Why I Switched Back to Firefox

posted in: Linux | 3

As an alternative to Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox once reigned supreme. Over the past couple of years, however, Google Chrome has risen to claim its spot. Firefox had become more bloated, slower and less innovative. Someone at Mozilla finally realized that, however, and they have been working hard to increase Firefox’s speed, slim down the interface and be more proactive with its innovative development. Moreover, as far as Linux web browsing is concern, I now believe Firefox to be more effective for my uses than Chrome.

Firefox screenshot

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a web browser:

1. The performance of the software itself – how fast it loads, the responsiveness of the interface and how it integrates with your operating system.

2. The performance of actual web page viewing, including those pages with media content

3. Other perks like extensibility, additional features, etc.

I will go through each one and explain why I chose Firefox.

1. In terms of application performance, Firefox is very far ahead of Chrome on Linux. I do not know why this is, but Chrome takes a very long time to load the first time. Even when it does load, Chrome then takes a long time to load the favicons in the bookmarks bar. I have yet to find a solution to these issues.

Chrome integrates well with the operating system for the most part. Firefox might have a slight edge with theme integration, but for the most part, the two are equal.

When it comes to memory usage, Chrome has become much more memory heavy, while Firefox seems to be getting lighter. It is somewhat hard to gauge, however, because Chrome creates separate processes for each of its tabs, but those tend to add up pretty quickly.

2. Web page viewing – Firefox has made a lot of gains in terms of page viewing. It is faster with some things than Chrome, although Chrome still takes the cake with Javascript rendering. This is the one area that usually wins people over because they view sites like Facebook and Flickr that employ a lot of javascript preloading of page content.

3. This one is pretty much a tie. I would have no complaints with either browser in terms of extensibility. They both have tons of extensions, apps, etc.

So, why Firefox? The application’s performance is simply more important to me than the slight web page rendering advantage that Chrome has. I also like that Firefox has remained more committed to free software principles and user privacy. On the other hand, to get all of the functionality that Chrome offers, you need a lot of proprietary components. The open source Chromium browser is missing things like the built-in PDF viewer. Firefox has this by default.

Finally, Firefox’s web browser also performs extremely better than Chrome on mobile Android devices, which seems to make no sense seeing that Google develops both Chrome and Android. Chrome is painfully slow on my old Nexus S phone and does not perform very well on my Nexus 7 tablet either when contrasted with Firefox. I prefer to have the same browser on all devices so I can share tabs and sync bookmarks.

Firefox is not extremely better than Chrome. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, but for the work that I do and the mobile device integration that I want, Firefox is the winner.

3 Responses

  1. Sev

    I’m with you. I only flirted with Chrome, but i put it away entirely when I saw that Chrome had reinvented the wheel, and hadn’t really improved upon it at all.

    I think a little competition is good, and it’s nice to know that no one took the closed source alternatives seriously enough for them to even fill the niche of being competition. That’s just how solidly Firefox had trumped everyone else. And I guess it still does!

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