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Multi Process Support comes to Firefox Nightly


Okay, this is why DC rocks!

You tech geniuses get to help the rest of us understand "the news behind the news".

More Firefox this time! (Making it hard for me to boycott them!)

"Multi-Process Support comes to Firefox Nightly"

Birdy see new feature, Birdy download new feature.

Slashdot's copy:

Venturebeat story

So what exactly is multi-process support? It sounds vaguely performance-enhancing. But I suppose the biggest nuisance I face is when Adobe Flash Plugin crashes, and then all 22 tabs across 5 browser windows need to be reloaded.

They say it took a huge long time, and some weren't sure it would ever land in a build. So What could this new feature do that's really useful?

Not knowing any details but multiprocess just means it can run multiple copies of firefox.exe out of one window, like chrome.  If it is good or bad depends how they implement it.  I ran chromium snapshots as my main browser for over a year.  It got to the point I had to use a command line switch to limit the number of chrome.exe instances.  If I had 6 tabs open it was running at least a dozen copies of chrome.exe at one point.

That's when I tried FF again after some time away.  When it got fast using only one copy of firefox.exe that's when I went back to it.

I can imagine multiple copies of 64 bit Firefox in Windows could eat up huge chunks of memory.  But the proof will be in the trying.  I'll probably try it on a Windows 7 x64 VM first.

Edit:  The old becomes new again.  Unix type systems used fork() to create another copy of the running application.  That became passe when threads became the rage.  Now with huge address spaces available I guess there's no longer any need to be stingy with resources.  :)

Edit2:  as for the 64 bit, the irony is on Windows if you have 4 GB ram or less the 32 bit version will probably be faster.  At least the latest FF 32 bit installed I'm using now, 33.1 feels as fast as any x64 flavor I've tried.  8 GB or more may be a different story though.  :)

But this is a Laptop with a Sata II spinner.  Not super fast in any case.  But one thing I learned with my old 486, sometimes it's easier to feel the performance differences on a slow machine.  Slow code felt really really slow.  :)

I'm trying the 64 bit Portable Nightly from here:

So far so good.  But it only shows "nightly.exe" in Task Manager.  I have 10 tabs open.  You would think that would be enough to trigger multi-whatever?  :)

Edit:  Logging into Sync worked with most things.  FEBE doesn't seem to like it though. Any extensions Sync missed I just did Open File to the FEBE folder to install, such as Download Manager.

So far the best impression is that Outlook reacts almost normally even though I'm loading 10 tabs(unchecked the wait until selected to load tab option.)

Edit2:  This is the PortableApps version.  If anyone is unfamiliar with it, I recommend that you do not try to update the browser.  It never works.  It's better just to download the newer zip and unzip on top of the folder.

Edit3:  Just for grins I installed the latest 64 bit nightly, 37.0a10 from   It picked up settings from the portable.  It seems a bit snappier.  It still only shows one entry in Task Manager.  But memory used is about 350 MB as opposed to 440 MB or so in Portable doing about the same stuff.  I assume with that much memory it must be running lots of threads or something.  It feels responsive.  I don't notice anything weird yet.  :)

Edit4:  Seems stable enough I set it as default browser.  I haven't watched any videos yet.  But normal browsing seems fine.

btw I read in one of the articles on Nightly multitasking that initially all the tabs will run in one process and the UI in another.  I guess that's why it just shows Nightly once in the Task Manager.  The article says in the future they expect each tab to run in a separate process.  This would be similar to chrome but FF may have a few of their own wrinkles.  :)

Where I'm confused is there seems to be only one process running in TM even though I have the setting for multiprocess use enabled.  Strange.

Often I've installed a new version of FF and gotten snappy response, for a while.  I hope this nightly breaks the pattern.  So far I like it quite a bit.  I set the disk cache to 1024 MB Max.  I just checked it and it is actually using it.  The usage was 400 some odd MB before I cleared it.  Other versions of FF with the same setting tended to use less than 100 MB cache.

Here's hoping for the best.  :)


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