Apr 062009

I recently came into an Eee PC.  the 901 XP to be exact.  It is a real spiffy machine for the jobs I lay out for it, mainly writing on the train, surfing on the go, checking email and playing Civ III via Steam.  On a side note, Civ III is the best $4.95 I’ve spent on Steam.

Since I’m still a geek I’ll occasional post a few quick tips on being a geek with tools here on TC.  This one contains just a few tricks to speed up your browsing.  I use them on all of my computers but they’re particularly handy on the little ‘uns that have Atom processors or the older models with Celerons.  Lets face it, I love my Eee but it isn’t a powerful machine, nor was it meant to be.

One very easy trick is to try out Google’s Chrome browser.  It doesn’t meet all of my needs so I don’t use it as my primary browser but it is fast!

Firefox is by far my prefered browser.  Plugins that I use and just don’t want to give up, the artsy logo, the name that rolls off the tongue.  Here are  a few ways to make it speedier for you.

First, go to Tools -> Options -> Privacy.   By default, Firefox keeps 90 days of history.  That’s great if you want to see what you’ve been up to for the last three months but if you can live with say 10 days, you’ll find that Firefox starts up a lot faster once you make this change.  No more huge file of history to parse as it starts up.  You’ll have to restart Firefox for this trick to take effect.

Next, let’s delve into the about:config page a bit shall we?

By typing about:config into Firefox’s address bar, you’ll get yourself a nice warning about voiding the FF warranty.  Like most user manuals, lets ignore it and move forward.  After you get through that, you’ll see a lot of stuff with words like ‘boolean’ and some numbers.  There’s only a few things we’re looking for so lets go find them.

See where it says “network.http.pipelining;false“?  Double clicking on that will make it true, and allow you to speed up your page load times.  Mozilla does let us know that this can break some websites, causing random problems with sites loading.  If this happens, just set the value back to false.

Now put browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewer into the filter.  It should be set to ‘-1’.  Double click on this and change it to ‘0’ (that’s zero).  This will reduce the amount of ram FF uses for caching.  This is a good tweak on machines that have less than optimal memory.  It may slow down the usage of the back/forward button but it will reduce the amount of memory FF hogs and speed up everything else on your machine if you’re running into memory issues.

Here’s a neat tweak that will reduce FF memory load to 10MB while the browser is minimized.  In your about:config page, click in a blank space and choose New and then Boolean.  Now call it “config.trim_on_minimize” (without quotes).  Hit your enter button and then select “True” and Enter again.  Once Firefox is restarted, this will cap it’s memory usage to 10MB while minimized.  Again, great for computers with less than optimal memory.

You can also disable IPv6 if you’re not planning on useing it to browse the web.  Hint- if you’re not really sure what it is or why you’d use it, you’re probably not using it.

In the about:config page search for network.dns.disableIPv6. If it is set to “false” double click it so it becomes “true“.  A FF restart is needed.

If you’re bothered by the speed of Firefox, especially in more portable, less powerful machines, these tweaks may help you out a bit.

[tags]technology, web browsing, geek[/tags]

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

  10 Responses to “Netbooks and faster browsing with Firefox”

  1. Thanks for sharing these tips. I recently purchases an Acer Aspire One and this was the best ‘netbook tweak’ page I’ve came across. It has improved the speed of web browsing/responsiveness significantly.

  2. Hi Mark,

    Glad I could help. Just tweaks I did on my own netbook when I first got it.

  3. Giving your tips a try Ben, I have the ‘old’ 4G 701. It’s perfect for trips, I do a lot of my writing on it in local cafes

  4. Thanks for posting this. I found it useful for speeding up FF on an older Acer 3610. So it’ is more that just useful for Netbook owners. It applies to anyone using FireFox. Thanks again!

  5. Has anyone tried using Fasterfox on a netbook?

  6. Thanks a lot for that fine advice! I am also a netbook owner, I have a Dell Inspiron Mini 12 and will check out speeding up FF. I use the Mini mainly for surfing the web, e-mailing and work (MS Office) and so browsing speed is an essential factor for me.

  7. Thank you!! This helped. ^^

  8. I think its going to be hard for a netbook to replace a notebook purely on usuablity. My first netbook was a Dell Mini that’s trackpad was nearly unusable. Eventually I bought a MSI Wind bundle from MyNetbookDirect.com. The bundle I got made the computer portable and useful. For instance you need to a wireless mouse and a DVD-RW just to be able to use a netbook to its full potential.

  9. I love Firefox thanks for this. Has anyone tried Chrome on a mac?

  10. Thank you! It helps my work on my Acer Aspire One a lot!

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