A light guide to light browsers on the mac

 by:Ian Sidle

What is a light browser?

A light browser (at least in my book) is a web browser like netscape and Internet explorer but different.They could be called light or lightweight browsers, for they don't have all the whiz bang features that are in the two common browsers.Why would you want to use one of these, that have less features? there are several reasons.They take a LOT less memory,a lot less disk space, less cpu usage (more multi process friendly) and are more efficient with your bandwidth.They are not that well known, but are quite useful in most case's, for few sites use fancy features like shockwave, flash and movies.As you all know, those take more space and take longer to download so only a few sites use those technology right now, sence most are still using dialup.For more info, go to the background page.


Ok, what browsers are light browsers?

A couple.Icab is the closest to the browsers that you are used to.Its like netscape and ie that it has fourms,frames,images etc but it has some features that are icab only.Also its very light on resources for what it can do, so it runs especially well compared to a "normal" browser on older machines (pre-g3). Maclynx (I'll just call it lynx for short because lynx is multi platform and is just referred as lynx) is a text only browser.Wanna be is also one, but is more mac like.Why would anyone care to use a text only browser? It is a lot more efficient with the bandwidth u have (no images to download) and it takes a lot less demand on the cpu.

They are compact

These browsers are browsers only, no email client, news group watcher, auction tracker all it does is view web pages.This is good sense most people use other programs to check their news groups and email with.This cuts down a lot of the over bloating, but there is more.Also, lynx and wannabe don't load images at all, so they don't need image rendering engines.On 68k macs, this actually allows web surfing at a reasonable speed! Wannabe takes up 800k of disk space! Also, it only uses 1.8 megs of ram!

Downloading pages

For starters, wannabe and lynx don't have images, so there are no annoying banners, so this cuts down on the downloading time because most web page have more graphics (in disk space terms) then they do for the page text them selves.So if you just want to check the headlines at macnn for example it would take (depending on the page, graphics etc) about 2 seconds to load on a dial up.a 150k web page with images obviously loads slower then a 10k text page.So if your checking up on the latest news, or just reading a article this is great.Also, with icab it has image filtering built in (so you can then have it stop loading those pesky banners).Also because they demand less on your system, the modem,dsl,cable whatever is given more time for transferring the page.So if you have a non-g3 mac, even if you have a t1 to get the pages from, it will spend more then 2/3 of the time bringing the page on the screen, so by having a light browser its more friendly to allow the data get there rather then forcing it to wait for when a "normal" browser wants instead.

Also, Icab allows image filtering so you can block most ads.There are some third party programs that do this with extensions and such but this is built in! also, you can limit Java so that only Java applets for certain cites will be used, and all other sites don't load Java.This helps in the wait time for Java to do its thing.Also, if a page has Java code thats bad it will block the applet to prevent the browser from crashing! In some cases, some sites I can only use icab because the Java on the page is written badly that the other browsers would crash!


Go to part 2 to decide if light browsers are for you

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