back to article Mozilla puts squeeze on slow Firefox add-ons

Mozilla is cracking down on Firefox add-ons that put an undue drag on the performance of the open source browser. With a blog post on Friday, Mozilla said that within the next two weeks, it will add a warning to any add-on that slows Firefox's startup time by more than 25 per cent, and in an upcoming version of the browser, …


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  1. Paul Shirley

    seems a bit pointless chasing start speed right now

    Just had a play and it's hard to tell if firebug is causing 75% extra start time. Mainly because the browser fires up far faster than I can enter my password whether it's off or on! This attack on speed seems more of a pissing contest with other browsers than something that needs doing.

    Filtering out the toolbar infesting addons - it's about time. Of course it's really going to annoy folk writing those tweaks designed to restore toolbars Mozilla decided to remove ;)

    1. SilverWave

      Its Page load time thats important!

      I have Firefox set browser.sessionstore.max_concurrent_tabs = 0

      So just like Bartab you get an instantaneous start-up.

      It load Page load time that I notice.

  2. RichardMitnick

    Slow developers

    What Mozilla should be cracking down on with its third party providers, paid or volunteer, is their slowness to get their themes and extensions ready for FF4.

    I know all about how they are working independently an at their own discretion; but the joy of FF is that it is extensible and we can make our experience unique.

    Otherwise, if we are gong to use a plain Jane browser that is complete, we can use Safari. Yeah, Right.

    1. SilverWave

      So "whip the volunteers" is you answer... eh!?

      So you don't pay them, but because they don't dance to your tune and answer you whims immediately... you think that you have some right to be pissed!?

      You sir are a pimple on the backside of humanity.

      Calling you a carbuncle would give you ideas above your station.

  3. JeffreyTBest

    Startup time should not be confused with performance

    I start up Firefox rarely, with the same instance running for days or weeks on end, and I use Firebug all of the time to check on pages my sites generate. If it takes a few seconds longer to start up, then I don't notice it. It can't be as slow as the Java behemoths like OpenOffice or Eclipse.

    Performance, on the other hand, such as whether it renders pages, runs scripts and handles DOM manipulations promptly, is important to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Java behemoths

      Except that OpenOffice isn't exactly the Java behemoth it used to be. In fact it isn't required for the majority of users.

      1. Greg J Preece

        You want a real Java behemoth?

        Netbeans. Oh MAN, does that thing take forever to start. If it wasn't such a great IDE the load time would seriously piss me off.

    2. Ole Juul

      Zero startup time

      I don't normally start Firefox except on a reboot every few months, so on a daily basis the startup time is zero.

      This move by FF is probably a good idea, but I agree with Jeffrey, it's the performance enhancements I'll be looking for.

  4. Notorious Biggles
    Thumb Up


    I commend this. I don't like toolbars, and don't know anyone who actually uses them, but there they are jammed into every browser of every user I support. It used to be that the easy fix was to put on Firefox instead of IE, but now there's Firefox toolbars as well, and since it's required by several in-house systems, I can't move them on to Chrome.

    This way though, there's a chance they'll not screw up their browser.

    1. DJGM

      @ Notorious Biggles

      Try SeaMonkey instead, under the hood it's almost exactly the same as Firefox, being built upon the Gecko engine and a XUL front end but on the surface, it's immune to third party toolbars.

      Forget Chrome ... Google's dumbed down excuse of a browser!

  5. Mark C Casey


    I usually use custom install on programs to avoid the install of toolbars but normal users don't, hopefully the way it'll work in Firefox is:

    1. Firefox starts up and detects a toolbar install

    2. Firefox prompts the user whether they want it installed with the default option being no

    3. Happy times for everyone

    Plus, no more MS pushing their crap through windowsupdate into Firefox. (I'm looking at you .net framework)

    1. bex

      copying ie

      ie9 does this and checks for stuff that slows down startup

  6. Robin


    "According to Mozilla's stats, Firebug slows startup by 75 per cent."

    Surely the target audience for that plugin expect that debugging-type tools will slow things down a little?

    I use it at work and it's running all day, so a one-off 17.5 second startup time compared to 10 seconds isn't all that much of a problem, especially not while I'm doing the most important task of the day - making that vital first brew of the day!

    1. mk1992

      turn off firebug for home use

      i use firebug for debug, but it does slow down page load times. For home use, I turn off firebug. Agree with the general gist: start time not much of an issue, daily usage performance is.

      1. Ole Juul

        Page load times

        Even though startup time is irrelevant to me because I leave everything running, after reading this article I decided to try disabling Firebug just in case. What a difference! Like mk1992 says, "it does slow down page load times". I'm an amateur and can do without Firebug and find Webdeveloper to be adequate for me anyway.

    2. Paul RND*1000

      That's my thought on Firebug too

      Yes, it's a large and feature-packed add-on. But it's not exactly something that Joe Average-User should be running anyway.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Better still

    pick a browser that has the the good stuff built in, without the performance problems....

    1. Jeremy 2

      You're slipping...

      12 comments in before the obligatory Opera post? You're slipping up! :)

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Well. with the improvements if FF4 speed,

        there isn't as much lag time for the posting queue.

    2. Greg J Preece

      We have a winner!

      To the person from the last Firefox thread - this is what I'm on about.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Only one thing worse than unlinked references.

        Unlinked self-references.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    seems like a nice idea

    i've been using firefox eversince it was phoenix. and it remains my favourite. noscript and abp are 2 addons that should be encouraged even if they slow startup times. of all the browsers, ff seems to be the only one developed keeping the end user in mind. opera is not far behind. and surprisingly ie8 a somewhat distant 3rd in my book.

  9. nigel 15

    who cares about startup time

    i have firebug and download helper. firefox takes 3 seconds to start. by the figures it would take about 1.5 seconds without these addons.

    Who cares? what would i do with those extra 1.5 seconds ? If they'd fix the memory leak then i'd only have to bother once a day.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is startup time their only measure?

    If it is, then they're basing the decision on flawed assumptions. The amount of time I spend waiting on Firefox to start over the course of a day is probably 1 minute. Of course, their next version will have some crap styled after jqs...unless we're lucky.

  11. Stuart Halliday

    Nice one

    Now these addon devs will try their hardess to rewrite and improve their code. :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good move, but...

    It's a step in the right direction, but it seems to be fairly common for FF users to have loads of add-ons installed, most of which they never use. The problem for FF being that these browsers will be slow to start and often slow to run. Shouting about how fast your browser is will do you no good when one of these users sees a friend's machine running Chrome or Opera much faster.

    The solution would be to build into the browser a feature to warn users when add-ons are making their browser slow. And also to warn them of installed add-ons which are never or rarely used.

  13. Greg J Preece

    In fairness to Firebug

    It's a much more complex add-on than most, and the people that install and use it in a day-to-day basis probably aren't fussed about the startup hit, given that they're not end users. I use it everyday and I'd rather have it around than have Firefox boot faster.

    But it's good to see Mozzy addressing this issue, especially with regard to add-ons dropped in by other installers. That is infuriating.

  14. Rich 27


    I don't mind if it slows performance, its a debugging tool I'd expect some hit. I think the advantages out weight the drag there.

    Otherwise that's probably a good move.

  15. Sampler

    Leading the way

    Good ol' Firefox leading the way, because this is nothing like the new IE9 performance tab for plugins showing how they've affected the browsers load times.

    I'll wait for me Chrome version though, never been a big FF fan, the top bars way to big and takes up too much screen real estate.

    1. Bill B

      Top bar is way too big?

      errr .. sampler .. have you actually seen FF4?

      I'm running it right now and there isn't a top bar to speak of. .. a bar with tabs and a bar for addresses. That's it

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I sincerely hope you're a troll since otherwise you're just lazy and ignorant.

    3. Greg J Preece

      Pot, meet kettle

      "Good ol' Firefox leading the way, because this is nothing like the new IE9 performance tab for plugins showing how they've affected the browsers load times." Internet Explorer really in a position to claim leadership? Really? Given that IE7 was a massive Firefox rip-off, right down to the layout and keyboard shortcuts, accusing them of stealing from IE is a bit rich...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great news

    I won't have to keep uninstalling yahoo and google toolbar from my folk's computer any longer.

    But really, who doesn't expect a utility like firebug to have a large performance impact on browser load and run time?

    As a developer you accept that trade-off ( and probably have a separate profile or browser for your regular surfing )

  17. Mike Echo


    The reason I stick with Firefox (Pale Moon actually) is that some of the add-ons are almost indispensable. It's just a matter of keeping them at a minimum and being prepared to accept a performance hit as a trade-off for the benefit provided by the particular add-on/s. No doubt some people will grizzle about their start up times even though they have a squillion add-ons installed.

    1. Carol Orlowski


      Get a browser that doesn't need compromises...

      1. Bill B

        trade offs

        I downvoted this post and then thought i'd better reply because its possible carol is new to programming and didn't realise that the clever reply was just that .. clever .. but not intelligent.

        Any functionality within a program needs to load code to implement that functionality. The process of loading that code will take time. It's possible to optimise the loading of the code so it appears that the system loads fast, but in all cases that code has to be loaded at some point. When the code is loaded is part of the the compromise and trade off.

        Any add on adds to the functionality. Opera may have all the functionality of all the add ons that you would ever want in FireFox without having to use an add on but it *still* has to load that code. Having said that, Opera has an add on architecture .. just it bundles some of the stuff FF views as an add on into the system.

        It is likely, therefore, that Opera itself has to have made trade offs .. what functionality can it do without in order to speed up the start up (Or to put it simply .. what code can it avoid loading at start up?).

        Now i know Opera has a built in debugger. But i can bet you that Opera has made compomises concerning the loading and running of this debugger at start up because, lets face it, very few people outside the esteemed readers of this publication are going to need or use a debugger so it actually doesn't *have* to be loaded so .. oh dear .. I've just made a compromise, haven't I?

        Opera, IE, Safri, Firefox will all induldge in trade offs. Which architecture you choose is a matter of personal taste and browser religion. Just don't try and be too clever about it.

        1. CD001


          The Opera debugger is Dragonfly - I'm pretty sure it doesn't load at startup - you'll notice it takes a second maybe when you hit Ctrl + Shift + I before it appears, although that could be the amount of time it takes to parse the DOM.

          I generally recommend Opera for "end users" but for web monkeys it's gotta be Firefox I'm afraid; there are just too many useful extensions. Though I'm not entirely convinced by FF4's copying of the Opera UI and removal of the status bar.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        re: Trade-offs?

        ...except to feature set and usability, plus the danger of catching some strange condition that makes you bore people about your browser?

  18. SilverWave

    So Greasemonkey and DLSB? Only 2 out of 23 Not bad.

    *Aardvark 3.0

    Adblock Plus 1.3.5

    Add-on Compatibility Reporter 0.8.2

    Barlesque 1.15

    Boox 3.0a1

    Download Statusbar 0.9.8

    Greasemonkey 0.9.1

    Image Zoom 0.4.6

    Locationbar² 1.0.6

    Make Link 11.03

    Menu Editor 1.2.7

    Nightly Tester Tools 3.1.2

    NoSquint 2.1

    OptimizeGoogle 0.78.2

    Places’ Full Titles 4

    Re-Pagination 2011.03.24

    Readability 1.3

    Reliby 1.5.0

    RequestPolicy 0.5.20

    Shelve 1.23

    Tab Utilities 1.0.2

    Toolbar Buttons 1.0

    Tree Style Tab 0.11.2011032401

    *Officially incompatible with Firefox 4.0... but works anyway

    But the interesting measure would be load times...

  19. Taemar


    "...users often don’t know how the add-on got there..."

    I've seen a lot of users run the automatic Java update and click "next" until it's finished, ignoring the part about the Yahoo Toolbar. Or the same but when installing CCleaner or any other free application that wants to include a toolbar or browser install. So a lot of it is users choosing to be ignorant then complaining about the consequences, imo.

  20. Mark Dowling


    As a long time FF user I'm a bit cheesed off that this announcement didn't come until IE9 announced something similar

  21. bex

    follow the ie road

    so they are doing this not because that functionality is part of internet explorer 9 but because a good idea?

  22. mhenriday

    No matter where the idea came from

    - and I find it difficult to believe that it originated with Microsoft, for in that case Ballmer & Co would surely have asked their pals at the USPO for a patent - it's a good one ; many of us who have a tendency to add add-on after add-on to our Firefox repertoire could indeed use a reminder that some of them may well be negatively affecting start-up times. But as several posters have noted above, the real issue is how long the browser, as compared to its competitors, takes to load pages. And I, too, would like to see a little gentle pressure from Mozilla on add-on developers to make their offerings compatible with FF 4.0 ; the only thing preventing me from making the latest Minefield (FF) 4.0 nightly build my default browser and sending FF 3.6.17pre out to pasture is the fact that I can't get my Delicious Bookmarks to work with the former....


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: No matter where the idea came from

      Exactly. If all the browser manufacturers pinched each others better ideas, it would be A Good Thing. Only Cheetos-encrusted forumtards will care that their pet browser did or didn't have it first, and adopt a dog in the manger attitude about the feature in question.

      Meantime, the rest of use can have better, more usable browsers.

  23. Piloti

    Screen "drag".....

    One thing I have noticed since moving to FF4 is that when I move my mouse around the screen, the cursor seems to "drag". In stead of a smooth movement around the screen it is jerky and "stop / start". It is only fractions, tiny amounts, but enough to be seen on screen and make mouse movement ever so slightly annoying.

    Start p speed I do not care about, but, like everybody else, "working speed" page render and the rest is far more important.....

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