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Interesting. I have: (syslog-ng network portmap fam crond gpm dbus hal alsa nvidia sshd cups) and not too many extra applets (system monitor and weather plus the regular ones by default) and my mem usage is closer to 100MB. This is on a P4 with 1GB of RAM.
Cups uses quite some memory and the fact that you have 1 GB of RAM already, gives the "green light" to the kernel to use more cache/buffers as required.
I think that one key point might be if you're enabling 3d acceleration or not. I use XFCE and without 3d acceleration, it uses about 30MB of RAM on a clean install/boot. But if I enable 3d acceleration (on an intel integrated graphic card) it will use an extra... 60MB of RAM ! (with xorg 6.8.2 it was just 25MB extra).
To disable/enable 3d acceleration you can comment/comment out the line in /etc/X11/xorg.conf where it says:
(if you don't have that line in the "Module" section you should also add at the end of the file:
To check if 3d acceleration is working, you can type at the command line "glxinfo" and in the first few lines you should see "Direct rendering: yes" if it's enabled.
Disabling DRI is a good way to save RAM in older computers. It's not much used in Linux anyway (except google earth, some games,...)