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The monolith: Firefox

July 16, 2008

I want a less monolithic Firefox.  I don’t want a single tab to kill the whole browser when the tab takes a dive.  I want to be able to open two different tabs and log into two different Gmail accounts.  Essentially, I want each tab to be it’s own process or thread or whatever you want to call it.  I want the tabs to be independent of each other.

I’m using the latest Firefox (3.0 as of this writing), and it still eats crap when it comes across streaming media.  I have to cross my fingers and pray that the browser will be able to handle the media and not crash.  At any one time, I have 10+ tabs open, several of which are logged into accounts for email, forums, etc.

When the browser crashes, I have to reopen the browser.  It asks if I want to restore the session.  I select yes.  When the session is restored, none of my accounts are logged into anymore.  I have to manually go back in and log into all my accounts.  Pain in the ass.

Now, I know this has been discussed by Firefox feature-request submitters before, but I’m tired of waiting, so I’m going to bitch about it here, because there’s no one to stop me!

I want this feature now.  I have two Gmail accounts, two Live.com accounts, and two WordPress accounts.  I’d like to be able to open each account in it’s own tab, but it doesn’t work the way Firefox is set up.  If I open one tab and log into one of my Gmail accounts, and then I open another tab and go to Gmail to log in to my second account, it doesn’t work.  The second tab uses the same login information as my first tab automatically.  If I log out of Gmail on the second tab, it’ll log me out on the first tab as well.  It does the same thing for Live.com and WordPress.com.

Having each tab in it’s own process would probably also help protect the end user.  Not being a programmer, I’m not sure if there are safeguards in place to prevent this, but I would think that since one tab can access login information from another tab, that’s a security violation.  How do I know that some malicious site out there isn’t capable of logging into my Gmail account remotely since I’m already logged in to in another tab?  Or my Live.com account?  Or my eBay account?  Or my PayPal account?  Or my bank web pages?  Now, like I said, Firefox programmers have probably taken this into account, but I know from my own experience that information is shared between tabs.  Having each tab in it’s own restricted process would hopefully cut down on this possible security hole.

I want this for convenience and stability as well as for security reasons.  Instead of making crash recovery better, why not make the browser better at heading off a crash?  Give it some kind of memory management capabilities.  Give it the ability to manage misbehaving tabs.  Make it better.

Firefox is the browser that I use everyday and I hate it.  The problem is, it’s better than most other stuff out there simply because of the add-ons.  Hopefully, version 4.0 will have the independent tab feature.

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