Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Opera on the XO Laptop

No I'm not talking about singing.

I was looking forward to the release of Firefox 3 with great anticipation. I had tried out the beta versions and noticed the improvements in JavaScript execution speed and memory footprint. Since the XO laptop is relatively slow and memory constrained compared to many of the other computers that I work with, I was really hoping that Firefox 3 would be a big improvement over Firefox 2. It turns out, for the XO, it wasn't. The place where the limitations were most apparent, was scrolling on a large web page. The page would hang for a second or so and then slowly creep down. It probably had to do with the short supply of available RAM on my happy little green machine.

As momentum was building for Firefox 3, I started to hear good things about Opera 9.51. When I ran into performance issues on Firefox and the XO, I decided to give Opera a try. Some thought I was crazy since, as Arne mentioned, the XO can be a bit slow. Yes, the XO laptop is a different environment than most other computers out there, and Opera has turned out to be an improvement.

To set up Opera on the XO, I began by downloading from the Opera web site. I selected Opera 9.51 for Linux i386, selected RedHat as the distribution in the drop down menu, then I selected RedHat 6.2, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 8.0, 9 and checked the box to Download this package in TAR.GZ format. Whew.

Next, unpack the archive using
tar zxvf opera-9.51.gcc4-static-qt3.i386.tar.gz
and then run
install.sh -s
From there, you can just type opera on the command line in the terminal to start it up.


Unknown said...

I don't really know enough about the inner workings of Firefox 3 versus Firefox 2 (and really, is there a single person who does?), but I would guess that the extra bells and whistles like the Awesomebar aren't helping Firefox 3 on the XO. Perhaps there are some debugging tricks that would allow one to see where the bottleneck is.

Benjamin P Lee said...

FF3 has some nice improvements from FF2, but also some random small issues/changes that are annoying (currently working a project that needs to support a web app on 6+ browsers).

I wish more software could be downloaded as a custom install. Plugin architectures are nice, but all I really want is a download page that features several options of the same software with various things included or left out. That way you can get the stripped down version or the all features version on the same page. I guess you can achieve most of the same stuff with plugins (e.g. Eclipse) but it doesn't feel the same.

Jeff Scudder said...

I'm actually a big fan of Firefox 3. In my opinion it's a big improvment on any platform except the XO with it's tight memory constraints.

Great point Andy, I guess since the source is all there for me to look at, I can profile it. Go open source!

Ben, yeah a more modular distribution would be nice. Perhaps the installer could include an "advanced" mode which lets you pick and choose features to create a stripped down Firefox lite ;-) Wouldn't want to complicate things though for the millions who want to just get on with it.