the warts that either I or other users have reported (as of 1.5.0.1). Of course, your mileage may vary:

  1. Newer releases feel slower than old releases
  2. It takes too long to start up
  3. It crashes often (both on my PC and my Mac)
  4. It doesn't handle embedded content well (especially PDFs)
  5. It has serious memory leaks
  6. It does not protect itself very well from badly behaved extensions.
  7. ...Did I leave anything else important out?

With all that said, I still use it all the time. I've mostly expunged IE from all my computers (except I have to keep it around for a few intranet pages that require it).  I took a look at Opera but decided it wasn't for me. That probably makes no sense to you so let me explain.

There are two things that Mozilla Firefox has that nobody else can match. Things that make me use it even as I occasionally curse it. They are:

  1. Extensions, and
  2. Open Source Community

Extensions are so incredibly easy to write that there are hundreds available. Some are tiny, like 15K or less, but are packed with functionality. You just click on a link to install one. There's an extension site that lists and rates all of them, and updates are a breeze. That's amazing power and flexibility.

I have faith in the Open Source community that brought us Mozilla and Firefox. It's a vibrant, growing community filled with people like me who are passionate about technology. I believe the problems will be worked out, and it's comforting to know that if something bothers me enough I can go fix it myself. The Mozilla license is very progressive and corporate friendly, a nice balance of Open Source ideals and practicality.

Every product is going to have its pros and cons, but there are some products that are so darned useful you'll put up with a lot to keep using them. So while I'll always be on the lookout for Something Better, at the moment, despite its many flaws, Firefox has me hooked

Topic: Browser

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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241 comments
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  • LOL.. You are describing WIndows!

    Funny you describe all the reasons why people flock to Windows - because despite it's flaws and frustrations, it's compatibility and extensability is desireable.

    The same Windows detractors and FF users talk out of both sides of their mouth. Thanks for poiting that out.
    Prognosticator
    • I agree, And its because you are right.

      Finally! We see a real on the money FF article, they guy uses the program because he likes it! He finds it fits his needs and he likes its the kind of versatility offers and finds its weaknesses dont matter much to him. PERFECT! It does sound just like 99.9% of WIndows users. Almost anyone who wouldnt faint useing Linux, and hates Windows that much is long gone already, so those who are left using WIndows like it for all the above reasons. Nuff Said.
      Cayble
    • Yeah! with all the crashtastic crap!

      And btw learn to spell. Poiting? I poit, you poit, we all poit to...
      Detroit?

      Anyway - like the other OSs out there aren't extensible? Funny,
      you're an ignoramous just waiting to die, once again proving
      Darwin's theory.

      We're not comparing Windows to Firefox brainiac; we're comparing
      browsers.
      metavurt
      • Again someone misses the point

        HE was comparing FF to Windows you dolt. It drives me up a wall when people complain about someone not getting the point when THEY don't get the point.

        Have a nice one...
        viking2007
    • FIrefox

      Three cheers for open source

      They give Microsoft a run for their money and benefit all of us

      Firefox is GREAT
      fpavri@...
  • I Disagree

    I have 5 systems, all dual boot between various versions of windows and Linux, and I have not found one instance of the problems you mention. One might believe that you are using IE instead of FireFox!

    Until Microsoft fixes IE and makes it standard, I will not use it.
    linux_for_me
    • I disaree with your disagreement

      Firefox <b>is</b> slow and buggy espesially if you install several dozen extensions.

      Leave it as is when installed and it's lean and mean, but boring.

      Despite that, I too still prefer it. Although being a Linux user, I also really like Konqueror.

      Try installing 30 or 40 extensions (or 60+ as I do) Firfox won't be nearly as wonderful.

      One has to descide if performance or features is more important. If it's the latter (my choice) then you're stuck living with bugs and occassional lockups and freeze ups (and this is on windows and <b>especially</b> on Linux.

      Scott

      Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.8.0.1) Gecko/20060313 Debian/1.5.dfsg+1.5.0.1-4 Firefox/1.5.0.1 - You!
      angrykeyboarder
  • If you believe FF is slow and buggy...

    ...then I would like to sell you my oceanfront home in Arizona. :p

    I've been using FF since January. While I can't say that the new 1.5.x version is slower than the old (never had a chance to use the old version), I can say I've had no problems using FF. That's probably because I only have three plugins for it, while those having problems probably bloated the browser with dozens of unnecessary add-ons that they don't even need.

    These are most likely the same people who are M$FT loyalists who are looking for any excuse to FUD OpenSource.
    Mr. Roboto
    • Quite untrue

      Well, for OpenSource, and criticism whatsoever is "MS FUD", so maybe you are right?
      FireFox, even without extensions, is slow and buggy. It quits on me at least once a day, and with extensions that number goes up.

      Having said that, until someone comes out with AdBlock for another browsers, I will NEVER give it up. I was troubleshooting a Mac at work and fired up Safari and was stunned. The user said ?after a while, you don?t even notice the ads?; I prefer actually not seeing them.
      mdemuth
      • So true

        I'm so hooked to Adblock, that on the rare occasion I have to use IE for something, I end up right-clicking the ads to try to adblock them
        SantiagoCrespo
        • popup blocking in IE...

          ...is a joke!!

          The odd time I use IE (at work I have no choice) I occasionally get a warning that "popup ads have been blocked for this site".

          What a revelation...IE has blocked something....ohhh...hello!!! there's a popup ad!!

          Yes, it blocks the first ad, then allows the next one!!

          Give me Firefox ANYTIME. No It's not perfect. No-one EVER said it was. But it beats the hell out of IE!!
          mdsmedia
      • Ad blocking

        You'll find that Maxthon, which runs on either the IE or Firefox engine has a much better pop-up blocker than Firefox and it has tabs and much of the stuff that folk like in Firefox. I've given up on Firefox because some kind of glitch prevents me from loading extensions - I get an unintelligible error message.
        silkycat
    • Try using it for longer than three months

      [i]"I've been using FF since January."[/i]

      heh. I've been using it since it was called "phoenix". Firefox [b]is[/b] slow, it [b]does[/b] hog memory, and it [b]does[/b] crash more often than Internet Explorer...but I still use it exclusively.

      I converted my wife over to Firefox and she just commented the other day that "Firefox crashes more than Internet Explorer does". However, my wife likes the tabs and the noscript extension I installed for her, so she is putting up with it like I do.

      Does firefox crash "often"? Well, not really, but I does crash more often than IE. javascript, followed by embedded content are top two culprits.
      toadlife
      • I've used it for over a year an no crashes

        I'm amused that people find firefox crashes.... mine doesn't (not ever yet).
        hipparchus2001
        • Results may vary

          It depends heavily on the site you visit. Embedded content and javascript are almost always the cause.
          toadlife
          • Then why not..

            ..report it as a bug to the Mozilla team?
            5th Limb in the Kisser
          • so this guys anecdotal evidence might not be significant

            I know a load of people who use Firefox, and it's fast and they think it's great.
            A number of them however, have gone to IE7beta. I tried an early beta, and IE7 crashing all the time put me off for the time being, but I imagine it will be pretty much as good as Firefox.
            I wonder why Microsoft always bust a gut over everything, trying to own all formats.

            I'm not complaining too much, I just made a couple of fun stop motion movie shorts with my eldest son using my ancient vhs-c camcorder and a tv card, the tv software (with take photo facility) and Windows XP with Movie Maker 2.

            I've done this with the Mac before, with the kids, using iStopMotion which is a solution you have to pay (a small amount) for, but is more professional : it displays last scene over top of current image from camera.

            However, there are a lot of people who are very poor, and might be able to scrimp a Windows system together from bits, and this will offer these kids a great source of self and community entertainment, maybe even get them into a career.
            hipparchus2001
        • not so much crashes, but...

          I have, more than once, had Firefox kill my bookmarks.

          It has crashed on me, but nothing like on a daily basis.

          And, it does leak memory like a sieve.

          I use it for the tabs, purely and simply (and that's only because my various jobs require me to have multiple windows and I am usually working on more than one job at a time). Google Toolbar does a wonderful job of blocking what I want blocked (not, however, in Firefox, sadly). The second IE comes out with a stable tabbed browser version, I'm back there.
          karinagw
          • good luck!!

            I've been using Firefox for a couple of years. Hey it's not perfect, and yeah it might crash occasionally....IE doesn't???

            But then I've never known Firefox to leak like IE.

            Yeah, Firefox appears to leak memory, although in Linux it doesn't seem to be a problem. Some of the ads in ZDnet drag the processor along....

            But Windows and IE in particular have always leaked memory. And Firefox is more likely to fix that problem quickly than anything MS ever made.

            I'd love Anton to send me the post he recently made about cleaning up Windows...you told us all the tools you use to make XP work properly....I'm dual booting and would love to make Windows work better. You can send it to mdsmedia@hotmail.com (I'll reinstate it cos I never use it). Or just let me know where I can contact you.
            mdsmedia
        • Now you've done it...

          Your's hasn't yet... not doesn't... cause now you've angered the Murphy Gods <grin>...

          Stoney
          {just cause it hasn't crashed on you doesn't mean it doesn't crash on others... glad everyone elses pain amuses you...}
          StoneyFF