Firefox 1.5 - Methods to Fix What Ails Thee - Rx: AdBlock(em) with GkrellM for a Quick Recovery

Posted by tadelste on Dec 26, 2005 9:01 PM EDT; By TxtEdMacs
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Supposedly there are a myriad of remaining complaints on the recently released Firefox 1.5 that go on for pages despite the early admission that they were unable to reproduce at least 60% of those cited. Some indeed are real and a few I have direct experience with almost daily. Nonetheless, the seeming magnitude of some of these problems, at the very least, are over stated. Moreover, fixes are available and unlike the lack of responsiveness exhibited by Microsoft and its lead product Internet Explorer the Mozilla developers makes serious attempts to solve every problem that they can verify. The constraints they face are the ability to reproduce the behaviour and the personnel to pursue a solution once defined. However, the severity of many if not most of the problems appears to have been over stated.

The foregoing is not to make light of real problems some users are encountering using even this new, improved version of Firefox, hence, I have a few suggestions at the end on how to search for some solutions and to report problems so that that may receive the attention they deserve.


Recently I ran across a lengthy piece on all the problems some people are encountering with the continuing pain suffered by (many?) users. Nonetheless, by their own admission many of these problems were not even reproducible upon their test machines. While I have myself encountered some of those mentioned problems myself (and to some extend still do), I have essentially had this version of Firefox as my default browser since about the time of Alpha 2. Therefore, I wish to offer a few techniques I employ to lessen some of the problems some users encounter that match my own. Those problems as listed in the aforementioned, cited article are:

1. Firefox's use of physical and virtual memory is exceptionally high.

2. CPU usage spikes to 100 percent (usually while loading a Web page).

3. The browser freezes up for seconds, minutes, or permanently.

A few caveats before we proceed further: the experiences I describe are on a Linux based machine, hence, the effectiveness on a Windows distribution is unknown to me. Nonetheless, I suspect it may prove to be as nearly as effective there as upon my unit. Second some of my comments may seem overly flippant, but those are truly not to be seen either as a personal attack upon the reader or upon the choice of hardware and/or software choices made. [A few snarky comments may be inserted, but between friends they are just jests, no more.]

Prescription: Lets get that portion out of the way immediately. The first listed problem, to me, seems utterly bogus. From what I have read IE takes more memory on disc than is labeled as such and I suspect the same may be true of use of RAM. A reasonable memory required for XP is about 512 M, so I have double that but I can still see problems like those listed in items 2 and 3. Therefore, I do not intend to give further notice to this complaint.

Get GKrellM

I am using a tool available on Linux that continuously monitors machine functions both visually and in numeric values that are easily interpreted. On Linux get yourself a copy of gkrellm . The good news is that there is supposed to be a Windows version (bottom of the page link for Windows not active), however, there are other locations to pick up a Windows version requires GKT libraries and no additional libraries needed . Packages are available for the BSDs. and even Solaris as well as for an older version for the Mac,. From personal experience I have used a similar, albeit more limited tool on NT 4. Moreover, I had seen complex visual monitoring tools under OS/2 in 1992. Furthermore, I would assume there is one on Windows 2000 (aka NT 5) as well as XP. However, my experience with the latter is too limited to state that I am certain. Nonetheless, there must be a suitable tool somewhere that should suffice to be a monitoring tool to both meet your needs and preferences under Windows. [If you can't find one, consider that another reason for moving to or trying Linux, because Windows lacks a really good system monitor.]

When I encountered the CPU spikes mentioned in item 2, if I did not leave the site quickly most of the times I encountered an irreversible lockup, however, I am the impatient type and if Ctrl-Alt-F1 did not return me to a terminal command prompt I had a tendency to do a quick reboot. For those stuck in Windows I doubt you could get into the Windows Task Manager to even confirm the source of your problem.

Get AdBlock

Adding AdBlock is simplicity in itself [at least on Linux], though I suspect all work essentially in the same manner. Go to the tools menu item, then select Extensions, in the Extension Window at the lower right click on "Get More Extensions" and from the list chose Adblock. Got that? Tools >> Extensions >> (new window) "Get More Extensions" >> Firefox Add-ons(select and install) Adblock. [On a more serious note, I tend to keep my extensions to a minimum, due to my usual caution. I would guess that add-ons could be a hold coding flaws not as easily detected due to there being a smaller set of users cognizant of such problems might arise from such a source.] On a lighter note, during the testing of the pre-release versions of Firefox 1.5 I had a lingering disappointment in my experiences with blocking ads. It just was not as effective as it had been. In my experience I was seeing more and more ads slip through by means I thought were previously blocked. For example, mini popup windows that had every appearance of being an undesired and unrequested commercial message. Adblock has return that exceptional good feeling when using Firefox.

The Cure:

The next time you go to an iffy site and the cpu usage begins to climb - jump to Tools, then Adblock down the menu then take the second selection in the submenu "Overlay Flash ..." and watch the graphic spikes drop along with the percentage of usage. Take in that clean screen and take a deep breath of joyful relaxation, but not too relaxed. Once you go to the next page you probably have to repeat the process. For the more adventurous try the upper option that lists all blockable elements, because not all are extraneous items that can be simply thrown away.

That seems to cure most of what ails you for item 2 listed above.

Finally, just because your system locks up when you are using Firefox is no more than an indication that it might, possibly be the source of your system's problem. In the lockups I observe my system monitor also happens to die, as does the mouse, email and every other formally operational feature. To prove that Firefox is the cause at very least requires the examination of the system logs. I am lazy so I reboot, but an empirical observation with regard to my system makes me doubt that Firefox is the root cause of these lockups.

At minimum I check for system upgrades on my Debian Testing and Unstable system every day, and it seems when I notice some large scale changes on many different libraries my system goes through a series of system lockups. Moreover, with each day I notice some of these same libraries being replaced soon afterwards my system returns to its normal level of stability without any obvious changes to Firefox. I would suspect that similar changes would not be as noticeable under Windows, hence, all failure when you happen to be running Firefox are not necessarily caused by this one application.

None of the foregoing is meant to imply that some people are not encountering problems with Firefox, but not all reports of failures are to be given equal weight. I have seen a promise of the certain demise caused by just the visiting of a named site: the design and mechanism employed to bring Firefox down was amateurish and seemed to depend upon giving the site access to your printer. Just not allowing that action resulted in both the stable branch and the testing under even Windows to suffer no ill effects. .

Resistant Strains:

Other problems seen by you either described in the article link at the top of this item or one you have not seen described elsewhere need not necessarily go untreated. However, you must be prepared to put some effort in accurately describing the steps taken to encounter your problem and the specifications on your unit's hardware. The same care should be used to detail the OS and its status (minimum patch level) and other applications present and running. If that is not a too onerous task list: go to Firefox Discussions and on the upper right under User Links >> Register (follow the instructions). Or if you are already registered Log in. Once in pick beneath the Mozilla Firefox (Browser) heading "Firefox Bugs", where possible bugs are described. [If you are able to concisely describe your problem) run a search on this forum specifically: go to the right beneath the aforementioned User Links and Forum Links to the Search - select Forums (Advanced) to get to the more detailed search tool.

At this stage if your problem has been encountered, there is the possibility it has been a formally submitted bug report, perhaps even having a solution. If upon reading the thread and no solution has been found, however, you have observed details not otherwise noticed - add your post. If the search fails - post your problem saying you searched for a matching problem description without success, be certain to check off email notification option. The developers at Mozilla are excellent.

I would advise reading other threads to learn what other problems have been encountered and some of the advice offered.

I wish you a speedy recovery whatever you Firefox problems might be.

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