I have always found it troubling that the browser that I love so much loves so much of my resources. I was in denial for a while about how bad it was until Opera 9 was released. BTW, I must comment that it was one of the easiest installs for Linux I have encountered yet. Opera 9 is using the QT engine to render itself, and is asthetically appealing in either a Gnome or KDE desktop environment. It also detects which DE you are running and sets its hotkeys accordingly. So how does it stack up against Firefox, and the native KDE browser Konqueror? Look below to answer your curiosity:

Setup – I opened up the Process Table (task manager for KDE) and watched two areas: CPU usage for the application being tested, and the amount of memory being consumed. Firefox seemed to be most battered when scrolling down a page with graphics with a window in the foreground. This iss the test that I chose. To be fair, I disabled all my extensions for Firefox so the results could be as fair as possible.

The results were quite interesting:

Opera came in at a surprisingly low percentage when viewing my site. Once a more complex site was loaded, it lost the lead to Konqueror. Firefox’s CPU usage was abismal on my simple page, however the seemed to fit in with the rest of the crowd on a more complex site.

It was a toss up between Opera and Konqueror on the memory footprint. Opera seems to be a larger initial load, but better able to manage more complex sites*. Firefox lost so bad it hurt…

* While testing Opera I came across something interesting. The initial scrolling through a complex page like gamepot.com gave Opera a high CPU usage, but low memory footprint (around 70MB when everything was finished loading). Once I reached the bottom of the page, I went back up to the top to do the scrolling test again. The memory footprint instantly doubled, but the CPU usage while scrolling was less than one percent. It appears that the view cached itself or something similar in order to not use any processing power the second time around.

Well, I can say without a doubt that Firefox is an absolute resource whore. It has one major thing going for it however that will keep me from instantly switching. The open architecture of Firefox has allowed for several thousand user submitted extensions and plugins. These plugins include things like “mplayerplug-in” which is not offered for Opera (yet?!). The open architecture also allow distro-specific hacks such as routing the sound output through ALSA which prevents flash applications from stealing the sound card.

Opera is a great browser however, and I think I can learn to love it once it is better supported.


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