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Firefox Overhaul Should Cut Down Crashes

Gordon Kelly


Firefox Overhaul Should Cut Down Crashes

If you, like me, left Firefox recently you probably did so for one of two reasons: speed or stability. Well Mozilla is finally looking to address the latter...

The non-profit organisation has announced the first public beta of Firefox 3.6.4 (dubbed 'Lorentz') which takes a bold and long overdue step: it isolates Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime and Microsoft Silverlight plugins from the browser so if they crash, it doesn't.

"This version of Firefox will offer uninterrupted browsing for Windows and Linux users when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime, or Microsoft Silverlight plugins," said the Firefox product director Mike Beltzner in an official blog post. "If a crash in one of these plugins happens, Firefox will continue to run and users will be able to submit a crash report before reloading the page to try again."

"No big deal" you make think, until you realise the huge proportion of Firefox crashes that are down to one of these three plugins. Mozilla's publicly available crash stats keeps a detailed record of this, but as Betanews points out: up to 50 per cent of Firefox crashes have been laid at the feet of out of date versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat, while Flash has totalled up to 25 per cent.

The problem for Firefox, however, is - beneficial or not - other browsers have been doing this for some time. Most notably Google Chrome has featured this functionality since it first launched in September 2008! Apple also recently announced WebKit2 which made this feature a standard part of all Webkit based browsers meaning Firefox isn't so much blazing a trail as desperately playing catch-up.

That said, Firefox will be all the better for this and when fighting it out against Microsoft, Google and Apple's increasingly aggressive browser release strategies it is hard not to feel some sympathy for the little guy...


Firefox Blog Post

Stats via Betanews

Tim Sutton

April 21, 2010, 6:54 pm

This is a good thing.

Hopefully it'll work a bit better than the Chrome version. Which doesn't work at all. Totally independent tab processes my frequently crashed arse. Grumblegrumble.


April 21, 2010, 6:57 pm

@Tim - I tend to find it does work fairly well in Chrome, but WebKit2 should see is far better implemented. And yes, it was an important move by Mozilla - let's just hope it can overhaul its performance too much as Opera did: http://www.trustedreviews.c...


April 21, 2010, 7:32 pm

It's a good move by Mozilla, but the UI needs to be overhauled pronto. I'm always amazed at how Chrome has changed things from the menu bar to two little icons and yet there was no learning curve for me for anything. Brilliant!


April 21, 2010, 8:28 pm

The Flash beta with video card acceleration is pretty crashy for me. Usually on Youtube.


April 21, 2010, 9:18 pm

Ohmz: But does the UI actually NEED an overhaul? If I wanted a minimalist browser, I already have Chrome. Why would I want Firefox to become Chrome as well? When I use Firefox it's because it gives me all the options and control that I need, without having to search for them. And from my experience and that of friends and family, Chrome definitely has a learning curve once you try to do anything beyond basic browsing.

Google's approach certainly has its benefits, but it doesn't mean everyone else has to copy it. I'd like to have the option of using old-fashioned and supposedly "unintuitive" menus in a modern, stable browser.


April 21, 2010, 9:29 pm

A little off topic, but wondering if anyone can help.

You mention Chrome, i seem to have a common problem with that when ever i read if i highlight text in a lot of sights the page will crash (opps etc....) it seams to do this on a lot of pages.

On topic, can't say i will switch back from chrome i find all browsers have problems, it's just a matter of what annoys me the least, and chrome takes that crown at the moment for simplicity.


April 21, 2010, 11:06 pm

Any idea of how long this will take?


April 21, 2010, 11:30 pm

read the link at the end of the article...

chrome is okay but the little things annoy me and mean i use both browsers at the same time. I really hate not being able to delete a single item from my history (and version 5 crashes loads), the extensions are nowhere near as refined or useful as their FF counterparts (last pass and ABP especially). FF used to be the best browser for me but recently its been getting slower and slower, Chrome just doesnt do things as well as FF yet, its ok but am really looking for some improvements to replace FF completely.

Apps however, rule!


April 22, 2010, 1:39 am

Too little too late for me, i have switched to Chrome and really can't see myself going back to FF now.


April 22, 2010, 6:44 pm

Not many 'little guy's' can pay their CEO's half a million dollars annually. The real 'little guy' or underdog is and has always has been Opera. A genuinely independent and innovative company.

Incidentally Opera also has very few of the memory issues that plague this browser and runs smoothly even on this decade old Thinkpad that I'm typing on. And also with the typical home user running as much as a 100 services at just startup it's the last program you'd want to recommend to new users, especially now with Microsoft improving their own offering to such a dramatic extent.


April 23, 2010, 12:24 pm

Ohmz: There's a Firefox UI overhaul currently in the works. First stage of it is aimed at 3.7, but the really big changes should land in Firefox 4.0. All the design work's out in the open on the Mozilla wiki, and they're taking a lot of cues from Chrome, and also from IE's use of Aero on Windows.

I'm kind of surprised though, when I was reading the blog posts about the development of this functionality, I thought it would apply to all plugins. I have tremendous trouble with Adobe Reader...

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