A Browser with Bling

I’m a huge Firefox fan.  Ever since adopting several years ago I’ve stood by the faithful fox through thick and then.  Lately though, things have changed.  I still enjoy Firefox, it is a fantastic product that is unbeatable in terms of customability and personalization.  However, I’ve begun to question its memory utilization.  I’m not a huge techie, I know just enough to break things, but I’ve found that my Firefox 3 can eat upwards of 600 mb of system resources.  I should preface this with by saying that this is on my PC at work which isn’t a spring chicken.  It’s a single core Pentium 4 just over 2 ghz, with a little of 1 GB of Ram, running Windows XP Professional which, while certainly not top of the line, is markedly more than enough to adequately run Firefox.  As if the large memory footprint weren’t enough there are occasions were something will slow up the browser’s operation causing delays when I type (anywhere from 2-5 seconds per key press) or when I try to switch tabs.  I have a multitude of extensions installed (Firebug, web developer, css viewer, tab scope, tiny menu, extended statusbar, to name a few) so for all I know it could be one of those causing the problem, but my recent performance woes did prompt me to give another browser a try.

Read on for my impressions of Google’s Chrome browser.

Enter Google Chrome.  I played with it on its initial release but didn’t find it compelling enough to switch for good.  Now though, I’m not sure.  I admit it lacks the customization options of Firefox and its multidude of extensions and themes but it almost makes up for that in its asctetics, speed, and performance.  Immediately after start up Chrome is noticeably quicker in opening that Firefox.  I feel that most pages load slightly quicker as well, but I haven’t actually measured speed.  In terms of function the default start page, similar to Opera‘s SpeedDial, lists sites recently/frequently visited and, as your session goes on, will list recently closed tabs.  Unlike Opera and like Firefox, Chrome keeps the Ctrl+# to quick focus to a tab, making navigation between multiple tabs a snap.  Chrome, unlike other tabbed browsers opens new tabs to the immediate right of their parent, a feature I like.

Chrome’s minimalist GUI is impressive in that it sacrifices relatively little functionality in favor of ascetics.  The address bar functions as a search box (defaults to google but you can change that in options) and in addition will makes suggestions based on prior browsing as you type.  There is no status bar to speak of though the full url of a link will display in a small pop-up blade at the bottom left of the screen.  In order to increase stability Chrome tracks each tab as an individual environment so that problems with one might not effect another.  Advanced features in Chrome itself (i.e. entering about:memory in the address bar) let you troubleshoot problems with relative easy.

Suffice to say I have been more than pleased with the Chrome experience so far.  Will I jump to Chrome use full-time?  I don’t know.  I did recently increase the size of my page file and I’ve yet to see how or if that improves Firefox’s performance.  In addition I’d like to experiment some more with my Firefox add-ons and extensions before making the final call.  Google has promised that Chrome will be receiving add-on support some time in the future so we’ll have to wait and see how that changes the playing field.  Either way I highly recommend giving the browser a try.

3 thoughts on “A Browser with Bling

  1. Dbob

    Hi There,

    Here are some links to pages which will help you with
    your Firefox configuration. Each one refers to
    changes in about:config. They are not too hard to do.
    I’ve used them and noticed changes.

    Another thing that you can do is to run Firefox with
    a different user profile. Assuming you’re using a PC
    go to start>run> and type in the field

    firefox.exe -p

    and click enter.

    You will receive your profile generator.
    Choose new and then give it a name.
    You will now have a fresh unchanged browser.
    Test for memory usage and then make the about:config
    changes in this new browser. If you are pleased
    with the results, you can serially add in your various
    extensions and check memory and performance.

    Another approach might be to individually disable extensions
    one by one in your existing browser and see which ones
    are the offenders.

    Good Luck,



    Good Luck

  2. I’m also a huge fan of Firefox, and I don’t think I will ever own a computer (no matter the operating system) that doesn’t have Firefox on it.

    However, I love Chrome. Since the article I wrote (listed under the “Possibly related posts” on your post) I have actually switched Chrome to my default browser. Mostly because it loads and gets me online lightning fast, I love the simple, quick interface, and when it works well it works really well.

    The only drawback is that it doesn’t always render pages right. That’s when I switch back to my beloved Firefox and apologize to her (after shamelessly clicking “No” on the “Make Firefox the default browser?” popup).

    The perfect browser may never come into existence, there’s too much competition, even among the free, open source crowd. I recently heard that Chrome may begin getting plugins in a coming release. I look forward to seeing what developers can do to improve Chrome, but I feel its main shortcoming may just be the HTML rendering engine they chose. Of course, compatibility issues among rendering engines may one day all but disappear, in which case everyone would win.

    We shall see.

  3. I also didn’t mention that it is terrible at rendering XML, in that it doesn’t do it at all.

    Chrome, like Apple’s Safari, uses Webkit. Not being a programmer or professional web developer I can’t be certain how their webkit implementation differs from Safari’s.

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