Saturday, April 24, 2021

Debian Unstable and Brave Web Browser

 Last week I install Debian Unstable on my test machine and as usual, I try new software as well. I find it useful to try other things, because you never know what might end up being useful. In this case I decided to try LXQT as my windows manager and the Brave web browser. None of these things were life changing, but rather mildly interesting.

Ubuntu at its core is based on Debian Unstable, Cannonical grabs Debians development branch, fixes some bug, picks out some reasonable defaults for installed software, adds some shine and calls it a day. I make this sound cheap and easy, but it really isn't, Cannonical does a real service to the Linux community by providing a stable new user friendly distribution. I personally use because it just works. Debian Unstable is not too unlike Ubuntu once it is installed. I update the system in exactly the same way, I have access to exactly the software. The only real difference is, with a default install of Ubuntu I can expect most of the software I use to already be there, with Debian I have to install it after the fact. This is not a big deal for me, because I know what I need and can crank out a script to finish installing everything. For a new user this would likely be a challenge. Otherwise, I found the experience to be or less the same.

LXQT was a bit of a challenge. Mate Desktop is pretty easy to configure, generally I have what I want in 2 minutes on a fresh install. LXQT does not have the easy to configure interface and I had to dig for things, even adding a launcher icon to my taskbar was way too many steps. It is also mildly annoying that it does not automatically enable wireless networking on boot up, I am sure there is a place to change this, I just have not found it yet. The big draw here however is just how light on resources this window manager is. As I have said in the past, Mate on a fresh boot up takes up more than a GB of RAM and once I start opening applications, that can quickly build up to 5 GB. I have a 16 GB machine as my daily driver, so this is not really much of a problem, but if I were using an 8 GB or god forbid a 4 GB machine, this would quickly get get tight. On boot up LXQT takes up around  250 MB and even after I start running applications, does not seem to exceed 1 GB very often. It also does not seem to eat much CPU time either, which is a nice bonus. The affect all this has is a much more responsive system, even large bloated applications like Firefox feel snappier

Finally, the Brave web browser. I have changed web browsers pretty regularly over the years, I am not a madman fan boy about this, I simply want a web browser that gets me where I want to go, I really do not care how it gets me there. Like most of us older computer guys, I started out using Netscape, moved to Mozilla and then Firefox. Once Chrome fixed all of its annoying problems, I started using it, and I used it for a couple of years before Firefox did a near complete rewrite of its code base and caught up with Chrome and surpassed it in many ways. I had heard some nice things about Brave, it is based on the Chrome and has a built in ad blocker, well not quite an ad blocker really. What it does is, it strips out ads from the website you are on and puts in ads of its own. This does not bother me, mostly because I block ads before they ever get to my browser, so even this has little or no affect on me. I have to admit, Brave renders web pages significantly faster that Firefox, I mean seriously, it is noticeable, even javascript heavy web sites load fast. Brave consumes less memory than Firefox, even with 6 or 7 tabs open, it consumes half the RAM Firefox does. While I am not ready to switch my daily driver over to Debian or LXQT, I am switching to Brave, I am impressed with it in almost every way.

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