Offline browsing

Laptops and more recently netbooks have made us increasingly able to take our digital life on the road. I bought a netbook back in January but as I work from home, I don’t get much chance to go mobile. However, holidays are coming up this week and we’re all off to the west of Ireland. So I’m taking my Acer Aspire One netbook + Easy Peasy Linux with me, not to work, but to try and keep in touch with the tech blogs and hopefully to fire off the occasional tweet.

Problem is, I know there isn’t broadband where I’m staying in Ireland. I’m going to have to look out for wifi hotspots in cafes and bars in the area but I just don’t know how widespread they are yet down Ireland’s west coast. Googling and hotspot locator websites don’t seem to bring up many in the right areas for me. Guess I’ll soon find out.

So I may only be able to connect up say 2 or 3 times in 2 weeks and even then perhaps not for long. So what’s the best solution here to keep in touch? Googling ‘offline browsing’ bring up lots of possibilities but perhaps the most useful to me is Google Gears, particularly as there’s a Linux version for my netbook.


This will allow me to fetch the latest 2000 RSS items to Google Reader when I have a connection and browse through them later in offline mode. When I ran a test of what’s being downloaded by Gears, I noticed that for me, this seems to fetch about a week’s worth of posts. It’s a pity that there isn’t more control on this as I would have liked to fetch a few months worth to be able to browse back through stuff I’d bookmarked but hadn’t really had a chance to read.

So what about the occasional miserably wet days when it’s not possible to venture out into the great outdoors and you’re stuck without a connection? Well, I found this program called HTTrack, again with a Linux version, which allows you to download whole websites to your netbook to browse offline.


Installation was a breeze on the netbook. Just go to the terminal and type:

apt-get update
apt-get install webhttrack

Great, so I’ve picked out three or four great Ubuntu websites which I’ve discovered recently and downloaded them so now I can browse way back to my heart’s content and look at all the earlier posts offline.

So hopefully the combination of Google Reader+Gears and HTTrack will be able to feed my digital addiction while on holiday. What programs do you have on your netbook or laptop for offline browsing and keeping in touch on the road or on holidays? Am I missing anything useful here?

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