Firefox or Chrome which one?

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Platform Support

Firefox supports a wide range of operating system platforms, such as (but not limited to):

  • Apple MacOS X
  • FreeBSD (including PC-BSD and DesktopBSD)
  • Linux-based systems
  • Microsoft Windows
  • NetBSD
  • OpenBSD
  • Sun Solaris

The Google-branded Chrome browser runs on:

  • Apple Mac OS X
  • Linux-based systems
  • Microsoft Windows

The open source Chromium project (the basis for Google Chrome) also runs on:

  • FreeBSD
  • Linux-based systems
  • OpenBSD

The FreeBSD port has undergone a change of maintainership and, as of this writing, is subject to a restructuring of the project to keep it more up to date with the core codebase.

Performance

Chrome claims the fastest Javascript performance out of all publicly released web-browsers, according to benchmarks released by Google, thanks to its V8 JavaScript engine. WebKit rendering performance is also good — presumably one of the reasons Google chose it over Mozilla’s Gecko rendering engine as the basis of the Chrome browser, along with licensing considerations.

Firefox 3.0 is slower than Chrome 1 & 2. Firefox 3.5 runs Javascript on par with Chrome 2 due to its new JavaScript engine : SpiderMonkey. Preliminary benchmarks for Chrome 3 show it will double V8′s speed, putting it back in the lead.

While very light browser users, who tend to have between one and five tabs open at most and reuse tabs already open rather than opening and closing tabs regularly, and who may open and close the browser several times a day as part of normal use, common user reviews remark about the increased speed of the Firefox browser with each new release. Such reviews give the impression of ongoing development greatly improving performance with each new major release — responsiveness getting faster from 3.0 to 3.5, from 3.5 to 3.6, and from 3.6 to 4.0. For heavy users who open and close a lot of tabs, and keep browser windows open for days or even weeks at a time, the opposite has been reported: that every major release shows a marked degradation in performance characteristics. Where 800+ tabs on Firefox 3.0 might have caused stuttering, slow hover and click response both within a page and in the UI elements, and other such problems, the same would occur with 300+ tabs in 3.6, and a mere 90+ tabs for Firefox 4.0.

Memory

Chrome uses more memory than Firefox for relatively fresh starts when multiple tabs are opened, probably due to its separate-process-per-tab implementation. Firefox, however, takes longer to release memory, even when tabs have been closed. Over long periods of operation, Firefox tends to consume larger and larger quantities of memory that it never releases; this has been termed “the Firefox memory leak”, but Mozilla commentary suggests it is actually a memory fragmentation issue, which exhibits many of the same performance and resource consumption symptoms as a memory leak. Users that frequently open and close tabs will benefit from Chrome’s instant release of memory for every closed tab.

Start Up

Chrome has a faster cold start-up time than Firefox. This might be due to the fact that Firefox has more built-in features than Chrome. Firefox also tends to get slower when more plugins are installed because the plugin load time adds to the overall application load time

Stability

Chrome has a stable release, a BETA release, a DEV (Developer) build, and a Canary build (similar to the DEV build). To improve stability, Chrome included a new technology that allows each tab in the browser to run as its own process. This provides for tab independence, as well as improved performance with multiple processors and lower memory usage for web applications. This is still one of the most unique things about Chrome as a browser. There have been denial of service vulnerabilities against chrome, as well as jailbreaks in the sandbox.

Firefox is considered stable in its current release (version 5.0), though it has not been entirely free of stability issues over its tenure as the most popular open source browser, including occasional denial of service vulnerabilities that could be used to crash the browser

Interface

Chrome’s interface has an empty titlebar that is hidden in fullscreen mode; a tab bar; and a navbar containing navigation buttons, the address box, extension icons, and a settings button.

Firefox includes a titlebar with an orange appmenu button; a navbar with navigational buttons, the address box, and a search box; and a tab bar.

Both browsers feature an autohidden status bar at the bottom.

Chrome does not feature any layout customization options. Firefox allows for the customization of the presence and placement of each interface element. Firefox’s interface is also subject to CSS styling, which allows the user to completely customize each element’s appearance

Security

Chrome provides a number of features not common to other major browsers that may contribute to increased security, including (but not limited to):

  • a new default feature that grays out the non-host portion of the URL in the address bar, making phishing attacks easier to catch
  • process segregation of Webpages loaded in multiple tabs, providing the basis for a more complete sandboxing capability than seen in most browsers
  • a very strong privilege separation model, which Google promises will involve advanced sandboxing not only for Webpages in multiple tabs, but also for plugins and in-page scripts
  • an “incognito” browsing mode

Firefox can emulate the behavior of some of these features, including URL presentation to make phishing more obvious and a private browsing mode. Firefox 3.5 has Private Browsing mode, similiar to Chrome’s “incognito” browsing mode and more features.

There are some security concerns associated with Google Chrome, including speculation over whether the Google-branded Chrome browser will include unadvertised data collection to help Google more accurately target marketing. The obvious response to this is that the open source Chromium codebase will allow a verifiably “clean” install of the browser from source or through more trusted distributors, though binary distributions by Google may still be considered suspect.

As a more mature codebase, core functionality of Firefox has been more broadly tested in the wild, and more vulnerabilities have been discovered and secured by its open source community than for the open source Chromium codebase of Google Chrome. Firefox’s password management is more developed, and probably better secured against unauthorized access, at least at this time. Custom cookie handling in Firefox is generally more advanced and can be more easily fine-tuned, despite the poor cookie policy exception searching capabilities.

Firefox’s extension system has accumulated a significant number of useful security add-ons that are not yet available for Chrome, including the Perspectives distributed HTTPS certificate verification system, unwanted media blocking capabilities, automated proxy management such as for TOR, and other handy protections.

Extensions

Firefox has a very accessible extension system and an organized central extension repository managed by the Mozilla Foundation. This has contributed to the development of easily the largest extension base of all web browsers.

Chrome’s extension system is more restrictive in the capabilities it exposes to developers than the extension system for Firefox. Speculation suggests that these restrictions exist for security reasons. Among the problems these restrictions cause are:

  • data leakage for HTTP-to-HTTPS redirection, for extensions that mimic the capabilities of HTTPS Everywhere on Firefox — ironically introducing a severe vulnerability in such security extensions
  • inconsistent application of custom keybindings, for extensions that provide stronger keyboard-based interface like Vimium — similar in concept to Pentadactyl and Vimperator for Firefo

    Popularity

    Firefox takes almost 37.7 % of the market share while Google Chrome takes 34.6 %. Firefox set a Guinness World Record in most software downloaded in 24 hours. 8,002,530 people downloaded Firefox 3 in 24 hours from all over the world.