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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Firefox 3, a little rant [Mar. 17th, 2008|09:34 am]
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Dear Firefox,

We've been together now, what, 9 years? Remember back in the M18-ish days in 2000 when you used to shit your image cache? Aww, so cute. Yes, those were fun times.

You were new then, so I could forgive your kinda sucking.

But 8 years later I'd expect you to get your act together. In particular, a slow network operation should not beach-ball the whole goddamn application. Please go back to school and learn some basic networking, perhaps some threading, maybe some state machines. For Chist's sake.

When I visited the Mozilla campus a few months ago and did my little lunchtime presentation on why I'm breaking up with Firefox, this was my number one complaint, but I was happy with your guys' answer:
Oh, there are two APIs in OS X to do async networking, and we were using the wrong one in Firefox 1 and 2... the old, wrong one blocks the whole app. In Firefox 3 we're using the correct one!
So I temporarily displaced my frustration with Firefox and redirected it at Apple, for whom I'll always have extra capacity for frustration.

I waited patiently.

Then the Firefox 3 betas started to come out. "Holy shit!" I thought, "This stuff's getting pretty impressive. A browser on Linux that doesn't piss me off! Oh cute, they even fixed most the memory leaks!"

So yeah, I'm liking Firefox 3 (currently beta 4).

But you still fucking beach-ball all the time on OS X when the network is slow. That is to say, just about whenever I use my laptop, which is always over WiFi or EVDO.

Please fix.

Lovingly yours,
Brad

P.S. I'd open a bug, but my last bug has been open for 4 years or so now, so I'm not going to waste my time with that anymore. (I even funded a developer to fix the bug I'd opened a ticket for.... twice.)

Update, 2008-02-24: Turns out the problem is PAC files.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: daveman692
2008-03-17 04:51 pm (UTC)

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You mean FireFox 3 Beta 4. ;)
[User Picture]From: loic
2008-03-17 05:03 pm (UTC)

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I assume so, but I'm sure he'll be able to say the same about FF4b4 in a couple of years when they're done rewriting everything again. There seem to be no plans for making the hard CPU intensive bits of the Mozilla platform multithreaded. I have four cpus! By the time FF4 comes out I'll have eight or sixteen!
[User Picture]From: dan_lane
2008-03-17 04:54 pm (UTC)

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I switched to Camino a long time ago... but I don't use any fancy plugins so I wasn't already invested in FireFox in any way.
[User Picture]From: jasonwert
2008-03-17 05:07 pm (UTC)

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Is Firefox your preferred browser in Linux or would you recommend a better one?
[User Picture]From: brad
2008-03-17 05:15 pm (UTC)

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What else is there? :(

Yeah, I use Firefox on Linux. On a Mac I tend to use Camino or Safari.
[User Picture]From: signe
2008-03-17 05:38 pm (UTC)

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Issue must be Mac-only, then? Never seen it before on any version.

I'm very happy with FF3B4, really. It took me a while to get my extensions working successfully (a combination of figuring out which ones were _really_ incompatible, and which just had a too-low MaxVersion).

Their "secure updates only" for extensions change has me a bit miffed, but the reasoning behind it is good, in general. (I realize you can turn it off, but then you're presented with that stupid "YOU IDIOT, TURN THAT BACK ON" bar at the top of the add-ons dialog for the rest of eternity.)
[User Picture]From: jope
2008-03-17 05:59 pm (UTC)

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Hmm, the plugins comment has me wondering about extensions: If you have any extensions installed (I'd be surprised if you didn't), do you still get the beachball behavior when you disable all of them? Kinduva shot in the dark, but easy enough to test. As best I can recall, I have rarely gotten the beachball, even in poor Wifi conditions. Although it's also possible that I've just developed a blindspot.

Just trying to address the problem itself, rather than adding to the bitchfest.
[User Picture]From: brad
2008-03-17 06:07 pm (UTC)

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No extensions. Extensions are the fool's game. Quickest way to make FF suck.
[User Picture]From: erik
2008-03-17 06:31 pm (UTC)

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Say a little prayer for fixed ALT tags display, too. I can never read the full tags on the xkcd comics. :-(
[User Picture]From: vadda
2008-03-17 06:37 pm (UTC)

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Woohoo, great news! (Actually not so much since my Shredinger cat wen...
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: nedrichards
2008-03-17 09:40 pm (UTC)

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Do you get waht you pay for with IE, Opera and Safari as well?
[User Picture]From: mart
2008-03-17 06:33 pm (UTC)

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If your async networking API blocks the app, then how can you possibly call it async?

[User Picture]From: ioerror
2008-03-17 07:00 pm (UTC)

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Seriously! WTF!
[User Picture]From: yolospat
2008-03-17 07:11 pm (UTC)

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So when you are hating on Firefox, what do you use as a default browser in OSX?
[User Picture]From: brad
2008-03-17 08:56 pm (UTC)

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Camino and/or Safari.
[User Picture]From: substitute
2008-03-17 09:25 pm (UTC)

death to the beach ball

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It's amazing how many things on OS X just freeze EVERYTHING this way. It feels like there's one thread and the rest of them all went out to lunch. Especially during I/O and network operations, where the damned thing blocks like Windows 3.1 with Trumpet Winsock and a goose.

Between that and the window manager doing aleatory focus management, I'm having a really hard time with my girlfriend lately.
[User Picture]From: infromthecold
2008-03-17 09:39 pm (UTC)

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Well, I'm glad I have an explanation for the beach-balling, finally!
[User Picture]From: pyrop
2008-03-17 11:12 pm (UTC)

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I actually loled at the pic of Firefox shitting its image cache. Man, memories...
[User Picture]From: xlerb
2008-03-18 12:53 am (UTC)

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Ah, sweet memories of Netscape 4 on the old Macintosh System Software, where it'd block the entire system while thinking about how to render a page.
From: (Anonymous)
2008-03-18 02:32 am (UTC)

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Such an impressive string of buzz-words and ignorant generalizations. Say "beach-balling" one more time on this thread and maybe it'll catch on in some other jerk's lexicon.

GAWD
[User Picture]From: transparent_one
2008-03-18 10:27 am (UTC)

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I also love firefox but it can get crappy at times I dont get it. eh..go figure..
[User Picture]From: adamkills
2008-03-18 03:52 pm (UTC)

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Just use Lynx.
[User Picture]From: muerte
2008-03-18 05:10 pm (UTC)

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Is this the issue you're talking about? I have this problem all the time, but it sounds like they're making headway on it? Slow and steady I guess.
[User Picture]From: film_girl
2008-03-18 11:41 pm (UTC)

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Um, can I just say I love you for writing this? Seriously, on XP and in Linux, I was all about the Firefox love - but for the last seven months that I've been on my MacBook fulltime, it's Safari/Camino, except when I absolutely have to use Firefox -- and trust me, I'd love to make Firefox my default browser -- but the beachball issues fucking kill that. Not to mention, I'm still essentially forced to use the memory leaking POS that is FF2 because even in FF3b4, it still doesn't work with the CMS backend I use for what is quickly becoming my day job (school/schmool), Safari doesn't work with that backend period and Camino is give or take. And I thought it was the CMS, but I talked to those guys extensively at SXSW and it isn't them -- it's Mozilla. And Mozilla doesn't care enough to fix it. GRR.
[User Picture]From: hematopoetic
2008-03-22 01:58 pm (UTC)

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I can't believe yr 2000 was EIGHT YEARS AGO!!!
[User Picture]From: jesserud
2008-03-23 09:07 pm (UTC)

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I've been using Firefox trunk on Mac for over a year, and I've never seen a problem like this. My wifi connection is frequently slow and flaky, so if this were a universal problem, I think I would have encountered it. I've also been triaging bug reports for several years and have never heard of a problem like this.

Since not everyone sees this, I think a detailed bug report -- one we can use to reproduce the bug you're seeing -- would be more useful than a rant for getting it solved.

Are you using a proxy? Does this only happen when you are loading specific sites?
[User Picture]From: brad
2008-03-23 09:36 pm (UTC)

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After posting this, dozens of people have replied to me privately or in person, saying, "Phew, it's not just me. I always wondered why Firefox hung so often."

Most notable with EVDO + Cisco VPN + HTTP proxy selected by a .pac file.