Alternate Web Browsers For Raspberry Pi: 0.2

I have turn my attention to testing on different desktop environments and using Fennec web browser. I was having issues reducing the system resources that was used by the other browsers so I wanted to try a browser that was designed for mobile devices.

Fennec is a firefox based browser for mobile devices. It uses less resources than conventional browsers, but has an interface that is not optimized for standard desktop computers. Fennec was on my list of alternate browsers but I could not get a working version to run. However, after some research, I was able utilize the mozconfig file and the Mozilla central build environment to build a working version of Fennec.

I have here the link to the gnome version of Fennec and all of the associate libraries. The stand alone executable. The stand alone executable has issues. I recommend getting the whole package (objdir.tar.gz).

Fennec 32bit Gnome Fedora

I will upload the other version when ready.

To build Fennec I had to first install the proper tools:

yum groupinstall ‘Development Tools’ ‘Development Libraries’ ‘GNOME Software Development’
yum install mercurial autoconf213 glibc-static libstdc++-static yasm wireless-tools-devel mesa-libGL-devel alsa-lib-devel libXt-devel

hg clone http://hg.mozilla.org/mozilla-central

Then I had to create a mozonfig file with “ac_add_options –enable-application=mobile”.

Here is fennec running on a number of different Desktops:

Gnome:

XFCE:

LXDE:

After I had all my browsers in new environments I tried comparing them using the same websites. I have also disabled swap using the swapoff -a command and sync command to clear the memory cache.

XFCE:

LXDE:

I am more interested in LXDE since it is the same environment used by the RaspberryPi board. Plus all the browsers used a bit less resources on LXDE, but Fennec did not perform as well as I had hoped.

The next test I did involved minimizing the ram, all the browsers except Arora still worked when I took the ram down to 256 mb under LXDE. But the system would not boot when I reduced it even more.

Midori:

Epiphany:

Chromium:

Fennec:

I had plans to bring these browsers to the raspberry pi board, and build a Fennec on a panda board, but I ran into numerous issues. The most notable is not being able to change the partitions for the raspberry pi. And not being able to install development tools for the panda arm device.

Alternate Web Browsers For Raspberry Pi: 0.1

I have tested a number of different web browsers for fedora versions 13 and 14. I could not fully test these browsers on Fedora 15 yet because of Gnome 3’s incompatibility with Visualization. The browsers that I have successfully installed and running include Arora, Epiphany, Chromium, and Midori.

Arora is a cross platform web browser that is lightweight, but is unsupported since the creator quite developing it. Epiphany is part of the GNOME project, so its a exclusively browser for the gnome desktop environment. Chromium is the open source browser in which Google Chrome is getting the source code from. Midori is a web browser that aims to be fast and efficient, and it is being used as the default browser for Bodhi Linux Distribution.

The main performance measure that I am focusing on is memory usage. And the utilities that I used includes gnome-system-monitor and various commands. The system monitor tool provided a GUI for the process and resource usage of the browsers. And the commands that I used were able to provide more real time data.

To test the browsers, I first checked the number of processes that the browser was running. The command I used was simply:

ps -ef | grep browsername

Then I would monitor it using the system monitor gui or the top command.

I used the top -p command to monitor specifically the browser processes.

After testing out the different browsers I was able to get a feel of how they compare in terms of resource usage.

Chromium:


Epiphany:


Arora:


Midori:


Firefox:

In terms of browsing experience, both Firefox and Chromium were very smooth and fast, while the others felt sluggish at times especially on sites that have a lot of ads or moving components. Though they are also the browsers with multiple processes. Midori used the least resource in general since it only ran with one process and used less memory than the others.

These results are based on going to the same site with multiple browsers. But the browsers are not tuned yet for performance.

I have also tried to limit the amount of RAM for the OS. However, everything was not at a functional speed when I reduced the RAM to 256 mb. The speed seemed to increase when I disabled some unused services, but the browsers were still struggling when running.