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Ximian GNOME and "Low-End" Systems 364

Gremeth writes: "This article over at LinuxandMain points out the increase in hardware requirements for many Linux applications, and gives us a good look at GNOME for low-end boxes. Powell details his journey throug the Ximian GNOME experience, starting with the download and ending in some configuration issues. A good read for those of us who have older systems."
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Ximian GNOME and "Low-End" Systems

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  • by ( 559698 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:05PM (#3203088) Homepage
    I've said this before and I'll say it again -- FEATURE REQUESTS!

    Users are continually requesting new features to be implemented in their favorite software packages. Of course this is going to add overhead, increased memory and disk space requirements, etc.

    As someone working on a product, it's your job (and you take pride in) satisfying those who use your program. If they "ask nicely" for new capabilities, you try your darndest to give them to 'em. Sometimes, just "getting it right" is more important than bug testing or tweaking/streamlining your code; you're too busy working on the next task at hand.

    m o n o l i n u x :: See For Yourself What Everyone's Talking About []
    • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:17PM (#3203198) Journal
      I completely disagree.

      First of all, if I'm a free software developer I owe nothing to the users of my software. This is because I'm not being payed for my work. I'm doing it out of love for what I'm doing. If you want something added then do it yourself.

      Now if I'm being payed for my work than that's a different story but I still disagree with you. Yes it is my responsibility to meet the demands of the customers because they are the one's that are putting the cash in my pocket when you get down to it. However, it is also my responsibility to ensure that what they get for their money works properly. That means testing, optimising and fixing bugs the "right way" :O) Not just getting it to work and "moving on to the next thing at hand".

      • Like the man say, "Okay, I'm with you fellas."

        Both of you are right; it only sounds like you disagree because you've got different agendas.

        The first poster said that developers have to listen to their users in order to make and keep their users happy. I.e., if you want your software to be widely accepted and used by millions of loving fans, you really ought to implement the users' requests.

        The second poster said that he has no responsibility to the user because he's writing the software for his own reasons. I.e., there's no reason to spend time and trouble on somebody else's requests because you're not getting anything out of it.

        Depending on your agenda, either of these points of view can be valid. Hell, in my case both of them are. I'm not working on my current project because I'm getting paid to do it. I'm doing it for the fun and experience of it. But I just love the approval and adoration of my coworkers and friends, so I'm throwing them a few bones to keep 'em interested.
      • if I'm a free software developer I owe nothing to the users of my software.

        You don't have to owe them anything for it to be bad code. I don't know about you, but even when I'm writing code for myself I hate to write bad code. It's just a bad habit, that tends to carry over to areas where it really does matter.

        • I agree completely. I thought we were talking about features not stability.

          But even if we are talking about stability: if I write a piece of code that I plan on maintaining and there's a big known bug that's actually a flaw in the design that I overlooked and is going to take a considerable ammount of time to fix and I just don't have time to fix it, well, tough.

          My only point was that I don't believe that free software developers have a responsibility to their users. I respond to feature requests and take the users of my software very seriously but I certainly don't feel that I have some sort of obligation to do that.

      • First of all, if I'm a free software developer I owe nothing to the users of my software. This is because I'm not being payed for my work. I'm doing it out of love for what I'm doing. If you want something added then do it yourself.

        This is a classic example of what companies site when they refuse to adopt OSS.

    • I've said this before and I'll say it again -- FEATURE REQUESTS!

      I've said this before and I'll say it again -- MODULARITY! Designing software that can be configured up or down to suit users' preferences and hardware capabilities is not rocket science. Maybe that wimpy-machine user will have to turn off some of the latest features to get adequate performance, but that should be their choice. The software should be constructed - both at a deep level and at a user interface level - to make that choice possible.

  • Cool (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kizzle ( 555439 )
    Time to pull out the ol commadore 64!
  • by madenosine ( 199677 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:09PM (#3203118)
    The newest trend in computer software is higher requirements? Windows is lightyears ahead!
  • Unwritten rule? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Your_Mom ( 94238 ) <slashdot AT innismir DOT net> on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:11PM (#3203141) Homepage
    Who says that you need to run the latest and greatest? I have my p133 sitting at school right now running slackware 4, KDE 1.1.2, with two 4 gig Hard Drives and 64MB RAM. Meanwhile, on my box at home, I jsut upgraded to KDE3RC3, 750Mhz, 384MB, 60G. At school, my computer is fine for exactly what I need, KDE has been stable, and honestly. Both machines are running at the same pace, and KDE 3 has more bells and whistles. If you don't want all the extra bells and whistles, why do feel like you need to upgrade?

    The current versions of software are designed to run on recent hardware. This has always been true, if there is a need to upgrade your software, you may need to upgrade yours system.
    • Re:Unwritten rule? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gfxguy ( 98788 )
      Man, I had mod points but they expired. I can't believe someone even bothered to write an article like that. Of course if you want the latest and greatest bloated applications with all the bells and whistles you'll need a faster machine than you needed five years ago.

      But no, blame it on the programmers. Working hard, giving it away for free, mostly because people keep asking for stupid crap like transparent windows (which I'd like to know how, exactly, that increases productivety or causes LESS eyestrain than only opaque windows).

      It's not just bells and whisltes either, it's some very nice features that we did without on slower machines because we HAD to, things like anti-aliased fonts. There's no magical algorithm that's going to make a 20Mhz 386 with 8MB do antialiasing at a reasonable speed.

      So now when 3D desktops become all the rage, is he going to blame programmers because the desktops run slow on old 2D ISA video cards with 512K RAM?
  • by PD ( 9577 ) <> on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:11PM (#3203147) Homepage Journal
    I use Linux for most of my work with WindowMaker, except when I'm at a client site. Right now I'm using an NT box and Exceed to work on a 4 processor AIX box. I carry AIX compiled GNU utilities whereever I go, and a tiny window manager called gwm. It does all I want or need: xterms and a virtual desktop, in 500K.

    If you've got a really dinky box, I can recommend WindowMaker. If your machine is really REALLY dinky, then use something even lighter than that. Not a hard decision.
    • Right answer (Score:3, Informative)

      by fm6 ( 162816 )
      Absolutely correct. GNOME and KDE attempt to reproduce all the functionality of Windows. They'll probably never be as bloated as Windows (or as inflexible), but there's a minimum amount of overhead for all those features.

      There's a lot of good work being done in window managers [], and most of them are a lot less resource-hungry than GNOME or KDE. (My particular favorite is Enlightenment, mainly because I find the design very creative.) Of course, they all cater to folks with a serious let-me-tweak-everything mindset. But then, who else wants to run a GUI on old box that most people would just throw out?

      • Absolutely correct. GNOME and KDE attempt to reproduce all the functionality of Windows. They'll probably never be as bloated as Windows (or as inflexible), but there's a minimum amount of overhead for all those features.

        The most important point for people with "low-end" boxes to remember is... that they have low-end boxes! You can't possibly expect every piece of software in existence to run fast on your old Pentium or whatever. If you have older hardware, use suitable software.

        For example, I recently set up a 486-33 laptop with 8MB of ram as a webserver. It works just fine. Is it running Apache? No way. I didn't even bother to try. Why? It's called being realistic. With such old hardware, you use a simpler, smaller webserver. And likewise, with a low-end (say, Pentium) desktop, use WindowMaker. For a 386 being used as a desktop, get GeoWorks (if it's still available?) or whatever.

        The point is, while optimized software is certainly a useful goal. Just don't expect miracles. You can't reproduce the functionality of Windows plus some on top of the functionality of X on top of the functionality of Linux and expect it to run on just anything.

    • One thing that was especially interesting about this article to me was the use of a machine with such a small screen; 800x480 isn't much space, and those pretty 64px tiles in WindowMaker are going to chew up precious space like nobody's business.

      Personally, I'd probably either go with a stripped-down GNOME distro as in the article (though probably straight from the GNOME mirrors, not Ximian) or all the way down to Fluxbox [], which has the ever-so-nice feature of tabbed windows, letting you pull tricks like cramming all of your GIMP palettes into one window's size.

  • One data point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:12PM (#3203150) Homepage

    I run Ximian GNOME and Red Hat 7.2 on a relatively old box: Pentium 233 MMX with 96 megs of RAM and 20 gig hard drive (the old 1 gig drive finally died.). It's a little slow; sometimes it takes a few seconds for a menu to be displayed. On the other hand, the "user experience" is very smooth. I wouldn't want to use anything else: not Windows, not KDE. (This is a matter of personal prefernce; ymmv).

    My only major complaint is that Galeon isn't a part of the Ximian GNOME package. They have Mozilla, which is good, but Galeon simply has a smaller resource footprint and a better user interface. Obviously it's trivial to install the appropriate Galeon RPMs; OTOH, I often wonder why Ximian hasn't adopted this browser as a part of their standard packages. I look forward to the day when this changes.

    • Re:One data point (Score:3, Informative)

      by MasterD ( 18638 )
      there sure is a galeon rpm that ximian builds. maybe it does not get installed by default, but you can grab it via red-carpet under the Install submenu.

      that is what I am using right now to post this message :)
    • Re:One data point (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Da Schmiz ( 300867 )
      the "user experience" is very smooth. I wouldn't want to use anything else
      Agreed. Ximian does a really good job of making it slick and easy to use. Mandrake + Ximian is the only combination I could consider getting my parents to use.

      (Although, for the record, I found installing Ximian to a Mandrake 8.0 system kinda messy... I eventually reinstalled Mandrake without any Gnome packages, and then installed Ximian over that. It's worked fine ever since.)

      Galeon simply has a smaller resource footprint and a better user interface
      Also agreed. Galeon was the only browser I used for practically everything for quite a long time. However, I've since dropped it in favor of Opera [], which is also very slick. Opera's MDI is, to me, a bit nicer than Galeon's tabbed mode, although either is far better than the resource-hog style of other browsers when opening new windows.

      In short, Galeon is good, but Opera is better. But either one is far better than Netscape (although Mozilla is finally getting good) or MSIE (although I still keep a copy under VMware because some websites (like my bank) still won't work well with anything else. Hmmm... maybe it's time to get a better bank...

  • Developer Wrath (Score:2, Informative)

    by ksw2 ( 520093 )
    KDE3, soon to be released, does marginally more than KDE-1.x did

    I'm betting there's hordes of KDE develepers out there that would gladly wring this guy's neck for that nasty little comment.
  • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:12PM (#3203157)
    Subject says it all: Why don't people use BlackBox []? It's super small (like 19K lines of code), and runs like a champ on older systems. I use it for systems which run a VNC server. It has one theme (called like "Minimal" or some such) which works well for this purpose. BB will also run quite a few KDE apps if you happen to also have KDE stuff laying around.

    BlackBox is highly configurable, too. I was bored one day filling in at one of our data centers and decided to switch the Ops workstation to use BlackBox []. One thing I wish KDE could do is run a program like CMatrix [] in the root window... :-)


    • As well as Blackbox IceWM [] is small, fast and pleasant to use. I run it everywhere, from Athlons down to a 16MHz 386SX box, and it's acceptably fast on all of them :-).
    • what about fluxbox []?

      blackbox plus all this stuff:

      Configurable window tabs.
      Iconbar (for minimized/iconified windows)
      Wheel scroll changes workspace
      Configurable titlebar (placement of buttons, new buttons etc)
      KDE support
      New native integrated keygrabber (supports emacs like keychains)
      Maximize over slit option
      Partial GNOME support

      they keygrabber is sweet, control xmms/audio levels from any workspace/app
      • I'm definitely checking FluxBox out. Thanks for the link!


      • Fluxbox is looking VERY cool - especially since they're working towards full ICCCM support, which means full support for KDE and GNOME.

        I'd like to see this review looked at again with a gtk theme like Premier (uber-fast, uber-clean) and Fluxbox as the WM!
    • 19k lines? bloated!

      5439 total
    • spoken like I would have said so myself. In fact I thought I wrote that with someone elses name.

      For real though, Black box is a great small and fast window manager. When I am in need for a small fast linux install running on old hardware I start with zipslack add Xfree and the Blackbox WM. BB is also a great WM for low res (640x480x256 colors) monitors, think VNC.
    • Blackbox, or fluxbox and a few little apps can be used to make a very, very snappy system. There's no need to give up one's graphical tools to do it either. I run on a p200 with 64Mb of RAM, and the following setup even makes it feel fast.

      • bbkeys for keybaord shortcuts. Built in to fluxbox
      • esetroot or bsetroot to set the background image.
      • 'asmix -s -w' a volume knob, swallowed by the slit. Looks great, very useful.
      • 'ascd +w' cd player, swallowed by the slit.
      • 'gkrellm -w' lovely, themeable system monitor. Configured to be thin.
      • xmms, fully shaded.
      • aterms, nicely transparent and shaded. there's no need to have a dull looking desktop just because it has to be fast!
      • xwc as a filemanager. As snappy as mc (really! hard to believe without having tried it - but it really is amazing) Good looking too.
      • dfm - for desktop icons, I don't use the file manager that's built in (it's slow and IMO not attractive). As a desktop icon manager though, it's very snappy.
      • netscape4.71 - still faster than galeon.
    • >One thing I wish KDE could do is run a program like CMatrix [] in the root window... :-)

      In kde 2.2.2, go under control panel -> look & feel -> background, change the mode to "background program"

      Ok, I'm not sure if it runs cmatrix in the root window, but it's close.
      • by Wee ( 17189 )
        Hey, thanks for the tip! I hadn't seen that choice before. Dunno why...

        I've not fiddled with it very much, but cmatrix doesn't want to run. XEarth will, though. Which is better anyway.


  • Other arches. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by saintlupus ( 227599 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:16PM (#3203186) Homepage
    GNOME for low-end boxes.

    From a PPC standpoint, don't even try on anything older than a G3. I've run Ximian GNOME under LinuxPPC on a Motorola Starmax and a 6500/225. Both times were actually _painful_. I don't know if the speed has picked up any since whatever version that was, but I certainly don't want to try again.

    Blackbox and E, on the other hand, are both pretty speedy on my 7200/120.

    • Mac OS X on a G3 is _painful_ ;)

      I recently adopted one of the blue G3's that had been acting as a linux webserver and tossed Mac OS X on it. The thing has 384 MB of RAM and it's slow as dog shit.
  • by mav[LAG] ( 31387 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:18PM (#3203202)
    ...let them take over! Run something sane, fast and highly customisable like WindowMaker [] and create shortcuts or menus for your favourite g- and k-based apps.

    If you really have to use KDE and want some serious speed increases, then compile both KDE and Qt from source with the switch --no-g++-exceptions. This is a hint from Linux from Scratch [] which works very well.
    • Moderators, how is this a troll? This is exactly what I have running on all three machines here at home - WindowMaker + Gnome + KDE. All Gnome and KDE apps run just fine and WindowMaker is nice and fast for the desktop management.

      This should be at least +1 Informative for the KDE speed hint :)
    • Let me repeat fetta's question with my +1 bonus, to see if someone will notice this and answer:

      What's the downside of using the --no-g++-exceptions switch?

      I know I would like to find out the answer to that one. Also, mav's comment about Linux From Scratch was terrific -- I'm now cruising through all the hints [] and really, this is quite a huge resource. I wish I had known about it earlier in my Linux life.

  • by Da Schmiz ( 300867 ) <slashdot@pryden. n e t> on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:22PM (#3203243) Homepage
    This is my biggest gripe about Ximian Gnome: it's slow. Even on my 1.4Ghz Athlon system, the system is not quite as fast as I'd expect.

    Of course, a large part of the problem lies with Nautilus, which is (if this is in fact possible) slightly slower than Mozilla on my system. Seeing as Mozilla is constantly getting faster and Nautilus is no longer actively maintained, I see this as a potential problem.

    I will say, though, that I don't mind the menubar at the top of the screen. I've populated it with the things I need, and it rarely gets in my way.

    Of course, I have a large screen and frequently use five or six virtual desktops to hold all my windows, so a few pixels of the top is not nearly as important as pager problems would be. On that front, I have always preferred Gnome's paging model to KDE's; I use a setup with four viewports per workspace, with a 1000-ms delay to swap viewports by moving the pointer to the edge of the screen.

    In any case, the point of this long-winded comment is that Ximian Gnome is a neat package, but the overall speed is not nearly as nice as I'd like it to be. (And, before I get flamed, the reason I haven't yet turned off all the bits of chrome that Ximian installs, like Nautilus, is that I actually like chrome. I just wish I could have a schweet-looking system that's fast too.)

    Ah well... Everything works for the time being, so I'm unlikely to change anything on this system anytime soon (I actually have to do real work on this computer). On my other machine, I use KDE whenever I start X -- which isn't often.

    That's what I love about Linux... you get choices. If I want Gnome, I've got Gnome. If I want super-fast, geekoid-to-the-max sysadmin functionality, I've got bash. I'm happy.

    • I don't nautilus its not activly maintained anymore. I'm using nautilus 1.1.10 right now, and i must say, its quite snappy. not that snappy as i whish it would be, but its fairly useable.
    • Nautilus is no longer actively maintained

      This is actually not true. (Although not only development-related, the Nautilus mailing list has had over 100 posts in the last day.) Much of the work on Nautilus at the moment is going into porting it to the Gnome 2.0 architecture. From everything I've heard, it is already way faster with Gnome 2.


    • Nautilus certainly is maintained (by Darin Adler and Alex Larsson) see the developers mailing list [] for more details at the moment the gnome2 port is just about finished and the speed improvements they've got into nautilus2 are amazing. Eazel may have died a while back, but not all the developer left...

      Here's looking forward to GNOME2.
    • I was running it on a K6-2 450 (currently using the Gnome 1.4 that Debian is packaging for fewer dependency problems) and I had very few problems with speed after I added more memory. I found that my system was swapping out fairly often till I went from 128 MB to 384 MB. Now, it didn't become lightning fast, but it there was a noticable improvement. Memory is cheap these days, or was last I checked.
    • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @06:18PM (#3203721)
      Of course, a large part of the problem lies with Nautilus, which is (if this is in fact possible) slightly slower than Mozilla on my system. Seeing as Mozilla is constantly getting faster and Nautilus is no longer actively maintained, I see this as a potential problem.

      This is just untrue. Nautilus is very actively maintained. Darin Adler, former Eazel-employee are maintainer on his spare time, now together with Alex Larsson.

      Lots of the slowness in Nautilus 1.0.x seems to come from general slowness in the immature Gnome-libraries that only Nautilus exposed fully in Gnome 1.x. Nautilus for Gnome 2 got a lot faster for "free", when shifting to the Gnome 2 platform. In addition, lots of other speed improvements have been made.

      I can happily say that Nautilus 1.1.x (The Gnome 2 development platform) is very fast. Opening a new window is about twice as fast. Changing directories is almost instantanious. Even large image-dirs with thumbnailing turned on is acceptably fast. This is on a Pentium III 550 with 256MB of ram.

      I'm going to try this out on a lower end machine, but the huge speed increases is reported to have a nice effect here as well. Nautilus should be usable on reasonably low end machines now, if you turn off the latest bells and whistles.

      For me, it is also nice that the SVG-rendering in Nautilus 2 is a lot faster. I'm unable to "feel" a speed difference between a regular theme and a vector-icon (SVG) theme.

    • I'm going to throw in a "me too" here...

      On my work box, a 400mhz K6-III, with the right GTK theme and a few kernel patches (namely the low-latency, preempt, and (0)1 scheduler patches), Ximian Gnome rocks! Sure, Nautilus is a little pokey, but I'm using Gnome 2 snapshots at home, and even Nautilus is extremely responsive and snappy. (Ok, I know its silly that in order to get top performance, a desktop user would have to *patch his/her kernel* but cut me some slack - KDE would benefit from this too, so it's not just a GNOME "defect" ;) Besides, most of that stuff is going into 2.5 now, so the next kernel , 2.6/3.0 should be really exciting performance-wise)

      I am soooooo anxious for Ximian to "do their thing" on Gnome2.x - with this and KDE 3 coming, it's an exciting year for Linux on the desktop...
  • ... even though I have a 0.9GHz T-bird. A generation behind the times, maybe, but still a snappier box than I'll need for a while yet. I can actually get shorty (my little 266MHz laptop) running with about the same configuration as gas-o (my big machine), and run much the same apps: emacs, moz, GIMP, LaTeX sometimes if I need to write something for human consumption. How, you ask? Two words: Window Maker. :)
  • Pointless article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:31PM (#3203320) Homepage

    This guy is complainng about bloat and performance of Ximian Gnome and KDE, then goes on to reveal he has been using Mosfets Liquid theme and other eyecandy goodies. Well OF COURSE it's going to be going slow. He also seems to blame StarOffice's slow laucnhing on KDE. He doesn't seem to have a clue what he is talking about.

    If you want a fast desktop on low end hardware, use WMaker ir FVWM or something simmilar. If you want eyecandy, use KDE/Enlightenment/Gnome. There is no news here, everyone has known this for a very long time.

    • If you want a fast desktop on low end hardware, use WMaker ir FVWM or something simmilar. If you want eyecandy, use KDE/Enlightenment/Gnome.
      I wouldn't group Enlightenment with kde & gnome. I'm using it right now, it's using less than 4 MB of memory.
  • I was thrilled with KDE, until I used it. I had serious performance issues on an Athlon 750 w/512M of RAM (serious relative to Gnome performance, that is).

    I switched to Ximian and haven't looked back. Performance is of particular interest because I do use several "ancient" machines for assorted purposes and I like to have a consistent WM/DM across all machines. So it runs comfortable on my 200MMX with 64M as well as my Athlon 750.
  • by nakhla ( 68363 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:36PM (#3203356) Homepage
    In this situation, does Windows have an edge? I've noticed that Windows comes up much faster on my Dual 1GHz P3 with 1GB RAM than KDE 3.0 does. MUCH faster. There's so much hype about Linux someday conquering Windows on the desktop. Is this REALLY possible if Windows runs faster than GNOME and KDE, the two leading GUIs for Linux?

    Would this problem be solved by using one GUI library? If you think KDE is slow, try running GNOME apps on KDE. The overhead of loading all of those additional UI libraries is unbelievable. Would Linux on the desktop be more effective if only one UI library was used?
    • As far as I'm concerned, yes it does.

      Windows loads faster on my PC, and applications generally load quicker. For example (and I'm going to make this comparison), opening the File Explorer onto my C: drive takes a fraction of a second, whereas Konqueror in KDE 2.2.1 takes several seconds. My PC isn't brand new, but it is a P3-700, 256Mb with a 20Gb Seagate.
  • There is always a huge problem for folks with high end comps missing out because of software/OSs being developed for lower end machines.

    Likewise, people with low end comps are often getting screwed by missing out on great new stuff that they just can't run.

    Being that I am a member of the former (I built my own uber comp and have two Dell uber comps) I am sensitive to the latter.

    So I wonder if software can be developed to be sensitive to the user's comp. SOmetimes this is done - Unreal Tournament detects what video settings you are capable of. If this was done more, we wouldn't have to see software constantly coded down to the least common demoninator. The only piece of software that seems to be doing this in a forward looking way is (not surprisingly) a game - Asheron's Call 2.

  • Chicken & Egg (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmu1 ( 183541 ) < minus threevowels> on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:37PM (#3203365) Journal
    This is just another chicken and the egg essay. Is it the availability of hardware resources that drives developers to write 'bigger' code with more features, or is it the 'bigger' code with more features that pushes hardware to be upgraded? In essence, it is both. They are completly symbiotic. Nither would exsist without the other, therefore the forward motion of the hardware industry, along with a higher number of features available, are natually occurring phenomina. Don't moan that you don't want to buy new hardware. Do what I did and bite the bullet: get a job, hippie! ;)
  • Really. Newer software is designed because newer hardware is available. The new software is generally coded for/with the new hardware in mind.
    If this guy wants to run a system on older hardware, he should be using software that was designed around the same time the hardware was available. Try the Linux 2.0 kernel series, X 3.3.6. Older distributions had smaller foot prints. Older versions of window managers would be smaller and quicker to compile. Speaking of which, if you have an old system, don't expect to be able to compile all these new software packages with new features designed to take advantage of new hardware, in a reasonable amount of time. Use the older stuff with feature sets that match those of your hardware.
    Older software is still stable, too. That's why at the time it was released as a 'stable version'. It just doesn't have some of the new features and additions that consume resources. Said features weren't around in old software, because said resources weren't available.
  • Don't use ximian gnome :)

    I actually use a couple of gnome apps, and have the g/f on a very low end system (pentium 1 233).

    WM = Windowmaker
    Filer/Desktop = ROX

    Works great!

    • What do you use for web browsing? Galeon crawls* on anything less than 600MHz. What do you use for word processing? Abiword slows down visibly when dealing with large documents. Highlighting parts of big documents can become a chore. There are many apps that don't have decently performing versions, and its a rather silly situation. And don't tell me people should use vi or elm. People shouldn't be forced to upgrade to 1GHz+ procs just to use reasonably feature-rich GUI programs. Not even MS requires people to have the kind of horsepower that a *modern* Linux desktop does.

      * It's not so much that Galeon crawls, its that the damn thing is agressively single-threaded, so page-rendering freezes up the whole app. On slower systems, page rendering takes up a lot more time, and thus the app seems very unresponsive.
      • I have a similar system to this guy (indeed, until recently it was a 166MMX I was using. I don't use ROX though, I tried it and wasn't that impressed. But WindowMaker is the cat's pyjamas), and use Mozilla, which is certainly fast except when it has to do something like purge one of its internal caches or something for Usenet news.

        Mozilla is great if you have enough memory and use tabs instead of opening new windows all the time. I would assume that if you're having problems with Galeon, it's probably the way your copy has been compiled, or it's using an ancient Moz or something.

        For what it's worth, Netscape 4.7x, while not state of the art, still renders 99% of stuff out there. It's Mozilla's features (especially tabs) and stability that leads me to use Mozilla in preference, not its standards compliance, which is merely a nice bonus. I'd use Galeon too, but the distributions have never been brilliant on Slackware [] (and that gconf crap is making me wonder at the sanity of the GNOME developers, period - for God's sake people, why clone the Windows registry?? - and why create such a bad tempered version?)

  • by RainbowSix ( 105550 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:39PM (#3203390) Homepage
    Luckily, Enlightenment hasn't been updated since the days when 200mhz was the norm :)
    • > Luckily, Enlightenment hasn't been updated since the days when 200mhz was the norm :)

      Hehe. That's like using Win 3.1 on a modern CPU :)

      Does anyone know what Rasterman is up to now-a- days? How long ago did he leave Red Hat?
  • by tap ( 18562 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:41PM (#3203410) Homepage
    The memory usage of KDE and gnome is just huge. We have a few xterminals running off a single linux server, and the number of processes that get started for kde/gnome is a real problem.

    With the versions and default sessions I get with redhat 7.2, I measued the memory usage of KDE and gnome. KDE weighs in at a hefty 95 MB, while gnome uses "only" 41 MB. For comparison, the fvwm2 setup I use includes an email checker that tells me how many mesages I have, a clock, a loadgraph, cpu usage graphs (per CPU), button bar, and virtual desktop pager. The workings of the window manager itself are more configurable than either gnome or KDE. And all this is only 4MB! That's about 24 times less than KDE.

  • by Borax_Man ( 544840 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @05:42PM (#3203414)
    I remember booting an XT and starting a word processor, off floppies, and it still took less time than loading KDE and StarOffice on my AMD 700 with RH 7.1. I also remember booting Word 2.0 on a 386 DX20, with Win31, still faster, also remember booting Word97 on a P100, still faster. Yes I'm sure KDE3 does more than KDE 1, but if you look at EVERYTHING it does, not just the snazzy stuff, but everything, including the window manager, drawing a panel,everything its responsible for, then KDE 3 really does not do all that much more, and the general usage is still pretty much the same. The point is, that my PC not has nearly 100 times the ram of one I had 5 years ago, and is approximately 500 times faster according the the benchmarks I ran, yet for software to run the same speed, or slower, is if you take this into account unforgivable. Even with 4 times the features, a desktop may run 10 times slower than Win 3.1 and by 10 times larger, but its 100's of times slower! With PC's exponentially faster than ones 7 years ago, we should be be enjoying the ability to support 40 people on 1 PC, AI, interfaces that are so fast, that theres no waiting whatsoever to load an app and everything in nice and instant, yet we are still were we where 7 years ago, just able to check e-mail, do word processing etc and still waiting for out PC to load an open file dialog box, and in 7 years time, it wont be any different. Computers 100 times faster than the ones we have now will still just be able to run office apps and a desktop. The point is, if coding was as efficient as it was back then, then we could have the extra features, and still be blindingly fast, but it looks as if were condemmned to be running as fast as we can with hardware upgrades just to stay in the same place. Progess should have had us being able to support many, many more features on our PC's efforlessly, the only software that has really advanced is games, well some of them. If you compare the difference between Quake3 and Wolf3d, youll see what I mean, then compare between KDE 3 and Win95.
  • Sorry but the author never told us what his definition of low end is.. My definition is a Pentium 200 or 233 mmx. and Gnome let alone the Ximian version is NOT sutable for it.
    Nautlius is the biggest problem with it sucking up 90% of all your resources.. Best replacement? try your damnedest to delete Nautlius and install ROX. (Rox will even do the desktop dance for you if you like. and for some reason ROX is almost 1/10th the size of Nautilus.. and hellishly faster too..

    Basically.. on a low end system.. you really need to abandon all the bloated (P-II and higher required desktop systems that are Gnome and KDE. they have their place with the Windows horsepower equiviliant systems (I use KDE on my 2 processor P-III 866 "low end system") but blackbox+ROX or Enlightenment+ROX or any combination of efficient and tightly written code will give you awesome performance...

    I hope that someday both KDE and Gnome will stop the feature-add phase and enter the make is run superfast.... and it can, they just need to take time out from the "fun" of adding toys to the dull part of cutting cruft and optimise..

  • I run Gnome on some 'old' systems:

    1. A Cyrix 120MHz system, 96MB RAM. This used to have 64MB, and Gnome was slow enough to be annoying. At that point, I stuck to fvwm2 like any sane individual. Adding the extra 32MB made all the difference, and now Gnome is quite usable, even using gnome-terminal instead of xterm or rxvt. On this machine I'm not using sawfish, because the delay in bringing up window manager menus is too annoying.
    2. A K6-3/400 machine, 256MB RAM. Again, this one used to have less memory. At 128MB, Gnome ran fine until I started Mozilla. Then the memory squabbles started to hurt. Quite liking Mozilla over Netscape 4 for a graphical browser, more RAM was the solution. This machine runs Gnome perfectly adequately.

    One thing is that on both of these machines, I don't run Nautilus or GMC. Not a big fan of graphical file managers, I don't miss them. It's quite possible that they would slowficate the Gnome experience.

    Oh, and another thing. Gnome 1.2, when I installed it, still looked like it could do with some sanding, and maybe another coat of paint. There were things left out of libraries, or in an inefficient way (thinking of some of the drawing routines.) These probably contributed to the memory usage and slowness of some graphical applications. Here's hoping that's all in the past now with Gnome 2 around the corner.

  • I for one am glad that GNOME is finally moving into the realm of modern GUIs. Yes, maybe modern is synonymous with slow, but it's also synonymous with features.

    If linux is going to make it on the desktop, it's gonna have to match closed sources OSs on a feature for feature basis. This means it has to have a level of feature bloat similar to windows -- and therefore similar compilation times.

    I don't cry for those with slower machines "in parts of the world where fast machines are unavailable" (BS, by the way -- my friend in Bangladesh has a better machine than I do, and his family's yearly income is less than my weekly). They still have options: GNOME 1.x, for example. This is Linux, man, there's no need to upgrade if what you have now is working. Sure, the new toys would be great...but if the choice is Windows 3.11 or GNOME 1.x, you're still better off petting the penguin.
  • Stupid comparison (Score:4, Insightful)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @06:09PM (#3203656)
    I've seen in several places people say that its okay for newer software to require newer hardware. That's absolute bull-crap. Newer software should only require more power if it is more features than older software. I can accept a fully anti-aliased, transparent-everything desktop to be slower than a standard one, because of all the eye candy. However, KDE and GNOME in their present state aren't any more functional than Windows 2k/XP. Yet, they are much, much slower*. Say you're grading things wholistically. You're three important catagories (on the desktop) are features, performance, ease of use, stability, and security. Win2k/XP wins the first one, not only because it has features that GNOME and KDE don't, but because these features are much more mature and widely used. The KDE/GNOME component systems might be great, but far more apps take advantage of COM/OLE on Windows. Win2k/XP wins the second one, hands down. Even with my 1.5GHz KDE2 machine, I still sometimes look longingly at my brother's 750Mhz Win2K machine. The stability bit is a wash. WinXP itself is rock solid, but Windows apps are often flaky. On the other hand, same parts of GNOME and KDE (Konq and Galeon in particular) can be flakey as well, so its probably even. In terms of ease of use, its also probably a wash. As long as you've got a sysadmin, WinXP is as easy to maintain as KDE/GNOME. WinXP is more consistant than either, but Windows apps tend to be more annoying and less customizable, which cancels that out. In terms of security, both are even. WinXP has far more powerful security options (ACL, etc) which are important in multi-user desktops. However, WinXP tends to have more security faults, which cancels the advantages. Normally, security would go to Linux, but on a desktop, access control tends to be more important than hacking-resistance. So, in most of the catagories, its even between WinXP and GNOME/KDE. If WinXP performs a hell of a lot better, what advantage does GNOME/KDE have? The only thing I can think about is that its free software, which is the only reason I use Linux and not Windows. Its a damn good reason, but it would be nice to have some other perks too...

    * Which is ironic in itself, because they're running on kernel that is much, much faster. They can't even blame X, because (from the benchmarks I've done) X is damn competitive to GDI, and in many respects (blitting bitmaps, for example) can even beat DirectX. Nope, after about 4.x, the "but X sux" arguement kind of dissapeared.
  • At work I develop scientific applications. Since I don't want to waste memory, but still want to have a functional X server, I run a window manager called PWM (if you do a search for it on google, use the keywords "pwm" and "ion"). I like it because it takes almost no memory, and allows me to dock windows together. It suits my style of working.

    I run a Blue and White G3 at home, with SuSE 7.3. I just reinstalled the system last night in (what appears to be a successful) attempt in building the perfect system. I downloaded the most recent version of Windowmaker (0.80) and spent some time configuring it. It is a sweet desktop. I have all of the applications that I use regularly at my fingertips, have lots of fun dockable apps to do useful things like establish my internet connection and play my ogg-vorbis files, and have lots of eye candy.

    I compiled Windowmaker with CFLAGS="-O3" (highest level optimizations), and it screams. I'm not running particularly fast hardware, but with over half a gig of memory plugged into it and my favorite apps optimized, it hauls ass. I absolutely love it. Windowmaker is one of the most overlooked window manager projects out there, and takes a little to get used to, but is well worth the effort.
  • I knew people where going to post "So don't install it! Use **insert small window manager here**!"

    I believe the point of this excirse is "is it possible?" not whether or not you should. Obviously on a minimalist system you don't install heavy weight software.

    There is a reason to point out things like the fact KDE and Gnome have issues running on small systems. It is up to the reader or the developers to figure out for themselves what this means.
  • by mr_don't ( 311416 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @06:21PM (#3203739)

    And that's a shame, because a person needs only access to a computer and sufficient interest in order to create his or her own route out of poverty.

    I'm not really sure I understand where this person is comming from... The largest Social Movement is South America, Brasil's MST (landless workers movement) use Land reform, land occupation, education, and community building to escape poverty.

    If only it was as simple as loading up a computer with free software! Actually, the computer industry is terrible when it comes to poverty! The highest concentration of highly toxic waste sites (known as SUPERFUND sites) are in the Silicon Valley. We ship about 200,000 computers, which (including the monitors) high levels of lead, cadmium, etc to developing countries, where they pollute landfills and communities. This increases conditions of poverty, not helps them.

  • Especially Nautilus is a speed-demon in the latest Gnome2-versions.

    This should mean that most people having trouble with Nautilus slowness should now be able to use it fine.

    This also means that Gnome 2 is not a huge and bloated upgrade.
  • I use GNOME and the first thing I did was ditch Nautilus. My beef with Nautilus is it just has too much in it. Its a desktop manager, file manager, web browser, and theme manager. The problem with GNOME is there are other parts of GNOME that do the same thing. If you have a slow enough machine, mine is a K6-2 550, and use Nautilus you'll see GNOME start up and set your background color, pixmap, etc. Then the screen flashes a few times while Nautilus does the same thing. You can not turn off that feature of Nautilus but I you want Nautilus to do themes you're stuck first waiting for whatever other part of GNOME also does themes.

  • I use GNOME at work on a Debian Woody box. I use the GNOME panel and sawfish, and most other GNOME apps. But I use neither GMC nor Nautilus, and I find that the system responds really fast, hogs less RAM, and I don't really miss the icons on the desktop that much. So everyone, what am I missing here? How do you use these file managers in a way that I would benefit by reconsidering them?
  • by benmhall ( 9092 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @06:51PM (#3203917) Homepage Journal
    I know there will be lots of people posting about window manager XYZ or the like, but I have finally settled on a very usable and very fast configuration that I think should not be overlooked.

    I run the following:

    DE/WM: XFce
    File Manager/Desktop icons: Rox filer/XFtree
    Web Browser: Galeon, Opera or Dillo
    Mail Client: Sylpheed or Evolution
    Word Processor: AbiWord, Applix or WP8
    Other Desktop apps: Gnumeric, JPilot

    I have two machines: An Athlon 900 with 768MB of RAM and an old Laptop. A P233 with 64MB RAM. I find that the above works perfectly on either. Initially I set XFce/Rox/Sylpheed/Dillo up just for the laptop. At the time I was using KDE on the big machine. Then I realized how much all of the fancy integration costs. KDE was unusable on the laptop, Gnome without Nautilus or GMC was okay, but XFce etc. put them all to shame.

    Rox is a great file manager. It's blindingly fast, has lots of features normally only associated with Natilus or Knoqueror, and is very tiny. Same goes for XFce.

    Also, XFce has very good keyboard bindings that just make sense.

    If I was going to create a distribution tomorrow I would use the above setup as the default rather than KDE or Gnome. The apps are great, but the overall weight of the system is just too much. I find XFce on my Debian Potato laptop is finally about as fast as Win95 was on the same machine. Oh, and PCMCIA actually works better on that machine in Linux than it did in Windows.

    Honestly, XFce and Rox are such nice programs, I'm really shocked that more people don't use them. They're fast, the developers are responsive, and the programs are small and stable. I used to cringe when people would tell me that they were installing Linux onto a machine with lower specs than my laptop. It doesn't have to be that way.

    As for the apps, most Gtk apps that I use seem to be as fast as you could expect. Xmms, Gnumeric, abiword, jpilot, even gimp are all quite fast considering what they do. Personally, I'm impressed that the author got StarOffice to work as well as he did. I tried OpenOffice on my laptop. I started it up, a few minutes later the HD was still thrashing. I gave up and logged out. Works great on the Athlon, though, and build 642 seems a bit faster. Applix and WordPerfect 8 are _much_ faster. In fact, I'd argue that recent builds of AbiWord aren't actually much speedier than WordPerfect 8 for Linux.

    Anyway, there's my 2 cents.
  • Recently I was trying to get Ximian Gnome to run on an 8bpp pseudocolor Tek Xterm (a piece of hardware). Conclusion: it can be done, but don't try to run any other apps that rely on using pseudocolor. The panel or sawfish took all the colors, even with imlib set to a low color pallete.

    Now, most somewhat modern apps will allocate a private colormap if it can't get all the colors it needs but there are some old apps that don't do that.

    I ended up running icewm.

  • My two toshiba laptops are both slower and older then the examples provided. One is a Pentium 75, 16 megs of memory, and the other is an old 486 with 4 megs of memory. I hate to think what the reviewer would call them!

  • I remember the day when I tried to run KDE over VNC. What a mess. It wouldn't even run over 8-bit color, the slightest action caused horrible delays, and when I left it alone for a bit, a *screen saver* kicked in. A remotely-displayed screen saver! Horrors!

    Windowmaker works great in this scenario. Highly recommended.

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?