I had the pleasant experience of having my GPU crap out on my two year old laptop.  Don’t worry though,  I took all the best advance and didn’t get a warranty.   This awesome sequence of events led me to getting a hand me down laptop for school.  This beast has 256 mb of RAM, a 1 Ghz Celeron Processor, and 20 gigs of ram.  I tried putting ubuntu on this laptop and for some reason it wouldn’t install.  I ended up installing windows xp, windows xp actually turned out to work very well and uses very little resources.

I began by first installing all my favorite apps and every thing worked great.  After getting firefox 3 installed, I launched it and started surfing.  My machine started to slow down immediately and became pathetically slow.  I immediately hit the  ctrl-alt-dlt .  The Firefox 3 process was hogging the cpu and crippling my machine.  I tried killing some tabs, but that didn’t help.  Next, I went looking for a new lighter browser.

The first place I went was opera.  Opera’s website claims that opera is a light fast browser that is fully compliant with all browser specs.  Opera was horrible.  Opera used more clock cycles than FireFox 3 and had a lot of compatibility issues with very common websites.  Oddly enough, if you use the newest version of Opera you cannot get to the main myspace page.  You can only get to mobile myspace, weird.  Note: I don’t use myspace, it was my wife that tried.  No seriously you got to believe me.

Next I searched google for the lightest and leanest browsers.  The first one I tried was the off by one browser, this browser is extremely small 1mb, but it only supports html.  This means I couldn’t check my gmail, greader, read some blogs, or use the twit army well.  If you still have text based html only websites you use, this is a great browser, otherwise forget it.  The next browser I tried is called Slim Browser, do not under any circumstance attempt to use this browser.  It is just internet explorer 7 loaded to hilt with spy ware.  It’s only called slim browser to try and get you to download it.  Finally,  I settled down on the Pheonix browser by the mozilla corporation.  If you need a light weight browser that is not fully featured use Pheonix.  Phoenix still does not support a lot of features most users are accustomed to like, tabbed browsing among other things.  It does however do its job very well, it loads web pages quickly and uses very few CPU cycles.  After using this browser for a few minutes I knew I could not live without tabbed browsing.

I decided to give Firefox another try.  I did what I should have done in the first place, I installed the ad-block and script block Firefox extensions.  This made a huge difference.  Most websites plunder you with ad’s and scripts to add functionality, but these will wreak havoc on a slow computer.  After installing these add-ons I noticed a 75% improvement on my system.  So I still had almost all the functionality I needed out of Firefox, but with processing speed leftover to do other things.  Loading webpages still kills my machine but normal browsing is now much easier.  I will be searching for more add-ons to improve performance in the future, and there will definetly be  a follow up.  So, stay tuned for more.

A few screen shots below.

FireFox with no Plugins

FireFox with no Plugins

Fire Fox with no script and ad-block

Fire Fox with no script and ad-block

Opera Stock

Opera Stock

Written by Jon

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