Neither nor seem to be made for users who keep their browser running for several days without a restart.

Firefox just now: 12GB RAM usage.
After restart and reloading all previous tabs: 2GB RAM usage.

Either that's a huge memory leak or I just don't understand what it's caching there.

I'm fully aware that all those "websites with their JavaScript" may harm my memory footprint, too... but then I'd absolutely expect reloading Mastodon, GMail or TweetDeck tabs to release some of my memory. It just doesn't.

@fribbledom I refuse to believe its not a memory leak. The browsers of past never had this issue. Edge doesn't even have this issue (as far as I know)

More needs to be done. it's effect is widespread with users.

@fribbledom hmm wow... firefox with me being open for a few days with a max of upto 1200 tabs, max usage was about 6gb... still... yeah maybe

@fribbledom yeah i frequently run into the hundreds of tabs.

never gets above 6.5gb and if it does, I kill it.

@fribbledom endlessly scrolling through feeds achieves this for me. Mastodon in particular often the culprit in my own experience. How many tabs you got open when hitting this level of RAM churn? Potential bug report in this!

@zyx 37 tabs here. I'm aware that all those "apps in my browser" may harm my memory footprint, too. But then, shouldn't reloading the Mastodon tab release some of my memory? It doesn't.

@fribbledom hmmm that's not particularly many tabs either. I'm not far off that here.

I've been experiencing similar and have not pulled my finger out to chase it. I am running Nightly with additional Firefox Pioneers opt-in program, but suspect this needs driving via a bug report.

Scanning open bugs via a search on RAM. Will let you know if I spot anything. What platform you on and which Firefox?

@fribbledom OK cool. Same as me in this case. Leave this with me and I will report back if I spot something helpful or decide we should escalate to a bug.

@zyx Wow, thank you for all the constructive support!

@zyx But frankly, I've been noticing this for years now. Even though it always felt awful, I just never cared enough to investigate. I should have.

@fribbledom @zyx AFAIR, I once read something that the browsers don't release memory they have reserved in the past to be able to reuse it faster in the future. Or something like that...

@anathem this makes some sense when endless scrolling is not part of the equation. I presume mobile approaches this differently?


@zyx Again, this is just hearsay. Managing reserved memory in main process allows to reuse it for new tabs without defragmenting it (which would be necessary in order to release it). I don't see endless scrolling affecting that.
Mobile apps do it differently, because they have to work around the OS killing it from time to time. They need to save state from time to time in order to rebuild it if the OS kills the process.

@fribbledom I'm a huge hoarder with firefox and its sadly usual that it eats 25-30Gb of RAM after a while, it's horrible

@fribbledom How and why do people leave their hom PCs on overnight?

@Anke I don't keep it running overnight, that'd be indeed silly and wasteful. I just let it sleep / hibernate.

@fribbledom My Chrome for Linux has been open for weeks. System says Chrome is using ~3GB, looking at Chrome Task Manager that is almost entirely Google Drive (1.6GB) and the AdBlock extension (1.1GB). Seems Chrome itself is OK, but certain web applications are horrific.

@fribbledom Do you use any extensions? I didn’t experience similar situation in Firefox and my current uptime is 5 days.

@fribbledom Could be a memory leak, could be not-quite-the-same-thing, just not giving memory back to the OS.

@fribbledom I have the same issue. the standard web browsers are horrible resource hogs. if you track power usage, you'll see the browser is constantly hitting the CPU too.

basically, at this point they're badly written operating systems. they don't use OS resource management, they re-create all of that themselves, poorly. oh and for some reason also ship with full-featured IDEs even though most users aren't developing web sites?

@walruslifestyle @fribbledom for websites that don't need JS to function, NetSurf is pretty cool. I wish the "apps" part could have been split out into its own set of specs so that I wouldn't need a second OS to read some text.

@walruslifestyle @alva @fribbledom If you are using Linux you may want to try GNOME Web (a.k.a. Epiphany) or any other WebKitGTK+ based browser. It may still eat quite some RAM (more or less than others, depending on which webs you use and keep open), but at least it should make your battery last longer. Also, it tries hard to detect when system memory goes low and will drop memory caches and whatnot to return memory to the system when needed.

@walruslifestyle @fribbledom Yeah, but you know what's the *real* problem? RSS and MNG support. Such resource hogs.

(Way back when Firefox had limited MNG support which was dropped in order to try and make Firefox leaner.
Yes, I'm still salty.)

@walruslifestyle @fribbledom Not as far as I know, but apparently Mozilla is planning on scrapping support for it "because existing code for it is so old and few people use it".
Or have scrapped it, I'm on an old ESR Firefox myself & haven't followed the news that closely.

Thinking back, that's actually a bad form from me: I think I mixed up "computer resources" and "resources to maintain code" in my head there when formulating my vitriol.

@walruslifestyle @fribbledom it’s awful. chrome is usually what kills my laptop while i work as well.

@walruslifestyle @fribbledom @vy The comment about browsers being poorly written OSes is spot on. Plus, they seem to be pretty bad at incorporating features of the OS they’re running on. Firefox doesn’t use the macOS dictionary I’ve been training, or the dozens of text shortcuts I created, or my iCloud Keychain passwords, or or or or or.

Are browsers the new java?

Also: are dedicated apps an option? This is part of the reason I gravitated towards generally preferring apps where possible.

@chartier @fribbledom @vy browser as virtual machine seems to be where things are headed, except it's a weird vm that no one designes from the ground up? you're dead on about the browser not taking advantage of OS level stuff you've sunk time into configuring or training.

would you want it to though? browsers are pushing security boundaries by burying the issues in complexity (not suggesting malice, I just think that's one consequence)

@walruslifestyle @fribbledom Well, some browser (engines) recreate more of the OS than others. With my understanding being that Firefox & Chrome(ium) use a bare minimum from the OS whilst Edge & IE are deeply integrated into Windows.

WebKit lands in the middle. The make significant use of system libraries, but they abstract that all away and most of their code is very OS independent.

@fribbledom I think usually apps (i. e. your browser in this case) release memory lazily (by some signal by the OS I think? can't seem to remember) when other processes need it. So you won't see it in the statistic immediately unless you open something that allocates really much memory. E. g. MacOS used to show this percentage of memory as »reserved« and in blue back in the day, I think.

@fribbledom My working theory is that the DOM is a terribly inefficient abstract syntax tree for HTML, and that it slows down your pages whether or not you use JavaScript.

@fribbledom memory usage depends heavily on web applications itself. My mastodon instance uses 90MB right now (fresh loaded twitter after login 102MB). What I've experienced in since Windows times: the more RAM you have, the more your system (and browser) uses. *writing this surfing the web with an old x201 with 4GB of RAM (with regular open ~10 tabs)

The memory is the info their stealing from you as you use the browser

@fribbledom malloc on many systems is extremely conservative and almost never gives memory back to the OS. Try to get some stats from the allocator instead. It might just be hoarding free’d memory.

@fribbledom That's a huge number! Have you tried about:memory to see what's going on, or to free some memory?

@chozron I did and tried "minimize memory usage". It freed all of 200 megabytes 😂

@fribbledom is there a “suspend tab” add-on for Firefox? There is for Chrome and it seemed to help (even if i set my most-used sites to never suspend).


I did use that in Chrome for a while. Turns out I already close most unused tabs by myself and the rest that's still open is just actively used.

37 tabs might seem much at first, but then there are several messaging apps, social networks, YouTube, web-mail clients, a bunch of GitHub tabs... you know how it works out.

@fribbledom I should compare but the last few days I’ve been using windows apps for as much as I can instead of using the browser. (I need to track down the privacy policies for those though in case they’re worse)

@fribbledom strange... Been keeping firefox up for about a month and have it used up to 4-5 GiBs of RAM. Maybe it depends on machine specs you are running, e.g. on RAM or else?

@fribbledom Firefox definitely suffers from a memory leak and has for years. At least in the past people liked blaming it on add-ons or "having too many tabs open" but it definitely doesn't release RAM properly when you close a tab or window.

@fribbledom you trigger the memory growth by rapidly opening and closing a single tab. I wondered if this was a result of caching recent tabs, but it actually persists even if you simply open and close one.

@fribbledom FF60.3, openSUSE Leap 15, 44 open tabs, 15 tabs pinned, the rest suspended plus 52 tabs in TabGroups (not sure if they are really suspended).
Uptime (which includes Firefox) is 52 days. Memory usage of FF is 4,5 Gb.

@vinzv Yeah, I do get similar numbers after a fresh start. It's another story after a couple days, though... sometimes after just a few hours.

@fribbledom Moving tabs into tabgroups or suspending them seems to be the key to success.
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