Living on the Bleeding Edge of Firefox

June 7, 2011 by . 3 comments

As an avid Firefox user since it began, I’ve developed a great liking towards the browser and its consistent updates. As version 3.6 phased into a 4.0 Beta, I just had to try it out. But then I thought to myself: If i like to try out the new beta’s, why not just go to the bleeding edge? And with that, my journey began – Welcome to Nightly. Welcome to Nightly

Here was our first glance at the new Firefox, bumped up to version 7 already, while most of us are still transitioning to 4.


Many of you are probably saying, “Now Simon, whats so different? Wheres the fancy UI changes?!”

With the Nightly Firefox Builds, the daily updates appear to mostly be under the hood, with a huge amount of bugs being fixed each day. The biggest one I found was the new addition of about:memory. Remember all those times you asked yourself, “Why is Firefox using 700mb of RAM!?” Well, here is your answer. At this moment I was using 200mb or so of RAM to Firefox, and popped open about:memory. I instantly saw where it was going:

278.89 MB — resident

227.65 MB — private

165.80 MB — heap-committed

151.32 MB — heap-used

30.68 MB — heap-unused

13.57 MB — gfx-d2d-surfacecache

5.64 MB — gfx-d2d-surfacevram

3.27 MB — heap-dirty

0.01 MB — shmem-allocated

0.01 MB — shmem-mapped

Along with this was a great breakdown of each section, and holding my mouse over that category brought up an explanation of the usage.


There was a garbage collection feature also on about:memory, but I found it to be a bit useless at the moment. Hopefully this will be fixed or changed eventually. As I stated earlier, most of the changes appear to be under the hood, with plenty of JavaScript fixes in there (My sunspider test is down to 354ms!)  and overall Gecko improvements. Firefox is also going to be available for 64bit (I am using it now), which actually also requires you to use Flash’s “Square” test release in order to watch YouTube, or any other Flash application you enjoy.  Higher resolutions can now scroll easier, reducing the footprint of Firefox, and many other things that I can’t even figure out myself. In short, Firefox Developers are working hard out there!

So whats next for Firefox? Mozilla has released a Roadmap to tell us where their going this year. But their main goals are stated as so:

  1. Ship Firefox 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the 2011 calendar year
  2. Always respond to a user action within 50 ms
  3. Never lose user data or state
  4. Build Web Apps, Identity and Social into the Open Web Platform
  5. Support new operating systems and hardware
  6. Polish the user experience for common interaction tasks
  7. Plan and architect for a future of a common platform on which the desktop and mobile products will be built and run Web Apps

Firefox 5 will be released on June 21, 2011, and my expectations are high so far, now that I’ve tried out the bleeding Edge. So if you have the feeling then try out the latest and greatest Mozilla has to offer, and try out the Nightly Build.

Filed under Browsers Software


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  • Lance Roberts says:

    It’d be nice if they’d fix all the bugs in FF4.0 before they moved on. They already cost me money, time and functionality when they moved to FF4.0 and didn’t tell us up front all the addins that would have to be upgraded or abandoned.

  • selec says:

    Lance: For me, everything worked and I’m using two dozen addons. Did you try “Add-on Compatibility Reporter” and/or manually disabling version checks?

    Simon: I also used square, but seems they didn’t release any new versions since November – so it probably still has all those unpatched vulns?

  • selec: I assume yes, as I hardly use flash for more than YouTube. I hope we get some good updates on it soon.

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