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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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.

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.

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.

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

Edited 2008-12-03 22:42 UTC

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