How many tabs will it take?

Forum Forums New users New Users and General Questions How many tabs will it take?

  • This topic has 18 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated Jan 10-9:41 pm by seaken64.
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  • #74758
    Member
    computerworm110

      Hello everyone.

      I have a 15-yr-old desktop computer with 512 MB of DDR SDRAM and an AMD Sempron 3100+ CPU. I’m considering installing antiX and maybe using it as a daily driver. Before I do, though, I’ll have to add a WiFi chip, because the computer didn’t come with WiFi, and using wired isn’t feasible because the router is too far away, and the computer is too big to keep in the same room as the router. So before I spend money to get a WiFi chip, I want to know how many tabs I can expect to browse in Firefox without the system slowing down or crashing. If 512 MB isn’t enough to do much anything, I am willing to spend a few more dollars to upgrade to 1 GB, so please also tell me what to expect with 1 GB RAM.

      P.S. I know that there are a good many lightweight browsers for old computers, but please don’t just tell me to use those. I prefer Firefox because of the extensions, and being able to set up multiple profiles for one user, and container tabs, and other useful features, that the lightweights don’t have.

      Kind regards,
      computerworm110

      #74760
      Member
      rayluo

        I suspect the answer would be “not many”. Besides, it heavily depends on what kind of pages/website you browse. I have a netbook manufactured at around the same time, with 1GB RAM. It can technically be used for web surfing, but not for many tabs. (But then again, the websites I visited are “modern” resource eaters.)

        However, I doubt whether my answer above, or anybody else’s answer would be much useful to you. Sounds like you have a very specific need. Then, why would you even bother/trust someone else to feed you the result? You could easily somehow find a network cable for cheap price, and use it to test how your machine would handle those tabs, while your desktop is *temporarily* placing in your router room (or not, it depends on the length of your network cable).

        #74761
        Member
        ModdIt

          You have a specific rather slow old computer with, depending on processor revision maybe limited instruction set and
          32 bit support only.

          As rayluo wrote try it and see if it fits your purpose rather than wasting others time by asking unanswerable questions.

          Crashing is unlikely, slowdown, what else do you expect with a massively heavy browser and sites tabs with unknown content.
          If max possible ram is 1 GB no miracles to be expected.

          #74763
          Member
          computerworm110

            Why didn’t I think of that? I think I even have an Ethernet cable already, buried in a box of spare cables. A long one too, as I recall; I won’t even have to move the computer.

            Sorry I bothered you all; I guess running on 6 hrs or less sleep per day for the past few months because of some stuff going on with family has fried my brains pretty well through, but I digress. .

            Thanks for your help.

            • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by computerworm110. Reason: Spelling
            • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by christophe. Reason: profanity

            Kind regards,
            computerworm110

            #74777
            Member
            PPC

              @computerworm110- your’s was a logical question from a “normie” user- but, like stated previously, the ammount of web browser tabs you can have open at the same time depend on many factors, mainly:
              -Web page resource usage – a simple blog probably takes less than 10% of GMail
              -Usually apps in a 32bits OS use less RAM than in a 64bits OS- so, you may have more tabs open in 32bits antiX
              -The browser being used- the default antiX browser, Firefox ESR may use more or less RAM than Seamonkey, Chromium, Otter-browser, etc. etc…

              So, start antix in live mode and take it for a spin!

              P.

              #74779
              Moderator
              christophe

                Firefox + 1 GB RAM = “daily driver” ?

                Do as PPC suggested. Try it live first, if possible.
                Or install before spending money, if you don’t need to keep old hdd contents.

                “Daily driver” for this one will mean plenty of patience.
                I could do it perhaps, but I’d never expect my wife to. ;)

                I’d NEVER suggest for you to NOT use firefox. (But something like otter-browser would work better on that hardware.)

                As always these days, the web browsing is the main sticking point…

                • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by christophe.
                • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by christophe.

                confirmed antiX frugaler, since 2019

                #74783
                Member
                blur13

                  I’d say using firefox on that machine is a non-starter. With tabs? no way. But please report back your experience, it’d be interesting to know!

                  #74785
                  Anonymous

                    Hi computerworm110,

                    With wifi, I’ve had good results with the ralink 3062 based pci cards on antiX-19 and 21.
                    I would say look at maxing the ram out as most motherboards from that era can take 2 GB.

                    #74914
                    Member
                    seaken64

                      https://www.antixforum.com/forums/topic/pentium-4-can-be-your-daily-driver-kind-of/

                      The link of above could be useful for you. In that report I have a similar machine (HP zv5000,
                      1.6Ghz Athlon XP 3000+, 1.25GB DDR1, 55GB IDE, BIOS 2004) and my conclusion was that machine was not good enough to use as a daily driver.

                      I agree with the above statements that you should try it first before investing any time in it. I suggest at least 2GB of RAM and Two Threads (Core2 or Pentium dual class CPU) to use as daily driver.

                      With Firefox you may get two or three tabs before RAM is used up. But mostly it is going to peg your CPU and become unusable. Experience tells us that you need to use other browsers on low powered low-resource machines. But, as stated, it depends on what you are browsing. Firefox is hungry. I would not try it in less than 2GB of RAM.

                      You will need to compromise. Stating that you will only use Firefox will doom this experiment. Better to get another machine.

                      Seaken64

                      #74923
                      Member
                      Robin

                        Here I have to contradict, seaken64.

                        With Firefox you may get two or three tabs before RAM is used up.

                        Simply No. It depends only on how you set up your system and how you set up firefox. I’m runnung firefox right now with 147(!) tabs open on an 32bit single core PC with 2 GB RAM (DDR2, PC-5200) only on antiX 19.3 with all recent updates. It doesn’t matter whether it is an Intel Pentium or an Athlon XP, I have both here in daily use, both with 2GB RAM and no problems with running Thunderbird or Claws mail parallel, and in the background having the machine translation script working at the antiX translations from transifex one language after the other. This class of machines is even good for watching live TV using aCSTV, without having to close the other programs before. Sometimes I have 20 Windows at the same time opened, Geany with multiple tabs at several projects running and also leafpad, mirage, and loading some photos with gtkam from digital camera. All this works smooth and fluent, the memory management on antiX does a really great job.
                        Probably I should add: I’m running antiX full from a 64GB Live Persistent USB stick, but having the Swap partition NOT on the Live medium, letting antiX use the existing Swap partition on rotational hard drive.
                        But even under really heavy load I rarely see the hard drive starting to swap (Especially this can happen when editing really big and highres images in Gimp.) But firefox never has made the PC start swapping.
                        Probably the magic behind it is how you configure your firefox. There are some settings, I change from the default values on these machines so everything runs smoothly:
                        1.) remove the checkmark from the Entry "Use recommended Performance settings" in section "Performance settings"

                        2.) Set chekmark at "Use Hardware-accelleration". This will have only any affect, when your video driver is able to handle this. I observed the original Nvidia driver does handle this perfectly, but Nouveau driver I have doubts whether there is any accelleration in use at all. It feels as if all the rendering is done by the CPU instead of GPU.

                        2.) set "Max Content threads" to "1" (one).
                        In contrast to what they do write there (“the more threads you have the better would be the performance”), the opposite is true on weak machines. Firefox will run like a youngster on even a single core 32 bit system when setting this to one only.

                        3.) When running on original Nvidia driver the setting "activate smooth scrolling" is fine. But again, when running on Nouveau driver you should deactivate this setting for improved performance.

                        As you can see, the usability of your system in everyday usage heavily depends on the quality of the video drivers you can lay hands on and install. If the driver lets all the work to the CPU, and the GPU idles most of the time instead of being used for what it is designed for, it is needless to ask why a specific system is not usable in everyday usage. All the existing performance is eaten up by rendering everything on CPU instead of GPU. And this goes also for the rendering of multiple browser tabs.

                        Just an example: I can run a simple video file of e.g. 2360 kbps smoothly even dual screen with a CPU load of max 60% peak and an average of 40% with antiX 19.3 on the 32 bit pentium M system (nominal 1,4 GHz, 2GB RAM) with original nvidia drivers installed. But on antiX 21 using the nouveau driver on the very same machine the very same video file using the very same program (mpv) outpowers the CPU to constantly 100%, even rendering the video display choppy and not allowing to do anything else at the same time on the machine. That makes all the difference.

                        4.) And finally do install at all costs "uBlock origin" on firefox. This stops rendering all the heavy overhead the modern internet web pages come with. You would not believe what a difference this makes in everyday usage. Actually you do need the modern hardware only to satisfy the needs of advertising industry… For the true content of any webpage a 32 bit single core CPU combined with a true high performance GPU is enough to render dozens of tabs in firefox. As I told you, I’m right now running 147 tabs simultaneously. No joke. (This comes since I work at a lots of projects parallel, swithing fast between them. It would simply take to much time to close and open the tabs. Allways open: Leo, Deepl, google-translate, woxicon, duden, linguee, 4 times transifex, antiX forum, 6 times gitlab, 2 times gitgub, wikipedia, to list only a couple of them, and also dozens of sites for recent researching in different matters.) Runing frescobaldi sometimes parallel, or listening to some audio stream from “poor mans radio player” or Audio-CD. All this parallel on a single core 32 bit CPU, without having to wait longer than a second or two for anything. No need at all to be patient.

                        System:    Kernel: 4.19.184-antix.1-686-smp-pae i686 bits: 32 compiler: gcc v: 8.3.0 
                                   parameters: vga=0x0317 persist_all lang=de_DE tz=Europe/Berlin quiet splash=v 
                                   disable=lxF 
                                   Desktop: IceWM 2.9.4 vt: 7 dm: SLiM 1.3.6 
                                   Distro: antiX-19.3_386-full Manolis Glezos 15 October 2020 
                                   base: Debian GNU/Linux 10 (buster) 
                        Memory:    RAM: total: 1.96 GiB used: 1.21 GiB (61.9%) 
                                   RAM Report: permissions: Unable to run dmidecode. Root privileges required. 
                        CPU:       Info: Single Core model: Intel Pentium M bits: 32 type: MCP arch: M Dothan family: 6 
                                   model-id: D (13) stepping: 8 microcode: 20 cache: L2: 2 MiB bogomips: 2659 
                                   Speed: 1333 MHz min/max: 800/1733 MHz Core speed (MHz): 1: 1333 
                                   Flags: acpi apic bts clflush cmov cpuid cx8 de dts est fpu fxsr mca mce mmx msr mtrr nx 
                                   pae pbe pge pse pti sep ss sse sse2 tm tm2 tsc vme 
                        Graphics:  Device-1: NVIDIA NV43M [GeForce Go 6600] vendor: Rioworks driver: nvidia v: 304.137 
                                   alternate: nvidiafb,nouveau bus-ID: 01:00.0 chip-ID: 10de:0148 class-ID: 0300 
                                   Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.19.2 driver: loaded: nvidia unloaded: modesetting 
                                   failed: fbdev,nouveau,vesa alternate: nv display-ID: :0.0 screens: 1 
                                   Screen-1: 0 s-res: 2464x900 s-dpi: 98 s-size: 639x231mm (25.2x9.1") 
                                   s-diag: 679mm (26.8") 
                                   Monitor-1: VGA-1 res: 1024x768 hz: 60 
                                   Monitor-2: VGA-2 res: 1440x900 hz: 60 dpi: 100 size: 367x230mm (14.4x9.1") 
                                   diag: 433mm (17.1") 
                                   OpenGL: renderer: GeForce Go 6600/PCIe/SSE2 v: 2.1.2 NVIDIA 304.137 direct render: Yes 

                        And the Athlon XP system (1,2 GHz nominal and also 2GB DDR 2 RAM, BIOS date: 2001) has absolutely the same performance, it is even a bit faster (3319 bogomips). No difference in everyday usability.

                        Firefox + 1 GB RAM = “daily driver” ?

                        Unfortunately I can’t answer this. Indeed, it might be a great difference whether you have only one GB RAM instead of the 2 GB on which my experience is based.

                        Windows is like a submarine. Open a window and serious problems will start.

                        #74927
                        Moderator
                        christophe

                          I have to say that Robin’s experience makes me hopeful.
                          I will also note that PPC has spoken in the past of better performance on 32-bit than I typically get…
                          But my experience mirrors what seaken64 said.

                          It seems to break on whether you have a dedicated graphics card, instead of an integrated card, with shared RAM. Or if you have a video card with its own RAM, then you need the proprietary driver to get great performance out of it. My two single-core 32-bit systems that are laptops have integrated graphics (shared RAM). I have one desktop, with an NVIDIA card, but it’s too old to be supported with the proprietary driver. So I don’t come near the performance that Robin speaks of.

                          I hope the best for you. The only thing you can do is try it out, using all the above tips that you can.

                          And check back to tell us the results. And any questions, if you think we can help.

                          • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by christophe.

                          confirmed antiX frugaler, since 2019

                          #74929
                          Member
                          seaken64

                            Here’s what I get on two Pentium 4 class machines, one a Single Thread w/ 2GB or RAM, the other a Two Thread “HyperThread” with 3/GB of RAM.

                            Initial ram used after boot, with only Terminal running HTOP.

                            P4 2.8 Ghz 2GB RAM 32-bit
                            AMD RV280 Dedicated Graphics Card
                            —–
                            MX21-XFCE – 361M
                            MX21-XFCE w/ LXDE Session – 246M
                            MX21-Fluxbox – 244M
                            antiX-21 SysV Full w/ IceWM – 80M
                            antiX-21 SysV Full w/ Fluxbox – 81M
                            antiX-21 SysV Full w/ JWM – 79M

                            P4HT 3.2 Ghz 3GB RAM 32-bit
                            Intel integrated graphics
                            —–
                            MX21-XFCE – 456M
                            MX21-XFCE w/ Fluxbox Session – 313M
                            MX21-XFCE w/ LXDE Session – 300M
                            MX21-XFCE w/ IceWM Session – 186M
                            antiX-21 Runit Base w/ IceWM – 83M
                            antiX-21 Runit Base w/ Fluxbox – 88M
                            antiX-21 Runit Base w/ JWM – 87M

                            If you only have 512MB of RAM you will struggle to use the machine as a “daily driver”, unless you only use text based applications. My experience trying to make use of Google Workspace on Firefox on these machines tells me that a machne like this is not suitable.

                            But again, we said “it depends”. What are you trying to do? What kind of browsing do you want to do?

                            I have been logging some tests with MX and antiX lately and that is my lists above include MX installs. But even with antiX, which weighs in pretty low on initial boot, at about 80M, when I try to open more than three tabs in Firefox on Google Workspace, on my machines with 512M or 1GB of RAM, the machine runs out of RAM. And the CPU is hung up. It took at least 2GB to be “usable”. I had a full report here a few weeks ago (see above link).

                            Seaken64

                            • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by seaken64.
                            • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by seaken64.
                            • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by seaken64.
                            #74932
                            Member
                            seaken64

                              @Robin,

                              thank you for your input. That is valuable information. I think we are both correct and that there is no contradiction. My comment was based on the OP’s telling us only a little about his machine, one of which was that it has 512MB or RAM. The other is that it is a Sempron 3100+ CPU. They next volunteered that they would be willing to go to 1GB of RAM. We don’t yet know much else. That si why we said “it depends”. I suggested that 2GB was the minimum for a daily driver.

                              In your case you have 2GB of RAM, an arguably better CPU than a Sempron, and dedicated Graphics Controller with a supported driver. You also have “tweaked” Firefox to get the most out of it, probably by necessity and with good motivation. Do we know yet if the OP is willing to do all of that? Do we even know if he has the same equipment as we have?

                              I maintain that my experiences in using a Pentium 4 class machine as a “daily driver” are valid. I understand that it is possible, as you have indicated, to get a lot out of a 32-bit machine if you can manage to make the needed upgrades and settings. I feel that most business people (the group in which I have the most experience) who would need a “daily driver” would find this equipment very difficult to tolerate. But a programmer and coder, or someone using less demanding applications than is typical for modern “in the cloud” business apps, may find the equipment adequate. Personally, I am very impressed with your report. As Christophe said we can be “hopeful” that there is life yet to live in 32-bit. And you may have motivated the OP to put some money into that machine in an effort to get closer to your results than mine.

                              With respect,
                              Seaken64

                              #74937
                              Member
                              rayluo

                                Here I have to contradict, seaken64.

                                seaken64 wrote:

                                With Firefox you may get two or three tabs before RAM is used up.

                                Simply No. It depends only on how you set up your system and how you set up firefox. I’m runnung firefox right now with 147(!) tabs open on an 32bit single core PC with 2 GB RAM (DDR2, PC-5200) only on antiX 19.3 with all recent updates. It doesn’t matter whether it is an Intel Pentium or an Athlon XP, I have both here in daily use

                                Theoretically speaking, how many tabs a browser can handle, also largely depends on what kind of websites you are browsing. I used to also have a 2GB RAM laptop (a Thinkpad X60, fwiw) as my daily driver, it could possibly handle 100+ tabs of antiX forum posts *ONLY* (although I did not try it that way), but definitely not when I already have some Gmail+GoogleCalender+GoogleNotes (or the Outlook+Calendar+OneNote flavor) + GitHub + StackOverflow + etc tabs constantly open. From a technology standpoint, the tipping point is when the last straw (i.e. the last tab) that brings your computer into thrashing situation. You could know you are approach that limit by keeping an eye on the second-rightmost icon on the systray (i.e. the memory gauge) and an “htop” console, but you usually won’t be able to pull your computer back if it went pass the no-return-point.

                                That is why I think @Robin’s 147(!) number is very impressive! I would love to learn from Robin’s wisdom and reproduce his/her success.

                                Probably I should add: I’m running antiX full from a 64GB Live Persistent USB stick, but having the Swap partition NOT on the Live medium, letting antiX use the existing Swap partition on rotational hard drive.

                                @Robin you mentioned “it depends on (1) how you set up your system and (2) how you set up fiBut even under really heavy load I rarely see the hard drive starting to swap (Especially this can happen when editing really big and highres images in Gimp.) But firefox never has made the PC start swapping.refox”. Was the paragraph above the “set up your system” part? I assume only a minority of antiX users are using Live USB, but coincidentally I am one of the Live USB users, and I have long been setting up swap partition on outside of USB stick.

                                But even under really heavy load I rarely see the hard drive starting to swap (Especially this can happen when editing really big and highres images in Gimp.) But firefox never has made the PC start swapping.

                                That is an enviable performance, @Robin. I don’t know Gimp much so I just assume Gimp would use a definitive amount of RAM proportional to your image size. But the Firefox (or its “content process(es)” seems to be a different beast. Right now, on my 4GB RAM laptop, there are 8 default firefox content processes. Each of them occupies ~100MB to ~600MB RAM, one of them even uses 33.3GB(!) Virtual RAM, according to htop.

                                
                                $ sudo ps_mem.py -S
                                 Private  +   Shared  =  RAM used   Swap used	Program
                                  ...
                                  1.3 GiB + 150.3 MiB =   1.4 GiB    90.1 MiB	firefox-esr (10)
                                $ htop
                                    PID   ...  VIRT   RES   SHR ... COMMAND
                                    ...   ... 33.3G  157M 72544 ... /usr/lib/firefox-esr/firefox-esr -contentproc -childID 2 ...  
                                $ free -h
                                               total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
                                Mem:           3.8Gi       1.5Gi       973Mi       899Mi       1.3Gi       1.2Gi
                                Swap:          8.0Gi       872Mi       7.1Gi
                                

                                So, @Robin, I already use same “system set up” as yours, but you can see my laptop(s) behave very differently than yours. So, I would assume it is the following “firefox setup” that would make a big difference.

                                Probably the magic behind it is how you configure your firefox. There are some settings, I change from the default values on these machines so everything runs smoothly:
                                1.) remove the checkmark from the Entry “Use recommended Performance settings” in section “Performance settings”

                                2.) Set chekmark at “Use Hardware-accelleration”. This will have only any affect, when your video driver is able to handle this. I observed the original Nvidia driver does handle this perfectly, but Nouveau driver I have doubts whether there is any accelleration in use at all. It feels as if all the rendering is done by the CPU instead of GPU.

                                2.) set “Max Content threads” to “1” (one).
                                In contrast to what they do write there (“the more threads you have the better would be the performance”), the opposite is true on weak machines. Firefox will run like a youngster on even a single core 32 bit system when setting this to one only.

                                3.) When running on original Nvidia driver the setting “activate smooth scrolling” is fine. But again, when running on Nouveau driver you should deactivate this setting for improved performance.

                                As you can see, the usability of your system in everyday usage heavily depends on the quality of the video drivers you can lay hands on and install.

                                Thanks. I applied that “set max content threads to 1” just now. I would need some time (days?) to observe how it behaves.

                                I do have questions on the video drivers.

                                * How does a user know whether his/her antiX system is using the optimal video driver? antiX21 uses an i915 driver on my laptop. Is it good? Bad?

                                
                                Graphics:  Device-1: Intel 3rd Gen Core processor Graphics vendor: Dell driver: i915 v: kernel 
                                           bus-ID: 00:02.0 chip-ID: 8086:0166 class-ID: 0300 
                                           Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.11 driver: loaded: modesetting unloaded: fbdev,vesa 
                                           display-ID: :0.0 screens: 1 
                                           ... 
                                           OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Intel HD Graphics 4000 (IVB GT2) v: 4.2 Mesa 20.3.5 
                                           compat-v: 3.0 direct render: Yes 
                                

                                * How does a user know/test/benchmark whether Firefox is using GPU for rendering?

                                4.) And finally do install at all costs “uBlock origin” on firefox. This stops rendering all the heavy overhead the modern internet web pages come with. You would not believe what a difference this makes in everyday usage. Actually you do need the modern hardware only to satisfy the needs of advertising industry…

                                Interesting point on the advertising industry. :-)

                                antiX seems to already comes with some ad-blocking capability out-of-the-box, and I thought that was enough (even though it is also sometimes inconvenient). I installed “uBlock Origin” just now, and I’ll observe its effect in next few days.

                                However, I have to say I am skeptical on whether ad-blocker alone would make much difference to my usage pattern. As hinted above in my first paragraph in this post, my constant opened tabs are those like Gmail or Outlook. Those 2 particular web pages contain no ads, they are just resource-hungry in their own right.

                                All in all, thanks a lot for Robin’s sharing. I really look forward to hear more details from @Robin.

                                #74939
                                Member
                                blur13

                                  NoScript Firefox extension, in addition to uBlock Origin, is another must-have for a viable browser experience. It will probably break most of the websites you use, but you can enable scripts on a “per script basis”. Enable the scripts needed to get the site working. I have some sites where 8 out of 10 scrips are for tracking/advertising. Another bonus is that you might get through the paywall of some news sites. The Economist, for example.

                                  Having scripts disabled makes for a much faster browsing experience.

                                  Regarding threads:

                                  http://levelup.gitconnected.com/how-web-browsers-use-processes-and-threads-9f8f8fa23371?gi=9a4e2a5b9794

                                  • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by blur13.
                                  • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by blur13.
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