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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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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent 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 Parent Score: 3