back to article Firefox preps processor revamp under Project Electrolysis

Mozilla looks ready to revamp its Firefox web browser so tabs and user interfaces can run in separate processes. The feature has appeared in a nightly testing version of the browser and has been in lengthy development under Project Electrolysis. Developer Dan Mircea says the feature is activated by default in nightly builds …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. david 12 Silver badge

    Or, as MS said about IE8 in 2009: "LCIE is a collection of internal architecture changes to Internet Explorer that improve the reliability, performance, and scalability of the browser. It also paves the way for future improvements in other areas, including security and usability."

    IE6, of course, was designed on a different UI model. Each tab, displayed on the tab bar at the bottom of your screen, was a different process.

    IE7, introduced in 2006, followed the more natural MS Windows model demonstrated by FF, and put the tabs at the top of the application window, where Bill Gates and Nature intended them to be. But they followed the FF example of putting all the tabs into one process. They fixed that in 2009, which was 6 years ago.

  3. mt_head

    I foresee... issues.

    Already, under the current model, my most common Firefox support issue is when the the user has closed Firefox - it's no longer visible - but when you try to start it again you get "Firefox is already running". You have to open Task Mangler (or better yet, Process Exploder) and kill the invisible firefox.exe process before the user can get on with things.

    Somehow I imagine this problem becoming even more common under the new regime.

  4. James Cane

    Address bar

    Sounds like a probably worthy change. The next question is when they'll natively support a single "type what you want here" box instead of the current separate search and address boxes. Omnibar etc are OK, but they aren't exactly elegant and most non-techies never install an add-in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Address bar

      it already is a "type what you want here" box

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Address bar

      If you want one box which does it all instead of two boxes, just remove the search box?

      1. James Cane

        Re: Address bar

        Just tried that and it does submit what you type to Google eventually, but as far as I can see there's no autocomplete. Also, it then shows the Google URL rather than the search terms.

      2. James Cane

        Re: Address bar

        > "If you want one box which does it all instead of two boxes, just remove the search box?"

        Also, that's missing the point because (a) I already do have what I want - if I use Firefox (not often - mostly Chrome) then I have Omnibar installed anyway and (b) I was talking in the more general case of non-technical users, ie not Regsiter readers, who will never install an add-in and will never make any configuration changes.

        1. Tom 13

          @James Cane

          I see. You want FireFox to work exactly like Chrome because you prefer Chrome. Well FOAD. I want FireFox for precisely the reason that it is different than the Borg Browser.

          1. James Cane

            Re: @James Cane

            No, I don't "want" anything. I'm reasonably happy to use Chrome or Safari.

            I just think it's a loss to the wider world that Firefox seems happy to continue its slip into obscurity. The borg browser has become the borg browser, in part, because it provides a better user experience for the masses. And it's the masses who matter in this race, whether you want them to or not.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: @James Cane

              It's become the Borg browser because it's offered from Google Search, Flash, Adobe Reader, and several antiviruses. Before the average non-techy knows what happens it's become the default browser and imported their old browser profile.

              1. James Cane

                Re: @James Cane

                Nope. That helps, but it's not enough. It got a huge reputation for speed and simplicity in the early days.

        2. joed

          Re: Address bar

          It's a great thing to have choice. I for once prefer not to have my URLs/typos/etc forwarded to Google etc. When I want it I use teh search box (knowingly).

      3. Doctor_Wibble

        Re: Address bar

        Don't you need a plugin or addon for that? I had to install six to enable

        - clicking on buttons

        - typing text

        - having that text appear on the screen

        - making that text go into the URL bar and not bing/google/yahoo

        - making the browser accept what I typed without adding 'www' at the front

        - making the browser accept what I typed without trying '.com' '.net' etc at the end

        In addition to the initial three needed before it would even run in the first place. Once upon a time there were 'options' dialogues, now there just seems to be a tablet-setting-alike page which may or may not be here or quietly synced to google for our convenience...

        And I did a more than slightly sarcastic LOL (with an extra F or two) at the 'seems to briefly freeze' remark... feels a bit like 'may be a reduction in the number of wings'.

    3. mythicalduck

      Re: Address bar

      As previously mentioned, it already is. I had to find out how to disable and put it back to a URL only bar.

      I can understand why some people would like to search in the same place as they type, but when I'm trying to access servers, I don't particularly want it going "searching" for my server name

      1. James Cane

        Re: Address bar

        Thing is, though, Firefox market share continues to drop every month. It's things like this that cause it.

        Firefox could just admit defeat and reorientate itself as a geek product, not suitable for non-techies, like Linux on the desktop. Or it could make some basic usability changes and perhaps start to recover.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Address bar

          AFAIK, every desktop browser is having its share of the market drop. This is probably due to more and more smartphones/tables being used to access the interwebs.

          FF 31 ESR is my stable 'goto' browser that is installed on my desktop.

          As I have lots of hit counter (plus ad serving and tracking) sites blocked I'm also contributing to the loss of market share.

          I only use IE for my company intraweb sites that grumble (and even crash) when you use anything but IE8 (the new IE6?)

          and just plain refuse to work with Chrome (desktop) but seem to manage ok when used from an android device.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Address bar

          "Firefox could just admit defeat and reorientate itself as a geek product, not suitable for non-techies, like Linux on the desktop. Or it could make some basic usability changes and perhaps start to recover."

          In the address bar's default configuration it's defaulting to non-geek behaviour. It launches a DNS search and your search engine at the same time and if it gets back a DNS reply saying that address exists it asks you if you really wanted to go to that address instead of searching.

          If you want geek stuff (disabling search engine from the address bar, etc...) then you have to change about:config, something which geeks are not too afraid of doing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Address bar

            If anyone's wondering who to punch in the face for turning Mozilla/Firefox to shit, look no further

  5. Greg D

    Switching back from Chrome

    Will be switching back when this makes it in final release.

    Chrome has annoyed me by removing NPAPI support by default, when 2 thirds of the internet still uses it. I get it's a deprecated thing, but tell that to the web devs and admins still running it, not the fucking end users trying to use the sites.

    Yeah you can turn it back on, but why?

    And they are removing it fully by August apparently.

  6. DropBear

    "those times when the browser seems to briefly freeze when loading a big page, typing in a form, or scrolling"

    I'm glad those are their biggest problems with this issue. Mine is all the tabs freezing for as fucking long as they feel like (often indefinitely) whenever a site's domain doesn't resolve immediately or a site doesn't answer or the eleventy-billionth third-party tracking / metric shitlet doesn't quite load or you know I just simply go to the wrong page (like, say, Scribd) which insta-freezes on load. Repeatedly. I'm positively thrilled it finally dawned on them that there might be a problem before mankind colonized Mars - if we're lucky, they might even release it as stable before we do. Maybe it'll even give me a good enough reason to move past version 27 and try fighting the POS they call UI these days.

  7. Shades

    "It is expected to launch in the main Firefox stable version 42"

    So, in the next five minutes then?

  8. Chris Evans

    Memory usage going up?

    I hope this doesn't result in yet more memory being used, Chrome seems to grab one or tow 50MB process per tab. FF lets me have hundreds of tabs that only grab significant memory per tab if clicked on.

    1. richardcox13

      Re: Memory usage going up?

      > Chrome seems to grab one or two[fixed] 50MB process per tab.

      "Seems" is the right term. There is a lot of shared working set across those processes (and others).

      Here, one Chrome worker process has a working set of some 55MB, but of that almost 22MB is shared.

      Just adding up the working set of processes will always end up double counting memory usage in Windows.

      TL;DR: Memory in virtual memory systems is complicated. Almost every measure is not what you think it is.

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