Developer Frans Pop, author of
debtree, posted an article showing the evolution in size of the GNOME desktop environment in recent Debian releases. The picture he paints isn’t particularly pretty: the default GNOME install has increased drastically in size over the years.
Pop writes and maintains
debtree, a tool which graphs dependencies for any given package. After realising the enormous amount of megabytes taken up by default GNOME installs in Debian, he created a few dependency graphs of important packages, such as
hal – which produces a truly scary graph. In any case, this table shows the development of the default GNOME install in Debian.
Pop is quite harsh about these developments. “Sure, some of that is real functionality, but a lot is also (IMO) redundant visual effects that only serve to slow the desktop down and junk needed to do stuff automagically. And a heck of a lot is duplicated functionality,” Pop writes, “One of the main reasons I switched to Linux was because it gave me back control over my systems, but with KDE4 and pervasive stuff like hal and all the various “kits” Linux is on a fast track that’s giving priority to flashiness over real functionality and eroding that control.”
Of course, all these extra megabytes make GNOME (and KDE) easier to use and prettier to look at, but is that really important, required material for a distribution like Debian? Shouldn’t KDE and GNOME be engineered in a way not to require all these strictly end-user oriented features? Windows has shown similar size increases, and only Mac OS X recently had the ability to shed some weight through dumping (among other things) PowerPC code. Maybe it’s time for the Linux world to focus on shedding some weight too?
It’s an interesting discussion, and I’m sure you guys have something to add too.