I need your help!

That’s right, I am in need of the community’s help.


I am just sick of my GNOME desktop running so darn sluggishly (my hardware’s fault, not Ubuntu’s), so I am asking you (the community), which applications do you use that are a) lightweight and b) simple but powerful?

I am specifically looking for replacements for the following applications:

  • web browser (I currently use Chromium, but it is very resource hungry)
  • mail client (on the desktop, I want to move away from the gmail web interface)
  • feed reader (I currently use Google Reader, which is nice, but can be slow at times)

I am willing to consider command-line versions of applications, with the exception of the web browser.

I also have some very good news, the application that I have been working very, very hard on since earlier this year, called Pytask, is very close to the next release now (literally days away if all goes to plan) and it brings some very cool improvements as well as some requested and unexpected improvements too. I don’t want to give away the juicy detail’s until release time, so you will have to wait until then.


20 Comments on “I need your help!”

  1. hrhnick says:

    I find Chrome/ium to be the best browser resource wise. Try Midori though, it renders using WebKit, and integrates into GNOME nicely with full GTK integration. As for the Mail Client, I’m waiting around for the Postler project to mature/develop.

  2. Dougie says:

    Arora is pretty lightweight as Web Browsers go. I use it on a very low spec Aspire One netbook.

  3. Phil says:

    Hey, I think Midori is a slimmer, more snappy web browser. Also, I tried out LXDE (installable through the Ubuntu Software Center) and I basically brought an old Pentium4 with 512MB RAM back from the dead. LXDE will take a little time to get it similar to the default GNOME layout, but it’s worth the speed boost.

    Hope this helps… just passing along my findings from a similar situation.


    • nisshh says:

      @Phil, i have tried Midori and i rather like it, i think that will be what i switch to, i also really like LXDE, it does work well on my machine, but i depend on GNOME because my media keys only work in GNOME (not a single one of the 50 other DE’s/WM’s i have tried), still something i need to think about using i think, thanks for the suggestions.

  4. Adam says:

    Web browser: I would normally recommend Chromium but since you’ve tried that it won’t work. How about giving Dillo a try?
    Email: I’ve heard that Mutt is a really good email client. In runs by the command line I think.

  5. Tom C. says:

    I never realized how much of a resource hog Chromium is. I run it as my main browser (Firefox is my secondary). I’ve found it to be fairly snappy for my uses. That aside, I use Thunderbird as my mail client. It now has a plugin for a calendar, and both interface nicely with GMail/GCal. I have to agree with Phil on the LXDE DE. I’ve tinkered with it, and found it to be quite good for those who need a lightweight DE.

  6. David (GNU/Linux supporter) says:

    I find that Claws Mail is both quite well endowed feature wise and very light on resources so it might fit the bill for you too. Personally I choose to use Open Box on older hardware (you might also try IceWm) and, while it will never be Gnome etc it is resource friendly (very) and gets the important jobs done. Perhaps a switch to Dillo as your browser might also help. Dillo is very light on resources and, once more, gets the job done.

    If you need to add an office suite might I also suggest SiagOffice?

    The above selection works well for me and, thought some of it is pretty far off of the “well known software” grid the authors of each application give admirable support to their products. Please feel free to send a private email if you need help setting any of it up.

    • nisshh says:

      @David, i have tried both Sylpheed and Claws Mail (they are very similar), so far i prefer Sylpheed over Claws Mail mainly because of the GUI, it is a little better than Claws Mail, somewhat cleaner, etc. I have used both Openbox and IceWM for a while each, they are both very nice to use, but again, i depend on GNOME working with my media keys.

      I’m right with openoffice.org, it works very nicely.

      As for Dillo, i really love it for it’s speed, but it lacks one CSS related feature (the canvas element/property i think is the one) which makes most websites only display some content in the right way, although i hear that this feature is in the works. If Dillo did CSS properly, i would seriously consider it as my browser of choice. Thanks for your suggestions.

  7. ben says:

    Mutt for your email client, light weight, powerful and fast.

  8. Matt says:

    I use Liferea for my rss feeds. It works really well, though can sometimes be hang when when downloading the comments list from a feed [so I disable this feature on a per-feed basis].

  9. bishop mandible says:

    Epiphany is a nice fast GNOME WebKit browser.

    Command-line applications:

    Browser: Links http://links.twibright.com/
    Mail-Client: Mutt http://www.mutt.org/
    Feedreader: Canto http://codezen.org/canto/

    Audio-Player: Cmus http://cmus.sourceforge.net/
    IRC-Client: http://www.irssi.org/

  10. JGJones says:

    I’ve got a old P3 system with 512Mb that’s in use so like you I’m looking for lightweight versions.

    I actually installed Openbox on it rather than Gnome.

    For browser, I use Opera – it works really well and is very responsive, and starts up quickly. I’ve always found that Opera works pretty well on old systems.

    For emails – I’m testing Claws – I did try Mutt, but my wife need to be able to use the computer too! So Claws it is.

  11. skfin says:

    I would recommend rekonq as browser, kmail as mail client and akregator as feed aggregator 🙂

    KDE rules \o/

  12. chattr says:

    ditto-ing several replies:

    arora or dillo for the web

    liferea for RSS

    sylpheed for mail (or claws if you want mail and RSS in one window)

    fvwm for a window manager

  13. Matthew says:

    I use mutt with my Gmail account via IMAP (there’s a great guide to setting this up on Lifehacker), and the excellent command-line app newsbeuter for reading feeds. Recent versions of newsbeuter support reading feeds via Google Reader – Ubuntu Lucid’s version is too old but I believe the version in Maverick is new enough.

  14. M3rkin says:

    Install Xubuntu (XFCE desktop environment) or Lubuntu (LXDE desktop environment) on your machine. They are both lightweight installs of Ubuntu that are supposed to use less resources. I have tried Xubuntu on a couple old machines, specifically an old P3 128MB machine, where it ran great.

  15. M3rkin says:

    Also you might also want to change your graphic settings and turn off animations (desktop effects).

    • nisshh says:

      Yeah, i only have them enabled because i use Docky, which requires that effects be turned on, apart from that i have no window animations or anything enabled.

  16. affinitycm says:

    Drop Gnome or KDE. A light weight GUI I like is WindowManager. It’s a lot quicker. You may be able to use a GUI mail and browser with it.
    If can use your mail in text only you could use xmail on the command line but I feel that may be too limiting to most people these days. You would end up getting the pictures etc. in encoded form anyway just not be able to see them.
    Again on the command line you can use the links or links2 web browser but that just seems too difficult when I used it. The web these days is basically graphic and I would stick with a graphical browser if you can.

    • nisshh says:

      Yeah, so far i have stuck with GNOME, purely because after switching banshee for cmus, gmail web interface for mutt, GNOME sys monitor for htop and chromium for a mix of firefox, arora and midori, my RAM usage is down by over 350MB’s and my CPU usage has dropped nearly 30%. I could go much further, but what i have now is fairly good.

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