File Under: Browsers

Firefox 15 Beta Plugs Memory Leaks

Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired

With Firefox 14 out the door, Mozilla is turning its efforts to polishing up Firefox 15, due out six weeks from now.

If you don’t want to wait that long — and there are several reasons you won’t want to — you can download Firefox 15 from the beta release channel today.

There are several new features coming in Firefox 15, but none is likely to have as big of an impact on your day-to-day browsing as the memory improvements. Firefox 15 prevents most memory leaks caused by add-ons, including developer favorite, Firebug.

Mozilla has been working to solve Firefox’s memory issues for some time as part of its MemShrink effort. The payoffs for stock Firefox are already out in the wild, but for most users much of the appeal of Firefox lies with its many powerful add-ons. Unfortunately, those add-ons are often a source of memory leaks as well. Even the good add-ons; even the popular add-ons.

For the gory details about why Firefox add-ons leaked memory and how Mozilla’s developers are solving the problem, Nicholas Nethercote, head of the MemShrink effort, has a detailed explanation on his blog.

The bottom line is that the changes in Firefox 15 mean that many users with add-ons installed will see significant reductions in Firefox’s memory consumption.

That’s especially good news for web developers since the popular Firebug web development add-on has also been the source of some memory woes in the past.

There’s other good news for web developers in this release, including some improvements to Firefox’s new baked-in developer tools and a faster JavaScript engine. Also new is support for the SPDY networking protocol v3 and the CSS word-break property. For more details check out the full release notes.