One of the main reasons to use Firefox has long been its active add-on ecosystem. One of the main reasons not to use it, on the other hand, has been the fact that those add-ons can often lead to Firefox’s memory consumption spiraling out of control. However, Mozilla promises it has finally plugged the add-on leaks with Firefox 15, which is currently in beta and will likely be released by the end of August. According to Mozilla engineer Nicholas Nethercote, Firefox 15 will prevent the majority of memory leaks caused by add-ons, including those from popular tools like Adblock Plus, Video DownloadHelper, GreaseMonkey, McAfee’s SiteAdvisor and the popular developer tool Firebug.
Nethercote admits that Firefox itself has had issues with memory leaks as well, though thanks to Mozilla’s MemShrink project, Firefox itself isn’t the main problem anymore. To cut down on memory leaks from add-ons, which can lead to sluggish responses from the browser, freezes and full-out crashes, Firefox 15 will have some built-in tools that can detect some of the most common types of memory leaks, including so-called Zombie compartments, and plug them automatically.
Since Mozilla switched to a rapid release cycle last year, it has slowly been able to close the gap with Google’s Chrome again. Firefox 15 will also bring a number of other new features to the browser, including Chrome-like silent background updates and support for the SPDY networking protocol 3, as well as preliminary native PDF support.
Image credit: Harry Wood.