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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



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