Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 1st Dec 2008 23:31 UTC, submitted by linuxlinks
Window Managers "Mainstream Linux distributions typically default to one of two desktop environments, KDE or GNOME. Both of these environments provide users with an intuitive and attractive desktop, as well as offering a large raft of multimedia software, games, administration programs, network tools, educational applications, utilities, artwork, web development tools and more. However, these two desktops focus more on providing users with a modern computing environment with all the bells and whistles featured in Windows Vista, rather than minimising the amount of system resources they need. For users and developers who want to run an attractive Linux desktop on older hardware, netbooks, or mobile internet devices, neither KDE or GNOME may be a viable option, as they run too slowly on low spec machines (such as less than 256MB RAM and a 1 GHz processor). This article seeks to identify the best lean desktops for Linux, for users that have old or even ancient hardware."
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ok this just confuses me
by poundsmack on Mon 1st Dec 2008 23:53 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

sooooo many light weight distro's are based on GTK2 but i can't think of a single other (aside from KDE obviously) that is based on QT. If I had to start making an alternative GUI it would be QT, hands down. or WxWidgets 3.0 and using python 3.0 and Krusader, and I will call it "Aesthetic"(fires up his linux box after downing 3 energy drinks and starts to code)

Edited 2008-12-02 00:08 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE: ok this just confuses me
by jacquouille on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 00:20 UTC in reply to "ok this just confuses me"
jacquouille Member since:
2006-01-02

Well, for somebody versed in C++/Qt and wanting to work on a desktop environment, it's most attractive to just join the KDE project. Very active community, very liberal in granting commit rights (i.e. you quickly get global write access to the code). It's also very customizable/extensible. IMO that's why no other Qt project emerges.

Also, with a bit of tweaking (don't try mainstream distros out of the box...), even the latest KDE 4.2 runs smoothly on machines with 256 MB ram and a second-rate CPU. The more resource-hungry features (Strigi, Nepomuk, compositing) are easy to remove altogether at build-time. So most "netbook"-oriented distros can use it. Sure there's still a niche of distros for ultra-low-spec hardware, like 64 MB RAM, but frankly it's getting irrelevant, as machines with these amounts of RAM haven't been on the market for almost 10 years now.

Reply Score: 6

RE: ok this just confuses me
by evangs on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 16:33 UTC in reply to "ok this just confuses me"
evangs Member since:
2005-07-07

... using python 3.0 ...


Lightweight?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: ok this just confuses me
by poundsmack on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 17:49 UTC in reply to "RE: ok this just confuses me"
poundsmack Member since:
2005-07-13

python would be a natural choice as it plays nicely with QT. also 3.0 is rather light qeight due to stripping out the legacy stuff from 1.x and 2.x releases. "the more you know"

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: ok this just confuses me
by evangs on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 18:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ok this just confuses me"
evangs Member since:
2005-07-07

By most objective measures, Python runs at least an order of magnitude slower than C/C++ code and consumes an average of 5x more memory.

I don't know how that qualifies as "lightweight".

Reply Score: 2

1Ghz Slow tut tut tut
by cyclops on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 00:07 UTC
cyclops
Member since:
2006-03-12

1Ghz is quite a zippy machine for *ALL* Linux desktops admittedly 256mb is a little harsh by the time you have thrown in a integrated graphics card; 256mb is definitely minimum requirement. 512mb a better option, and very manageable.

Although there are other ways of running efficiently on less memory.

Reply Score: 2

FVWM is still alive
by TaterSalad on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 02:12 UTC
TaterSalad
Member since:
2005-07-06

Glad to see that FVWM is still alive. The crystal-fvwm looked pretty good.

Reply Score: 3

Dissatisfied with KDE & GNOME
by Jason Bourne on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 03:38 UTC
Jason Bourne
Member since:
2007-06-02

I uninstalled today my copy of Ubuntu 8.10. My motives were the hassle that is to replace Windows Explorer "Classic Mode with Sidepanel & detailed view". Nautilus got so much in the way that it became obvious that the application did not want to do what I needed to do. This time I really felt like if GNOME was almost popping up a banner "Don't do this, you're too stupid...". Then I installed Konqueror, but I needed to download something like 300MB to also get (the unwanted) Dolphin and a vast amount of KDE libraries. With Nautilus or Konqueror, I couldn't even change a mimetype icon for a specific kind of file (FLAC). I am sure one out there managed to do this, but not me, not with konqueror in KDE4, not with Dolphin and to with Nautilus. My Main menus in both KDE and GNOME got "cluttered" of one's another application, everything out of the right places. I mean... these two desktops really must not even LIKE BEING TOGETHER on! (LOL)


Today I realized that one of the biggest problem for me, in Linux, is the file manager: Windows Explorer/XP may suck for some people, but I didn't see any competitor at its level. (I said "Classic Mode, with panel and detailed view", not default)

You will tell me of other alternatives that certainly don't use GTK+ and are quite ugly, not to mention the inconsistent system behaviours such as the mouse pointer to left, outside at the desktop area, and then to the right, inside the application. I mean, this really sucks man! Further more, it's Nautilus that is "decently" integrated to the system, and not others which I later installed to fiddle with (Pcfman, Thunar).

Tom already wrote in the series "Why DE sucks" how GNOME redraws are slow. I have a good 3D card, my video is working wonderfully well and still, GTK+ is slow to redraw. This redraw glitch and Nautilus are one of the greatest GNOME shortcommings. Take that away and Ubuntu will be a real alternative to Windows.

On the other hand we have these lightweight desktops but they also have ridiculous flaws. For instance, XFCE. I think it's primarily the name. It will never "catch". XF what? Too much acronyms! Why can't something be properly named, like Orion or Andromeda, for example. The panels are not very optimal just like GNOME default. There is space in the bottom being wasted. I think if XFCE shifted to a Windows XP-like interface, emulating the look and feel (not necessarely all that blue) would get this desktop really far ahead GNOME and KDE. You see the contrary, developers will try to emulate the strangest things around, but not what 99% of the users are used to on a daily basis (read Windows).

It's kind of humiliating for DE developers to try to imitate everything that Windows Vista does or what Microsoft is going to implement, instead of trying to diminish the learning curve between Windows & Linux desktops. I believe KDE signed a consentiment to its obituary, because they have increased the complexity and there are people who are right when they say that they couldn't "do a thing" inside KDE4.x. GNOME is ahead KDE in that sense, but it seems like another extreme-right politics group, embracing no new ideas on how to get rid of Nautilus. Can you do a "lasso" over your files in list view (detailed)? I bet you can't. (Yep, I know there is a workaround and it has been filed as a bug, but is it in latest Ubuntu? No...) You see, this is what I am talking about.

Until there, I find difficult to adopt even more alternatives to the desktop.

Edited 2008-12-02 03:47 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Dissatisfied with KDE & GNOME
by pxa270 on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 09:58 UTC in reply to "Dissatisfied with KDE & GNOME"
pxa270 Member since:
2006-01-08

I've found Xfe to be a pretty nice Windows Explorer clone. Try it if it's in your distro's repositories.

http://roland65.free.fr/xfe/index.php?page=screenshots

Reply Score: 2

RE: Dissatisfied with KDE & GNOME
by jokkel on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 11:34 UTC in reply to "Dissatisfied with KDE & GNOME"
jokkel Member since:
2008-07-07

Well since you can't stand change or don't seem to be able to try to learn new ways to manage your files, just use the one special setting on windows explorer you like.
The reason other desktop environments exist, is to be different and follow their own design ideas and principles. Cloning MS Windows' behaviour mostly isn't one of them.
So don't complain about the hammer's design if what you wanted is a screwdriver.

It's a fallacy to think that free desktop environments need to emulate Windows as much as possible to get more users. The prime example for this is the most successful 'other' desktop: Mac OS. It's in some places very different from Windows, more than KDE and Gnome certainly. Being different is a path to success not failure.

Reply Score: 6

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Sorry, is this topic about KDE and/or GNOME and why they suck?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Dissatisfied with KDE & GNOME
by h3rman on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 15:11 UTC in reply to "Dissatisfied with KDE & GNOME"
h3rman Member since:
2006-08-09

This redraw glitch and Nautilus are one of the greatest GNOME shortcommings. Take that away and Ubuntu will be a real alternative to Windows.


Do you really believe that?

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Do you really believe that?

Such are the pitfalls of hanging out in nooks like ours here at OSNews. Surrounded by others holding the same strong opinions on the same niche topics, in a community mostly disconnected from mainstream concerns, we can actually start seriously believing stuff like that. I'm thankful for the splash of cold water that I get each day from administering my XDMCP servers and supporting real business desktop users. We run Gnome on X terminals over 100 mbit lans. And none of my users have, at any time, said anything about screen updates being slow or that they don't like the file manager. They call me when they run into an actual problem that impedes their work flow, like a site's javascript not working with Firefox. Meanwhile, on OSNews, supposedly tech-savvy people complain that their work flow and creativity are impeded because:

- GTK+ redraws are allegedly sometimes perceptible

- X is network transparent

- Desktop Q isn't configurable enough and they can't use the keystrokes they learned in Word Star.

- Compiz doesn't work with their video chipset

- There aren't enough selections in the menus

- There are too many selections in the menus

- Their fonts aren't antialiased quite right

- Their power supply makes too much noise

- Someone put something in their Fitt's area

The list goes on. I'm thankful that my users are real people. I'd go nuts if they were OSNews readers. ;-)

Edited 2008-12-02 16:09 UTC

Reply Score: 6

h3rman Member since:
2006-08-09

Ha, I enjoyed that post.
Indeed, some of the Kings and Queens of geekiness seem to care about obscurities that baffle most humans. Lizards from the planet Qxrflypqix, go out, meet (human) girls, it does beat installing the latest MPlayer skin. :-)

Reply Score: 2

BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

Bravo!

Reply Score: 2

Hypnos Member since:
2008-11-19

OSNews would be less annoying if there were more thoughtful, incisive posts like yours.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Dissatisfied with KDE & GNOME
by lemur2 on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 22:27 UTC in reply to "Dissatisfied with KDE & GNOME"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Tom already wrote in the series "Why DE sucks" how GNOME redraws are slow. I have a good 3D card, my video is working wonderfully well and still, GTK+ is slow to redraw. This redraw glitch and Nautilus are one of the greatest GNOME shortcommings. Take that away and Ubuntu will be a real alternative to Windows.


GNOME uses software rendering of the desktop. It doesn't matter how fast your graphics card is.

The only desktop for Linux that uses the GPU for accelerated graphics for the desktop is KDE4. Even then, nvidia has had a broken driver for Linux for over 2 years now that is absolutely horrible for 2D graphics ... nvidia is a graphics decelerator on Linux (I'm not sure if it is fixed yet or not).

Anyway, if your system has a reasonable non-nvidia graphics GPU, with working 2D accelerated graphics, then KDE 4.1 and later will be by far and away the fastest desktop for Linux for your system. KDE 4.2 (now in beta) reportedly rocks ... it blows everything else away.

The caveat here is that your system must have accelerated graphics GPU (the requirements for which are not high, just that it works and does actually accelerate the graphics) and enough RAM, at least 256MB but 512MB should probably be considered a practical minimum. This therefore cannot be called a "lightweight" desktop ... but nevertheless, if your system does meet the minimum requirements, as many do, then KDE 4.1+ will be the fastest desktop for your system, and it will easily out-perform (on your same hardware) these "lightweight" desktops, and GNOME, which all use software rendering to draw the desktop screens.

KDE4 also runs GTK+ applications pretty well (and AFAIK it can accelerate rendering them), and there is now support for keeping the GTK+ theme in step with the chosen KDE4 theme, so that GTK+ applications integrate reasonably well with the rest of the desktop.

Edited 2008-12-02 22:32 UTC

Reply Score: 2

DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"Even then, nvidia has had a broken driver for Linux for over 2 years now that is absolutely horrible for 2D graphics ... nvidia is a graphics decelerator on Linux (I'm not sure if it is fixed yet or not). "

Source for this please, besides your own personal anti-proprietary agenda? The only graphics cards I know of to be horrid on Linux is ATI. Hopefully that will change soon. Nvidia drivers have been rock solid and well performing on any machine I have set it up on and have seen it on. That is about 200 machines running various Linux distros and using graphics extensively for video. The driver may be proprietary, however it is stable and works.

KDE 4 works great on Nvidia cards in my experience, where ATI cards can barely handle a basic load without locking up X, and therefore KDE.

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"Even then, nvidia has had a broken driver for Linux for over 2 years now that is absolutely horrible for 2D graphics ... nvidia is a graphics decelerator on Linux (I'm not sure if it is fixed yet or not). " Source for this please, besides your own personal anti-proprietary agenda?


http://techbase.kde.org/Schedules/Is_KDE_4.1_for_you%3F#Graphic...

Otherwise, google for: nvidia driver bug kde 4

Or Google for: Xrender nvidia linux

Here you go, a forum thread on this topic:

http://www.phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11044

"Hello,

Over the past two years the typical linux desktop has changed a lot.The XRender API has replaced the old X drawing model and composition introduced new visual possibilties.This also means that 2D drivers are now stressed much more and in different areas than 2-3 years ago.There are ongoing complains about poor 2D performance of NVidia GPUs, about 2 years ago it started with people complaining about slow text rendering with subpixel-antialiasing, but the more programs use the XRender api, the more complaints are posted. KDE4 which uses XRender a lot and also relies on more advanced feature is really slow (I would call it almost unuseable), also FireFox3 is no joy with nvidia's binary drivers. Often nouveau drivers with their EXA architecture offer better 2D performance than the binary drivers themself.There are also people calling nvidia to open-source their 2D driver, or at least provide specs to the nouveu project, because the think open-source projects could do it a lot better and are not that revenue-driven.Most of the discussions happen in the unofficial nvidia linux support forum:http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=14It would be great if you could write a short arcticle about this topic, maybe it would change things to the better and make nvidia recognize that although people buy the cards because of 3D scores, they don't tolerate dog-slow 2D desktops.

Thanks
Regi "


The long-standing Xrender bug in nvidia's proprietary driver for Linux that so very badly affects KDE4 performance (and not so much but still apparent affects performance of firefox and openoffice on Linux systems in general, KDE4 or not) is limited to only some of the nvidia cards. It does not affect all nvidia cards.

So it is quite possible that you have a fine experience with KDE4 on Linux on your system with a nvidia card.

You are lucky. Many people haven't been so lucky.

If anyone does have such a system that is affected by this bug, and if nvidia still haven't fixed it, then I might suggest trying the nouveau driver for nvidia cards, as it reportedly has quite acceptable 2D accelerated video.

Reportedly the author of the E17 desktop software tried also to use Xorg's Xrender API to accelerate the E17 desktop, and he ran into this nvidia driver bug on the system he uses to develop, and so consequently dropped the whole idea.

Edited 2008-12-03 00:06 UTC

Reply Score: 2

DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"You are lucky. Many people haven't been so lucky."

Thanks for the links. I'll check it out and try a few things ;)

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Source for this please, besides your own personal anti-proprietary agenda?


This person goes over the top in saying to avoid nvidia cards entirely:
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=847360
It is not the nvidia cards per se, the problem is limited to the nvidia binary driver for Linux.

The only graphics cards I know of to be horrid on Linux is ATI.


You are sadly out of date. ATI have stolen a march over nvidia for Linux, and even Intel graphics easily out-perform many nvidia cards on linux for 2D rendering, if the nvidia card in question is affected by the long-standing xrender bug.

I'd suggest that the many reports one reads around the net that Firefox (for example) is much faster on Windows than it is on Linux on the same hardware are in fact due to the nvidia binary driver xrender bug on linux.

Please note that the situation is improving ... there are many reports now of the bug having been fixed ... and so there is a chance that early next year, when distributions ship with KDE 4.2 and a fixed nvidia driver, you can then have an eye-popping experience with a linux desktop.

This person seems to think it is deliberate by nvidia:
http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=5306371&postcount=5
but I personally doubt that.

If you have lived with this xrender bug before now (and perhaps shunned KDE 4 because of it), and then you try it when these issues have (hopefully, finally) been addressed (perhaps early next year), I'm sure you will be amazed at the difference.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20081202-hands-on-kde-4-2-beta...

http://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-4.2-beta1.php

Edited 2008-12-03 01:10 UTC

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Source for this please, besides your own personal anti-proprietary agenda?


I finally found the source from nvidia themselves.

http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=118088

Sorry about the delay, it normally doesn't take me as long as that to find an original source for something.

Mind you, nvidia seem to be having an enormous problem admitting they have this huge performance bug for KDE4 on Linux, and seem to try to make a claim that it is not really a bug. Somehow they claim this despite the fact that their driver's performance in benchmark testing is abysmal, and they have literally hundreds of people on their own forum complaining bitterly about it.

Thanks for the links. I'll check it out and try a few things


Anyway ... nvidia seem to be claiming here that their driver versions 180.06 and later fix the problem, so hopefully the issue is moot from now on.

Nvidias current version is shown here:
http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=122606

Current releases
Stable: 177.82
Beta: 180.11
OpenGL 3.0 beta: 177.61.02

Apparently if you want the fixed version, you need their current beta driver.

Edited 2008-12-03 02:39 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Jason Bourne Member since:
2007-06-02

Problem is not only UI acceleration. I was using Nvidia 180.06 latest and it was quite nice under KDE or GNOME. Problem is that, within those 2, GNOME still loses in redrawing, I really believe it's a GTK+ issue.

I didn't "get the point" of KDE 4. The new menu, is that an attempt to emulate Office 2007 ribbobs UI? Or was that an attempt to emulate Windows UI search engine? Because I can't ever find an application at first glance on that menu. In my opinion, KDE4 blew it. GNOME caught up on the advantage KDE had and now it has been shipped as default and chosen desktop on most distros. I really believe a quite amount of people just left KDE4 for everything else.

Perhaps ported KDE3 to Qt4 would have made more sense, but I don't get the mentality of developers: Just when all users are about to get really used to a dektop, everything gets changed (and broken).

I also agree with the person who said it's just not about de desktops. You rarely will live without using k3b, firefox, thunderbird, evolution, what have you. And for that you will need those huge GNOME/KDE libraries hanging around.

Edited 2008-12-03 15:07 UTC

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Problem is not only UI acceleration. I was using Nvidia 180.06 latest and it was quite nice under KDE or GNOME. Problem is that, within those 2, GNOME still loses in redrawing, I really believe it's a GTK+ issue.


Not really. GNOME uses software rendering libraries to draw the desktop. KDE uses the 2D graphics primitives available in the GPU, which is accessed in turn through the Xrender API in the Xorg X server.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xrender

So of all the Linux desktop environments, only KDE4 uses the GPU for UI acceleration. None of the others are accelerated.

The Xrender API interface is, AFAIK, at a "lower level" than even the GTK libraries, so that means on KDE4 that the GTK applications will also benefit from the accelrated desktop. It is lower level than even the font rendering, so even fonts benefit from the acceleration. This is all pretty much a fundamental "paradigm shift" type of improvement in the desktop environment.

I didn't "get the point" of KDE 4.


Well, as I said, KDE4 is the only Linux desktop to take advantage of accelerated graphics functions of the GPU. It is consequently the fastest Linux desktop, beating out even the "lightweight" desktops (which are the topic of this thread) on any system which has a working GPU ... which, after nvidia releases the next version of their binary driver, will be almost all still-running systems out there.

If you want the best desktop performance ... go with KDE4 on just about any system with 512MB of RAM or more.

KDE4 has a whole new underlying infrastructure ... it is so portable and flexible and good at presenting the same API to desktop applications regardless of the underlying hardware or OS version or drivers that KDE4 is actually ported to Windows and OSX as well. I believe that is a first ... the ONLY desktop environment that runs on all three common desktop OSes.

Anyway, the point is that multimedia applications can interface to the Phonon API, desktop applications can use Plasma services, etc, etc ... and all can enjoy the best performance available from the system without having to try to find out which sound server is installed & running or whatever.

Finally ... KDE 4.2+ can run plasmoids, Google widgets or OSX widgets on the desktop. The desktop can be scripted via javascript, java, python or ruby applets.

The new menu, is that an attempt to emulate Office 2007 ribbobs UI? Or was that an attempt to emulate Windows UI search engine? Because I can't ever find an application at first glance on that menu.


Add the plasmoid widget called "Lancelot menu" to the desktop, and then drag it from there to the lower left corner of the panel. If the Lancelot plasmoid is not available, search for the keyword "Lancelot" in your package manager, and install it.

All your KDE4 menu woes will disappear, I'd wager.

http://lancelot.fomentgroup.org/main

In my opinion, KDE4 blew it. GNOME caught up on the advantage KDE had and now it has been shipped as default and chosen desktop on most distros. I really believe a quite amount of people just left KDE4 for everything else. Perhaps ported KDE3 to Qt4 would have made more sense, but I don't get the mentality of developers: Just when all users are about to get really used to a dektop, everything gets changed (and broken).


You can of course still run all your KDE3 applications directly in KDE4. Most distributions ship like this, if a KDE4 version of an application is not ready, then the KDE3 version is offered. Works fine.

Mandriva has KDE4 as default. SuSe, Fedora and Ubuntu all offer KDE4 alongside GNOME.

Now that KDE4 has stabilised, and the nvidia driver performance issue appears to be squashed, GNOME is suddenly miles behind ... again.

Meanwhile, anyone who wants to and who is a bit afraid of change can always run KDE3 still.

I also agree with the person who said it's just not about de desktops. You rarely will live without using k3b, firefox, thunderbird, evolution, what have you. And for that you will need those huge GNOME/KDE libraries hanging around.


KDE4 ships without Mono and GNOME libraries. It does however support GTK applications out of the box, such as firefox, GIMP, thunderbird and openoffice.

Only if you were to install some very GNOME-specific applications, such as Nautilis, would you need to install the GNOME libraries. Only if you installed Mono applications, such as F-Spot, would you need the Mono libraries. Personally, I'd install Mononono and hence prevent the Mono libraries from installing accidentally ... but of course it is up to you what you do.

http://tim.thechases.com/mononono/

That will save you a huge group of totally un-neccessary libraries right there.

Edited 2008-12-03 22:42 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Fluxbox?
by samad on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 04:12 UTC
samad
Member since:
2006-03-31

It's light on resources, lots of features, fancy graphics, easy to hack around with.

Reply Score: 6

e16 and e17
by asupcb on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 05:57 UTC
asupcb
Member since:
2005-11-10

What about e16 and e17? They're pretty light weight and easy on resources.

Reply Score: 3

RE: e16 and e17
by vtorri on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 06:16 UTC in reply to "e16 and e17"
vtorri Member since:
2007-03-05

indeed, e17 can be run, with a module, on a Treo 650 (312 MHz, 32 MB or RAM). It's quite fast and does not use a lot of memory (it depends on the used theme too, of course)

Reply Score: 3

The point?
by parentaladvisory on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 07:03 UTC
parentaladvisory
Member since:
2006-12-18

Well, the title may seem a bit harsh, but it's not.. really ;)

I have always wondered this: If you use a lightweight DE, then why why why use ALOT of heavy apps? Firefox(flash, java), kde-apps, gnome-apps?

I mean, If I have a system that is low on memory, then I use a DE that uses little memory, so far im fine with this. BUT what happens when you start loading a lot of KDE apps? k3b, konqueror dolphin etc? you load a lot of kde and qt libraries in memory as well? Isnt that kind of defeating the purpous of running a low-resource system?

Or is it to use as little resources as possilbe for the DE to be able to use the applications?

Sure, lightweight DEs are a good thing, I used to use fluxbox alot before i fell in love with konqueror(in kde 3.5.x at least) with its versatility(spelling?)... Sure I could use konqueror in fluxbox, but then I needed space on HDD and RAM for some kde-apps and libs. So, Just as well I could use a trimmed down KDE ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE: The point?
by dagw on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 12:42 UTC in reply to "The point?"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

Or is it to use as little resources as possilbe for the DE to be able to use the applications?

Basically, yea. On my old laptop I found that running the latest firefox under Gnome or KDE would get quite sluggish after a while, while running it under fluxbox worked a lot better.

Sure there are more lightweight browsers out there that I could have used, but I used firefox everywhere else, and for consistency sake I wanted it on my laptop as well. So when faced with the choice of giving up Gnome for fluxbox, and giving up firefox for some lightweight browser, I chose to go with fluxbox (which I quite like anyway...)

Reply Score: 2

XFCE not that fast
by fernape on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 08:40 UTC
fernape
Member since:
2006-11-17

I disagree with XFCE being in that list.
I've been testing it on my FreeBSD 7.0 RELEASE and it takes exactly the same time to launch than GNOME (24 ~ 26 seconds) and the applications boot up as fast as they do in GNOME.

Even more, as a matter of compatibility, some other apps (I remember evince right now) takes two or three times more time than it does in GNOME. I checked the memory consumption but I don't remember the numbers so I can't say anything for sure.
I really didn't find any reason to switch from GNOME to XFCE

Similar issues can be found with e17 (also tested on FreeBSD 7.0 RELEASE). Firefox 3 miserably crashes on boot up (window freezes forever).

But please, don't get me wrong, they are very good alternatives, though probably a list of drawbacks, beside the list of features would have been healthy.

Cheers

Reply Score: 1

RE: XFCE not that fast
by dindin on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 14:52 UTC in reply to "XFCE not that fast"
dindin Member since:
2006-03-29

I agree with you on XFCE. It is not that fast and in some cases I have found Gnome to be better. Hell, you load most og GnomeLibs anyways.

XFCE was good once a upon a time. But not anymore. I can customize Gnome to get the same look and trim the fat to get even better performance. XFCE had a good opportunity to change the way apps are developed using GTK - maybe some like a Mac with GTK but given that there is no difference between it and Gnome - Gnome wins out.

As far as I am concerned there is only two DEs - KDE and Gnome. I use Fluxbox but do not consider it a DE - it can be after you added serveral other programs that are not part of it. But none give the Internationalization/multi-linuistic features that Qt/GTK2 provide.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: XFCE not that fast
by irbis on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 15:27 UTC in reply to "RE: XFCE not that fast"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

Well, when I start Xfce from GDM it starts quicker than Gnome. Also Xfce clearly eats less system resources like RAM. Things like that can matter a lot if you run a slower and older machine.

Oh, and before someone throws the old line: "just buy more RAM, it's cheap", you know, older computers may not even support much RAM. Besides, there's no reason (except marketing by hardware companies) why everyone should buy a brand new fast computer every few years. A 10 years old computer that has maybe got a couple of small hardware upgrades should be capable of running everyday desktop tasks just fine today. It is because of too bloated desktop environments and applications if that is not possible.

At least Xfce still tries to support older and slower computers too while also offering a modern desktop environment experience and features. Too bad that they don't have huge developer resources, however. On the other hand many developer geeks of other bigger desktop environments (probably running quite fast and new computers themselves) don't sometimes seem to much care for users of older and slower computers.

You could also read my comment below concerning the new features of upcoming Xfce 4.6: http://www.osnews.com/thread?338904

Edited 2008-12-02 15:40 UTC

Reply Score: 3

how ancient
by MamiyaOtaru on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 08:51 UTC
MamiyaOtaru
Member since:
2005-11-11

I several months ago got DSL working on a Pentium something or other 90 mhz with 16 MB of RAM. This IBM Thinkpad laptop is old enough it doesn't have USB or Ethernet (to say nothing of wireless) without the use of the PCMCIA slots ;)

DSL works and I can do stuff (surfing, emailing, etc). Windows 95 is faster though. It can also make use of all of the screen. My ancient lappy can do 640*480 at 16bit color or 800*600 at 8bit color. Unfortunately my attempts to get X to run in 8bit (for various reasons like trying to improve Starcraft performance, getting this laptop's full screen working) have always failed with funky looking colors.

Unfortunately Win95 with Opera and Lotus Smart Suite is a better alternative on that laptop, though unstable and crashy. I'd hate to think about getting a graphical linux going on something even older than that.

Reply Score: 2

RE: how ancient
by Vanger on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 09:23 UTC in reply to "how ancient"
Vanger Member since:
2007-11-28

I've ran Slack 11 on 2.4 kernel on P60/16.
Ran fine in console, though fluxbox was quite sluggish, as Windows 98.
For such old machines the best choice is W95, indeed, cause it's very complicated to find packages for contemporary distros' versions.
But if the machine is 10 years old (starting from P2), then Linux for modern machines should run fine on them too.

Reply Score: 2

Benchmarking
by darrelljon on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 10:51 UTC
darrelljon
Member since:
2008-05-29

Someone should benchmark lightweight desktop environments such as LXDE, Openbox, IceWM, Fluxbox, JWM and Enlightenment.

Slitaz might be faster than DSL.

Edited 2008-12-02 10:52 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Design is an issue.
by siki_miki on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 12:54 UTC
siki_miki
Member since:
2006-01-17

I was always favoring KDE over GNOME, but somehow I don't yet like the version 4. Partially because they released 4.0 before it was ready for prime time, but mainly because I dislike their default theme and widget design/geometry (no offense, but it feels like it was hacked during a lunch break). That's a shame as I consider the framework, and Qt toolkit superior technically. If they improve design in the future, fine. Until then I'm staying GNOME which feels much more elegant (and gets much more care from distributions at the moment).

Others - I don't think they are very competitive except for fan niches: oembedded folks, bare-interface and "speed" freaks or those with old machines (with current hw prices, this is not that relevant anymore).

Reply Score: 3

RE: Design is an issue.
by _txf_ on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 21:14 UTC in reply to "Design is an issue."
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

I don't get the idea of complaining about the colour of the paint on the walls when you can clearly change the colour so easily. Most distro's package Qtcurve plastique and maybe other widget styles.

Personally I find the new style quite nice even if it is inefficient space wise (which I doubt is your complaint seeing as you find gnome styles elegant). But your argument that you won't use a DE because you don't like the default look is totally invalid.

You're welcome to use any DE you want, just don't justify it with a bogus argument.

Edited 2008-12-02 21:15 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Xfce 4.6 beta
by irbis on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 14:36 UTC
irbis
Member since:
2005-07-08

I don't know if the Xfce 4 is very lightweight or not, but I've always liked their balanced approach a lot: trying to avoid bloat but still offering many advanced features. Xfce gives users the choice of adding what they like to their desktop environments instead of defaulting to everything and the kitchen sink like some others may do too much.

Too bad that their developer resources have been so small and that there have been a few small problems and bugs. However, those problems that have turned me off have been mostly aesthetical only, and only few having to do with stability or usability.

Lately I installed the new Xfce 4.6 beta version and although most changes may look only small and a few parts are still missing, quite many of the small problems that have irritated me before seem gone now. You can now quickly select desktop icons and folders with your mouse just like in Gnome. The window manager buttons have mouse over effects now and so on. Small things but at least I'm impressed.

Xfce also has some things missing from Gnome. While Gnome interface designers may have been removing some features and options from some Gnome apps and irritated many users by doing so, Xfce may have been keeping or adding such features but still staying smaller than Gnome. Also, Xfce has a rock solid and stable minimal kind of window compositing integrated that works like a dream while Compiz-fusion used by Gnome still has many bugs and is unstable. Yet another small example: the weather panel applet for Gnome only shows the current weather and temperature (you know, I can see the current weather just by looking out of my window..), but the Xfce weather applet shows predictions for a few days too.

Edited 2008-12-02 14:46 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by moleskine
by moleskine on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 15:19 UTC
moleskine
Member since:
2005-11-05

My lappie is an old Toshiba from 2001: 1 ghz PIII, 384 megs of ram and a very slow old HD. Gnome will run on it fine, just rather slowly and clunkily. I also have Xfce on it as my default DE. I really like Xfce. I've found it a little faster than Gnome, though not much. But I like it's elegance and simplicity, with none of the hints of "our way or the highway" one can find in Gnome. Speed may also be distro-dependent: there was a bigger difference on SuSE 11 between Xfce (SuSE do a very nice iteration of this) and Gnome than there is on Debian Unstable, at least to me.

The real difference in speed and resources is being selective about which proggies you use too. Firefox 3 is very slow on this lappy. Epiphany is the way to go, then Opera. Thunar is a lot nippier than Nautilus, Mousepad is a little faster than Gedit, etc. Besides, I like graphical DEs and have never found barebones ones very appealing. A computer should be enjoyed as well as used, and I think that simple enjoyment and pleasure can be much underrated.

I did use Fluxbox quite a bit at one stage. That's another really nice one. However, the speed and resource advantages were nixed once I fired up a big proggie like Firefox or Open Office, so I went for XFCE as a kind of compromise.

Just my 2 cents, but I think everyone should have a "third desktop" on their HD after KDE and Gnome. If you don't suppport some alternatives then eventually there won't be any, I guess.

Reply Score: 2

Another thumbs up for XFCE
by B12 Simon on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 15:47 UTC
B12 Simon
Member since:
2006-11-08

I've been using XFCE for most of this year both on my beige box and more recently my Acer Aspire One netbook.

I really, really like it. The basics are all there, the defaults sensible and it's very customisable if you're into that sort of thing (a bit of tinkering is about as much as I can be bothered with these days but I've seen some impressive tweakery on the internet).

Reply Score: 2

Definitely an XFCE fan
by Dave_K on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 15:48 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

Most really lightweight Linux desktops have major flaws and omissions that can make them a pain to use.

XFCE may not be as light as some, but in my experience it is less resource hungry than GNOME, and much faster than KDE 4.1 (Kubuntu 8.10 feels significantly slower than Vista on my system). At the same time it contains all the nice desktop features that I appreciate, including a file manager that I really like. When XFCE is so usable, I can't really see any reason to use GNOME instead.

There are some lightweight distributions using XFCE that are perfect for an obsolete PC. I saved an old 256Mb Athlon XP 2000+ laptop from the trash, and loaded with Puppy Linux NOP (Opera and XFCE replacing Seamonkey and JWM), it's a great little laptop for a friend who wanted to get online. I wouldn't want to run Windows or Ubuntu on the same system without at least double the RAM.

Reply Score: 3

No mention of E16/17?
by rhavenn on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 17:50 UTC
rhavenn
Member since:
2006-05-12

Personally, as people have mentioned, XFCE shouldn't be on that list. It's gotten pretty fat and is now just GNOME. The last couple of installs on my BSD box it just doesn't do it for me. In addition, if the article is going to mention etoile then E17 should most definitely be included as well. I use E17 SVN and it works well and the occasional crash doesn't bring the whole thing down and 90% of the time it recovers fine.

Reply Score: 1

Gnome on Openbox
by chemical_scum on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 17:52 UTC
chemical_scum
Member since:
2005-11-02

After reading the article I decided to go and try what I used to do three or four years ago when I had an older computer with only 128M RAM. That was to run Gnome on top of Openbox instead of Metacity.

When I tried it again, it booted with about 40M more RAM available and it definitely seemed more snappy than with Metacity. I think I might keep using this configuration for a while.

Edited 2008-12-02 17:53 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Gnome on Openbox
by Barnabyh on Sat 6th Dec 2008 00:23 UTC in reply to "Gnome on Openbox"
Barnabyh Member since:
2006-02-06

Yes, Openbox is a great little fill in as Window manager. I've got it in KDE3 and it's making it much snappier. It's also giving you the option to start KDE normally with KWin set up for transparency and other effects and if you don't want them 'cos you need to get things done a little faster just start KDE-Openbox session.
It's also great on its own with lxpanel/fbpanel and idesk for desktop icons. Gkrellm will take care of all additional monitoring needs that the 'Big Three' are giving you applets for.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by xzgv
by xzgv on Wed 3rd Dec 2008 02:44 UTC
xzgv
Member since:
2005-11-15

Ratpoison does it for me.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by xzgv
by sbergman27 on Wed 3rd Dec 2008 02:52 UTC in reply to "Comment by xzgv"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Ratpoison does it for me.

Be careful where you say that.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by xzgv
by binarymutant on Wed 3rd Dec 2008 20:55 UTC in reply to "Comment by xzgv"
binarymutant Member since:
2008-11-11

Yeah there are no mention of tiling window managers in the article, what gives?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by xzgv
by dagw on Wed 3rd Dec 2008 21:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by xzgv"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah there are no mention of tiling window managers in the article, what gives?

No window managers where directly mentioned, since it was an overview of desktop environments, not window managers.

Reply Score: 2

Just getting back to the point
by lemur2 on Wed 3rd Dec 2008 12:23 UTC
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

From the article, this was one claim made:

KDE or GNOME ... environments provide users with an intuitive and attractive desktop, as well as offering a large raft of multimedia software, games, administration programs, network tools, educational applications, utilities, artwork, web development tools and more. However, these two desktops focus more on providing users with a modern computing environment with all the bells and whistles featured in Windows Vista, rather than minimising the amount of system resources they need. For users and developers who want to run an attractive Linux desktop on older hardware, netbooks, or mobile internet devices, neither KDE or GNOME may be a viable option, as they run too slowly on low spec machines (such as less than 256MB RAM and a 1 GHz processor).


Just for clarity, the current crop of "netbook" class machines typically include the following hardware capacity:

http://products.liliputing.com/products/?id=452

That is a 1.6 GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard disk and Intel GMA 950 accelerated graphics.

That is easily enough computing resource to run KDE 4.1.2+ and especially the upcoming KDE 4.2 very sweetly indeed.

Contrary to the claim in the article, there is actually no need to limit yourself to a lightweight desktop experience on a netbook ... you can run KDE with the full bells, whistles and bling quite nicely on a contemporary netbook (largely due to these machines having sufficient RAM and accelerated 2D graphics).

As I pointed out before:
Anyway, if your system has a reasonable ... graphics GPU, with working 2D accelerated graphics, then KDE 4.1 and later will be by far and away the fastest desktop for Linux for your system. KDE 4.2 (now in beta) reportedly rocks ... it blows everything else away.


http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=RxCK0eWV4h4&feature=related

Enjoy.

PS: A netbook won't have sufficient resource do do this, however:
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=OZt4TaRmLEY&feature=related

Edited 2008-12-03 12:33 UTC

Reply Score: 2