Categorized | News, Open Source

Firefox is great but …

Posted on 25 May 2007 by Demian Turner

… it sure is one fat bastard of a web browser! I’ve just been in the habit of using it but Thomas convinced me the other day to drop the browser like a bad habit and switch to, of course, Safari. In fact, the trick is to avoid launching Firefox at all, which after a few days practice I’ve been able to achieve.

The bottom line is Firefox is very un-Mac-like. It’s dead slow, takes ages to launch, is memory ravenous and even with no extensions installed, crashes all the time. For the record I’m using on a Mac Book Pro with 2GB RAM and 2.16Ghz cpu. To be fair I use a few browser-heavy apps, like Google Reader, Geni and Google Calendar. Well all these work perfectly in Safari, and if you use WebKit and the WebKitDeveloperExtras you don’t even miss Firebug and the Web Developer extension.

Is switching worth it? I think so. Since the changeover it’s like having a new, comfy pair of shoes, or losing 10kgs – great feeling!Β  The speedup is immense, I’d estimate Safari is between 2 and 5 times faster then Firefox in terms of launching, opening new tabs, switching tabs, viewing src, etc.

Ironically I had to use Firefox to write this entry, HtmlArea used by Serendipity does not work in Safari πŸ™Β  And apologies to PC users who of course can’t use Safari, but they can switch to a Mac πŸ˜‰

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16 Comments For This Post

  1. Ants Aasma Says:

    PC users can use Konqueror which uses basically the same engine. It sure is nice and snappy and it works with most of the stuff out there.

  2. Jens Says:


    I guess this behaviour is only on Macs, firefox on windows have become very fast and I donΒ΄t remember my last crash even with many extensions installed.

    But on Mac, it seems to be really another story.

    just my 0.02€

  3. Demian Turner Says:

    Just a quick ask around the office where we have 4 PC users, “firefox on WinXP on decent machines is lethargic and cumbersome”.

  4. David Rodger Says:

    I haven’t had a problem with crashing (mind you, mine’s an old G4/400 — there are no spare clock cycles to crash in!). But Firefox just doesn’t feel like a Mac app. I find MS Office and a number of other non-Apple apps like that, though less so. Take the appearance of the windows, for example. It’s almost as if there’s some hooks in the window manager that Apple is not telling developers about that makes the Apple apps look smoother and behave in a more responsive manner!

  5. Manfred Weber Says:

    I have Firefox on WinXP and it really slows down the whole machine. Both at work and at home. I would prefer IE7 but I need Firebug and other extensions.

  6. Satane Says:

    Totally agree with firefox being too heavy on Macs. During testing phase using parrallels to check a website under IE/winXP, I always close firefox to avoid having a real slow system. But running Safari along with parrallels is fine.

    Problem is, I’m so used to the web development tools available under firefox that I can’t use safari all the time. Can’t live without the firebug extension.

  7. ScottMac Says:

    Try Camino, it’s much more Mac like and based on Gecko so you get your HTMLArea support.

  8. Lukas Says:

    Actually what you want to do is run 2 or more different browsers.

    1. Casual browsing
    2. Security relevant browsing, where you trust each of the applications to be good (otherwise you need even more browser for every group of application that you trust with each other)
    3. Development

    3. can only be Firefox until I see something as powerful as Firebug on another browser. For 1. and 2. you can pick and choose, but I would stick with IE or FF for 1. Usually you can also use the same browser for 1. and 3. (unless you expect your development to be crash happy).

    Why bother with 2.? To protect yourself from CSRF and other nasty stuff that turns your browser into a trojan for the developers of any of the sites you visit for casual browsing.

    Now for the real world. I use Firefox on WinXP πŸ™‚

  9. pcdinh Says:

    I know you will look back later. You will miss CSS Viewer, Live Http Header, Selenium IDE, XPather, EditCSS

  10. Alan Knowles Says:

    mmh.. A browser that has the full source available and easily available, compiles (well after some work) in most places, and has binaries built for most platforms. VS a browser where the source can not be found, webkit doest build even when it says it might… and binaries that are difficult to impossible to find, let alone Apple keeps adding dependencies on the the latest version of their OS, making installation difficult on old mac’s…

    And dont get me started with the Javascript and CSS bugs that It’s plagued with.. – Want to waste your life hunting down obscure behaviours.. Safari’s up there with IE for the buggy browser award… The KDE guys where right. Apple have hacked the KTHML engine to oblivion. Konquerer while still a little buggy is at least helpful when you want to debug it.. – and builds!

    Not my favourite browser – as you may have guessed πŸ˜‰

  11. Chris D Says:

    I’m a huge Mac fan and can barely remember how to work with Windows.

    But how come when MS integrated IE into the OS they got attacked. But when Apple does something very similar with Safari it’s okay?

  12. James Says:

    I use both simultaneously – Safari and latest Firefox.

    I don’t recall Firefox crashing in… Probably months. Safari very occassionally crashes.

    Performance-wise, can’t say there’s much difference for me. Startup Safari has the edge, the rest is too close to call.

  13. Matthew Says:

    I find Firefox on Windows to be perfectly fine (can’t remember the last time it crashed either), however Firefox on Linux is painfully slow. I’ve now switched entirely to Epiphany except (this seems to be a common trend) when I need to use Firebug.

  14. Matt Says:

    You may also configure FF’s memory usage by typing about:config in the url and resetting the browser.cache.disk.capacity. Mine is set to 15000, and runs just fine. Can you do this in Safari as well?

  15. Dylan Says:

    I agree a lot πŸ™‚

  16. Grant Says:

    Try out the new firefox beta. Its stable and have fixed the memory issue. (and its fast!)

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