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Firefox is using beyond-excessive amounts of memory while doing almost nothing.

Posted

I have 16GB of RAM, and according to htop, Firefox is using about 6.5% of that, and libflashplayer is using about 3.5% of that. So in total firefox is using over 1.6GB of RAM, with about 15 tabs open, and all but 3 of them are using no plugins. This is just ridiculous. I've noticed that ever since Firefox 4, memory usage has been increasing exponentially, especially since about Firefox 11. This isn't just on Linux, but on Windows 7 too.

I would like to know why this is? In 2006 I had a Pentium 3 mobile at 1GHz and 192MB of RAM, on Windows XP, and with a couple dozen tabs open, my system barely touched the swap. Why does half the number of tabs take 10 times as much RAM?

To put this into perspective, I can run two complete OPERATING SYSTEMS, doing something like compiling firefox, inside of 2 VMware instances while using the same or less RAM. What gives?

This isn't just a bug that I'm experiencing, it happens accross all builds and all recent versions, across all systems; anything more than three or four tabs use stupid amounts of RAM.

Additional System Details

Installed Plug-ins

  • The IcedTea-Web Plugin executes Java applets.
  • Shockwave Flash 11.2 r202

Application

  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:24.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/24.0

More Information

Application Basics
------------------
Name: Firefox
Version: 24.0
User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:24.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/24.0
Extensions
----------
Name: Adblock Plus
Version: 2.3.2
Enabled: true
ID: {d10d0bf8-f5b5-c8b4-a8b2-2b9879e08c5d}
Important Modified Preferences
------------------------------
accessibility.typeaheadfind.flashBar: 0
browser.cache.disk.capacity: 358400
browser.cache.disk.smart_size.first_run: false
browser.cache.disk.smart_size.use_old_max: false
browser.cache.disk.smart_size_cached_value: 358400
browser.places.smartBookmarksVersion: 4
browser.startup.homepage_override.buildID: 20130917081302
browser.startup.homepage_override.mstone: 24.0
dom.mozApps.used: true
extensions.lastAppVersion: 24.0
network.cookie.prefsMigrated: true
places.database.lastMaintenance: 1379716651
places.history.expiration.transient_current_max_pages: 104858
plugin.disable_full_page_plugin_for_types: application/pdf
plugin.importedState: true
privacy.sanitize.migrateFx3Prefs: true
storage.vacuum.last.index: 1
storage.vacuum.last.places.sqlite: 1379198814
Graphics
--------
Adapter Description: ATI Technologies Inc. -- AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series
Device ID: AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series
Driver Version: 2.1 (4.3.12441 Compatibility Profile Context 13.20.11)
GPU Accelerated Windows: 0/2 Basic Blocked for your graphics driver version. Try updating your graphics driver to version <Something recent> or newer.
Vendor ID: ATI Technologies Inc.
WebGL Renderer: Blocked for your graphics driver version. Try updating your graphics driver to version <Something recent> or newer.
windowLayerManagerRemote: false
AzureCanvasBackend: cairo
AzureContentBackend: none
AzureFallbackCanvasBackend: none
JavaScript
----------
Incremental GC: true
Accessibility
-------------
Activated: false
Prevent Accessibility: 0
Library Versions
----------------
NSPR
Expected minimum version: 4.10
Version in use: 4.10
NSS
Expected minimum version: 3.15.1 Basic ECC
Version in use: 3.15.1 Basic ECC
NSSSMIME
Expected minimum version: 3.15.1 Basic ECC
Version in use: 3.15.1 Basic ECC
NSSSSL
Expected minimum version: 3.15.1 Basic ECC
Version in use: 3.15.1 Basic ECC
NSSUTIL
Expected minimum version: 3.15.1
Version in use: 3.15.1

cor-el
  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
10738 solutions 96600 answers

Create a new profile as a test to check if your current profile is causing the problems.

See "Creating a profile":

If the new profile works then you can transfer some files from an existing profile to the new profile, but be cautious not to copy corrupted files to avoid carrying over the problem.

Question owner

Thanks for the reply. This has been done every time I have installed a new Linux distro on my computers 3-4 times a month for the past few months, and three times on Windows. It never makes a difference. Loading an old one also makes no measurable difference.

Modified by Glitch

Waka_Flocka_Flame
  • Top 25 Contributor
528 solutions 5041 answers

Have you disabled hardware acceleration?

Question owner

"GPU Accelerated Windows 0/2 Basic Blocked for your graphics driver version. Try updating your graphics driver to version <Something recent> or newer. Vendor ID ATI Technologies Inc. WebGL Renderer Blocked for your graphics driver version. Try updating your graphics driver to version <Something recent> or newer."

I've never had any luck getting it working under Linux. BUt just to be sure I disabled it, and there is still no difference. It's not a memory leak as Firefox is still using the same amount of RAM when I close it as when I open it to all of the pages I had open.

mrbubl3s 0 solutions 1 answers

>has 16GB ram >uses FF >still complains

Waka_Flocka_Flame
  • Top 25 Contributor
528 solutions 5041 answers

Are you sure all your graphics drivers are updated, refresh the db in your package manager (like Synaptic) and mark all upgrades.

Question owner

I'm using Catalyst 13.8 Beta straight from AMD because I'm using xorg-server 1.14 on arch.

Waka_Flocka_Flame
  • Top 25 Contributor
528 solutions 5041 answers

Are you using 32 bit or 64 bit Firefox? Can you test the 64 bit version?

nightly.mozilla.org

cor-el
  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
10738 solutions 96600 answers

Is Firefox actively using this memory or only reserving it as virtual memory?

You can check the memory usage on the about:memory page.

Question owner

I'm using a 64 bit Linux build according to pacman.

Also according the user agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:24.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/24.0

@cor-el


   1.56 MB ── canvas-2d-pixel-bytes
  10.52 MB ── gfx-surface-image
  64.87 MB ── gfx-surface-xlib
   0.00 MB ── gfx-textures
         0 ── ghost-windows
 387.09 MB ── heap-allocated
 445.63 MB ── heap-committed
  58.57 MB ── heap-committed-unused
    15.14% ── heap-committed-unused-ratio
   3.57 MB ── heap-dirty
 153.90 MB ── heap-unused
   6.09 MB ── images-content-used-uncompressed
 240.00 MB ── js-gc-heap
   1.56 MB ── js-main-runtime-temporary-peak
        26 ── page-faults-hard
 8,499,977 ── page-faults-soft
 688.90 MB ── resident
 666.79 MB ── resident-unique
  11.04 MB ── storage-sqlite

1,489.26 MB ── vsize

I hope that's what you were looking for.

cor-el
  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
10738 solutions 96600 answers

You can hover each of those entries to see a description as you can see at the bottom of the about:memory page.
It says that resident is better suited to get an impression of the memory usage because that is the actual amount of physical memory that is in use. So 688 MB physical memory isn't that much.

Does this amount change if you start Firefox with no tabs opening?

You can also try to click the button to minimize the memory usage.

Question owner

Then why is htop reporting that it's using almost 1.6GB? If I understand it right, resident memory is the amount of physical memory the process is using. However according to htop, if I were to fill all but 1GB of my RAM up with something like a RAMDisk using ramfs, and fill it up with data from /dev/random, it would start writing to SWAP even though according to the resident memory usage in Firefox it shouldn't have to touch swap.

EDIT: Spamming CC, GC, and the minimize memory button shaved about 30MB off of the resident usage, however, as I understand it, those operations are done every so often by Firefox itself as necessary.

Modified by Glitch