Firefox 15 fixes add-on memory leaks, enables true silent updates

By on August 29, 2012, 9:30 AM

Mozilla has announced the release of Firefox 15, bringing with it the usual round of fixes, as well as a handful of major improvements to performance and stability. Most notably, the latest version of the open source web browser promises to put an end to the memory leak issues that have plagued it for years.

For the past year or so Mozilla has worked to make Firefox more memory efficient and their efforts are starting to show. Now the team is tackling one of the biggest sources of memory leaks: add-ons. Mozilla explains that sometimes add-ons hold on to extra copies of a website in memory after the user has closed the tab. These pages pile up and can eat massive amounts of memory for no user benefit.

Of course, add-ons are central to the Firefox experience, so they needed around this issue without killing functionality. Firefox 15 is able to detect these kinds of references and cut them, eradicating this entire class of memory leaks for good, without requiring any changes to individual add-ons. As a result the browser is likely to be faster (drastically so for heavy add-on users) and less likely to crash.

Firefox 15 also improves the browser’s silent update mechanism functionality introduced in version 12. Basically, users are no longer shown pop-ups to apply the updates, everything is downloaded and applied in the background and the new version is ready the next time you open the browser -- just like Chrome.

Other notable features include a built-in PDF reader, a new built-in JavaScript Debugger, better SPDY protocol support (Google’s updated version of the old HTTP spec), and several improvements to WebGL and JavaScript support making advanced 3D games possible within the browser.

Mozilla released a playable a 3D first-person shooter demo called BananaBread to highlight what developers can presently achieve with WebGL, compressed textures, pointer lock, and fullscreen support.

Download: Firefox 15 for Windows | Mac OS X | Linux




User Comments: 10

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Guest said:

The add-on SiteAdvisor 3.4.1 was an extreme case, creating ghost windows (reasons of memory leaks), for every(!) page that was opened in Firefox. Most add-ons are far from being this problematic, and many of the most used ones (e.g. AdBlock Plus, Firebug or Video DownloadHelper) do not leak memory at all.

Be advised, GreaseMonkey users may have problems with certain scripts. If you are one of them, you may want to either disable the problematic scripts, or update GM.

Guest said:

Upgraded to FF15 this morning and it looks good and feels a bit faster.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

That demois actually pretty entertaining for a good 30 minutes or so. Definitely can't wait for the day games are that kind of quality in browser

Guest said:

About time these went stable I am on 18 atm never had many issues with nightly I would recommend aurora though. its pretty stable for a build that gets updated almost every day

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Had some youtube laggyness... seems to be due to session restore settings from my googlings.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

I'm left wondering if the silent update feature has been tested with a limited user account.

I tried to read up on it but could not find a definitive answer.

I have some WinXP nettops setup where the logged on user is a "guest"

So updating will in that case not work the old way, and it actually results in a catch 22 because the install fails but then the next time you try to start Firefox it tries to install the update again...

teribithia said:

Firefox now want to beat chrome in version update

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

This all sounds very promising. I was a long time Firefox advocate but finally switched to chrome about a year ago because it was noticeably faster for regular use, and seemingly twice as fast for use over RDP (I have no idea why).

However, I've always felt something lacking in chrome's extensions because developers just aren't granted as much power over the browser as they are in Firefox. If Mozilla can streamline Firefox, I'll definitely be consider switching back.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

I'm left wondering if the silent update feature has been tested with a limited user account.

I tried to read up on it but could not find a definitive answer.

I have some WinXP nettops setup where the logged on user is a "guest"

So updating will in that case not work the old way, and it actually results in a catch 22 because the install fails but then the next time you try to start Firefox it tries to install the update again...

I think the "Mozilla Maintenance Service" should be the process trying to run the update so it should have admin privileges. Yet to confirm!

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