While most of today's PCs boast gigabytes of RAM, the lesser technologically able, older machines suffer in quiet dark corners, brutally slave-whipped by modern applications demanding memory units in the thousands. Firefox, while initially a fairly lightweight Web browser, is now in its 22.214.171.124 incarnation and with a few extensions and a few open tabs, sometimes consumes upwards of a quarter of a gigabyte of RAM.
There's no doubt Firefox is the best Web browser in the world. I advise everyone to use it. However, I think that the memory-hogging issue isn't really too serious for slightly-above-average PCs these days -- they can handle the memory for the most part. Those who can't suffer for it. Those beautifully useful extensions, the undeniably functional tabs, all too often beat the proverbial faeces out of lesser machines. The result? Users probably revert to Internet Explorer 6 (the likely default browser on such systems), which is less demanding on RAM.
I would suggest that the Mozilla community produce a stripped-down, bare-bones version of Firefox -- 'Firefox Lite', if we're going to follow beverage naming conventions. Okay, sure, there's a version for portable devices, and K-Meleon is a lightweight Mozilla-based Firefox alternative, but it's a bitch for novices to configure and sure as shuttlecock ain't no Firefox.
No, a truly great super-lightweight browser would have the security of Firefox, without the add-ons, without the tabs, yes, even without favourites, history lists and customisability. The Firefox name is synonymous with security and Web-browsing vigilance. Why not give this to the processing lightweights of the PC world? Let the 500MHz Celerons embrace their 128MB of RAM and run the world's best browser without feeling like they're being bent over a table and bitch-slapped by more capable machines.
I know the critics will jump on me with things like, "Dude, don't get them to split their time between two projects -- let them make the Firefox we love even better!" It's a great point and I for one want to see Firefox 3.0 destroy IE like I'd love to destroy an 11-year old's year by spoiling the end of Harry Potter for them. But giving the lightweights a browser they can use only further increases Firefox's market share. The by-product is that the Firefox name will be in more households, more novices' minds and will be their first choice of browser when they buy their new pre-built system sporting Internet Exploiter.
I want to see the Fox cripple IE's dominance and give every user, regardless of their machine, the security and Web experience they deserve. Give the Celerons and the K6s some of the power back and let light users rediscover what it's really like to rediscover the Web with Firefox.