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22 December 2009 @ 10:19 am
Lean code: Avoid Flash  
I'm a believer in lean code, and in particular Lightweight Linux software. Lower CPU use means lower energy use, and lean code also means you can choose more lightweight and affordable hardware. I've been frustrated that on Crunchbang Linux, which is designed to be lean, and which has a very low RAM and CPU usage when it starts up, I still use so much RAM and CPU when I have my browser running. This also makes it runs hot, and after spending 8 months in the tropics in the past year, where overheating caused many, many crashes, it finally cooked my battery. I know I tend to have way too many tabs open in Firfox, often more than 60, or even 100, and this is a big part of it. But here's a revelation to me: Flash was the biggest part of my problem. Firefox had become ridiculously slow and was affecting my productivity. I tried Chrome for Linux but it's not quite working right yet. Then I turned off my flash plugin in Firefox:

Tools > Add-ons > Plugins > Shockwave Flush > Disable  

and instantly it's about 3 times as fast, and my laptop runs much cooler. I have to open some other sites, e.g. YouTube, in a different browser, but that's a minor issue. I'm productive again. I'm so looking forward to HTML 5, which makes Flash unnecessary. I just wish I'd discovered it before I'd cooked my battery.

Edit: Apparently there are cool add-ons like Flashblock extension, and perhaps Noscript & Control, that let you control which flash elements play, and set defaults for some sites. That's awesome and I'll try that. For now, I'm just happy being able to get stuff done without waiting for tabs to unfreeze.
Maartenmaarten on January 4th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
Flashblock is awesome and I highly recommend it. It very rarely causes me problems. (Recent exception was the Rhapsody.com login screen, which somehow requires Flash to perform the login/redirect even though the login form itself is not flash-based. Odd.)

FWIW, DHTML animated gizmos can cause the same kinds of problems. (e.g. scrolling thumbnail strip halfway down SeattleTimes.com)
chriswaterguychriswaterguy on January 18th, 2010 05:58 am (UTC)
Thanks - I'm loving the Flashblock extension - so convenient.
chriswaterguychriswaterguy on January 20th, 2010 04:15 am (UTC)
Amusing & relevant: http://www.xkcd.com/676/