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Firefox Users Take Developer To Task Over Memory 'Leak'

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Firefox's memory appetite has some users up in arms, but according to one of the open-source browser's developers, that's part of the plan.

Complaints about Firefox's memory use, particularly charges that it "leaks" memory -- that it doesn't release memory once it's done using it -- had been circulating for some time before Ben Goodger, now employed by Google, but still a lead engineer on the browser project, posted an explanation on his blog Tuesday.

"What I think many people are talking about however with Firefox 1.5 is not really a memory leak at all. It is in fact a feature," wrote Goodger.

Goodger went on to describe how Firefox 1.5's Back-Forward feature caches recently-viewed pages so that they're immediately available when users click the Back or Forward navigational buttons.

"This can be a lot of data," Goodger said. "It's a trade-off. What you get out of it is faster performance as you navigate."
Firefox, said, Goodger, will cache up to 8 previous pages, depending on how much memory the machine has. A PC with 1GB or more will cache as many as 8 pages, while a computer with just 256MB or memory will cache only 3.

Goodger's explanation didn't sit well with every Firefox user.

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