Firefox - what the hell are you doing?

Firefox - The browser we all love (or hate?) and use almost every day (or never). But what the hell is this thing doing, actually? I just wondered why this thing eats the most resources on my device - while doing nothing.

So here it goes: I just synced my complete music, movie, library and image database. I do this using git-annex. If you don’t know git-annex, you should really check it out! It’s a tool for keeping things in git without actually checking it in. Sounds strange, but that’s it! SO, git-annex is written in Haskell by Joeh Hess, the Debian guy you probably know. It is an awesome piece of software and does a great job for me. I sync several thousand of music pieces with it (something above 42,000, actually), several hundret GiB of movies, a collection of books (including audio-books) which is about 3,000 files and my private image database, which is about 7,000 files. And I do this without worrying that I might lose something. I know I always have at least 2 copies of the stuff, for music there are always 3 copies of everything. If I want to put something on my notebook (which, of course, does not have a 3TiB drive in it but only a 256 GiB SSD) I say “git annex, get XYZ for me” and it fetches it from somewhere - I don’t have to check all my drives manually.

So, that’s git-annex. git-annex does some heavyish stuff when keeping track of my data. It creates hashes of the data on and on. It does a lot of IO, of course. It propably does more things I don’t even know of - I’m just a user. But what does this all have to do with firefox, you might ask? Well… here it goes.

So I was just syncing my music and the other stuff to two external drives. It synced about 2,5 TiB to each drive, so we’re speaking of about 5 TiB data which was checksummed, synced via slow USB2.0, etc. It was fast, anyways. While syncing, I hacked a bit on one of my projects and thought about eggs with bacon, as I still had no breakfast this morning. And on my second screen, there was the login of my owncloud opened in Firefox. Nothing more, it was just the login screen (you might know that owncloud re-loads every now and then, which results in page rendering and all this stuff - but no, there was just the login). And you know what? Firefox used more resources than the heavy git-annex syncing processes together. What the hell does this thing? I mean… it just has to display this freaking web page. There is no javascript animation, no flash plugin (uuuh, I just said an ugly word) - I don’t even have flash installed - and no re-rendering because of page reload or some shit like this. Just displaying. Why the hell does this thing need more resources than another process which actually does something?

So, well … Maybe I’ll never know. If you know why Firefox needs that much resources, you’re welcome to tell me!

This rant ends here.