How much is too much?

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How much is too much?

Unread postby MoonShadow » Tue, 19 Jun 2012, 17:45

I typically run between one-half to three-quarters of a gigabyte. When I have a lot of tabs open, it edges toward a gig. At that point it slugs to a real crawl and it one instance it hung Windows so tight a reboot was the only out. I keep "Warn me when opening multiple tabs might slow down Pale Moon" ticked but have never had any alerts.

I'm a little piggy I guess. I'm up to nineteen add-ons and counting. I also keep a lot of tabs open, each one with a long history list. It's not easy to go on a diet in the sense of being able to conveniently close idle tabs. When I'm researching something it's a bit like a jagged stroke of lightening: Lots of false leads and forks that lead to dead-ends. I go down one thought thread until it bottoms out, then return up the tree to take the next leg. If I dump tabs prematurely, it makes it more difficult to track where I've been and where I'm going.

So the question is this: How does one measure, monitor and control resource usage? Most of us are here because of Pale Moon's added stability and superior performance so it's not too much to ask for some basic thoughts/guidance on where/how to keep performance snappy. Obviously, there are many factors beyond Pale Moon's control that make it impossible for the general user to distinguish between local system tuning, ISP performance, and a web site's host performance.

Before Mozilla was forced to remove its "Hall of Shame" list of bloated slowdown culprits, we at least had an idea how to limit a few of the more egregious add-on resource hogs. As an example, I've read of instances in which "Fastest Fox" actually SLOWED the little vixen to a foxtrot.

Would it behoove me to consider something like "Too Many Tabs" to unload idle tabs to disk? If it was so good, wouldn't it already have been incorporated into PM/FF? I've also read of something that defers loading new tabs until they're activated. Just the thing for opening new tabs in the background as a fork to later chase down additional leads while still staying on the current chain of thought.

Moonchild has already pointed out that plug-ins are mere entries in a list until they're invoked per instance of use. What about add-on theme managers like Stylish and similar ilk? Are they passive in the sense of changing some CSS files then standing aside waiting until the operator changes his/her mind again. Or, are they actively engaged in modifying the GUI, intercepting instructions on their way to the graphics engine? In other words, do they have much impact on performance?

Moonchild noted elsewhere about needing garbage collection to reclaim abandoned memory from loosely coded add-on "bleeders". I never quite understood why memory leakage was an issue if static data blocks and/or idle portions of Pale Moon sit quietly on the page file waiting to be called. Same thing for the overhead created by beaucoup tabs and add-ons. I'm guessing it must have something to do with thrashing a working-set too large for the allocated physical memory footprint. The question is whether there is anything the average user can do to relieve memory burden.

Bottom line: What if anything can we do to help maintain Pale Moon's superior performance?

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Re: How much is too much?

Unread postby satrow » Wed, 20 Jun 2012, 20:12

So many considerations and permutations thereof, difficult to answer any part definitively, one little update might knock five other things off kilter.

It all has to begin with the basics, consider your local connection LAN first. I'm the only user here on Ethernet and I normally have only 1 PC connected, all the other users here connect over wireless, DNS (OpenDNS) is done by the router. I have nothing shared and minimise my traffic, even Windows 7's networking thinks there's no connection!

Compare that to an 'average' connected household with all devices connected and all running at default settings, sharing enabled, streaming enabled - that's a lot of wireless collisions and a few minutes of waiting time over the average day.

On the PC level, a default install (OEM's are much worse) Windows 7 or Vista PC with Windows Live and social 'stuff' enabled, a good dual core CPU and 2GB of RAM is needed before loading up any 'real' programs, a single core would stall and choke for minutes before the machine is really usable - and there's all that check for updates/shares/master browser ... traffic happening too.

My W7 machine boots with about 23 Windows Services and a similar number of processes, it has almost nothing auto -checking for updates, disk -logging is reduced and it's usable from the time the Desktop shows - and it's using well under 900MB of the 6GB installed.

On the computer/web browsing front, you need to offload as much of the 'protection' as you can to passive, system-wide methods. Open, Comodo or Norton/Symantec DNS servers will do some of that 'in the cloud', Spybot's immunize feature, SpywareBlaster and a good hosts file will block a fair number of Ad servers, cookies and many nasties - with zero noticeable performance hit.

For the browser itself, that's down to a personal level, what suits the way you work, what distractions you need to block, etc. In the past, I might have used 20 -30 add-ons and 5 - 10 plugins, I'm now down to 1 for the vast majority of my browsing time. Less time spent 'fixing' my own conflicts and bugs means I can spend more time helping others.

Currently PM x64 uptime is 23 hours, started with loading a 60+ tab session (now 59), 1.1GB Working set, 1.35GB Peak. Slowdowns - from about 1.4 to 2GB usage (usually well over 100 tabs) I might feel some occasional lags, it really depends on the type of content, auto-refreshing stuff, etc.

I could go on but it's already starting to read like an AA meeting introduction by a Minister of Religion ;)

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Re: How much is too much?

Unread postby Moonchild » Wed, 20 Jun 2012, 20:47

For comparison, I fired up process explorer, and my Pale Moon data for the current session:
Started: 17 June 15:19 (yes, over 3 days ago) currently using 12 tabs in a single window.
Current working set is just shy of 600 MB, virtual size (used address space) total just shy of 1GB - this machine has 16 GB of RAM, so plenty to play with if the program wants to use it.
I currently use 14 add-ons in my browser, which don't seem to be impacting memory use all that much. That includes Firebug, AdBlock Plus, Fireshot, Greasemonkey and the WMP media player extension as potential memory hogs.
This is running with default graphics acceleration settings and AMD/ATI Catalyst 12.3 drivers (using about 50-60MB of video memory)

All things considered, memory use is about what I'd expect, running Pale Moon x86 on WoW64 on Win 7 x64.

As such, I think most of the memory issues you encounter would be related to one or more specific add-ons and/or system software that you are using. The number of tabs and their overhead shouldn't be significant enough to have it eat another 400MB on your system. If you want to "put Pale Moon on a diet", I'd start with the add-ons, and see if there are specific ones that cause memory inflation. I'd especially look at add-ons or extensions to your browser that would use third-party binaries as part of its operation, like download managers, security additions, keyboard hookers (keyscrambler etc.) and other things that would hook into the browser with own binaries (as opposed to add-ons that run purely inside the browser).

Unlike plug-ins, add-ons are loaded and initialized when the browser is loaded, and are active and use resources as long as they are enabled.

About:memory can be your friend there, as can the Sysinternals process explorer application. It may take some time to put your finger on it, but if it actually stalls your computer like you say, it'd be worth finding out exactly what is going on.
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Re: How much is too much?

Unread postby MoonShadow » Thu, 21 Jun 2012, 19:59

Thanks to both of you for your insight. It gives me a rough yardstick to measure against. Looks like both of you run bigger platforms and typically greater browser burdens. Sixteen gigs,
and I read elsewhere you said you run a bruising SSD. Sheesh. Shargri-La!! Bet'cha run 4 or 5 monitors at a time and maybe an extra set or two of typing fingers. For me, it's comforting to
know Satrow has run as many as 30 add-ons and 100 open tabs with no appreciable slowdown. Don't know how you got down to 23 processes and equal services... I thought I was lean, but
you must be almost naked.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining about present performance so much as ensuring I won't have to complain as I pig it out. I drive a 4-banger CPU with 4 gigs on a fiber highway (no
wireless) so I don't consider myself overly stingy on resources. Not a bit of bloatware as I purchased retail Win-7x64 Pro and started from rock bottom with a HDD reformat (forced on me by
a truly nasty crash). Memory use is 2/3 of available. Not much in the way of processes (68) or resident services either (66, most idle or sitting on a timer pop plus a third more stopped).
The most egregious of those left running being real-time Anti-V and continuous backup dynamic synchronization. I may park some tasks by leaving them open but I have only the standard
complement of fingers so only one thing at a time is actively munching on the system. As far as active resource consumption, my moon-girl is fairly lonesome on a dark night in a starless
sky. She's currently at 1/2 gig with a 28k plug-in container.

Other than an occasional spike, I never peak out the CPU but I've not monitored memory unless I'm experiencing a slowdown. Guess I'll have to pay more attention. I have looked at
about:memory and used sys-internals a bit in the past but not recently.

I'll have to re-install Process Explorer again to track longer term memory use (3 days???). As I recall, like Windows Task Manager it presents everything in an easily digestible time graph of use per
program but with a more extensive breakout. Or, in this case, hopefully it's further refined to identify consumption by the add-ons and extensions.

I've always been told memory overcommitment can swiftly bring a system to its knees almost exponentially, but as I said earlier, I'm rather fuzzy on Window's virtual storage management relative to physical memory footprint. So maybe it's mostly superstition and guesswork on my part. Stilll.... I have some anecdotal evidence the system belches and sometimes vomits if I squeeze it too hard. It ain't 64 gigs, but it looks like I've got plenty of breathing room.

Not being a programmer and never will be, about:memory is way too esoteric for my small brain. The URL compartments that are shown don't list all the open tabs, leaving me guessing
how to make use of the information. About the best I can glean from about:memory is that my heap allocated/committed ratio is 93% with only 5.6% fragmented which is okay, I guess.

Thank you both for some concrete real-life examples that give me a general idea how far I can push this without regret. It looks like I have quite a bit of room to grow yet.

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