A Look At: Pale Moon (Web Browser)

Since the T420 went down, I’ve been scrambling to find a way to at least use the T42 for some things…While I can easily use school computers for doing homework, I wanted a way to do research, update the blog, and just stay up to date in general. In essence, my goal was to get the T42 online.

Thankfully, the T42 is new enough that it has wireless LAN. It can connect to our WiFi just fine.

The biggest problem was web browser. Internet Explorer 8 is “fine” for simple things. However, for most modern webpages that use more advanced features and layout techniques (HTML5, etc.), Internet Explorer fails miserably. It will load the content (sometimes) but will not render it as it should. Thankfully, my school’s website renders beautifully in Internet Explorer 8. The backend of WordPress used to work fine in IE8 until a recent update changed that. Now, you can only edit in the “Text” mode in WordPress. (No formatting – although you can use HTML tags.)

Thus, the “browser search” started. Since the IBM ThinkPad T42 only has 512MB of RAM and runs Windows 7, memory is at a shortage. So I needed something that would render most pages fine but be efficient with its memory usage. Google Chrome was already loaded on this laptop when I purchased it, but Google Chrome also eats up a lot of memory.

But, I’ve heard some great things about Pale Moon. They have a 32-bit version (great – as the T42’s Pentium M doesn’t support 64-bit instructions) that is recommended by many in the “vintage” computing field.

Well, how did it run?

Pale Moon runs (mostly) great on the IBM ThinkPad T42, allowing me to do things like write this post and add this picture to this post in the standard WordPress interface.

I’m actually writing this post from my T42 in Pale Moon. A post that is scheduled to  be released later this week was written in Notepad in HTML and copied into WordPress in IE8 later. So, it’s nice to be able to use the “Visual” editing tool in WordPress once again.

Despite the extremely limited memory in the T42, Pale Moon seems to run decent. In the beginning there were a lot of hiccups, and there still are from time to time. But that is to be expected on a computer running on such limited memory.

I think it’s worth while to mention that although many pages render properly in Pale Moon, they render slowly or the T42 starts to freeze. While in most cases it will catch itself and either Pale Moon will close itself (hitting an execution breakpoint) or it will simply stop responding, there was one instance where I had to hard restart the T42 to get it to work again as it froze the entire system.

The infamous “exception breakpoint” error message which sometimes pops up following Pale Moon freezing.

There are still some limitations, including:

  • No YouTube or videos
  • No PDF files
  • It chokes and eventually “passes out” when trying to load larger webpages with lots of images and advanced scripts/features

In essence, Pale Moon works quite nicely. Most things that IE wouldn’t do can be done through Pale Moon. But there are still some limitations due to the memory installed in this laptop. At some point (soon?) I will upgrade the memory in this laptop.