Category Archives: Lightweight

The Best Lightweight Browser

I just went through and reinstalling my system from a computer I hadn’t updated for a year and a half. For everything I needed, Gnome 2.22 and Firefox 3.0 did just fine. The computer is an iBook 300MHz that can use all the umphh it can get. Though it worked alright for a long time, I got a little picky and just wanted a lighterweight desktop (even a tricked out Gentoo can only do so much). The most important thing I needed was a web browser that was responsive. Firefox 3.0 actually didn’t do too bad… until it had been running a while. I was also hoping to get a few of the more popular features that modern browsers have like saving sessions and form-autofill.

Three Tries

I was all prepared to install Chromium on the iBook. I had planned to cross-compile on a faster computer (Chromium source code is like a 5GB download). Chromium really is the king of webkit browsers (and browsers in general) for resources and speed – so I really wanted to give it a try. I found out thought that the V8 javascript engine has a lot of x86 instructions built directly into it so that wasn’t an option. I decided to try the other lightweight browsers: Midori, Arora and Epiphany.

Midori

Midori runs fast, and seems to be well built. Unfortunately Midori wasn’t able to save login and password information and that ruled it out. To be fair though, the version of Midori in the Arch PPC repos is six months old and it probably has this feature by now.

Arora

I installed LXDE and OpenBox on my desktop to have a lightweight system. So with only the bare gtk libraries already installed, I wasn’t real crazy to install QT as well. Installing Arora though only required QT and one other dependency. From what I’ve been told, QT by itself can be good for lightweight desktops. Arora is coming along nicely. I tried the git version of Arora and it did pretty good. Arora is still in early in development though and there were glitches in the framework: tabs behaved unexpectedly when reaching the end of the window, the close tab button would disappear at times. Arora was fast but not as fast as Midori. Looks like webkit-qt is still playing a bit of catchup.

Epiphany

Epiphany is the same browser I had tried a couple years ago. Only more, and a bit less. When Epiphany used Gecko it was alright. It was a little bit better than it’s Firefox counterpart, but had the same problem after having run for a bit of time. I’m glad the Epiphany developers have decided to go with webkit. It renders fast, and the time I have been using it, it seems just as snappy even after I have been using it for awhile. There are webpages that Epiphany won’t know how to save a login and password, and it has no configuration option to remember your session. The Gnome Epiphany FAQ gives a nice phhhh and says that you can force kill the application (pkill epiphany) to get this behavior. I tested heavy pages like ESPN and Stack Overflow, and not a problem, even with multiple pages open.

Conclusion

Quite liking my new desktop now. Epiphany (for the most part) I am real happy with. Also for those that are interested: LXDE is a great choice for a lightweight desktop without many comprimises. I added stjerm to go along with the desktop because I do alot of my work from the terminal. I still like it quite a bit. I learned a couple more tricks about it and updated the webpage.

Lightweight Linux – Review of Picture Browsers

Lightweight Linux - Review of Picture BrowsersA vital part of my system is my picture browser. I use it browse the images I put on the website, to review images I’ve created with GIMP, to scan wallpapers, and to look at pictures I’ve took. Originally I was going to call this “Review of Picture Browsers” but I realized on my system the more important feature I needed was lightweight. I looked at seven picture viewers and here is how they stacked up.

The contenders:

From top to bottom… Not pictured: feh, (out to lunch)

All the browsers I tried have stayed true to Linux form and are pretty lightweight. I did not review fspot here as it is a mono application and at least at the time I don’t consider it a lightweight application. All these applications I have tested over the last several weeks to get a good idea about them.

To test each application I first purged the memory then opening numerous images with “appliation *.jpg“.

The test bed:

Startup times are calculated by the hardened method of, “one mississippi, two mississippi…”, also I didn’t drop the gnome caches too, sueme.

The criteria for the judging process is thus in matter of priority:

  1. Lightweight – by lightweight I mean startup and application responsiveness.
  2. Ability to scale images with both quality and speed
  3. SVG support – bonus
  4. Ability to organize files – bonus
  5. All had full-screen support.

Eye of Gnome

I doubt few people travel far from Gnome’s default viewer. Eye of Gnome starts reasonably quick, and scales images well. EOG also browses quickly and is the best in the group creating a good browsing window for all images.

Gnome’s Belt Holder

On this computer though, the EOG’s lag is noticeable with the startup time for the sample 13 images being 15 seconds. Otherwise I can see why EOG is Gnome’s default viewer. Bonus to Eye of Gnome for SVG support.

Score: 4.4/5

Gthumb

I thought about whether or not to add this one as Gthumb is more of an image organizer that an image browser but a lot of people like it (as do I). Gthumb opens as quickly as EOG and its image browsing is simple and does a good job. The organizing features of Gthumb are nice, though I don’t think very intuitive.

  • (+) Organization support
  • (-) Couldn’t get arrow keys to work
  • (-) Thumbnails broke on my setup
  • (-) No SVG support

Score: 3.9/5

Mirage

Mirage is a python application for viewing images. As a python dependency I knew Mirage wouldn’t be blazing on this computer – startup time was 30 seconds. Of all the browsers beside EOG I thought Mirage was the best designed. Mirage also has a few nice features adding in. Unfortunately Mirage scales poorly and slowly.

Score: 2/5

Gpicview

A lightweight, responsive browser and a standout among the pack is Gpicview. Created by the developer of the PCman file manager and it looks to be in development again. Gpicview loads in four seconds and is only a file browser. I like Gpicview a lot, though it should stick to Gnome interface guidelines more.

  • (+) fast
  • (-) no smart window resizing
  • (-) no SVG
  • (-) scale quality poor
  • (-) explore bar?

Score: 4.1/5

GQview

With GQview I didn’t know what to expect I haven’t seen anyone using it. GQview is an image browser and organizer, and starts in about eight seconds. GQview though is a bit of a mess as it seems torn between trying to do too much. GQview does runs well and I’m still using it on my system for it’s excellent collections support.

GQ “I’m too sexy” view
Lightweight Linux - Review of Picture Browsers

  • (+) customizable
  • (+) svg support
  • (-) poor scaling
  • (-) mouse clicks only option to browse images
  • (?) no more development?

Score: 3.9/5

Ristretto

XFCE’s Ristretto trails the pack. Another python application and it needs lovin’. Startup time was 27 seconds. Not only that but flipping between images was slow and the scaling quality was poor. I didn’t spend alot of time with this application.

Score: 1.5/5

feh

Feh is a bare bones image viewer and probably not for everyone. Feh has a minimum of dependencies and above all is fast – almost instantaneous, two seconds to startup. Run from the command line, Feh can be used to browse and scale images but will require setting up to use on the desktop; I’ll take more of this tomorrow. Feh is not for the regular user, but it is the best lightweight solution.

Score: 4.6

Upcoming Games – OpenLieroX

I like to try new games, I generally don’t write about them though. I often shuffle through free gamer and game tome on the weekends to see what budding developers are doing. Some of them are pretty cool but few are worth talking about as they are all usually early in development. I was pulled in my OpenLieroX though.

I wasn’t a Windows user for many years so I never heard of it. Liero is an real time, excessive carnaged, Worms-clone. Though I have tried Worms before (and really liked it) I didn’t know what to expect. So a good clone would be something I’d like to see in Linux. Clones in general are something that I’ve learned to avoid. Good games are alot more than ideas and usually only pretentious developers feel they replicate the time and detail of a commercial success.

I’ve been real fortunately lately with games. I’m still playing OpenTyrian which rocks, and Wesnoth is alot of fun so I really didn’t need anything else, but I got the bug, or should I say… worm.

To be technical, OpenLieroX is a clone of Liero Extreme the most popular of Liero clones. So OpenLieroX is a clone of the of a clone of a clone, ok, I got it… :) This sounded discouraging but OpenLieroX is actually a polished game with some nice features.

For Gentoo users there is an ebuild available and debian users will also find a package on the website.

The plot of Liero is simple: destruction. Moving the worm about and firing various weapons is all Liero is basically about, but it’s Fun! Gameplay is smooth, there’s lots and lots of weapons, sound effects are all good too. Also there are a good number of mods to keep it interesting. Network play looks like it be a kick in the pants, and the CPU AI is about average. Maybe the screenshots will show it best.

The menu:

Local Play:

On a 747:

Now they’re trapped, think I’ll nuke ‘em.

Upcoming Games - OpenLieroX

The developer has been working on this steady for quite a bit now and I like his efforts. Good too see good games come into Linux. OpenLieroX is an unexpected surprise and well worth the try.

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