One of the new trends in web browser development is to separate various modules of the web browser, like different tabs, plugins and the core engine, in different processes to increase the web browser's stability and security.
Currently only Google Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer support these techniques (as well as any other browser that is based on Chromium).
Lately though the guys behind the Mozilla Firefox web browser have shown interest in adding multi-process support to the Firefox browser as well.
And with the latest nightly of Firefox came that support. Even more interesting is that the Mozilla developers "borrowed" the code from the Google Chrome source code which is Open Source.
Firefox Nightly refers to the latest developer versions of the web browser which is usually the first to receive new features.
Benjamin Smedbergs announced the recent addition to the web browser on his personal blog.
According to his post the multi-process capabilities are turned off by default.
Currently only Windows and Linux support multi-process plugins: mac support requires additional work. To turn OOPP on, visit about:config, find the pref dom.ipc.plugins.enabled, set it to true, and restart your browser. Please report any crashes or instability in bugzilla: product “Core” component “Plug-Ins”.
There is one major known bug right now: any plugin which is installed in a path with spaces fails to load. On Windows, this affects almost everything except Flash. I hope to have this fixed in tomorrow’s nightly. There is a tracking bug for all the known issues which prevent us from turning on OOPP by default
It becomes clear from the description that this is an experimental feature that has been implemented at this time so that some developers and testers can test it extensively. It will be interesting to see how this evolves in the future and into which public version this feature will be integrated in first (if at all).
It needs to be noted that multi-process support at this time is only enabled for plugins. This means that plugin contents are loaded in their own process while websites and the core browser are all loaded in one process still. That's a core difference to Chrome's implementation which separates websites from the browser as well.
Update: Mozilla is making progress on e10s, Firefox's multi-process architecture. The move to separate the browser core and websites open in the browser has already started, and will finalize in 2017. You can read up on multi-process Firefox here.
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