Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Low Resource Internet Browsing

Over the last decade or so people have been moving further and further towards Internet/Cloud based services. As such, our dependence on browser technologies has been increasing over time. Some of the more popular out there include:

What about the little known alternatives though? Clearly, as programming languages have become more featureful development of browsers and GUI interfaces have become trivial. While I was working at a company with a limited IT budget I discovered the need to reduce system requirements in order to maintain quality of service on terminal servers. To this end, I explored many of the options that were available in terms of low resource usage browsers. Some of these included turning Flash off entirely through the use of browser add-ons such as Firefox's No-Script and Flashblock, turning off various client side based technologies such as JavaScript and so on. Obviously turning off features would lead to useability/accessibility options though. As such, I had to explore browsers which were specially designed with low resource utilisation in mind. Originally, Opera was classified as one of these but I don't believe that this philosophy continues with it or any of the major browsers out there since consumer hardware has developed to such an extent that focus on these particular issues has become de-emphasised. Moreover, it seems to be a case where software is mostly designed to scale up rather than down now. While I would normally list my research findings with regards to low resource browsers here, there seems to be quite a lot of research out there already.

Let's just put it this way though. In my personal experiments I found that browing the exact same websites on the exact same hardware/software configuration could result in memory resource utilisation that was half of a normal browser and CPU resource utilisation that was a fraction of a conventional browser (and this was for for a browser that was built on a very similar code base! Firefox Vs K-Meleon)