Links about a Solar Powered Website

created Jun 6, 2019

Several months ago, I read about this project. It has popped up at Hacker News multiple times. It's a fascinating read. It would be fun to attempt at home, even if I only use a .onion Tor service website.

My .onion website is http://zwdqwr2p2xwkpbyv.onion and it runs on an old Linux computer in my home, but I don't have the computer on all of the time. I would like to use a Raspberry Pi or something else.

This website is a solar-powered, self-hosted version of Low-tech Magazine. It has been designed to radically reduce the energy use associated with accessing our content.

SERVER: This website runs on an Olimex A20 computer. It has 2 Ghz of processing power, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The server draws 1 - 2.5 watts of power.

SERVER SOFTWARE: The webserver runs Armbian Stretch, a Debian based operating system built around the SUNXI kernel. We wrote technical documentation for configuring the webserver.

DESIGN SOFTWARE: The website is built with Pelican, a static site generator. We have released the source code for ‘solar’, the Pelican theme we developed here.

INTERNET CONNECTION. The server is connected to a 100 MBps fibre internet connection. Here’s how we configured the router. For now, the router is powered by grid electricity and requires 10 watts of power. We are investigating how to replace the energy-hungry router with a more efficient one that can be solar-powered, too.

SOLAR PV SYSTEM. The server runs on a 50 Wp solar panel and a 24 Wh LiPo battery. However, are still experimenting with different setups (see above). The PV installation is managed by a 10A solar charge controller.


Jun 9, 2019

"Chip design drastically reduces energy needed to compute with light ("

Published in 2018:

"Digitalisation, energy and data demand: The impact of Internet traffic on overall and peak electricity consumption"

Published in 2013:

JavaScript Is the CO2 of the Web [audio] (

Jun 17, 2019

Sustainable Web Manifesto (

The planet is experiencing unprecedented climate change and the Internet is both part of the problem and the solution. From websites to cryptocurrencies, the Internet consumes large amounts of electricity in data centres, telecoms networks, and end user devices. If the Internet was a country, it would be the 6th largest polluter in the world and is expected to grow considerably by 2030.

The products and services we provide will use the least amount of energy and material resources possible.

Hah! That makes the and most media websites anti-environment because of their massively bloated web designs. is an example of a media web design that is environmentally-friendly.

Fat-shaming bloated websites is becoming a "thing". Interesting. I like it.

The products and services we provide will not mislead or exploit users in their design or content.

Yeah, right. Again, look at the bloated media websites and the amount of suspicious crapware that unsuspecting readers download to their devices to read a small article.

HN comment:

Posting this on Hacker News seems kind of ironic to me. I can count on one hand the number of startups that even put a serious effort to live up to this, and I wonder if any exist that succeed.

If you required "open" and "honest" as defined by the manifesto, almost the entire marketing industry and the industries it supports would have to shut down. Even supposedly-altruistic nonprofits are tricking people into subscribing to their mailing lists and then stockpiling the emails in opaque databases these days.

Links included on that manifesto page.

Websites have come a long way since 1990 when the first web page was born. Since then, the size of websites have grown drastically through the addition of various images, CSS / JS files, videos, fonts, etc.

Based on the information provided by HTTP Archive, the average web page size in 2010 was 702kb compared to in 2016 which is 2232kb.

Contributors To Increased Webpage Size
The Use of Ads

... number one focus should be on image optimization.

Dithering? That will drive geeks crazy.

Although JavaScript offers some enticing benefits, it does come with a cost as far as page size. With the average script size for a site in 2016 being 357kb, this is an increase of 332kb as compared to an average site in 2010.

At media websites, the amount of JavaScript used for single web pages in 2019 ranges between 2 and 4 megabytes. That's JavaScript only. results for the above story, which is an editorial that contained 537 words. That word count includes the title, sub-title, byline, date, and the opinion content. It's text. A little over 500 words. An estimated reading time of 2 minutes. The results:

From: Dulles, VA - Chrome - Cable
6/17/2019, 12:15:27 PM
First View Fully Loaded:
Time: 14.618 seconds
Requests: 421
Bytes in (downloaded): 3,097 KB

3 megabytes downloaded to read 500+ words??? 41 percent of those downloaded bytes were for JavaScript, which totaled 1.3 megabytes. 1.2 megabytes of the download were for images.

Yeah, optimize the images or reduced the images, especially the usage of useless stock photos in stories. But also optimize the JavaScript by eliminating its usage from websites meant for READERS, such as the

421 web requests??? 70 requests were for JavaScript. Ad crapware?

If your bloated images are eating up people’s data plan, then you are literally making them work more hours — and that it is hugely discourteous. As well as being rude, it’s bad business: They simply won’t go back to your website.

2016 book

"Designing for Sustainability"

Writing Less Damned Code – Heydon Pickering – btconfBER2016

Concatenating, minifying, compressing, caching: all serviceable ways to improve the performance of web interfaces. But none are as effective as not coding something in the first place. Code that don't exist is infinitely performant and extremely easy to maintain and document. This talk will identify some examples of front-end code that are either not needed at all, make the interface worse just by being there, or can be replaced by something much, much simpler. Say hello to unprogressive non-enhancement.

Aug 15, 2019

I glanced over this article from 2015 that I have read in the past.

The Fastest Blog In The World - related Hacker News thread.

From the post:

Bloat to me exemplifies the wastefulness of our nature, consuming more than we should of the resources that are available to us.

Anyhoo, I tested my homepage. results:
From: Dulles, VA - Chrome - Cable
8/15/2019, 12:32:35 AM

Load Time: 0.208 seconds
First Byte: 0.126 seconds

Document Complete:
Time: 0.208 seconds
Requests: 1
Bytes in: 6 KB

First View Fully Loaded:
Time: 0.323 seconds
Requests: 2
Bytes in: 8 KB

Sep 3, 2019

"Off-Grid, Solar-Powered, Zero-Battery Refrigerator ("

Sep 3, 2019 again

"Firefox 69.0 Released ("

Another example of the environmentally-unfriendliness of media websites.

The Block Autoplay feature is enhanced to give users the option to block any video that automatically starts playing, not just those that automatically play with sound.

Good. I know a news website that was on purpose disabling sound on videos to prevent that. So not only does it autoplay, you need to click to unmute anyway to actually hear it!

Why do news websites want to shove autoplaying videos on people's throats so much, what's wrong with playing at any time when you want?

Another HN comment:

Fantastic news for people, like me, who spend a lot of time with $10/GB hotspot data prices. I'd click a link to a 5KB news article only to find it streaming HD video of talking heads reading the article.

Another HN comment:

Yes, thank god. I've never understood why news sites push silent video down your throat. They are wasting serious amounts bandwidth.

HN comment:

Good. I live rural and have heavily metered LTE as my Internet, or else it's really slow satellite or P2P wireless. Auto-play video is the bane of my existence; every website seems to assume these days that if you're on desktop, you have giant bandwidth.

Another HN comment:

Why do news websites want to shove autoplaying videos on people's throats so much

Advertising metrics.