Netbooks, Processing Power, Operating Systems, and Web Apps

Hopefully when I return to Singapore, if I have enough willpower (perhaps), I’ll do a post on my life in 2010, and dig up all the things that I’ve done in the year to counter my previous thought that 2010 was a waste.

Today I was using my little Sony VAIO P to surf the web. I had two operating systems on it, Windows 7 and Jolicloud 1.1.

Jolicloud is an operating system based on Ubuntu, and designed for the web; that is, it is intended to be used with an internet connection, with all its application shortcuts leading to web apps instead of local apps.

My VAIO P is a netbook (although Sony refuses to call it one) armed with the Intel Silverthrone processor, Intel Atom Z530 with GMA500 graphics (codenamed Poulsbo, infamous for its poor support especially on Linux, and its brokenness on virtually anything that requires graphical processing power).

How mine looks like (this picture is not mine, though)

Both operating systems feel rather snappy on my laptop, with no major slowdowns or whatsover on regular use. However, after surfing around on my few most browsed websites/web apps (Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, Google Calendar), I can see noticeable lag on my computer as I attempted to browse through the sites, be it opening multiple tabs, or just scrolling down a larger page (Facebook status stream for example). This doesn’t happen at all on my desktop, with an Core i7 processor.

Which leads me to the thought – so what if I can run a lightweight OS on my netbook? If the web applications are not speedy enough, the netbook will lag regardless of what OS I have. It might be the fault of the web browser too – I’m using Google Chrome on both OSes (Chromium on the Jolicloud side), and it might be Google Chrome’s rendering engine that does not scale down well to lousier processors.

It is rather impossible, I must say, for web apps to get speedier, as they are expected to improve and innovate, more towards new features and less to speed, since people are expected to have more powerful computers anyway.

I might be making a wrong assumption about speed, since I’m using the Atom Z530, which is a 2008 technology. However, based on my knowledge the new Pineview Atom N470 or the N550 dual-core variant should not be any faster.

Thus, what’s the point of innovating more operating systems for the lousier computers (e.g. Jolicloud) if the web apps or web browsers themselves are to blame for the slowdown? Shouldn’t we tackle the root problem of these sites first? Ask Facebook why it’s lagging like a snail on most older computers?


5 thoughts on “Netbooks, Processing Power, Operating Systems, and Web Apps

  1. Web apps have to be javascript heavy… and the amount of js code that gets executed in modern web apps is kinda crazy… so perhaps with further innovations and optimizations in the javascript interpreters the performance will get better.

    And I suspect, and web app programming gets even mature, people will start to code more efficient code, or perhaps extensions will be made to javascript to cater to these new demands. Or maybe there going to be stuff in HTML5 which will greatly help web apps. Who knows? I think there’s still plenty of ground here to explore in the years to come.

    But by then you might have gotten a new netbook/laptop…

  2. Its true and I agree to some point Bout it. Web apps should have backward compatibility which enables perhaps a lower processing power computer to use it with the same ease and function as per an average pc.

    Take for example, mobile platforms. Due to the lack of bandwidth on the 3G network, mobile sites emerges to cater to that expanding group of consumers. But that is easy as the web can know that the client is a mobile platform. However, when you talk about pc s, they don’t have such an advantage. It’s not impossible, but I’m just saying that it is possible to model after the mobile sites as a way to cater to this issue.

  3. It all depends on user statistics. If more and more users are using the internet using mobile devices, there will be incentive for developers to further fine-tweak their products to provide a much better user experience for mobile users.

  4. Woah, thanks for the comments.

    I agree with you, but I guess in the years to come, it’s equally possible that (1) Ultraportables will get cheaper and replace netbooks (2) Netbooks will have enough power to overcome these anyway.

    Hello to my blog! Haha.
    Interesting idea, hmm I guess the closest thing to that will be to create a lite version of every web app for lower powered computers. However, the fact that you’re using a computer and not your tablet/smartphone to browse the web probably means you want the full functionality of the web app in the first place, I guess..

    Then I guess not enough people are complaining about the slow speed eh? =P We just need to wait.. For everyone to innovate.

  5. When netbook\’s very first became available there where few decisions of manufacturers and even fewer methods of options. Now there are new pc pc\’s coming on the marketplace endlessly, all with specialized options. Ahead of choosing a laptop decide what your focus is. There is probably a mobile computer laptop or computer that comes with specifically the standard features you are looking for.

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