Firefox Features (Part 3) – Plugin Crash Protection

Out-of-Process Plugins

Mozilla has re-architected Firefox in version 4 and structured it around what’s called Out-of-Process plugins. Effectively this provides a container for all plugins and even the browser processes themselves. You can think of it as a sandbox per-plugin and per-process. Each plugin is protected from other plugins getting out of control and the it also protects other processes from others going wild. It’s like a good hall-way monitor, keeping effective law and order within the Browser domain.

This is a feature that I’m sure many people believe is well past-due. I recently wrote about the rather growing discontentment of users on this very issue; so I’m very glad to see Mozilla introduce solid plugin crash protection in the new release of Firefox 4.

Aw, Snap!

Google Chrome - Aw, Snap!

Google Chrome - Aw, Snap!

Now you may be thinking that you’ve heard of this before, well you have. Google Chrome works in a very similar manner as this. Now no software is perfect, so I’m sure you’ve seen a plugin crash in Google Chrome followed by the “Aw, Snap!” blue/grey screen appear. But unlike Firefox up till now, the rest of the browser tabs and the core browser process itself still continue to run.

The one thing you do notice, however, is that if the plugin’s used in multiple tabs, that it crashes in all of them. But you can still view the remainder of the page or reload it. No enormous memory consumption by the crashing plugin, nor forced-close of the browser. A frustrating situation that should always be avoided.

A Pretty Plugin Checker

Firefox 4 Plugin Checker

Firefox 4 - Plugin Checker

Another new feature that’s available with Firefox 4 is a plugin-checker and resource portal. It allows you to:

  • Check the status of your existing plugins – in a very well laid out and fashionable way I might add

  • Update plugins that need updating

  • Research possibly vulnerable plugins

  • Check the plugin FAQ’s to help yourself out with plugin issues

  • Become more knowledgeable about plugins with the Plugin Tips section

Given the issues with plugins up until know, this is definitely a number of steps in the right direction; I’m sure you’ll agree. Have you had any issues with Firefox 4? Does it still crash for you, leaving you feeling it’s no better than before? What’s your thoughts


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Matt's Pic About Matthew Setter

Matthew Setter, a passionate Australian, is the founder and chief-editor of Malt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @maltblue and find out more about him on the team page.

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