Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 24th Jun 2009 14:10 UTC, submitted by TuxJournal.net
Window Managers We're all pretty much versed in the worlds of GNOME, KDE, and to a lesser degree, Xfce, and while there are lots of alternatives, none of the smaller ones really seem to gain much traction beyond their fans. An exception is LXDE, a small and resource efficient desktop environment.
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Anyone else remember when...
by bryanv on Wed 24th Jun 2009 14:26 UTC
bryanv
Member since:
2005-08-26

XFCE was "small and resource efficient"?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Anyone else remember when...
by Isolationist on Wed 24th Jun 2009 14:44 UTC in reply to "Anyone else remember when..."
Isolationist Member since:
2006-05-28

XFCE was "small and resource efficient"?


XFCE is still small and resource efficient in IMHO, particularly in comparision to the other DEs like Gnome and KDE.

It certainly starts up fast and provides a responsive desktop that doesn't consume too much in the way of memory and cpu power. Also, the source code is fairly small, and doesn't have too many dependencies so is easy to compile.

I think some people mistakenly think XFCE is slow, without realising they are loading the Gnome or KDE libs during the startup as part of their restored session.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Anyone else remember when...
by Adurbe on Wed 24th Jun 2009 15:44 UTC in reply to "Anyone else remember when..."
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

I remember when it was basically a mimic of CDE :-)

Reply Score: 3

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I remember when it was basically a mimic of CDE :-)


This was the times of XFCE 3. In fact, you could run a quite functional and easy to use desktop system using XFCE 3, of course while adding other lightweight applications (at this time), such as mplayer, Opera, XMMS, OpenOffice 1, xpdf and others.

History: I had to support customers who wanted "CDE like on the Sun", so I took some time and configured a XFCE 3 system for them. "Wow! How could you port CDE to this x86 machine?" :-)

Reply Score: 2

joekiser Member since:
2005-06-30

XFCE can still be set up to work like CDE...in fact, that's the setup I'm running now. Delete the top panel, change the bottom panel's size to 48 pixels and center it, set the desktop to show minimized icons, and it will show the application menu on a right-click. I find this is most efficient, since I can have my most frequently used applications in the launcher, and anything else I can right click to get the applications menu. So the ability to emulate CDE still exists, it's just buried underneath the "Gnome emulation" default.

Right now, between the three major desktop environments, XFCE is the most usable in terms of being fast and configurable, and it's really not even close.

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

You can still do that?

Darn, I should try Xfce one of these days.

Reply Score: 1

joekiser Member since:
2005-06-30

Yep. These features were missing when XFCE moved to 4.0, but due to popular demand, it returned around 4.2 (how's that for listening to your users). It's not exactly the GTK equivalent of CDE, but more like a modern interpretation...complete with antialiased fonts, the beauty of Gtk themes, and compositing features like transparency and shadows. I always thought that minimize to desktop was superior to using a taskbar for various reasons. I guess that makes us the minority of computer users these days.

Reply Score: 2

jptros Member since:
2005-08-26

I always thought that minimize to desktop was superior to using a taskbar for various reasons. I guess that makes us the minority of computer users these days.


I'm with you there, although I do like the xfce icon box also. I've always liked CDE, sad to see it on its way out (or already gone, haven't looked in the latest sol 10 versions) from Solaris.

Reply Score: 2

flynn Member since:
2009-03-19

XFCE can still be set up to work like CDE...in fact, that's the setup I'm running now. Delete the top panel, change the bottom panel's size to 48 pixels and center it, set the desktop to show minimized icons, and it will show the application menu on a right-click. I find this is most efficient, since I can have my most frequently used applications in the launcher, and anything else I can right click to get the applications menu. So the ability to emulate CDE still exists, it's just buried underneath the "Gnome emulation" default.

I never used CDE, but you just described the exact setup I used when I was running Xfce.

Reply Score: 2

twm_bucket Member since:
2008-10-09

No, in xfce3 you could cover the panel with windows. In the current version, you can't. You can in KDE. That's why I stopped using it. I want to be able to be able to cover the panel like I can even with CDE.

Reply Score: 1

joekiser Member since:
2005-06-30

Good catch, I never noticed this before since I never like to cover the panel. A quick workaround that I've found is to right-click the titlebar of the app you are running, and select "Always on Top." Not the most intuitive solution, especially if you want this to be the default behavior for all windows, but it's there. There might be a way to treat the panel like other windows and select "Always Below Other Windows" but I haven't found it.

Still the most customizable of the three major desktop environments....just try to bind the applications menu to a right-click in KDE 4x.

Reply Score: 2

twm_bucket Member since:
2008-10-09

I tried that and the window you make stay on top stay on top...any other windows opened after opens under it.

Reply Score: 1

Bille Member since:
2007-05-31

Chani Armitage's GSoC project is about making the desktop right click menu customisable: http://chani.wordpress.com/category/soc/" http://chani.wordpres....

Reply Score: 1

LXDE FTW!
by ashcrow on Wed 24th Jun 2009 14:35 UTC
ashcrow
Member since:
2008-02-02

I've been using LXDE on my Dell Mini 12 with great success. My battery runs longer, all the required functions work great (network manager, audio, launchers, file browser, etc..). Granted, I'm easily impressed by DE/WM's as I run everything that isn't a browser in a console via screen, but still, I like it.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by flynn
by flynn on Wed 24th Jun 2009 14:55 UTC
flynn
Member since:
2009-03-19

I used to be a big fan of Xfce, but I stopped caring about 'light-weight' DEs awhile back because it's so hard to keep them that way. Most mainstream Gtk based applications use not only Gtk, but the Gnome libraries as well. If you try to install one of them it will pull in the whole Gnome dependency chain. Instead you have to go out of your way to find light alternatives that use only Gtk and no Gnome libraries. Sometimes it's easy to find a Gtk app with the same feature set as a Gnome app, but other times it can be damn near impossible.

I just gave up. I use Gnome now and frankly don't care about its 'bloat'. On a modern computer it does not feel slow at all, and the while it uses up more ram, I have oodles of it to spare. What was the point of buying 4 gigs of ram if I'm not going to use it? With 4 gigs of ram available the difference between a 50 mb DE and a 200 mb DE really starts to become minuscule.

If all you have is 1998 era hardware then it might be worth it to mess around with LXDE and Xfce, but on a modern computer it really doesn't matter.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by flynn
by kenji on Wed 24th Jun 2009 15:23 UTC in reply to "Comment by flynn"
kenji Member since:
2009-04-08

...On a modern desktop, I would agree BUT on a notebook or any portable computer battery life is of great concern. DE's that use less resources extend battery life. It is less of a performance concern as it is a portability one. Plus ARM and MIPS netbooks would almost demand a lower resource DE.

But still, I don't care too much because I care about usability.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by flynn
by dagw on Wed 24th Jun 2009 15:39 UTC in reply to "Comment by flynn"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

With 4 gigs of ram available the difference between a 50 mb DE and a 200 mb DE really starts to become minuscule.

This I agree with

If all you have is 1998 era hardware then it might be worth it to mess around with LXDE and Xfce, but on a modern computer it really doesn't matter.

This I very much disagree with when it comes to Xfce. In my opinion xfce is every bit as usable a desktop as Gnome. I use xfce, not because of any sort of "light weight" or anti-bloat stance, but because I genuinly find it to be the the most usable of the three main DEs.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by flynn
by qunying on Wed 24th Jun 2009 16:05 UTC in reply to "Comment by flynn"
qunying Member since:
2008-06-04

I just gave up. I use Gnome now and frankly don't care about its 'bloat'. On a modern computer it does not feel slow at all, and the while it uses up more ram, I have oodles of it to spare. What was the point of buying 4 gigs of ram if I'm not going to use it? With 4 gigs of ram available the difference between a 50 mb DE and a 200 mb DE really starts to become minuscule.


I think is this kind of tolerance of the user that leads to developer care less to develop more efficient application. Saying go to get a more powerful cpu and more ram and you would get smooth experience is not the right way to solve problem. And that is why after so many years of hardware improvement, we still experience more or less the same speed feeling on desktop usage.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Comment by flynn
by FooBarWidget on Wed 24th Jun 2009 20:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by flynn"
FooBarWidget Member since:
2005-11-11

"I think is this kind of tolerance of the user that leads to developer care less to develop more efficient application. Saying go to get a more powerful cpu and more ram and you would get smooth experience is not the right way to solve problem. And that is why after so many years of hardware improvement, we still experience more or less the same speed feeling on desktop usage."

Which totally makes sense considering how expensive development time is compared to hardware costs. I can write an app in C in 200 hours and spend another 100 optimizing it to death. But why should I if I can also spend $40 on a hardware upgrade, and write the app in Python in 60 hours, which still performs acceptably?

A lot of people complain about this increase in "bloat", but I call it lowering development costs at the expense of increase resource usage. Considering that computers are meant to serve humans it makes total sense.

You may argue that open source software is free, so there's no "development costs". This is not true: the developer of said software may have invested tremendous amounts of time, which are also costs.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by flynn
by ggeldenhuys on Wed 24th Jun 2009 22:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by flynn"
ggeldenhuys Member since:
2006-11-13

And that is why after so many years of hardware improvement, we still experience more or less the same speed feeling on desktop usage.

I can't agree more. I am a commercial and open source software developer. I am disgusted with the amount of bloat-ware out there! Our current computers could give us 100x the speed improvement with more optimized applications.

Just look at MS Windows for example: Win95 installed in less than 100MB of hard drive space. Win98 around 160MB, Win2000 around 200-300MB, Vista 4-8GIG, Win7 around 15GIG. It's totally ridiculous!!! It's just sloppy coding!

I take pride in my code and try to optimize all my applications using my preferred programming language. After all, I became a programmer because I enjoy doing it - and doing it well.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: Comment by flynn
by gavin.mccord on Thu 25th Jun 2009 11:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by flynn"
gavin.mccord Member since:
2005-09-07

[Sigh]

I remember installing Slackware on machines with a 500M partition 10 years ago to edit photos and otherwise show off.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by flynn
by Morgan on Thu 25th Jun 2009 13:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by flynn"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Just look at MS Windows for example: Win95 installed in less than 100MB of hard drive space. Win98 around 160MB, Win2000 around 200-300MB, Vista 4-8GIG, Win7 around 15GIG. It's totally ridiculous!!! It's just sloppy coding!


Are you giving your own experiences or just quoting the hardware requirements? Particularly regarding Vista and 7, you are way off. Vista Ultimate is indeed in the 4-8GB range, though if I remember correctly it is on the low end, around 5.5GB last time I set it up for someone; nowhere near 8GB. Windows 7, which I have on a partition on my main PC (and am posting from now) was roughly 6GB after installation. Also, you skipped XP entirely, which depending on the included service pack can vary from about 1GB to nearly 2GB in my experience.

You do have a valid point, but don't go making up numbers to "prove" it.

Note: I'm not a Microsoft apologist by any stretch of the imagination, it just irks me to no end to see someone make up bullshit to prove a point. Windows 7 is on my main PC because the rest of the family requires Windows (for now; I'm working on that) and it's free for a year. I'm enjoying testing it out too; it's really the best thing they've ever put out there in my opinion. For my own computing I prefer OS X, BeOS or Slackware.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by flynn
by Doc Pain on Wed 24th Jun 2009 18:30 UTC in reply to "Comment by flynn"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Most mainstream Gtk based applications use not only Gtk, but the Gnome libraries as well.


Furthermore, the transition from Gtk 1 to Gtk 2 is usually complete. Sadly, this brought some discomfort, so functionalities (accessibility) that have been present in Gtk 1 are not longer present in Gtk 2, making things more complicated.

I'd like to give you an example: We're talking about X-Chat 1 and 2. In 1, you could select a server / channel to join by doubleclicking it from the list. In 2, you are required to move to the "Connect" button and click this. Because when you doubleclick on the list entry, it transforms from an entry to an input field. Okay, fine, let's try to add a new server. So we first transform the list entry into an input field by clicking it again (1st click = select, 2nd click = transform). Now we want to select some text like "irc.blafoo.bar" from a web page and want to click the middle mouse button in this input field to make the text appear there. Oh, big problem! While moving the mouse into the web browser, our X-Chat dialog window lost focus and the input field is a list entry again. Okay, don't worry. First select the text. Now back to X-Chat with the text in the edit buffer. Left "transform" click, erase the example context, middle click... middle click... Hello? Nothing! What? Doesn't work? Hmmm... worked well in 1 where list entries and input fields were separated. Okay, what a gain of comfort, need to enter it manually.

Or let's have a look at Gimp 1 and 2. Deachable menues are a fine thing. Let's try that: We click on "File", then on the dotted line above the first menu entry, done. The menu is detached. How can we move it? In 1, we could simply move it by the window decoration applied to it, but in 2, there's no titlebar on the menu. Let's try to move it with the dotted line... nope. Only chance (for those who know it): Press Alt and move with the left mouse button.

As we're talking Gimp 2 and the fact that you mentioned - Gtk apps using more and more Gnome stuff - let's try printing with Gimp. File, Print with Gutenprint... with what? Okay, never mind. The printing dialog looks quite the same as in 1, but... what's this? "/usr/local/bin/lpstat: Unable to connect to server" lpstat? CUPS? But I have apsfilter! Very uncomfortable for those who don't use CUPS in favour of a Postscript printer or a printer filter different from CUPS.

This is a nice example that a Gtk application heavily relies on a completely different program - CUPS.

If all you have is 1998 era hardware then it might be worth it to mess around with LXDE and Xfce, but on a modern computer it really doesn't matter.


If you're talking about resource requirements, you're right. But in terms of look & feel, of (avoiding) overcomplexity and of wanting to see an effect of having bought better hardware, I may disagree. What's the point of upgrading the hardware when your modern software runs at the same speed as before? Wouldn't you want to have it run faster? (I may say that I am not a regular Gnome user, so my opinion isn't worth much here.)

In the past, whenever I upgraded software ON THE SAME HARDWARE, it ran faster. Today, it always runs slower. Even if the new release of the OS gives my system a speed boost, it's taken away immediately by the "modern" applications that don't do much more than their predecessors (and sometimes even to less, or do it in a much more complicated way).

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by flynn
by FooBarWidget on Wed 24th Jun 2009 20:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by flynn"
FooBarWidget Member since:
2005-11-11

Or let's have a look at Gimp 1 and 2. Deachable menues are a fine thing. Let's try that: We click on "File", then on the dotted line above the first menu entry, done. The menu is detached. How can we move it? In 1, we could simply move it by the window decoration applied to it, but in 2, there's no titlebar on the menu. Let's try to move it with the dotted line... nope. Only chance (for those who know it): Press Alt and move with the left mouse button.


Are you using some kind of weird broken window manager? GNOME's default one, Metacity, shows a window title for detached menus. So does Compiz. I think KWin does too if I remember correctly. This covers about 99% of the window managers that non-power users would use.

As we're talking Gimp 2 and the fact that you mentioned - Gtk apps using more and more Gnome stuff - let's try printing with Gimp. File, Print with Gutenprint... with what? Okay, never mind. The printing dialog looks quite the same as in 1, but... what's this? "/usr/local/bin/lpstat: Unable to connect to server" lpstat? CUPS? But I have apsfilter! Very uncomfortable for those who don't use CUPS in favour of a Postscript printer or a printer filter different from CUPS.

This is a nice example that a Gtk application heavily relies on a completely different program - CUPS.


Which makes me wonder why you don't use CUPS. If you deviate from the standard, you (or the apsfilter developers) are responsible for making sure that it works. I don't think I have any right to call Microsoft Support if I replaced explorer.exe with LiteStep.


If you're talking about resource requirements, you're right. But in terms of look & feel, of (avoiding) overcomplexity and of wanting to see an effect of having bought better hardware, I may disagree. What's the point of upgrading the hardware when your modern software runs at the same speed as before? Wouldn't you want to have it run faster? (I may say that I am not a regular Gnome user, so my opinion isn't worth much here.)


The point is lowered development time. Suppose that back in 2000 you had to write your app in C in 200 hours and spend another 100 hours hand-optimizing it. If in 2009 you can write the same app in Python while spending only 60 hours, and the performance is comparable, then why should you write it in C? The time that you've saved can be spent on, say, implementing more feature requests, enhancing usability or fixing bugs.

The point of modern hardware is not necessarily to speed things up, but to lower development costs. To make it easier to develop software. You no longer need expensive and highly skilled programmers to get the same things done.


In the past, whenever I upgraded software ON THE SAME HARDWARE, it ran faster. Today, it always runs slower. Even if the new release of the OS gives my system a speed boost, it's taken away immediately by the "modern" applications that don't do much more than their predecessors (and sometimes even to less, or do it in a much more complicated way).


No idea what you're talking about. I remember that back in 2003 I had 128 MB RAM and my GNOME and KDE desktops kept swapping after some usage, which slowed everything down. With every hardware upgrade I've gotten since then, my desktop had only become faster. Never had things become slower.

I'm very suspicious of any "bloat" claims about GNOME and KDE 3 (don't know about 4). Their resource usages haven't increased significantly since 2004 or something. In the past few years they've even spent time optimizing memory usage and I/O times.

The only exception is Firefox, but I blame Flash. It's always Flash sites that make Firefox slow; if I avoid the Flash sites then Firefox is very snappy.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by flynn
by Doc Pain on Wed 24th Jun 2009 21:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by flynn"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Are you using some kind of weird broken window manager?


WindowMaker. It attached title bars to Gimp 1, but fails to do so in Gimp 2.

[Metacity and KWin] covers about 99% of the window managers that non-power users would use.


But I'm not a non-power user. :-)

Which makes me wonder why you don't use CUPS.


Because I simply don't need it - I'm lucky to own an office-class laserjet printer.

If you deviate from the standard, you (or the apsfilter developers) are responsible for making sure that it works.


Well, apsfilter works, but Gimp 2 seems to IMPLY that I am running CUPS, because it (or Gutenprint) has some lpstat call "hard-coded". With Gimp 1, both workeed well with each other.

I don't think I have any right to call Microsoft Support if I replaced explorer.exe with LiteStep.


In UNIX world, there's not "replace X by Y", but there's the choice X, Y and Z. Each should work - and it has already proven to do so in the past, but it's not the present anymore.

The point is lowered development time.


And lowered quality, too? I'm just asking politely... :-)

Suppose that back in 2000 you had to write your app in C in 200 hours and spend another 100 hours hand-optimizing it. If in 2009 you can write the same app in Python while spending only 60 hours, and the performance is comparable, then why should you write it in C? The time that you've saved can be spent on, say, implementing more feature requests, enhancing usability or fixing bugs.


That's the point. Instead of doing as you suggested - anhancing usability and fixing bugs - it seems that it is exactly the opposite: Bigger programs with more functions that don't work properly, more bugs, slower application speed. The loss of broken usability has been explained by my X-Chat example above.

I can give a good example: Sylpheed, my preferred MUA, now uses Gtk 2. It runs much slower now (on the same hardware).

In fact, I don't mind in which particular programming language an application is written. I'm using C with Gtk as well as Java, each for what it is good (or intended) for. It's not generally a problem with the language, I think it's often the programmers who care less and less. "Well, it works for me" seems to be a common statement.

The point of modern hardware is not necessarily to speed things up, but to lower development costs. To make it easier to develop software. You no longer need expensive and highly skilled programmers to get the same things done.


That's an opinion I haven't thought of yet. May I imply further ideas? For developers, it's not needed anymore to know fundamentals of application development, as well as coding skills. :-)


No idea what you're talking about. I remember that back in 2003 I had 128 MB RAM and my GNOME and KDE desktops kept swapping after some usage, which slowed everything down.


Only a suggestion: Today, some Linux users complain about things like skipping audio when playing MP3, or too much system startup time. On a 150 MHz Pentium with 64 MB RAM I could burn a CD, download an ISO via FTP, browse the web with Opera (good responding), compiling the system AND playing MP3s without skipping audio. Could it be that this isn't possible anymore? I can't imagine this, but...

Whenever I upgraded by software, I was always happy to get MORE functionality, as well as FASTER applications. In the last few years, it always got worse. At least, that's my individual observation.

With every hardware upgrade I've gotten since then, my desktop had only become faster. Never had things become slower.


Did you always upgrade your software as well? I can make a good comparison because I'm using the same hardware for several years now.

The only exception is Firefox, but I blame Flash. It's always Flash sites that make Firefox slow; if I avoid the Flash sites then Firefox is very snappy.


Yes, seen this, too. I've deinstalled "Flash" very quickly. But still, I prefer Opera as a web browser, but Firefox is my number two. (I know that I could include mouse gestures, but Opera's keyboard support is so much better.)

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by flynn
by FooBarWidget on Wed 24th Jun 2009 21:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by flynn"
FooBarWidget Member since:
2005-11-11

And lowered quality, too? I'm just asking politely... :-)


If you define quality as speed, then yes. I define quality as the combination of performance, amount of bugs, number of features, usability and maintenance/development speed. In this case we're trading performance for everything else on the list.

That's the point. Instead of doing as you suggested - anhancing usability and fixing bugs - it seems that it is exactly the opposite: Bigger programs with more functions that don't work properly, more bugs, slower application speed. The loss of broken usability has been explained by my X-Chat example above.


There are exceptions of course. As a counterexample, Pidgin is a lot better than Gaim for Gtk 1.x. I do think that GNOME 2 is better than GNOME 1. As a developer the lack of configuration options felt weird at first, but after a while I came to appreciate the minimalism.

That's an opinion I haven't thought of yet. May I imply further ideas? For developers, it's not needed anymore to know fundamentals of application development, as well as coding skills. :-)


I wouldn't say that. But for example, back in 1990 every programmer *must* know how to do manual memory management. Manual memory management is hard and requires a lot of education and training. Today most programmers don't know how to do manual memory management because we have garbage collectors.
Programmers who know how to do manual memory management are more expensive, but for most applications we don't need these skills.

Only a suggestion: Today, some Linux users complain about things like skipping audio when playing MP3, or too much system startup time. On a 150 MHz Pentium with 64 MB RAM I could burn a CD, download an ISO via FTP, browse the web with Opera (good responding), compiling the system AND playing MP3s without skipping audio. Could it be that this isn't possible anymore? I can't imagine this, but...


I don't know. Back in 1999 my Pentium 166 didn't skip MP3 audio while doing those things, and in the 10 years that I've used Linux I've never ever seen it skip audio. Not on old hardware, not on newer hardware.

I'm guessing that these people have broken hardware or broken drivers. I wouldn't be so quick to call this bloat.

As for system startup time: yes it hasn't improved much. But system startup time is mostly dependent on I/O throughput, i.e. harddisk speed. Harddisks haven't become much faster.

Did you always upgrade your software as well? I can make a good comparison because I'm using the same hardware for several years now.


Yes, I always upgrade to the latest distribution at the time.

Edited 2009-06-24 21:58 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by flynn
by Doc Pain on Wed 24th Jun 2009 22:27 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by flynn"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

If you define quality as speed, then yes. I define quality as the combination of performance, amount of bugs, number of features, usability and maintenance/development speed. In this case we're trading performance for everything else on the list.


Well, I apply the same criteria.

There are exceptions of course.


I'm not quite sure about it. Maybe the feelings of the average users tend to be that way. As a counter-example, see what I wrote about the removed accessibility aspects of X-Chat.

As a counterexample, Pidgin is a lot better than Gaim for Gtk 1.x.


Complete agree.

I do think that GNOME 2 is better than GNOME 1. As a developer the lack of configuration options felt weird at first, but after a while I came to appreciate the minimalism.


It's not that "minimalism" is always bad. Especially Gnome's concept - that's why the quotes - is interesting: The more complicated a setting is, the more impact is has on the system, the more it is "hidden".

But for example, back in 1990 every programmer *must* know how to do manual memory management. Manual memory management is hard and requires a lot of education and training. Today most programmers don't know how to do manual memory management because we have garbage collectors.


Only those who create garbage need to collect it. :-)

No, seriously: Today, there are even programmers who do not know what memory is.

Things lige GC are a very good help to keep things "tidy". Of course, they add certain overhead, but there's a definite benefit from it. I always speak out about overhead that does NOT add any benefit.

Programmers who know how to do manual memory management are more expensive, but for most applications we don't need these skills.


Still, there are fields where such skills are needed, either at implementation level (coding) or for testing purposes when things don't work as expected (debugging) - and the desired tools for this task fail.

I don't know. Back in 1999 my Pentium 166 didn't skip MP3 audio while doing those things, and in the 10 years that I've used Linux I've never ever seen it skip audio. Not on old hardware, not on newer hardware.

I'm guessing that these people have broken hardware or broken drivers. I wouldn't be so quick to call this bloat.


I didn't do so, because I am aware that there can be several reasons. But as a Linux user you surely know that, not matter what's the real reason, first of all the OS is blamed, and the OS is identical with the desktop environment. :-)

As for system startup time: yes it hasn't improved much. But system startup time is mostly dependent on I/O throughput, i.e. harddisk speed. Harddisks haven't become much faster.


It's not that I don't care much about boot time because this is only performed once. But I noticed that with every major upgrade of FreeBSD, it booted faster - on the same hardware. It's not that I want to start every service that exists. :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by flynn
by FooBarWidget on Wed 24th Jun 2009 22:39 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by flynn"
FooBarWidget Member since:
2005-11-11

Still, there are fields where such skills are needed, either at implementation level (coding) or for testing purposes when things don't work as expected (debugging) - and the desired tools for this task fail.


Of course. I wouldn't hire those people for hacking kernel-level stuff. But these people can still get a lot of good work done. For example there are many excellent Ruby on Rails developers who have never written a line of C and don't know how to do manual memory management, but they do write great web applications.

It's not that I don't care much about boot time because this is only performed once. But I noticed that with every major upgrade of FreeBSD, it booted faster - on the same hardware. It's not that I want to start every service that exists. :-)


Yes I'm not surprised that FreeBSD boots faster. FreeBSD is very much a server-oriented and "conservative" operating system. It expects the end user to configure a lot of things manually. Desktop Linux distributions on the other hand try to set up as many things for you as possible. I wouldn't use FreeBSD as a desktop because it takes too much time to get the graphical environment right, whereas on Linux the graphical environment usually works out of the box, assuming that your hardware is supported.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Comment by flynn
by Doc Pain on Wed 24th Jun 2009 23:08 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by flynn"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

For example there are many excellent Ruby on Rails developers who have never written a line of C and don't know how to do manual memory management, but they do write great web applications.


Again, I don't think it depends on the programming language, but on how well you can master it. You can write crap programs in C as well as in RoR, and you can write great web applications in C as well as in RoR. (I like RoR, by the way, and will practice it.)

Yes I'm not surprised that FreeBSD boots faster. FreeBSD is very much a server-oriented and "conservative" operating system.


I may politely disagree. FreeBSD is a multi-purpose operating system. It can be used on servers (its main field of use), on desktops and on "mixed forms". I'm using it exclusively on the desktop since 4.0.

It expects the end user to configure a lot of things manually. Desktop Linux distributions on the other hand try to set up as many things for you as possible.


This kind of preconfiguration does exist on FreeBSD, too, but it covers the OS only. Installed applications are a different thing.

There are projects like PC-BSD and DesktopBSD that bring preconfiguration and preinstalled applications to BSD. I think they're comparable to modern Linusi.

I wouldn't use FreeBSD as a desktop because it takes too much time to get the graphical environment right, [...]


Definitely not. It just depends on what exactly you want to have. Installing Gnome, for example, just requires one pkg_add command (to install it and all the dependencies) and one change in the ttys file to launch gdm. Everything is excellently documented - a strength of FreeBSD. The same goes for KDE, WindowMaker and XFCE and all the others.

[...] whereas on Linux the graphical environment usually works out of the box, assuming that your hardware is supported.


That's right. I found Linux to detect and setup the graphical subsystem better and quicker than X.org included in FreeBSD. Furthermore, Linux supports more different hardware. I noticed problems with X.org since FreeBSD doesn't carry XFree86 anymore (which I had no problem with).

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by flynn
by OSGuy on Thu 25th Jun 2009 07:14 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by flynn"
OSGuy Member since:
2006-01-01

I wouldn't say that. But for example, back in 1990 every programmer *must* know how to do manual memory management. Manual memory management is hard and requires a lot of education and training. Today most programmers don't know how to do manual memory management because we have garbage collectors.
Programmers who know how to do manual memory management are more expensive, but for most applications we don't need these skills.


What exactly is hard in manual memory management? You just need to keep track of every object you create. You delete it when you are done with it. I always allocate the objects I need within classes and in the class' destructor, I delete them if they are not NULL.

Edited 2009-06-25 07:18 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by flynn
by FooBarWidget on Thu 25th Jun 2009 08:21 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by flynn"
FooBarWidget Member since:
2005-11-11

What exactly is hard in manual memory management? You just need to keep track of every object you create. You delete it when you are done with it. I always allocate the objects I need within classes and in the class' destructor, I delete them if they are not NULL.


You really make it sound easier than it is. It's very easy to forget destroying an object. Sometimes the life time of an object is hard to determine, and if you specified the conditions under which the object must be freed incorrectly then it can very easily lead to memory corruption. Manual memory management is hard for most apps larger than hello world.

Even something like manual reference counting is easy to get wrong. Witness the tons of iPhone developers who came from PHP and must now suddenly write Objective C code. Many of these apps leak memory because these developers don't correctly reference count their objects.

Edited 2009-06-25 08:27 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by flynn
by ggeldenhuys on Wed 24th Jun 2009 22:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by flynn"
ggeldenhuys Member since:
2006-11-13

The point is lowered development time. Suppose that back in 2000 you had to write your app in C in 200 hours and spend another 100 hours hand-optimizing it.

I would say, as a developer, take pride in your work. Be the best you can be. :-) Also why use C which inherently does take forever to write anything with. I use Free Pascal, which uses the modern Object Pascal language (and NO, it's not standard Pascal from the 80's). I can pump out applications in a fraction of the time it would take a C or C++ developer.

Edited 2009-06-24 22:29 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by flynn
by FooBarWidget on Wed 24th Jun 2009 22:41 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by flynn"
FooBarWidget Member since:
2005-11-11

I started with Delphi and I used to like Object Pascal. Unfortunately Kylix is dead, there are not many Free Pascal-compatible libraries and there are not many Pascal developers. The latter is important if you want other people to be able to contribute, or if you want to be able to hire Pascal developers.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by flynn
by Morgan on Thu 25th Jun 2009 13:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by flynn"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

If you're talking about resource requirements, you're right. But in terms of look & feel, of (avoiding) overcomplexity and of wanting to see an effect of having bought better hardware, I may disagree. What's the point of upgrading the hardware when your modern software runs at the same speed as before? Wouldn't you want to have it run faster? (I may say that I am not a regular Gnome user, so my opinion isn't worth much here.)


That's the thing that's always bothered me about the hardware/software rat race. Looking at it from a gaming standpoint, take an old game like Quake II vs a modern game like Crysis. Back when Quake II was released, any decent 3D card and a Pentium 120MHz could net you smooth graphics at around 30fps, very playable. A couple years later when it hit the bargain bin at $10 and people like me could afford it, a Pentium 200MMX and a Voodoo 3 PCI card would play the hell out of it at 60fps with beautiful graphics. Today, I can fire it up on the main PC, a budget nForce 720a based system with a single core AMD processor and using the onboard video, and get close to 200fps with all the visual bells and whistles turned on.

Now take Crysis, which when released would barely run on the best hardware available at the time! Fast forward two years and you still need very expensive, current hardware to come close to seeing it in all its glory. I wouldn't be surprised if it takes 15 or more years before we see better than 60 fps with all effects enabled on less than top of the line hardware.

Then again, I'd hope that in 15 years we will have moved away from x86 altogether.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by flynn
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Jun 2009 00:05 UTC in reply to "Comment by flynn"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I used to be a big fan of Xfce, but I stopped caring about 'light-weight' DEs awhile back because it's so hard to keep them that way. Most mainstream Gtk based applications use not only Gtk, but the Gnome libraries as well. If you try to install one of them it will pull in the whole Gnome dependency chain. Instead you have to go out of your way to find light alternatives that use only Gtk and no Gnome libraries. Sometimes it's easy to find a Gtk app with the same feature set as a Gnome app, but other times it can be damn near impossible. I just gave up. I use Gnome now and frankly don't care about its 'bloat'. On a modern computer it does not feel slow at all, and the while it uses up more ram, I have oodles of it to spare. What was the point of buying 4 gigs of ram if I'm not going to use it? With 4 gigs of ram available the difference between a 50 mb DE and a 200 mb DE really starts to become minuscule. If all you have is 1998 era hardware then it might be worth it to mess around with LXDE and Xfce, but on a modern computer it really doesn't matter.


KDE4 seems to be going in the other direction. It is by no means small and it does not lack features, but nevertheless it is getting faster and faster (especially as the graphics driver issues which used to slow it down are finally getting resolved).

If you use a recent distribution with a quick boot, and a decent working graphics driver that enables hardware accelerated graphics, in conjunction with the preload daemon on a system with 1GB or more RAM, recently KDE4 has become as "snappy" and responsive as any lightweight desktop system ... yet it is far more feature complete.

Look for some Qt-based applications and run them under KDE4 ... it solves this issue quite well without compromising on functionality or usability.

Reply Score: 4

Works well on a 400 MHz ARM
by flypig on Wed 24th Jun 2009 15:27 UTC
flypig
Member since:
2005-07-13

I don't have experience of LXDE on a full PC, but I do know it works great on an N810, where it's the default window manager for Easy Debian. It turns it into a genuinely usable computer, so I'm pleased if it's gaining more traction.

Reply Score: 3

Excelent DE
by Rokurosv on Wed 24th Jun 2009 15:45 UTC
Rokurosv
Member since:
2009-02-24

I'm using the new LXDE Fedora 11 Spin and it's very snappy and lightweight. My laptop is not that powerful and I like to save RAM whenever posible. It would be great if they could include other configuration tools in the future like font config utility. Overall a very fast and usable lightweight DE.

Reply Score: 2

Two ways of looking at efficiency
by cookieninja on Wed 24th Jun 2009 18:36 UTC
cookieninja
Member since:
2005-11-11

I'm slightly amused by references to bloat and obsessions with how much RAM and other resources an application uses.

I think there's 2 ways of looking at "efficiency":

1. Efficient in use. Focusing on lower requirements in order to run software.

2. Efficient development - when "bloat" occurs in order to produce software that is quicker to develop and easier to maintain, because the alternative would have meant a slower introduction of enhancements and and taking longer to fix bugs.

I think the ideal is getting the balance between those two kinds of efficiency, although obviously how well that balance has been struck is a personal opinion rather than an objective thing.

Some people seem to think that the first definition is the only one, but it really is not.

Edited 2009-06-24 18:37 UTC

Reply Score: 3

aacs Member since:
2008-12-13

Then you must be a mono-supporter!

Booo!!

:)

Reply Score: 0

Use it, Love it!
by codeoncoffee on Thu 25th Jun 2009 01:12 UTC
codeoncoffee
Member since:
2009-06-25

My GDM menu has no less than a Dozen Window Managers. I've tried KDE, XFCE, E17, Fluxbox, Awesome, Blackbox... pretty much everything out there. I finally arrived at LXDE and haven't switched since.

The biggest reason I use it, outside of being rock solid, is because it runs QT, GTK and Swing apps equally as fast. Heck it runs QT faster than KDE does!

Pair it with Gnome-Do and don't look back!

Reply Score: 1

RE: Use it, Love it!
by tbscope2 on Thu 25th Jun 2009 09:39 UTC in reply to "Use it, Love it!"
tbscope2 Member since:
2009-02-14

To quote you:
"Heck it runs QT faster than KDE does!"

KDE does not run Qt.
A Qt application on the same PC runs equally as fast in any desktop environment. If there are some differences, they are not in Qt but in KDE or GNOME etc...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Use it, Love it!
by vivainio on Thu 25th Jun 2009 15:13 UTC in reply to "Use it, Love it!"
vivainio Member since:
2008-12-26


The biggest reason I use it, outside of being rock solid, is because it runs QT, GTK and Swing apps equally as fast. Heck it runs QT faster than KDE does!

Interestingly, I tried LXDE and ditched it because problems with Qt (possibly a Qt problem on Jaunty - black boxes being left around the app window).

That being said, LXDE is indeed lighter that XFCE, but I'd rather see a lightweight Qt4 based desktop environment for change. (No, kde4 is not lightweight and kde3 is not Qt4 based).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Use it, Love it!
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Jun 2009 23:39 UTC in reply to "RE: Use it, Love it!"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

" The biggest reason I use it, outside of being rock solid, is because it runs QT, GTK and Swing apps equally as fast. Heck it runs QT faster than KDE does!
Interestingly, I tried LXDE and ditched it because problems with Qt (possibly a Qt problem on Jaunty - black boxes being left around the app window). That being said, LXDE is indeed lighter that XFCE, but I'd rather see a lightweight Qt4 based desktop environment for change. (No, kde4 is not lightweight and kde3 is not Qt4 based). "

KDE4 is indeed not lightweight, so it isn't suitable for older, resource-limited hardware.

However, if you have moderately capable hardware, with a working hardware accelerated graphics card GPU and driver, and say 512MB or more RAM, then KDE4 will perform on your system as well as (or perhaps better than) a lightweight desktop such as LXDE.

If your system doesn't have resources to run KDE4, then I would suggest that there isn't much to be gained if a "lightweight Qt-based desktop" was in fact available.

If your system does have sufficient resources and is therefore up to running KDE4, then there isn't much point in NOT running KDE4 but instead using something like LXDE, because KDE4 will perform just as well but is far more functional and useable and has a far larger development community behind it.

The majority of common garden PCs made after, say, 2002, would probably have sufficient resources to run KDE4.

Edited 2009-06-25 23:43 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Yet Another Lightweight WM
by sorpigal on Thu 25th Jun 2009 11:54 UTC
sorpigal
Member since:
2005-11-02

Resource efficiency is a dying dream. Bloat is a reality we must accept and deal with.

No one considers a WM complete these days if it is just a WM, it requires a host of supporting applications. It also requires a vast array of subsystems. Because GNOME is popular, GNOME and its developers develop a lot of the subsystems, or the subsystems are developed with GNOME in mind. Most DE replacements will be ignored by the masses unless they work as well as the full, heavy weight DEs, and this means hooking in to the same subsystems to gain the same features. The smaller projects mostly cannot develop their own subsystems, so they are doomed.

What subsystems am I talking about? Network manager and PulseAudio are two common examples. System configuration panels/applets are another. hald, dbus, gstreamer, the list goes on.

I keep mentioning GNOME and not KDE because there is a clear separation. KDE *does* have the resources to make its own subsystems, and does so. By and large lightweight DEs and stand alone WMs do not try to tie in to KDE subsystems, but they do with GNOME. I think this may be a C/C++ GTK/QT divide, but I'm not sure.

As a side note: Recently I had an experience where Firefox started and was hung while I attempted to try out an alternative WM. It refused to repaint and did nothing. The situation immediately resolved itself when I made ~/.dbus/ writable. Something had incorrectly changed its permissions. Mysterious system guts that silently break... this starts to sound like win32.

XFce is good because it provides an outlet for development that doesn't meet GNOMEs ridiculous 'standards' of usability. That is, it's a WM for users who actually like to have options. Great! What does LXDE do that XFce doesn't?

If you want a light weight WM you can have one, or a dozen, today. I personally use E16, as I have for many years. But to convince a modern Linux user that it is a good choice is difficult. LXDE will work as well as Enlightenment, is more accessible because of its 'familiar' look and feel, but is ultimately just as hard to sell to the modern user. A new lightweight WM does not solve any interesting problems! These problems are solved, and have been solved.

What we need is a resource-friendly system, not just a WM, not just a 'DE'--which mostly seems to be a WM with a configuration tool and a way of putting icons on the desktop. To make a resource friendly system all of the subsystems, the plumbing above the kernel and libc, needs to be examined and reworked.

Edited 2009-06-25 11:55 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Traction & icewm
by vivainio on Thu 25th Jun 2009 15:31 UTC
vivainio
Member since:
2008-12-26

What we need is a really lightweight environment that has sizeable developer community. It seems most of the lighter ones don't evolve to complete products (e.g. you have to google around to set up NetworkManager, and after that it's broken; fonts are inconsistent; notifications don't work; no resolution changer).

One thing Xandros did right on their EEE pc version was the icewm setup. Why can't we have the same for Ubuntu as "supported" product?

Reply Score: 2