Monday, September 01, 2008

Looking Forward to Trying Google Chrome on the XO

Google Chrome, the new browser Google's apparently developing, should be well suited to a memory constrained platform like the XO. Just about all these features should be directly relevant to XO users:

  • It's built on Webkit, the browser framework used to power Safari and the iPhone.
  • It's faster. Smarter implementation of Javascript rendering will make pages more responsive and let your browser do more than one thing at once.
  • Smarter memory management. A sophisticated approach to data storage across time and tabs will keep the browser in top shape.
  • Crash-free app browsing. Applications will be partitioned in the browser so if one crashes, it won't crash your whole browser.
  • Tabs on the top. Instead of tabs being displayed below your address bar, inside the browser - they'll ride on top of each browser window. We'll see what this is like for the user, we do wonder.
  • Quick navigation. Your most frequently visited pages will be available in a point and click navigation, like Opera's Quick Dial.
  • Gears integration. Google Gears will be integrated throughout the experience for offline use, local storage of information and all kinds of other magic that Gears-heads are working on.
  • Open source. The browser appears to be entirely open source, Google says it wants other companies to borrow from it just like it learned from them.

One thing this list doesn't mention is that you'll be able to use a process viewer to check out which tabs are using up the most memory and/or CPU and kill them individually. A power-user trick, to be sure, but the kind of thing I need to be able to actually use my XO around the house, which I'd certainly like to do. The reason this kind of feature is specifically relevant to an XO is not only does it not have much memory, it has no virtual memory or swap, so once you run out of space, things grind to a halt very quickly. It would be much easier to manage this situation by killing individual browser tabs than killing your whole browser session.

Clarifying a bit... in Google Chrome, because every tab = a separate process, closing a tab reclaims the memory used by that tab much more efficiently than doing the same thing in Firefox. In Firefox, after running a couple of days with a bunch of tabs, I just have to kill Firefox (kill the firefox process) and restart to get it back down to a reasonable memory footprint, despite the fact that I'm immediately re-opening all the same pages, with all the fragmentation and garbage cleared away, it takes up way less memory. I shouldn't have to do this on Google Chrome.

1 comment:

Pat R said...
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