Bypassing Bloat

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

I am sooo sick of Web bloat. 🙁 Google’s search results now with an AI summation of the topic, for example, then scroll past a full screen of sponsored entries, before finally reaching any actual search results. I’m less annoyed by Facebook’s endless ads, given they’re easily identified and scrolled past, but still, unpleasant.

Yes, dot com means “commerce,” and the commercial Web is what made the Internet public, but yeesh. It’s like more billboards than scenery nowadays.

This recent dive into Linux has revealed some OS-agnostic options to reduce it. The Chromium Project browser is less intrusive (and leaner software than Chrome, Edge, or FireFox), and Startpage.com is a much, much less troublesome search engine.

And software bloat and adware:

Unable to bear Adobe PDF Reader‘s unwelcome influx of offers to add features, or to find its screen capture tool I used for printing shipping labels, I’ve switched to SumatraPDF on Windows and Okular on Linux.

Similarly, I wanted a word proccessor and a spreadsheet reader that didn’t mean installing an entire office suite (I’m looking at you, Microsoft, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice). AbiWord and Gnumeric fill those needs nicely. The first has a Word-like menu bar; the second maintains the F9 function I needed to repopulate Cut Up Solo GM-less oracles.

Some of these may suit your needs as well!

2 thoughts on “Bypassing Bloat

  • July 10, 2024 at 7:08 pm
    Permalink

    Duck, Duck, Go also has privacy benefits, right?

    What with these limited resource Chromebooks, I’m using Chromium mainly because it’s so lightweight. The open-source community tends to default to FireFox, a browser I loved during my Javascript years, but the browser is now as resource heavy as Chrome or Edge.

    Have you watched “The Good Place”? That whole question of ethical choice in a complex word is a significant theme.

    Thanks for the comments!

  • June 29, 2024 at 5:57 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for the suggestion for StartPage! The alternative browser I use alongside Firefox is Vivaldi. Vivaldi is based on Chromium and is not open source, but – as far as I can tell – Vivaldi is an ethical company with a good product.

    I had been using DuckDuckGo search, and I am a big fan. They’ve also recently launched a DuckDuckGo browser for Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac, but not for Linux. But the company was partly funded by venture capital, so I’m nervous that their commitment to user privacy and unobtrusive ads might not last forever.

    While I’m yammering, I also looked at the Kagi search engine. I love the fact that (unlike StartPage and DuckDuckGo) they don’t use Google Search or Microsoft’s Bing Search under the hood. Kagi runs its own searches. But Kagi has a business relationship with Brave Browser, which is run by notorious homophobe and cryptocurrency promoter Brendan Eichs. To be fair to Kagi, they are a startup that lacks the resources to operate independently and – AND – Microsoft and Google are themselves involved in a host of unethical behavior. Maybe I should retry Kagi.

    I am absolutely in agreement about web bloat. If you fiddle with some web browser tools, you’ll see that a simple web page without any social media links or ads might use 20-40MB of RAM. Youtube uses 340MB, Amazon uses 190MB, CNN uses 270MB, Facebook uses 190MB, and that’s *with* two ad-blockers running. Plus – plus – from my understanding a lot of the basic web page features work well with accessibility tools and a lot of the fancy web toolkits that bloat pages don’t do as well.

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