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I recently installed FreeBSD 5.2.1 on an old machine I have here and updated it to -CURRENT with cvsup. The machine has a 400 MHz Celeron and 64 MB of RAM (I know -- yuck). I thought I might try using it as a lightweight workstation with X.org and Fluxbox. I got both of those installed, but when I try to run Mozilla or Firefox, the system slows to a crawl. Checking 'top', it doesn't look like Mozilla is using an obscene amount of memory (at least not enough to justify the amount of thrashing I witness), and swap usage does spike by a fair bit (although not as much as when trying to make something big out of ports).
Does anyone have any ideas about what I can do to increase performance? I tried Dillo, a lightweight Web browser, and it performs well but doesn't have some features that I need. Ideally, I'd like to use Mozilla or Firefox, but I'm open to suggestions a good lightweight browser. I'm also interested in streamlining the kernel -- this being -CURRENY I left a lot of the debug stuff enabled when I rebuilt it, along with a lot of other stuff I probably don't need -- but my question is how much memory is this likely to save me?
Distribution: OpenBSD 4.6, OS X 10.6.2, CentOS 4 & 5
When you run an app in X, most of the memory usage (someone correct me if I'm wrong) is shared memory, which is allocated by X. That means that the Mozilla process won't look very big, but X will balloon. Quite simply, Mozilla is too big for a machine with 64MB of RAM. You only choice is a very lightweight browser, which would be Dillo, or Links, or something like that.
As for ripping pieces out of the kernel, it's unlikely to help. You'll only shrink your kernel but a few hundred KB. The only part of a custom kernel that will boost your performance would be removing the debugging crud. I don't think removing the debug code will save much memory, but it should lower the processing overhead.
I've got an old box (we're talking old... Pentium I (that's one) 200 MHz, 64MB RAM) that I currently run FreeBSD 5.3 on. I've got X.org and FluxBox installed, and have no problems. In fact, currently I'm running two compile processes in two seperate xterms, and my system is still as happy as a clam. I love *nix
I'll note that neither of you mention which browser you use, which was the root of the OPs question ...
The days of using a 64MB machine for much running X are largely gone unless you're going to run one thing at a time or don't mind hitting swap all the time. When xterm weighs in at ~5MB, it doesn't take a long time to chew up 64MB.
I use firefox, but all my machines have >768MB. In your position though, I'd be using links, and often do anyway.
Sorry, got a tad bit off course last night when I posted. I haven't gotten much sleep lately. Anyways, I do use Firefox, and it works pretty well (granted usually when I'm surfing the web, the only other thing running might be a make process in an xterm behind firefox). I also am experimenting with Amaya and Dillo (though neither really do the trick for me). But this box is also my "toy" box. It's something just to play around with (unless my webserver needs to go down for some reason, in which case I exit out of X, start up Apache and make sure I have the most recent backup loaded).