THIS COMPUTER is yelling at me to get off its lawn


#1

My laptop is dying. In the course of enumerating my other options, I have just put Debian “unstable” on a Pentium III desktop computer that I haven’t looked at for, like, five years. On which I am now typing this.

With such limited hardware, conventional software choices like Gnome, Xfce, and Firefox are slow to the point of uselessness. I am becoming a fan of the suckless.org project, the people who came up with dwm and surf.


#2

I wonder if a raspberry pi will run rings around this?


#3

In this case, I suspect so: the PIII actually isn’t such a bad CPU(especially if it’s one of the later ones running close to 1 GHz); but just look at how much RAM @smulder doesn’t have; and how much swapping is happening.

The rPi CPU is kind of a dog; but 512MB of RAM would make this situation a lot less painful. You could get PIII motherboards that supported up to 4GB of RAM; and I’ve seen PIII-based Xeon boards that’ll do 16(PAE only, so 32 bit address spaces per-process); but actually buying that much RAM was Serious Business at the time; so very few PIIIs ever saw nearly that much.


#4

That’s true-- I noticed the RAM right off the bat. A late Model Pentium III is faster at numerics than a Pi; an early one, not so much.

http://www.roylongbottom.org.uk/linpack%20results.htm


#5

It bothers the hell out of me that it takes so many resources to browse almost as fast as I could on a P3 or G3 15 years ago. All for lots of “features” that I would gladly do without.

The P3 Tualatin chips are quite decent, those are the basis of the later “Core” CPUs - the P4 was a dead end.

Although I like Firefox OK for daily use, most modern browsers are bloated crap, Unfortunately, this is because of servers hosting dynamic pages, which I hate. Once I render a page, I need it to stay still. The idea that the user determines their own experience has become foreign to people.

For those with minimal resources, I recommend a text-based browser, such as the Links family. I have used ELinks with some success. The better of these are smart enough to render stuff with little overhead and not miss much. They are also good for mouseless browsing, if that interests you. Some will inevitably complain that text/character/console web browsing is missing some contemporary widget or other, but obviously those are not the point. If it works for most of your browsing, maybe you can save the odd difficult page for a full-featured browser.


#6

Hi gramps!


#7

Saywhut?


#8

But you have more resources, so what’s the problem? As long as growth exceeds demand, you’re golden.


#9

I used to use K-Ninja. It was a graphical browser, had only three features: URL Bar, Back, Forward.

It was damn fast. It ran on gecko, but isn’t updated anymore. It was a fork of the K-Meleon browser, which is still maintained, but has bloated horrifically. It has built-in everything, from adblock, to user agent spoofing, to RSS reader, to Mailreader. I think by now it’s more of a re-skin of Seamonkey than its own browser anymore.

Still, it’s damn fast, and bafflingly lightweight compared with the latest Chrome or Firefox, and it doesn’t require any registry writes. So that’s a plus.


#10

I already explained that, read it again!

Hardly! I said that despite more resources, my experience is not as good. Site usability seemed to peak around 2000 or so. More computer is not a remedy for things I don’t need bloated in the first place. And it would have others dictating how I use my resources, in exchange for delivering a worse experience.

When sites presume what the user should see, and redirects them, and tracks them, and hogs bandwidth - all so I can try to read annoying pages loaded with frivolous animated UIs where the text doesn’t stay put - it breaks things when users try to control their own navigation. The “contemporary” approach of taking control away from the user is completely regressive, and belongs in the 1988 world of GEnie and cable television - stuff I thought I left behind long ago.


#11

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