RPI4 - Surfing the internet

Raspberry Pi 4: Chronicling the Desktop Experience – Firefox Upgrade – Week 18

Last Updated on August 20, 2020


It’ll come as no surprise that Firefox is a huge memory hog. Gigantic in fact. Even using a single tab viewing a basic web page, Firefox gobbles up 386MB of RAM. Don’t even think of using Firefox on the 1GB or 2GB model of the RPI4 if you keep more than a few tabs open.

Raspberry Pi 4 - Memory Comparison - Chromium and Firefox

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

There’s only one other viable alternative to Chromium on the RPI4. It’s the proprietary Vivaldi. I’ve reproduced the same tests with Vivaldi. Here’s the results.

Raspberry Pi 4 - Web Browsers - Memory Usage

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 68.5.0esr
Vivaldi 2.11.1811.41

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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4 years ago

Thanks for your last blog post, I’m finding the series to be really interesting.

It’s a shame Firefox seems to be a non-starter on the Raspberry Pi 4. It’s still my favorite desktop web browser. I wonder if Raspbian are aware of the issues you experienced. Maybe they could post and let us all know. Any plans on covering other distros that run on the Pi?