Barely a month after the release of Firefox 14, Mozilla is all set to improve their browser even more. The Firefox blog recently announced the release of a new version of beta for Firefox 15. One of the main purposes of the new version of the popular web browser is fixing memory leaks, both for the browser and its add-ons.

Firefox has received criticism from the time its first versions were introduced over its hoggish memory requirements. But in recent times, Mozilla has made great improvements to the browser’s memory management.

In a post on a Mozilla blog, Nicholas Nethercote, a developer with the Mozilla Foundation, writes, “Firefox 15 prevents most memory leaks caused by add-ons, including Firebug.” Firebug is an add-on for the browser that helps developers debug websites.

Firefox 14 released

All set for the Firefox 15 Beta

Nethercote explains that memory leaks in add-ons are caused by a so called “zombie compartment”. These compartments are where information from web pages is stored and remains even after you leave the page. He claims, “For those users [using multiple add-ons], Firefox 15 is likely to be faster (sometimes drastically so) and less likely to crash, especially if they have multiple add-ons installed and/or keep Firefox running for a long time between restarts.

Users affected by memory leaks will notice high memory consumption by Firefox, which could lead to problems such as:

  • Long freezes, caused by garbage collection and cycle collection.
  • General sluggishness during basic operations such as scrolling and switching tabs.
  • Occasional drastic slowdowns — particularly on machines with small amounts of RAM such as netbooks — due to the paging of data to and from the hard disk.
  • Out-of-memory crashes or aborts, particularly on Windows and ARM machines.

Some of the add-ons which cause memory leaks include AdBlock Plus, Video DownloadHelper, Greasemonkey, Firebug, Image Zoom, It’s All Text, Yahoo! Toolbar and McAfee Site Advisor.

Another major change to the beta of the new version of Firefox is the addition of support of the Opus audio format. The format can be played directly in Firefox 15 and offers better compression than formats such as MP3, OGG and AAC. It is also supposed to be good for both music and speech, can dynamically adjust bitrate, audio bandwidth and coding delay, and supports both interactive and pre-recorded applications.

Timothy Terriberry writes on the Mozilla Hacks blog, “We think Opus is an incredible new format for web audio. We’re working hard to convince other browsers to adopt it, to break the logjam over a common <audio> format.” He continues, “We designed it for high-quality, interactive audio (VoIP, teleconference) and will use it in the upcoming WebRTC standard. Opus is also best-in-class for live streaming and static file playback. In fact, it is the first audio codec to be well-suited for both interactive and non-interactive applications”.

Firefox 15 is set for full release on August 28. The beta version can be downloaded here.

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