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I have seen your low-tech-website and when I have seen your "Room for improvements" section, I had some ideas, I want to share:

Image Dithering:

I am not sure, if you can use that for your website, but another day I stumbled upon thet project for compressing images: https://github.com/FLIF-hub/FLIF

According to the compression experiments we have performed FLIF files are on average:

14% smaller than lossless WebP ,
22% smaller than lossless BPG ,
33% smaller than brute-force crushed PNG files (using ZopfliPNG),
43% smaller than typical PNG files,
46% smaller than optimized Adam7-interlaced PNG files,
53% smaller than lossless JPEG 2000 compression,
74% smaller than lossless JPEG XR compression.

More info: https://translate.google.com/translate?anno=2&depth=1&hl=de&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=en&sp=nmt4&tl=de&u=https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LxY78fbm47VmrYGTXkBXXitGjhGl32NsuHPH2QXufgA/edit%3Fusp%3Dsharing&xid=17259,15700022,15700124,15700149,15700186,15700190,15700201,15700214

Another more popular image format is "WebP":

From description:
" WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller than comparable JPEG images at equivalent SSIM quality index. "

Router for the internet connection (lower power consumption):

I would expect, that a sort of ARM computer like RaspberryPi con do the job with less power comsumption. As most of them are only equipped with one NIC only, you hace serveral options to add a second network interface, which is the "clean" way for a router.

a) use a USB to RJ45 network card and connect it to the USB port of the single-board computer.

b) use a "Multiple Ethernet Expansion Board" https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=179904

Look here for a example for RaspberryPi: https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=179904

And here: http://www.industrialberry.com/ethernetberry-v-1-1/

SSL and Legacy browsers

Should we maintain both HTTP and HTTPS versions of the site?

In my opinion: A clear NO. There are a lot of linux distributions, that offer SSL compatible browsers with a very small footprint. So I will not trade in the security for old browser compatibility.

Just my two cents - hope it helps,


Paul Clarke


I like the idea of the dithering, especially combined with the idea of "print on demand" of articles or issues - let people have the high quality images if they really want them, but offline. Could perhaps do a paywall with high quality versions of the images? Not quite sure how it works with a static site but I will think on this. I like the dithering but think you do need to be sure you have the lowest file size if you're going to have low quality images, I'm sure you're on to this now.

I also moved to a static site for my family tree site (using metalsmith) and don't really have images on there at the moment, but will be taking some inspiration from here, muting my colours and adding in some low res black and white imagery while still trying to give it some style.

Also inspired to reinstate my solar powered ambitions - I had a raspberry pi based webcam powered by motorcycle batter and solar battery charger, but could not keep it online for more than a few hours...

I have a solution for searching articles while using a static site, for example http://www.clarkeology.com/wiki/#solar/power - the (very simple, no dependencies) source is below, the minified version is inlined in the page.

'(function (location, innerHTML, path, div, h2, folders, i) {

function get (url, callback, request) {

request = new XMLHttpRequest() // sorry ie6 etc

request.open('GET', url, true)

request.onreadystatechange = function () {

if (request.readyState == 4 && request.status == 200) { // eslint-disable-line eqeqeq






function change (e, hash) {

hash = location.hash

if (!hash) return

path = hash.substr(1)

div = document.getElementsByTagName('div')[0]

h2 = '' + path.replace(/\W/g, ' ') + ''

// div.innerHTML === div['innerHTML'] and we passed in the string innerHTML

div[innerHTML] = h2

folders = ['/names', '/gig', '']

for (i in folders) {

get(folders[i] + '/wiki/' + path + '/', function (content) {

div[innerHTML] = div[innerHTML] + content




window.onhashchange = change


})(location, 'innerHTML')'

Job van der Zwan


Dear Kris and team,

First of all, thank you for many years of inspiring articles. Not only were they a joy to read, I have used the insights from them on many occasions in my own life (though admittedly I have trouble going through with all the radical steps required for sustaining this planet, because the mismatch with current societal structures makes it so hard to (ironically) sustain).

Not only than that: I have shared specific topics on response to people asking for advice on buying something new, fixing an issue in the house, and many other cases were your articles can give inspiring alternative ideas¹.

Which leads to my suggestion. The articles are great, but also very dense and often elaborate, giving historical contexts, developments, etc.

My sister just got a new apartment. It is empty. That is a great opportunity to start fresh and do things right from the start! I am looking for one myself, and when the time comes I look forward to having the same opportunity. However, while I enjoy doing the research, the act of "optimisation" my lifestyle, so to speak, my sister represents the more typical case of simply not having the time to read the whole Low Tech Magazine archive digging for gold nuggets.

While I'm already suggestion infrared heating, hooded chairs, Japanese-style insulated tables (forgot the name), putting thermal masses on sunny parts of her room, fireless cookers, pot skirts, but I know I'm missing lots.

Now imagine an illustration of a house, featuring almost all of the ideas you ever wrote into one image. A counter-image to the stereotypical technologist's House of the Future. A House of the Past for the Future, as it were.

Add an image map (look it up, its forgotten but amazon old HTML technology) with links to articles and summaries of articles, and you have a something that lowers the treshold for people to start changing their lifestyles.

Kind regards,
Job van der Zwan

¹ for example, last week I shared the article on heated clothing with the owner of https://www.sockmama.com/, who actually makes most of her money selling special socks in person on markets. Both as a suggestion for heated clothing for herself to keep warm in Christmas markets, as wel as promoting warmer and even heated clothing through selling the socks herself - she loved the idea and is looking into it!

(Oh, BTW: I have donated to the project in the past and would like to again, but I'd like to do so directly per bank transfer. Is that a possibility? And I'll try to make some time to contribute to that research into image dithering pipelines, but I can't promise anything)

Hunor Karamán


Yo Kris,

First of all good job on the carefully crafted magazine. I really enjoy the content and the whole way you handle this site!

I don't know if you intentionally haven't done it, but sharing the site through Dat would be a good fallback for the times it's down (because of the sun). If you're not familiar with the protocol, I would happily help on that

I'm just overall curious about your opinion on this.



I'm from Germany and read on an advertisement in the bus this afternoon about your website and that it goes out during bad weather. I believe that pointing out the last part that the websites sometimes shuts down delivers the wrong message about solar which is the biggest argument for coal and other dirty forms of energy.

The argument that you can't store solar energy. But it is possible to store energy with batteries. Have you thought about buying one so that your website doesn't shut down? Like a Tesla power wall or something. It would deliver a much better picture about the sustainability and availability of solar power.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on this small topic.




I've been very interested in reading your article named "How to build a Low-Tech website: Software & Hardware" :


I'm also involved in generating static website and I'm surprised that you confifured your server to gzip resources on-the-fly. As the website is static, and already generated, the result og gzipping is a predictable process and can then be done at the static website generation step.

This would consume less cpu on the server than compressing of the fly, and hence save energy.

What do you think of that?

Jan Fabry



One small CPU improvement for nginx: if you use the gzip_static module, you can serve precompressed files, instead of letting the server gzip the requests on the fly every time. This should save some CPU cycles.


You would need to change the Pelican workflow to also create .gz versions of the content that can be compressed, but that can't be too hard.


Jan Fabry

Dave Evans


Hey there!

Just a quick word to say hi and that I really appreciate the project that you're working on. I've been a HBSC mailing list lurker for a while as I too am interested in self hosting a low power solutions to hosting and creating networks.

I'm actually doing a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London speculating on the relationship between historical
asceticism (hermits, monks, austere protestant living) and networks, looking for clues to how reimagine the network at a more human scale (I'm not religious in the slightest, but the link between how monks etc dealt with the vastness of their God and how we might cope with the vastness of the web seemed like a nice, perverse lens to look at the

Anyhow. I've made some solar wireless local area networks (the most recent in a community permaculture garden in a train station). I'm also just trying to get a raspberry pi running as a home server to host my research. What web server do you use for the magazine? I used apache as it was what I've been used to, but would be interested in
alternatives (although I studied printmaking and sculpture so am on a steep technical learning curve these days!).

I have presented at various international conferences and written some stuff about the relationship between asceticism and the internet at the address below - and would love to publish to your magazine if you think it might be appropriate.


Keep up the good work - I will follow with interest!

Best wishes from Liverpool,




Hi Kris,
your project just boom me!

I am a webdesign freelance from Madrid mountains that works to transform internet into something more simple. I also use portable solar panels to work on the woods.

If you need some collaboration or help with the project please contact me! you can check here some of my portfolio http://lapatineta.com/en/portfolio

hasta luego!


Roel RA


@ Ploc, Jan Fabry,

It seems indeed like a good idea to do the GZIP pre-compression as a step in the generation process. I'll look into this. Thanks for the tips.

@ Dave,

The whole set up, including the webserver, is described here: https://homebrewserver.club/low-tech-website-howto.html

I think both Apache and Nginx are quite suitable for small websites. They are particularly good to use when learning about selfhosting, since there are many articles online about these softwares.



 Mikoláš Štrajt



I just found link to Low tech magazine on Hackers news.

I really enjoy the articles because I am interested in both old technology and solar punk.

I also enjoy the somewhat controversial design element - dithering of images.

But - sometimes dithering the images makes them "unreadable". For example some of those wood carvings in article about ropeways (https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2011/01/aerial-ropeways-automatic-cargo-transport.html). Even worse is map at article about high speed trains (https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2013/12/high-speed-trains-are-killing-the-european-railway-network.html) - this probably should stay as is, because it's already PNG with limited color set.

Anyway I really like your site. I hope there will be enough light/battery to stay online at weekend. :-)

Also If you need some photos of obsolete tech (steam trains, old tramways etc) I can look for it in my archives. I visit transport themed events quite often.

greetings from Prague by


PS: now after some 30 years we have again trolleybuses (in trial operation) in Prague

They did presentation with old vehicle from musem on new track.

My photos from that event: https://www.zonerama.com/metropolis/303066

Paul Laborde



I read your article from France and I love your idea.
I tried few time ago to create this kind of machine for an automated solution in gardens.

Maybe I can share some ideas :

Add a proxy page when your server is down a temporary offline page can be displayed

How is user traffic ? Wan you maybe integrate directly a cellular connectivity instead of optical fiber ? (like Soracom)

This new connectivity allow to move server to original hosting zones (trees, mountains, etc)

Maybe you can add an power indicator about battery capacity and solar level with a downtime estimation ?

A super light server with ESP8266 could be original too

I just discovered your website, it's great !

N Valova


Hello, Kris.

I've just come across Lowtechmagazine project, thanks to a reshare of a friend on Mastodon.

The idea behind your project is wonderful, and it's valuable that you provide RSS subscription (thank you).

The project is also broadcasting on Twitter. The big Twitter with fat data centres. Have you heard of Mastodon? It's one Fediverse project - a twitter-like federating platform.

To be honest, Mastodon relies on modern web technologies, so it can't be easily hosted at home on a small computer. But there are other interconnected projects (for example, Pleroma) that are more ligthweight and can be hosted "on a potato" some users say.

Self-hosting. Could this topic be of interest to you, in the context of what you're writing about?

I don't know whether self-hosting one's social media can possibly decrease energy consumption worldwide... May be? If people start paying small ammounts of money for energy (self-hosting) or to friends-administrators who will do the server work for them, perhaps people will re-evaluate their social network habits? When there're no big companies providing "free" unlimited server space, and no algorithms showing constant ads with brands telling you to buy this and that "because fashionable", perhaps, users will stop over-consuming and learn once again how to have meaningful online conversations.

Please, consider joining Mastodon (Fediverse generally). There are ways to automatically post from Mastodon to Twitter (https://crossposter.masto.donte.com.br) Many people follow your project on Twitter. I'm sure there are also people among fedizens who will be glad to read you on Fediverse. Perhaps even some of your Twitter followers will eventually join. :)



You guys are awesome! I've been following your blog for quite some time now, I think the first article I read was the one on velomobiles. As an IT student and sustainable, low-tech living-minded individual, let me tell you that your article on a low tech internet rang close to home. And now that I see that you're working on an actual low-tech website, I can't help but offer a helping hand. I've got a few ideas on how you could make comments work in an computationally-efficient manner, and how you could further trim down on page weight too, so anyways, hit me up if you could do with an extra pair of hands on board.

 Sylvain Couhault



I loved your low tech website and think you've done e real great job.

Since I've read the "Room for Improvements" section I've got some ideas to share with you that, I hope, will help you to go further:

-Images: Did you try the ".GIF" format ? You can use it for static picture limited to 256 colors. It is supported by most of internet browsers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GIF

-SSL ciphers: if there aren't any sensible or personnal datas on the website, maybe it's not needed to maintain HTTPS. The new General Data Protection Rules requires Ciphered content only if you use personnal datas. For full public datas, it's not mandatory I think.
Nevertheless it would need to be tested on different internet browsers because some of them are blocking sites or displaying security warnings when not in HTTPS (Google Chrome mainly). I think Google Chrome plans to block non HTTPS website in the longterm future but for the moment it works and other browsers will still allow it in the future. Maybe the best way is to test your site with HTTP (no S) with different browsers (Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Brave ... ), see how it displays (warnings and so on ..) and to inform people about the browser they can use to watch your site and the warnings they could encounter.

-Energy sources: maybe you can combine the solar panel with a little wind turbine (thus you can still collect power even with bad weather. It's less efficient than solar panel, but in combination it could be useful to keep along a few hours or days without sun). I think this can be coupled with your battery system (with some other components to avoid interference between solar panel and wind turbine) Here are some examples:



I hope these ideas will help you :)



 Adrien CLERC



I read https://homebrewserver.club/low-tech-website-howto.html and I was
interested by your image compression techniques.

I would like to give you two ways of optimizing more aggressively.

Optimizing JPEG


If you want to keep the same quality of the input image, here are my
best experience : use Guetzli (first) and MozJPEG (after Guetzli). The
first one (see https://github.com/google/guetzli/) is destructive, and
produce a different image, but with the exact same perceptual result for
our human eyes. The second (see https://github.com/mozilla/mozjpeg) is a
fork of JPEGTurbo with aggressive optimization without any change to the
final results.

So here are the two steps with your original image

- guetzli international-switchboard.jpg international-switchboard.g.jpg

- jpegtran -outfile international-switchboard.g.m.jpg

I have the following resulting images:

156721 nov. 22 10:55 international-switchboard.g.jpg
135206 nov. 22 10:56 international-switchboard.g.m.jpg
163314 nov. 22 10:54 international-switchboard.jpg

Optimizing PNG


If you have PNG (from ditherised images), you can use zopflipng. This
tool (see https://github.com/google/zopfli/) tries to find the best
combinations for a PNG, and achieves better result than optipng.

One step from your 11 color image

- zopflipng -m international-switchboard11.png

I have the following resulting images:

111255 nov. 22 10:59 international-switchboard11.png
106772 nov. 22 10:58 international-switchboard11.z.png



With the original JPEG, I have a 17.3% improvement, using only JPEG.
This image is still 21.5% larger than your 11-color PNG.

With the 11-color PNG, I have a 4.1% improvement. This is not so much,
but still significant.

Note that guetzli needs a lot of memory and CPU. Other tool are more

Have a nice compression day,


 Erick Lavoie


I have read your magazine over the years and I have found tremendous
value in your writings. I occasionally give workshops for kids in which
I want to introduce principles of low-tech and alternative energies
using Lego and custom parts, partly inspired by some of the ideas you
have articulated so well.

I have just read "How to Build a Low-tech Website" and couldn't help
wonder whether you have thought of using decentralized technologies to
distribute your content. The main advantage is that your server does not
need to be online all the time for content to be accessible, it can be
distributed by your readers themselves. We could even imagine hosting
availability following the day cycle around the Earth to reduce the need
for energy storage, i.e. people could pull their content from places
that are currently sunny.

Some friend of mine has started to build their own magazine with the
Beaker Browser [1]. I have personally been using Secure-Scuttlebutt [2],
which has a mobile application in the works [3], and I am currently
actively participating in the community. Obviously most of your readers
are currently not using either one of those so that is not a viable
replacement to web hosting now. But I think they could still be part of
a future analysis in an article and a potential progressive transition
as more people adopt them. I also think you would fit right in with the
ethos of the current SSB community, so I would be glad to get you
on-board and introduce you to people if your are interested.



[1] https://beakerbrowser.com/

[2] https://www.scuttlebutt.nz/

[3] https://www.manyver.se/



Hello Kris, Roel and Marie,

Very cool project for the WebServer.

I am even more interested how you run the office (light and what i guess is an good old IBM Thinkpad) on solar power.
Are you charging the Battery of the Laptop or are you running it without battery direkt through solor / or batterythat is loaded through solar panel.

Could you share the experiance please?
Or give the details on the "electric" hardware you use?
Thank you very much in advance.

I plan on doing similar and wonder what Solarpanel and PowerControler/Battery controler to use.

Best regards




The gatling webserver is especially resource efficient.


It's author uses it for his own blog (blog.fefe.de), which has a wide
readership but was hosted on very old hardware until recently.



Great, but why don't you use dark theme?
Because displaying white is consuming more than displaying black, plus it is more readable (in my opinion).
For White RGB are all valued max.
For Black RGB are 0.

bye !

Kris De Decker


Several people have made dithering plug-ins inspired by the solar powered website:




Framasoft has translated this article to French:

More news articles about the solar powered server:










Presentation at Bits und Baume in Berlin:


Lucas Cimon



Thank you for this very interesting article.

I use a similar stack - on the software side - for my own blog.

A couple of suggestions from my own experience:
- I recommend isso as a pluggable comment system: https://posativ.org/isso/
It's lightweight, written in Python, and use a basic SQLite database for storage.
- for a better user experience and less bandwifth usage, I'd suggest using image lazy loading. Combined with it is quite powerful: https://github.com/aFarkas/lazysizes#the-noscript-pattern





I suspect 99% of power consumption for solar.lowtechmagazine.com is from regular kernel book keeping. From what I read, using less ticks per second for the HZ variable in Linux or enabling NO_HZ should reduce power even more. I’m not particularly knowledgeable in this, but I do admire the direction of your website as tech companies build websites only for people who buy the latest products, and for everyone to use the latest unmaintainable codebases.

As I read this, it looks like your five week uptime may finally fail.




I've came across your website today and like your minimal attitude to web design pretty much. It is quite a contrast to the bloated webpages we are used to today (the performance improvement is even very noticable when using a quite fast connection - 1000mbps at work / 100mbps at home) and I think the web would be a lot more enjoyable if more pages were built like that.

I've read the article about the webserver configuration [1] and got a suggestion for a configuration change to the nginx configuration. As it wasn't listed there in the improvement list you might not be aware of this already. There is a configuration item called "gzip_static on" [2] which does tell nginx to simply deliver precompressed files from the webroot (so if requesting "index.html" it does send "index.html.gz")

Pre-Compressing the Webpages when updating the site and shipping these compressed versions should decrease cpu load and therefore energy consumption of the Server as the computation for the compression is only necessary one time when updating the page and not for every request. You might even use a higher compression level for this one-time task (though with gzip bumping the level from 6 to 9 doesn't improve the compression ratio a whole lot in my experience - at least with my usual datasets)

I've got no idea how much of a difference this does make - especially as there is quite a bit of processing necessary for the https encryption but it might be worth a try.

Kind regards,


[1] https://homebrewserver.club/low-tech-website-howto.html#software
[2] http://nginx.org/en/docs/http/ngx_http_gzip_static_module.html

kris de decker


French designer and researcher Gauthier Roussilhe was inspired by our solar powered website and built a low-tech website himself, documenting the process in detail (and in English). It’s a great work, and there’s some interesting differences with our solar powered blog.


First, Roussilhe built his site with a user friendly content management system (Kirby), which is then converted into a static website. Compared to our approach, this makes it easier to build a light-weight website for those who are accustomed to working with WordPress.

Second, the designer also tackles his videos, which are hosted on Vimeo and Youtube, and manages to reduce their “weight” by 75%. This is a major contribution, because video takes up the largest share of internet traffic.

Here’s his own conclusion:

If we take stock: I reduced the weight of my site by 10, the average weight of a page by more than 3 and I reduced the weight of my videos on third-party services by 4. I have a site extremely simple to administrate, very light so very fast, which consumes very little electricity and therefore emits little GHG.

The site also follows all the canons of today’s digital design: mobile-first, accessibility, loading speed. In fact it is quite surprising to realize that structural limitations (weight / energy) lead to navigation experiences much more accessible to all audiences regardless of their equipment, their connection or their imperative motricity or vision.

David Galeano



I think your solar powered server project is very interesting and I may have a couple of suggestions.

I think you could improve performance when serving static files by using the open file cache: https://nginx.org/en/docs/http/ngx_http_core_module.html#open_file_cache

The size of PNG files depends heavily on the compressor used and the contents of the image. I found zopfli to be the best compressor: https://github.com/google/zopfli/blob/master/README.zopflipng
Also the PNG format is very good at compressing images with vertical patterns because each row can be stored as a delta of the previous one, not sure how that could help you but for example in the past I found that just by rotating the image 90 degrees it became a lot smaller.

Anyway, hope any of this helps.

Kind regards,

 Matisse VerDuyn


The goal of this project is great!

A while ago, I put together https://github.com/matisseverduyn/aureum with a similar goal in mind. The concept stemmed from two objectives:
1.) The sole purpose of a website is to provide content, and to be useful, that content must be "comfortably readable" (on any device), and
2.) It's critical, for many reasons, to minimize data transfer (through the elimination of all non-essential HTML tags / attributes, and all CSS classes, especially those that are merely there to indicate visibility toggling).

Aureum helps to display "comfortably readable" information on all screen sizes (including both very large projector screens and very small displays, like smartwatches), and does so with only 3kb of minified CSS. I guess it could be considered a "reset file", but as I've actually used it on a few projects without adding much additional CSS, that classification might not convey its benefits with much justice.

It seems that "certain devices" which may not support features such as CSS media queries are a concern of your current design ("keep the blog accessible for visitors with older computers")? If not, I hope that Aureum is useful to your project. As another commenter Anja mentioned, having sites load quickly (or at all) under really low-bandwidth is both environmentally sensible and a pleasant relief (and quite a surprise to come across).

Thanks for what you've done here,


sune Petersen


Hello Low Tech Magazine.

What are your thoughts on IPFS and DAT?

Have you thought about putting a mirror of your site up on these protocols?

Kris De Decker


We hitted hackernews again: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19407847

And just wanted to say: thanks so much for all the feedback, and keep it coming. We gave up the idea to try and answer every comment, instead we plan to write an update about the project discussing all the ideas mentioned here. This is especially relevant for the future redesign of the main site, which we plan to do in a different way. It is clear by now that the solar powered website will remain a separate website, as it has become so much more than simply a low-tech version of Low-tech Magazine.

Götz Hildebrandt


Dear de Decker,

reading about your low tech magazine, and the solar powered server.
is thier a plan to enable hosting on that server, or clustering with several servers world wide,
that works on the same way - low tech as yours?

For most web site no interpreting language is need, data access is neeed yes but that is all.
C++ as server side language is for common cases enough. (for mine it is)

what are your plans?

Greetings from Germany




Your article on your setup is great, but I was surprised that you don't precompress your pages, images, etc and serve it with nginx, using the option "gzip_static on".

It would be better on your CPU (you'd have to just compress once) and
you could use the strongest compression possible. Would be good for
speed as well, as nginx will be able to sent the page right away,
without waiting for the slow arm CPU to compress it.

Just my two cents!



Brian Sutherland


Hi, Kris:

Cool website, and one I may be discussing in my PhD thesis on DIY sustainable IT and electronics design.

I suggest that instead of batteries you use a graphene supercapacitor array. Buy it once, it lasts for 10-20 years, and the system can recharge 1,000,000 times without wearing out. No heavy or toxic metals, just carbon, plastic and aluminum. Just be careful about insulating it properly if you stack it into 12 volts rather than 5 volts and use the appropriate cell balancing kit to ensure the capacitors charge evenly.

Also, if your site mirror was in a different time zone with the sun shining, it would never need to go offline, but it would still be 100% solar powered. Fibre optics being light don’t need much power to send information far.

+1 to 117) Ruben’s suggestion to use the gzip standard for webpages to reduce the storage and data transfer.

I’m not certain I agree that static HTML pages make for a significant power saving compared to dynamically generated pages since the CPU still needs be running on the storage requests and it writes requests into a log file, that’s not much different from a web page call.

Complements to your awesome city: my spouse and I visited a few years ago. We enjoyed the art and culture, especially the architecture, and I’ve been following Francisca Bria’s digital citizenship work very closely.

Paul Geraghty



I followed with interest the Olimex link to your pages (via twitter and @EENewsEurope)

Fine work, this board might be a solution for a problem I have too.

However, being an ex-LAMP dev kinda guy, with experience of caching I noted with interest you do not seem use a memcache.

Heres a link to more info:


I used to do similar on a .gov website for certain common webpages like home page etc.

But this was 10+ years ago using PHPs own memcache on Apache, so I cannot really help you much more.

In effect, this loads, for example, your html in MEMORY so you are not constantly pulling from your sd card. You just need to flush the ram every time you update your page, or it will do it when the SBC reboots, or you can set a time limit, I used to use hourly.

Sorry if my ignorance of SBCs is lacking, and what I am saying is not doable - eg more ram is a no-go, or even if the idea of ram does not translate to the SBC world. Your the sample nginx config seems to show you are not using this.

Just thought I’d share that with you in case it leads to something positive.

Thanks again for the detailed write-up.

Shelby Marvell


I’m thinking of making my raspberry pi a super low-power server… Just wondering if you had done any more to improve it since this article: https://homebrewserver.club/low-tech-website-howto.html

And had a suggestion to maybe reduce image size. GIFs? They take dithering really well… But I know PNGs are compressed at varying strengths. And now I need to find a way to use a solar battery or something for powering it…

Kris De Decker


More media links:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20038619 (Third appearance on Hackernews, again very interesting feedback)

https://calls.ars.electronica.art/prix2019/prixwinner/32502/ [Honorary mention at the Ars Electronica 2019]







Kris De Decker


@ Götz Hildebrandt

There are no plans to host other websites on our server.




I love your site! It's pushed me to make actual changes in my life.

Here are some small changes you can make to improve your https
configuration to maintain (or increase) security while also using less

First, on the server itself, type these commands and compare the output:

openssl speed aes-128-gcm
openssl speed aes-256-gcm
openssl speed chacha20-poly1305

Since your server's CPU (ARM Cortex A7) doesn't support accelerated
AES, chacha20-poly1305 should be SIGNIFICANTLY faster (possibly 10x
faster) which means less electricity usage. Similarly, aes-128-gcm
should be a bit faster than aes-256-gcm. In the real world, in actual
TLS usage, aes-256 doesn't solve a problem that aes-128 doesn't.

So, you should configure nginx to support and prefer only these ciphers:


You don't even need aes-256. For ECDH curves, you also don't need
secp521r1 or secp384r1. Even google.com, which is famous for not
wanting to lose any users, doesn't support these curves. You should
just support x25519 and P-256 (aka secp256r1).

Finally, making ECDSA signatures requires less power than making RSA
signatures. So switching from an RSA cert to an ECDSA cert would
lower your electrical usage.

Hope this helps, and thanks again for your outstanding website!

Artūrs Pupausis


Intresting project for sure!

When speaking of server efficiency. Old 40nm SoC isn't the way to go. PNG could be optimized by PNGgauntlet or use webp but I guess it only supports 24bit colors. Brolti compression is more efficient than gzip. CSS, HTML & JS can be minifyed before compression. One commented about Flif but it isn't optimized and not natively supported in browsers.

Combining multiple websites on one server to uses hardware more effectively. SPF+ uses less power for given amount of data compared 100m nic. From a larger server waste heat can be recovered for water heating or room heating in winter. Waste heat can be recovered from waste water drain as well as that water can be reused for toilet. 10nm ARM server uses far less power for the same work compared even to latest Intel offers.

Even better if it is running on hybrid solar PV system with a small battery backup plus optimized PV system with minimal conversion of electricity.

Lastly reusing certain parts of servers like a case and hard drive Remanufacturing instead of shredding could help reduce emissions of the internet.

Speaking of printed version depending on the tech used on paper production, weight, shopping, power source, raw material, disposal & etc. Typical sheet of A4 paper uses ~50 watt hours of energy or more. While reading on modern smartphone for one hour takes Less than a watt hour, but it quickly changes if done on a laptop or older desktop with multiple monitors. But does not include cradle to grave impact of hardware and software used for it Also it would need to be divided by all other stuff used on computer.

Amos Blanton


I thought I'd share my solar powered website as it stands, along with
the offer of any help I can give should anyone run into problems I might
be able to help with.


* It uses an ina219 to measure the state of the battery (Thanks Roel!)
* I'm experimenting with changing the background image depending on the
weather. I'm intrigued by the idea of physically situated servers tied
to their place in space.

I have yet to tackle the data optimization or server customization and
caching, and logging the power usage to look at trends / see if I can
cope with a Danish winter (unlikely at this point). And I am proxying to
my site on nearlyfreespeech.net <http://nearlyfreespeech.net> when the
pi is down. I'm rather attached to uptime at the moment as I am looking
for new opportunities in the realm of playful learning and sustainability.

Thanks for to you all for making this list / club, and for your
contributions to solar.lowtechmagazine.com
<http://solar.lowtechmagazine.com> and associated documentation - which
I found to be really inspiring.


Peter Marinov



I've been reading articles when you post on lowtechmagazine.com and I like how your photos look (and how little space they take). I've spent some time attempting to replicate the dithering effect of my own photos by I couldn't make it look like in lowtechmagazine.com.

Could you please share what is the command-line (imagemagic) which you use to produce your photos?


Roel Roscam Abbing


Hi Petar,

this is done via the dithering plugin, based on python Pillow I wrote:



 Stephen Henderson


You forgot to subtract, car trips to library, record store, theaters, not watching TV, delivering newspapers, producing paper. The internet is an extremely efficient, fast, decentralized way off transferring information compared to other methods. Therefore your premise of the Internet as a carbon problem is just not true, it's a large savings.

If there was simply a fair carbon tax on on everything producing carbon they would all use renewable energy. A server farm produces NO carbon using electricity from an utility. The utility produces carbon because they burn the fossil fuels to supply a server farm. ALWAYS, atack a problem at it's source.

A fair carbon tax is just so simple it makes you sick to think it's not implemented.




Thanks for your very interesting website.

I´m reading “How to Build a Low-tech Website?“ with lots of attention.

I also have read on several other places (e.g. https://developer-blog.net/raspberry-pi-mit-sonnenenergie-betreiben-teil-4/) that the needed emeryfor a singelborad computerdoes not so much depend on the use of given capacity… so even so astatic web page is faster and needs less energy we could still consider to build also dynamic pages…

That said – I really like the design of https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/ but it limits us by using some interesting functions if we think of interactin websites, which is a feature that becomes more and more important.

You seem to have no problem to use Facebook and twitter - but this use is a contradiction to your project I want to to address here.

Have you heard of the “Fediverse”?


and the decentralized networking options? This is a very interesting option which would be interesting to integrated in the Low-tech website project too.

Here I want to recommend the project Hubzilla.


You can run it in a PHP environment.

Hubzilla has a function called „normadic identity“. With this function you can clone and transfer network accessibility from one to an other server. If one server is down, the other server takes over the job and can do the work. So this concept would allow downtime for a solar driven websites even so functionality of connections would still be working. You jut have to find few partners - self hosted severs, spread all over the world, each powered by solar power, to have a 100% up time. This would be an other innovative concept for a low tech website ;-)

What do you think?

all the best


Tom Sparks


For static comments, you could look at https://mademistakes.com/articles/jekyll-static-comments/ it is jekyll centric but you should be to adapt it to use with Pelican.




First off, I just want to say how much I absolutely love the lowtechmagazine website. I'm a member of tilde.town, and me and some other members were talking about the site today. We all enjoy the special attention that is paid to design and sustainability. However, the one thing that many of us find slightly annoying about using the site is the presence of the yellow line through the articles indicating the battery of the site. The site would be much easier to read in my opinion, if simply the battery level, or perhaps a bar indicating the level, were presented on the page. Thanks so much for putting out this amazing content!

- Hayden



Subdomain appears to be down solar.lowtechmagazine.com will check back later.

Felix Moreno


Exactly which part of the system is Low Tech? I see a SoC computer made with 10nm technology, the most complicated technology the human race ever did that is only made in 3-4 countries and in 2-3 factories. Are you using lot of electrical components made with small parts made in about 30 different countries and materials made in about 40 different countries using mines. Exactly seriously, where is the low tech of all these... maybe you have your own foundries to make a microprocessor? or you can make a transistor? do you know how a transistor works? your system uses about 3 million of them.

And what about obsolescence, the memory used for the system has a life about3-6 years, the data in the memory chip can't be replaced, if the SoC computer breaks... you have to buy another to amazon and import it from china where it's made....

And what happen to internet, i mean, your system needs internet, for people to be able to read your website, that's about 4% of all energy used in the world.

Much better, keep writing paper books.

Bests, Felix Moreno

kris de decker


@ Felix Moreno

And what technology did you use to write this email? Why didn't you send me a paper letter? How did you read the article in the first place?

Low-tech is a relative concept, it is not a noun. If you compare our server and website to the typical server and website out there, it is definitely low-tech. If you compare it to writing in the sand with a stick, it's high-tech indeed. But so is the paper book -- have you ever visited a modern printing business? Lots of transistors there.

By the way, do you know how the internet works? If you serve very light pages, you also save a lot of energy in the whole network, not just on the server side. A lighter website also increases the life expectancy of computers, because it can be accessed with very old machines.

Felix Moreno


"And what technology did you use to write this email? Why didn't you send me a paper letter? How did you read the article in the first place?"

I'm trying to help you to understand the reallity. You did a "Low tech system" and i told you you didn't. I did not say i'm using a low tech system to write you a message. did i?

Your reaction and question is phase 2 in my article:

kris de decker


@ Felix Moreno

" I did not say i'm using a low tech system to write you a message. did i?"

Worse than that. In your article you claim that your website is more low-tech because it runs on your laptop, which you leave running for 24 hours per day. Meaning that your server uses more electricity in one hour than ours does in one day. Not to mention that it would instantly crash if it gets the visitor traffic that we get.

"I'm trying to help you understand the reality"

Give me a break, man.



Very good ideology, but no way to make it alive. Ip address and DNS are the bottlenecks. It's my opinion, but it's much more efficient to place an optimized website on shared hosting in a data center with an optimized environment placed in an optimized climate zone + use CDN to reduce the load on routing devices. Your hosting machine is NOT an energetical bottleneck.

kris de decker


We're no longer adding comments to this page, please see the solar powered version of this page for newer comments: https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2018/09/how-to-build-a-lowtech-website.html



This is a pretty cool idea, but I'm very sad to find this on your website:

# Cookies:

# Scripts:

# Images, CSS:
*.typepad.com (59 resources loaded)

This website is loading more than 80 resources from various internet domains. And only 8 resources from your domain. How can you say that this is a static website?

Each loaded resources creates a connection and consumes energy on transport, on hoster side and on client side.

You are saying that you don't use Google Analytics, but in fact you are using it!

Preaching water while drinking wine

kris de decker


@ peet

You are looking at wrong website. The solar powered website is here: solar.lowtechmagazine.com

The website you are (rightly) criticizing is the old website, which will eventually disappear.

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