When it comes to a system with limited resources, using a Linux-based operating system can really help. Linux is the basis for many variants of operating systems aimed as being a free alternative to Microsoft Windows. Some variants are specifically targeted at older hardware, such as Xubuntu and CrunchBang Linux.
As for those with a limited internet connection, we’ll still need to make a faux mobile browser. To achieve this on Linux, we’ll be using the Chromium web browser, the open-source version and basis of Google Chrome.
Note: This guide will be following along using the the Ubuntu Linux-based operating system. These instructions will vary depending on your Linux distribution of choice.
Installing Chromium for Linux
There are two methods to installing Chromium on Linux: through a software center made available for your distribution or through the text-only command based Terminal.
Installing via a Software Center
If you’re the type of person that’s not into typing in commands, your Linux distribution should include an easy to use software installation program. On Ubuntu, this is called the Ubuntu Software Center. Other distributions may vary. Check your distribution’s documentation for information on finding and installing software.
After launching your software install tool, use the search box to search for Chromium. Once you’ve found the Chromium web browser, click the Install button. Once you’ve received the installation process succeeded, you should see Chromium Web Browser in your application launcher.
Installing via Terminal
For those that live for white text on a black background, installing Chromium only requires one command.
sudo apt-get install chromium-browser
After typing in the administrative password and agreeing to install, Chromium will begin the download and installation process. When all is said and done, Chromium Web Browser will be available in your application launcher.
Note: At the time of writing, Chromium is not available via software centers in Fedora, OpenSUSE, and other distributions that rely on the RPM package format. For the time being, it is recommended you download and install Google Chrome instead. The instructions from this point forward will still work, just replace instances of Chromium with Google Chrome.
The Red Hat team is working with Google to resolve issues preventing Chromium being made available in their distribution.
Going Mobile with Chromium
At this point, Chromium is still a full desktop browser, meaning if you try going to any web site, you will get the full, media rich, made for large screens versions of sites. We need to slim these sites down. As mentioned in a previous post, that means we need to fool web sites.
The method to pull this off involves making some changes to your menu shortcuts. To begin, open the Menu Editor (Main Menu on Ubuntu) for your Linux distribution. (If Main Menu is not available, install it via your software center.) In the Menu Editor, click the New Item button on the right.
The Type of menu item we will be creating is Application, which should already be selected. As for the Name of the menu item, you can call it whatever you want it to be. In this example, we’ll call it Chromium Mobile Browser. The Command line is the most important part. In this field, type (or copy/paste) in the following:
/usr/bin/chromium-browser --user-agent="Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.3.4; en-us; Nexus S Build/GRJ22) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1"
The Comment field can be left blank or filled in with any useful information you would like to fill it in with. If you’d like to change the icon, click the icon button in the upper left of the dialog box. This will bring up the file browser. Navigate to
/usr/share/icons/hicolor/scalable/apps. In there, select the file
chromium-browser.svg and click Open.
When all is said and done, click the OK button at the bottom-right. The new item should appear in the Internet category. If you cannot find it, it should be in the Other category. To move it to the more appropriate Internet category, click the Other category on the left, find your newly created menu item in the center column, and drag-and-drop it to the Internet category on the left.
When you navigate your application launcher, you will now see your new menu entry. Upon launching your new “mobile” browser, you won’t notice anything different about your browser. It’ll start the same as it did before. Navigate to http://www.google.com/. You will notice Google doesn’t look like your regular desktop version. You are seeing the mobile version of the Google web site instead. From now out, if a mobile version of a site exists, you will see its mobile version.
Although Chromium is now set up to browse the mobile web, it’s not quite perfect. Later down the line, I’ll discuss some ways to overcome the limitations of the mobile web while still paying close attention to your computer’s limitations. Before we can do that, I gotta help our friends that use Apple’s Mac OS X.