Re: Web browsers for Linux (was: Re: Netscape Bus Error)
On Aug 16 2000, André Dahlqvist wrote:
> Like I have said before, this is constantly improving.
Which is good. I sincerely hope its size decreases. BTW,
AFAICR, Debian's packaged version of M17 does not include the
mail and news client. I will experiment to see if.
> The other day I was surfing the web, and as I was going to shut
> Mozilla down I ended up closing window after window. As it was, I
> had had in total 5 different windows open, and I hadn't noticed any
> considerable slowdown.
I always surf the web with 5 or 6 open windows (so that I can
surf on orthogonal issues).
> This is with the M18 build on a 233Mhz K6 with 64 megs of RAM, so my
> machine is rather modest too.
Interestingly enough, the most common machines nowadays in my
country seem to be Celeron or K6-2 machines with 32MB of RAM.
This makes surfing the web with Linux almost a nightmare (even
if you turn on UDMA/66 so that swapping is 2 or 3 times
In the case of my computer, I use a Pentium 200MHz overclocked
to 250MHz with 64MB of RAM and it is much more acceptable to
run Netscape. But Mozilla is still slow. I just don't see why
programs always have this exponential growth. I recognize that
not everybody should be developing for embedded systems, but
expecting people to change their computers so that they can
run the newer software is an absurd.
I will get in the next month a new Athlon with 128MB and a
good motherboard. I hope that Mozilla runs on my new machine.
> When I look back at the days when I used to run Netscape I seem to
> remember that opening more than one windows was pretty much asking
> for a crash.
Well, I also think that Netscape 4.x is slow. But it is not as
slow as Mozilla (and it is acceptably stable here on my
machine). My main complaints with Netscape 4.x are:
* I can't select the size of the letters of documents I wish
* It has poor font manipulation;
* Its DNS resolver does not seem to be threaded (so, when
opening new windows, older windows are not refreshed and
this situation happens for as long as the new window's name
isn't resolved -- but I understand that this was motivated
by a technical difficulty, as I read once jwz talk about
> People also seem to forget that performance has been very much a
> secondary priority up until now.
Well, I am a programmer so I know that fixing something that
is already broken is usually harder than building something
new from scratch -- BTW, this was the rationale for the
Mozilla Project not taking (or taking very little) of the code
from Netscape: fixing it would probably be a nightmare.
What I mean with that is: let's hope that the features have
not made performance adjusts hard (or impossible).
> Now that most features are in the performance work can begin, and I
> have full trust in that the Mozilla team will do an excellent job
> optimizing it. I have seen some incredible speed-ups in the past, so
> I know just how much things can improve.
Well, optimizing has its limits. I don't hold that much of a
faith until I see the size of the program decrease a lot. In
my experience, the problems so far that have affected me the
most are indeed caused by its size which causes swapping: I'll
be crossing my fingers to all the debugging code still present
in it to make a difference. Let's see.
> I agree that the Mozilla team has given themselves a huge task by
> choosing to make an entire communicator suit, and not just a
> browser. I myself don't want Mozilla Mail; I use Mutt for that just
> like you do. I don't want a USENET reader nor a IRC client in my
> browser either. What you have to remember though is that you have
> the option of exactly what components you want to install. If you
> only want to install the browser you can do so. I am pretty sure
> that we will see a browser-only debian package of Mozilla pretty
> soon, and a mailnews package for those who want that. Looking at
> mail headers over the years have tought me that there still are
> quiet a lot of people who seam to like using Netscape to handle
> their mail, and I think it's nice to give those people that option.
Great taste you have. :-) Yes, mutt rules, since it is so
flexible and configurable and I can use it in a console. :-)
Now it is *my time* to say "don't get me wrong". I do hope
that the Mozilla team is able to produce a superb browser
(after all, I would have one more option of browsers, coming
from a project with serious funding and clear objectives). I'm
just not too optimistic about it, by the snapshots that I have
seen. But then, everything I saw was a pre-release program.
I (and almost the whole world that cares, for that matter) :-)
will try to wait yet a little more and see what they can
BTW, I also notice how much people use Netscape to handle
their mail and when I install Linux for my friends I install
it also, for the following convenience: you don't need an MTA
in your machine for the (conceptually) simple tasks of
receiving and sending e-mails -- it incorporates both a POP3
and a SMTP client in a single program.
That is the reason why I don't install mutt for other people
(that might not know how to fix the problems when they
happen). But *if* I knew of other e-mailers with the same
functionality already packaged for Debian, I would consider
Which means that if we had different applications (the mail
and browser) each doing its job, we could have smaller
programs, easier to maintain (for the programmer) and faster
(for the user).
> But don't get me wrong, I applaud alternatives like Galeon and
> similair projects. They are using what many feel is the best thing
> the Mozilla team has created, namely Gecko. This rendering engine
> has also seen some big improvements on the Linux side recently in
> M18, closing the gap to the Windows build.
Ok. I'll try one of the nightly builds and then I'll post my
analisys here, as soon as I have some time.
> Although I must admit that having to install around 20 different
> packages (libgnome32 and friends) in order to be able to run Galeon
> doesn't strike me as very light weight nor nice from a users
> standpoint, but who am I to judge?:-)
Well, the difference is that the model that Linux uses for
memory management makes it more advantageous to use more
shared libraries than to increase the size of your programs.
The text segments are indeed shared by many applications. So,
if you have other applications using those libraries, then the
increase in memory occupation won't be as noticeable as if you
increase the size of your binary (which will only be shared by
different instances of your program and not by other programs
> So to summarize, it is great to have many choices to choose from
> when deciding what browser or communication suit you want to use.
I guess that we agree here. :-) We both use Debian. :-)
> We should be glad that we have that choice, instead of complaing
> about the slowness of one project or the other.
I'm not complaining about the slowness of the project. I'm
just fearing that it may not be as successful as it could be.
> Don't forget that the Mozilla team created Gecko, and the word
> "slow" isn't the first one that pops up in my mind when I think of
Ok. Let's wait a little bit more about it. And hope it gets
s crossing my fingers, Roger...
Rogerio Brito - email@example.com - http://www.ime.usp.br/~rbrito/
Nectar homepage: http://www.linux.ime.usp.br/~rbrito/nectar/