A few days ago, the first Release Candidate for Firefox 3
was launched but some problems still remained unfixed, like the one that caused the browser (and sometimes the entire system) to freeze. Some persons blamed Firefox for the freeze, while others the ext3 filesystem and
The problem seems to be related to fsync (), a function that synchronizes changes to a file, transferring the data to a storage device. In a bug report
, someone described the way in which the excessive usage of fsync () occurred. For every new page opened, Firefox would use the function approximately eight times, bringing the browser to an unresponsive state until the fsyncs completed. This problem seemed to be "contagious", as it affected other opened applications as well, freezing them. I had this problem with Ubuntu 8.04, which comes with the development version of Firefox, 3.0 Beta 5 (the developers switched from the stable 18.104.22.168 to this one).
The developers from Mozilla will make a patch for this bug in Firefox 3.0.1, and will make sure that the Linux distributors take the patch if their users are using ext3 filesystems. Jason D. Clinton, a Games module maintainer for GNOME, wrote on his blog
about this issue, and a few maintainers from Mozilla began responding to his post, trying to explain the problem and how it was going to be fixed. It seems that a partial solution would be to reduce the number of fsyncs produced by Firefox. As I said, this is only a partial fix, because we would still have the problem, but only of a smaller size.
I could add to this the large amount of hard disk activity I discovered on my home computer, on which I'm running Xubuntu 8.04, when it comes to opening even two or three tabs in Firefox 3.0 RC1. I'm not a developer, but I think the problem should be searched in the Gecko engine too, as it seems to affect other applications that use it (one good example is the feed reader Liferea that sometimes has the same issue as Firefox).