RPI4 - Surfing the internet

Raspberry Pi 4: Chronicling the Desktop Experience – Firefox Revisited – Week 26


No one is going to be surprised to learn that Firefox gobbles memory galore. With a single tab open viewing a fairly uncomplicated web page, memory usage is 363MB of RAM. That’s about 10% lower than the previous version of Firefox I examined. But it remains the case that unless you restrict yourself to a few tabs, you don’t want to run Firefox on the 1GB or 2GB model of the RPI4.

In the table below, I compare Firefox with Chromium for different number of tabs open. For all cases, Firefox consumes more memory than Chromium. And bear in mind that Firefox wasn’t able to display Amazon properly, showing a mobile version.

Raspberry Pi 4 - Web Browsers

I’ve also extended the chart to include Vivaldi in the image below. There isn’t any significant difference between Firefox and Vivaldi from a memory usage perspective.

Raspberry Pi 4 - Firefox - Chromium - Vivaldi

Memory usage of a tab depends on what’s being viewed. When compiling the chart, I was accessing the following web sites:

Tab 1 – Viewing BBC home page – this is not too resource intensive.
Tab 2 – Streaming HD video from YouTube.
Tab 3 – Accessing my Amazon account.
Tab 4 – Viewing an article from Daily Mail. This web site is one of the more intensive web sites from a memory (and CPU) perspective.
Tab 5 – Streaming video from CNN.
Tab 6 – Accessing my Gmail Inbox.
Tab 7 – Logged into my Twitch account.

Versions tested:

Chromium 78.0.3904.108
Firefox 68.7.0esr
Vivaldi 2.11.1811.52

As you can see from the above chart, Chromium uses significantly less memory than Firefox.

Next page: Page 3 – Summary

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – In Operation
Page 2 – Memory
Page 3 – Summary

Read all my blog posts about the RPI4.

Raspberry Pi 4 Blog
Week 36Manage your personal collections on the RPI4
Week 35Survey of terminal emulators
Week 34Search the desktop with the latest version of Recoll
Week 33Personal Information Managers on the RPI4
Week 32Keep a diary with the RPI4
Week 31Process complex mathematical functions, plot 2D and 3D graphs with calculators
Week 30Internet radio on this tiny computer. A detailed survey of open source software
Week 29Professionally manage your photo collection with digiKam
Week 28Typeset beautifully with LyX
Week 27Software that teaches young people how to learn basic computing skills and beyond
Week 26Firefox revisited - Raspbian now offers a real alternative to Chromium
Week 25Turn the Raspberry Pi 4 into a low power writing machine
Week 24Keep the kids learning and having fun
Week 23Lots of choices to view images
Week 22Listening to podcasts on the RPI4
Week 21File management on the RPI4
Week 20Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio) on the RPI4
Week 19Keep up-to-date with these news aggregators
Week 18Web Browsers Again: Firefox
Week 17Retro gaming on the RPI4
Week 16Screen capturing with the RPI4
Week 15Emulate the Amiga, ZX Spectrum, and the Atari ST on the RPI4
Week 14Choose the right model of the RPI4 for your desktop needs
Week 13Using the RPI4 as a screencaster
Week 12Have fun reading comics on the RPI4 with YACReader, MComix, and more
Week 11Turn the RPI4 into a complete home theater
Week 10Watching locally stored video with VLC, OMXPlayer, and others
Week 9PDF viewing on the RPI4
Week 8Access the RPI4 remotely running GUI apps
Week 7e-book tools are put under the microscope
Week 6The office suite is the archetypal business software. LibreOffice is tested
Week 5Managing your email box with the RPI4
Week 4Web surfing on the RPI4 looking at Chromium, Vivaldi, Firefox, and Midori
Week 3Video streaming with Chromium & omxplayerGUI as well as streamlink
Week 2A survey of open source music players on the RPI4 including Tauon Music Box
Week 1An introduction to the world of the RPI4 looking at musikcube and PiPackages

This blog is written on the RPI4.

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  1. I’m really pleased that Firefox is now a viable web browser on this device. While it seems to have gone out of fashion, Firefox is still my choice. I’ve ordered a Raspberry Pi 4.

  2. Trent,

    Dude, you are a LinuxMan! Where have you been the last several years as the RPi’s have been developing? Only 1 Rpi4/4GB? I have 3, and that is not near enough! The new dual monitors is really cool. Make sure you get a 256GB A1 chip. That is something more recent that the RPi foundation reccommends now to get the speed up on the random read writes test.

    Keep up the excellent reviews of Pi software. I got a bunch of good stuff from your reviews that I did not know existed for the Rpi.

    I always preferred Firefox, and don’t like the CIA funded Alphabet Inc/Google spy system. I avoid it like the plague. However, when I tried the firefox on X86 Raspian desktop, it is still a bit slower than the Chromium. I highly recommend you run a USB drive with persistence so you have the same Raspian environment on older/aging X86 machines as you do on the Rpi. I have been using the X86 Raspian for my main computer at home, and it really speeds up my older Win7 machine. Makes it nice to tranfer files to and from Rpi systems, and you can do all kinds of maker development stuff with the Arduino IDE (be sure to get it from Arduino.cc, do not use the old/ancient IDE in the repository). The Arduino IDE has plug ins for programming both the ESP8266, ESP32, and ESP32-cam. This makes it really nice. Also, any development work you do on the X86 Raspian can be immediately transferred to the RPI4. Like Python programs and environment all setup with many libraries already installed in Raspian.

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