"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Alternative browsers on the EEEPC 900

After the release of Linux version of Google Chrome browser I've, at last, decided to give a try to a couple of browsers alternative to Mozilla Firefox: Google Chrome and Opera, in order to see how they work on the EEEPC 900.

Download and installation

Both browsers are available for download as “.deb” files so installation process has been quite smooth and easy. I downloaded both installation files from the respective sites and installed them using the dpkg command (of course they can also be installed by double-clicking on the install files if you don't like using the command line interface).
I so installed Opera with the following command:
sudo dpkg --install opera_10.11.4791.gcc4.qt3_i386.deb
The installation program notified a missing dependency on libqt3-mt, I installed it using apt-get command:
sudo apt-get install libqt3-mt
And Opera installation process completed successfully.
In similar way I installed Google Chrome with the following command:
sudo dpkg --install google-chrome-stable_current_i386.deb
This time the installation process completed without errors.

First impressions

I'm not going to do any precise and quantitative test in comparing Firefox, Opera and Chrome, there are plenty already in the 'net, but simply comparing the different feelings in using the different browsers in the restricted environment of the EEEPC 900.

Opera appears at first appear to be definitively slow in loading the first pages, but once the cache builds up, operational speed seems comparable to what I'm used when using Firefox. Opera offers some additional features like Opera Unite Server or Opera Link but, since I'm not planning using them, additional features are not a discriminant factor in my choice.


Google Chrome impressed me, since the first run, because of its speed. Page loading appears visibly faster than in Firefox or Opera. In addition Chrome simpler interface leaves a little more of usable space in the small EEEPC screen. (Must be remarked that also Opera and Firefox interfaces can be configured in order to leave more usable space)


All the three browsers offers a plethora of plug-ins, skins and similar gadgets. Firefox has, probably, the larger plug-ins community but the others browsers communities are growing fast and it shouldn't be difficult to find the most useful plug-ins for both Google Chrome and Opera.

Memory usage

The only, in some way, quantitative comparison I tried has been loading the same web page (my blog home page) on all three browsers and comparing the memory usage with the top command.


Of course this is not a definitive test (a larger set of test pages and conditions would be needed) but it shows Opera using less memory than Firefox. Chrome processes are even smaller but it opens two processes (it opens one main process plus one separate process for each open page) so the total memory used is more than Firefox.


Concluding I've been really impressed by Google Chrome, I added it to my favourites programs folder and I started using it even if I didn't quit using Firefox yet.
Opera, on the other hand, is a good product but It doesn't gives, in my opinion, enough advantages over Firefox. I must remember I'm not interested in most of the extra features Opera offers if you find them interesting Opera could become a good Firefox replacement.

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