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“#firefoxcrashes or #firefoxisfine”

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 June 2009

Recently the FireFox browser has been crashing on me.  But because FireFox is a Good Thing TM I’ve tending to gloss over the problems (we do this for our loved ones, don’t we). But when the browser started to crash consistently when embedded images in this blog I decided enough was enough. I’ve moaned a bit on Twitter about FireFox over the past few days and was interested to see that other people had had similar experiences. So I thought I’d try and find out how widespread this problem might be.

In order to minimise the time and effort in analysing responses  I sent the tweet:

Firefox is crashing frequently. Is this true for others? Respond with #firefoxcrashes or #firefoxisfine. Please RT.

I then used the search capabilities in Tweetdeck to search for tweets containing #firefoxcrashes or #firefoxisfine (bearing in mind that retweets would contain both strings. The response are illustrated in the screen shot (or you can see the live search results for #firefoxcrashes and #firefoxisfine).

Twitter responses to "#firefoxcrashes" or "#firefoxisfine"
There seems to be growing evidence that FireFox is not as reliable as we might have expected. And as I know a number of the people who responded I am confident that these responses aren’t coming from people who think that open source software is some form of communism, but from people who prefer the FireFox browser to Internet Explorer.

The next question might be “what is the cause of the problem?” A couple of people suggested it might be FireFox plugin bloat or maybe problems with specific FireFox plugins.

The final question is “what do I do next?” Tolerating the problem was no longer acceptable, so I wondered whether I should use Google Chrome (which is installed on my PC) as my main browser. But I also wondered whether it would be timely to try out a new browser, But rather than installing Apple’s Safari browser, which a couple of people suggested, I decided to try out Flock.

However during the installation of Flock I also restarted my PC, which had been put in hiberation at the end of the working day for a while. And as there were various plugins I was missing I decided to restart FireFox – which I’m now finding is working fine. So I think I’ll stick with FireFox unless the problems re-occur.

But to me the ease of getting a rapid and semi-structured response from Twitter was the most interesting part of the exercise.  A couple of people responded asking for details of my operating system I was running, FireFox version number, installed plugins, etc. Now I could have set up a SurveyMonkey form to gather such information – but I know that not many would have responded. I feel that the important thing was that the survey was available from within the recipient’s environment – they could immediately respond from whichever Twitter client they were using.

What, though, of the others for whom #firefoxcrashes? What do you intend to do? Opera, Chrome, Safari, Flock – or even the other browser?

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6 Responses to ““#firefoxcrashes or #firefoxisfine””

  1. AJ Cann said

    It’s an extension problem. Disable them all and test, then resume in batches until you find the culprit.

  2. FireFox crashed again for me this morning. Have removed a number of plugins. If problem still occurs I’ll do as you suggest.

  3. Almost certainly an extension problem.

    A new version of Firefox is out soon too, so upgrade to that as soon as you can – it’s more stable and a bit faster though (though probably not quite as fast as Chrome).

  4. Nick Sharratt said

    I’ve bloated Firefox with so many extentions that it takes a fair while to start, but it’s still stable.

    Sounds like your issues was the ol’ tech support cliché of “have you turned it off and on yet? No? Try that then!” :-)

  5. Hi – there is a chance that the issue may be to do with WordPress and Google Gears causing FF to crash.

    See here:

    http://wordpress.org/support/topic/275042?replies=11

    I had the same issue a few days ago while tinkering with a local WordPress install; though of course it may not solve the problem with the hosted version of WP.

  6. I was having issues the other day with the laptop – desktops (x3) and other laptop have been fine. Ff would hang twice and then work without a problem. However, upgraded to 3.0.11 and it’s all stable again.

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