Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve installed Ubuntu Hardy Heron (the most current version), which comes with Firefox 3.0, on a couple of machines. My most recent effort has left me wondering what could be so terribly wrong with this picture. On one of these computers, it is impossible to open more than three or four tabs (if any of the sites is using flash) without losing almost all functionality within Firefox. The app simply spends most of its time not responding.

Worked fine on my test system, but on my production system… well, production over. Can’t really use that computer any more. In a normal blogging session for me, I rarely have fewer than twenty or thirty tabs open. The “fastest browser yet” is borked.


  1. #1 brandon
    July 13, 2008

    In my experience flash has always been painfully cpu consuming on linux.

    You could try a different browser, like Epiphany for example, which runs on the gecko engine, like Firefox, so you may or may not get faster flash. (Although I hear Epiphany is making the official transition to webkit soon).

  2. #2 Ted Kaminski
    July 13, 2008

    It’s flash. Scienceblogs are especially guilty of having like 4 different flash objects per page, so more than 3 or 4 tabs or so starts to really drag things out. I think it even crashed last time I tried to open 5 tabs.

    Supposedly, Adobe has a flash player 10 beta that has some performance fixes for Linux, but I haven’t had the chance to try it yet.

  3. #3 llewelly
    July 13, 2008

    I do not allow any flash from scienceblogs pages, precisely because scienceblogs has way too much flash, which slows down all browsers (not just firefox), and makes all browsers much more likely to crash.

  4. #4 david
    July 13, 2008

    Flashblock is your friend.

  5. #5 Doug Alder
    July 14, 2008

    I currently have 21 pages, 2 that I can tell with flash, open on a dual core Dell laptop with 2 GB RAM, Hardy Heron and am not having any problems Greg.

  6. #6 Barry
    July 14, 2008

    …or privoxy. A lot of flash content is advertising, and privoxy deals nicely with that.

    Still, it sounds like this is new to you with Hardy Heron & FF3.0. Does the problem occur when you use them individually? Is anyone in the Ubuntu forums experiencing the same issue?

  7. #7 Todd
    July 14, 2008


    It blocks everything that make the web useless. Yeah, I know that JavaScript and Ajax are the core Web2.0 and I even have been known to code the stuff for money, but the bulk of it is just crap draining precious resources.

  8. #8 themadlolscientist
    July 14, 2008

    Flash is pain in the ass. If I want to watch a video, I have to DL it and watch it in QuickTime. There should be a law saying that every site has to have a non-Flash-based version.

    I rarely have fewer than 20 tabs open, and on a couple of occasions it’s been close to 60. That’s on an old first-generation Mac G4-400 with a measly 384 mb of RAM. (It was given to me a couple of years ago by a small graphics company that was upgrading, so I’m not complaining that they stripped it first.) Flashblock is the only thing that keeps my online sessions afloat.

    As for the ads: Adblock Plus is your friend too!

  9. #9 MiddleO'Nowhere
    July 14, 2008

    I’ve found FF 3.0 on Hardy Heron to be horribly buggy and slow. The Windows version on my desktop has been wonderful (the memory leaks have finally been fixed).

    The Linux version, on the other hand, randomly closes without warning (but is still running since I have to kill the process before I can open the browser again), will stop responding when opening new tabs, and sometimes seems to get confused when loading a page (ie. it can’t seem to download any of the content unless you tell it to refresh, then it loads fine).

  10. #10 Paladin
    July 14, 2008

    It’s not FireFox 3, it’s the latest flash version. I’ve installed it on FF2/Feisty and i had the same problems (my home computer isn’t very fast, a sempron at 2600, and a few flash ads brought CPU usage to 100%). But after i reinstalled the old flash version it was ok again. Can’t tell you the exact version since i am at work now.

    So we have to take this to Adobe. Too much to hope they’ll go open source? Probably.

  11. #11 clinteas
    July 14, 2008

    Very boggy on Hardy with FF3 indeed,its Flash’s fault tho,and flashblock fixes the problem.
    Just dont try to jump between Youtube vids lol,that still freezes everything for me.

  12. #12 Ian
    July 14, 2008

    Just out of curiosity, why on Earth would anyone want 20 tabs open at once, much less 60? I can see having a handful open, but 20?!

  13. #13 Valhar2000
    July 14, 2008

    I haven’t had any problems with FF3 on Hardy, and I was running it on a Celeron E1200, so I can’t say that I’m getting by on sheer raw power.

    I think the people who complain about Flash may have a point. I’ve had 10 or so tabs open, but they were mostly the Ubuntu forums, so no Flash was involved.

    Have you tried Swiftfox? A friend of mine recommended it to me once, and it was faster than FF2.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    July 14, 2008

    Ian: No fair blaming the victim! And, my blogging style is trademarked…

    On further consideration and reading of these comments and other things, and some experimentation, I’m now certain it is not FF 3.0 specifically. … 2.0 is the same. It still could be the Flash on Hardy but it could more specifically be something else like a driver (graphics driver?).

    I’m going to try going back to FF 3.0 and fiddle with the Flash.

    I definitely did NOT have this problem before (i.e, Friday). I am, however, going to forward this thread to the Scienceblogs.com overlords for them to consider … if many people are bothering with ad block because of the flash on Sb, then the people in charge of ads may want to know about this.

  15. #15 Virgil Samms
    July 14, 2008

    Using FF3 on Fedora 9. It is more stable than the Beta version which originally shipped with F9, but with two windows open, I still sometimes get pages opening in the wrong windows.

  16. #16 clinteas
    July 14, 2008

    LOL Greg,

    what ads u talking about? I have no ads here,and no flash thingies,coz they slow things down too much…..

  17. #17 MRW
    July 14, 2008

    In Hardy Heron, with FF3 beta, and (I think) with an older version of flash, I haven’t noticed any particular slowdown.

    On the other hand, the ads on Scienceblogs have sometimes slowed my browser on that and other computers to a crawl and made me simply give up. I enjoy this site, but when I can’t even scroll, there’s no point in struggling. I’ve emailed the management in the past about this.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    July 14, 2008

    Reducing the resolution on the Ndivia driver is working…..

  19. #19 hmd
    July 21, 2008

    I use HH and FF3 at home, and haven’t noticed much except problems with Flash, esp. when there is flash on more than one tab and/or I am using other multimedia apps (such as Amarok). Of course, I usually max out at 4-5 tabs.

    I also use Adblock extensively. On Scienceblogs, Adblock says that it is blocking some ads.doubleclick.net scripts, and I don’t see any ads at all.