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Is the Linux Desktop Getting Heavier and Slower? 1555

Johan Schinberg writes "Bob Marr wrote an interesting editorial about what many of us have have noticed lately: the three most popular Linux distros are getting "fatter" in terms of their memory footprint and CPU demands for their graphical desktops. Fedora Core 2 isn't usable below 192 MBs of RAM while Mandrake and SuSE aren't very far off similar requirements either. There was a time when Linux users would brag that their favorite OS was far less demanding that Windows, but this doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Modern distros that use the latest versions of KDE and (especially) Gnome feel considerably heavier than before or even than Windows XP/2k3. Sure, Longhorn has higher requirements than XP (256 MB RAM, 800 MHz CPU) and the final version will undoubtly be much more demanding, but that's in 2-3 years from now. For the time being, I am settled with XFce on my Gentoo but I always welcome more carefully-written code."
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Is the Linux Desktop Getting Heavier and Slower?

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  • That's why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nea Ciupala ( 581705 ) * on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:06AM (#9386518)
    I like using GNUstep/Window Maker on my *nix boxes. It looks great and it's a lean, mean window moving machine.
  • Well duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MoxCamel ( 20484 ) * on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:08AM (#9386552)
    Yes, Linux distros are getting "heavier." If you're trying to sell a distro, or if you want your GUI to be more feature-rich, then it's going to be heavier. However, this doesn't make the operating system slower, and the end-user has the ability to customize the OS to their tastes. This is the key difference between Linux and that other OS.

    I haven't heard someone say they use Linux because it's somehow "lighter" since about 1997. The face of computing has changed, and the Linux distros have changed with it. More and more users are using Linux because it's getting more feature-rich. This is not a bad thing.

  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:09AM (#9386565)

    Those people that want mean, lean systems can install the distro they prefer. The commercial distros need to complete with other commercial operating systems, including Windows. So if they need an equivalent amount of memory, I have no problem with that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:09AM (#9386570)
    Yes, it is comparable. And you are not getting any more. Possibly not even as much. This is a sad fact - but not for me. I'm using ratpoison and lynx.

    Linux desktop reform NOW! One unified clipboard methodology with user definable semantics!
  • Fluxbox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Avsen ( 556145 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:10AM (#9386577)
    Personally -- I prefer fluxbox's minimalism. It doesn't really matter what the distros ship with because at least you're given an option on going with a lean option or a feature-ridden one.
  • It is just plain easier and quicker to write fat programs and deploy them quickly. It takes time to refine and reduce the foot prints of these programs. With hardware costs dropping there is not as much concern with trimming the foot print.

    Sadly it used to be that you could run Linux on just about anything. I install all my servers with out any kind of X environment because it pigs up too much space. It is a pain too because RedHat automaticaly installs all sorts of crap that is unneeded, so I have to remove it after a generic install.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:11AM (#9386596)
    I used to run XWindows on 8 megs of RAM. (circa 1994)

    I think the complaint that Linux desktops are getting too fat is spot-on. Then again, does anyone really run GUI applications on their important Linux servers?
  • The point is... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SnakeNuts ( 44263 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:12AM (#9386619) Homepage
    I think the important point here is missed: At least under Linux you _have_ a choice.
  • by vasqzr ( 619165 ) <vasqzr AT netscape DOT net> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:13AM (#9386632)
    Windows 2000/XP is very quick with 128MB. Like some users have reported, less than 256MB and the latest Linux distros are pretty un-responsive as a desktop. Blame the newer KDE/GNOME.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:13AM (#9386636)
    So I guess the term for Linux is "feature-rich" but the equivalent term for Windows is "bloated".
  • I am amazed that people do not realize that it becomes difficult to run NEW 2004 software on old 1999 hardware.

    Perhaps the best post on this from the OSNEWS discussion on this editorial:
    - - - - -
    Anecdotal evidence --> meaningless conclusion
    By Andrew (IP:
    Posted on 2004-06-10 09:46:37
    Summary of the arguments presented in this thread:

    - My X yearx old computer with Y MB RAM is slow with the latest Z Linux distribution.

    where 3 < X < 6,
    and 64 < Y < 256,
    and Z is an element of the set of full-fledged Linux distributions like Fedora, Mandrake, SuSE, you name it.

    The meaningless conclusion is: "Linux is getting very fat".

    How the author jumps from his anecdotal evidence to his meaningless conclusion is clearly fuel for a long thread, seeing as this thread is growing fast...

  • There is a balance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ( 311067 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:15AM (#9386657) Homepage Journal
    Currently I run crux [], this is a nice alternative to the bloated distros out there. It's a "build what you want" (aside from the 'base' and 'opt' packages). Personally I gave up on RedHate about 2 years ago, it's way too bloated and slow. I run crux with xfce4, it's light and fast, on my 500mhz laptop that does make a difference, especially when you are trying to get something done while compiling firefox :).

    Seriosly, you need more space to build a fluid, friendly OS / windowmanager, but you don't need bloat.

    I like having a nice core set of tools, I don't need three gui calculators and 5 CD playing utilities. There is a lot of bloat, and it's not doing anyone much good.
  • by FishFlier ( 604422 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:15AM (#9386667) Homepage
    With today's modern PC's, it's not too far out there. I think one of point the author was trying to make was that with requirements like that, you lose one of the advantages of a Linux based system. You can no longer claim (using the big 3 distro's) it's faster. Sure you could use Xfce or a similar streamlined window manager to get some of the speed back, but if you want same polished look and feel (IMHO), and really want to sell Linux on the desktop and workstation, you're going to have to make that performance/visual usability sacrafice.
  • by BigBadDude ( 683684 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:16AM (#9386674)

    the gui stuff should NOT eat so much memory.

    it just shows that the kde/gnome/whatever guys are trying to compete with each other and windows by throwing in the latest fanciest stuff without really thinking.

    let me repeat it: desktop software should NOT eat that much memory. it only shows the low quality of the code.

  • Re:That's why (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:16AM (#9386676)
    I'm running FVWM with similar results. I quit using Gnome when I realized that
    any window manager can give me 4 terminal windows at the same time.

    My take is that people who use computers as tools avoid using desktop
    environments like Gnome and KDE because they just get in the way of getting
    things done. People who use computers as toys seem to like the desktop
    environments because there's lots to explore and play with.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:17AM (#9386686)
    I'm a gnu/linux user but I have to agree with this sarcastic comment. Getting a 1/2 dozen text editors, each with a bizarre user-mean interface is "freedom" and "choice". Similar situations with windoze are indicitive of bloat fwiw.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MoxCamel ( 20484 ) * on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:17AM (#9386694)
    So I guess the term for Linux is "feature-rich" but the equivalent term for Windows is "bloated".

    This is probably flame-bait, but yeah, there is a difference. Feature-rich implies choice. I can pick and choose the features I want. Bloat implies unnecessary cruftiness that I have no choice but to have on my system. Konquerer is a feature. IE is bloat.

  • Re:Slackware (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:20AM (#9386731)

    i have my slackware 9.1 box (700mhz celeron, 192 megs of ram) booting from power button to fully usable (it's a laptop - so it automagically logs in) in ~1 minute, and have no problems with the responsiveness in gnome or kde. (that boot speed took quite a bit of fine tuning, though)

    On the other hand, I use a fedora core 1 box for work, and it's sluggish in both gnome and kde on an athlon XP2500+ with 256 megs of ram.
  • KDE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 10Ghz ( 453478 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:20AM (#9386744)
    seems to be getting faster and faster. Jump to 3.2 was pretty big when it comes to performance. And Qt4 brings with it even better performance (application start-up time drops by about 20%) and mem-usage (down about 15-20%). KDE has been pretty aggressive recently when it comes to performance and optimizations. Of course KDE gets more and more eye-candy, but that stuff is completely optional.

    Is Linux less demanding than Windows? yes it is. If you want to, you can run the latest whiz-bang desktop from Gnome or KDE, and the performance will be roughy similar to Windows. Or you could use some lightweight UI, like Xfce. If you decide to run som graphics-heavy UI with lots of eye-candy, it's your choice, and you should expect it to be somewhat slower than some lightweight UI would be. But you have the choice.

    I for one think that the progress of features and eye-candy should not be held back by that guy who still runs Linux on his 200MHz Pentium. If he wants to, he can keep on using the UI he currently uses, or switch to some lightweight UI. Or, heaven forbid: upgrade his machine! If you have the hardware, you should have the ability to put that processing-power to use by using some kick-ass UI with lots of eye-candy.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skiflyer ( 716312 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:21AM (#9386754)
    Well, I use Linux because it's lighter. Now you've heard it in 2004.

    I don't use Linux desktop because it's lighter (at least not KDE & Gnome)... but I do still love the fact that I can have a fully up to date and function operating system on my old first generation pentiums with 64-120 Megs of RAM which act as firewalls/webservers/databases/fileservers and the like.

    I hate that there's no current version of windows which can make those boxes usable to do anything.
  • Sad but accurate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bongoras ( 632709 ) * on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:21AM (#9386756) Homepage
    My first inclination was to hate this editorial... after all, I'm happily using Fedora Core 2 on my 512MB RAM 1.6Ghz P4. No problems here, it performs fine. But the more I read the more I found myself agreeing with his basic thesis.

    He's right. It *is* a shame that Linux needs more memory and CPU power than XP, yet still feels slower. It's also more annoying, btw.. in the time I've been writing this response, Rhythmbox with the mp3 gstreamer plugin, playing an mp3 from a samba share, has dropped audio three times for a second or more. My coworkers laugh at me when they send me .wmv video files and I say err, shit... I'm not positive this will play...

    Linux as a desktop os is bloated, slow and unreliable. As as Linux on the desktop advocate, I often feel like a vegetarian... sure, it's virtuous, but I'm stuck eating pasta and potatoes instead of lamb chops and meatball sandwiches.

    I'm just not sure of the solution. The author of the article is a little bit glib when he says "We need to put a serious emphasis on elegant design, careful coding and making the most of RAM, not throwing in hurried features just because we can." Easy to say. Hard to do. I know the Gnome developers and the rest of the thousands of people working hard for little or no money on the OS collectively known as GNU/Linux are doing their best to pay attention to elegant design and careful coding. The problem is that as many voices as there are screaming for elegant design... there are as many voices screaming for mono, java, and other "next gen" development tools.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:23AM (#9386778) Homepage Journal
    My first 32 bit PC was an i386DX25 system with 8MB of socketed DRAM onboard, a 1MB trident VGA card, a super-cheap IDE multi I/O card (this is before UDMA of course) and no sound card. I loaded Slackware 2.0 (with kernel 1.1.47) and I had the a, n, and x sets installed and not much else. I had X11 working at 1024x768x8bpp with netscape and it was an entirely usable system. It was very fast and responsive (with fvwm2) and did everything I wanted a computer to do.

    Total disk space: 120MB. With 16MB knocked off for swap that's not a whole lot of disk space.

    These days it's hard to find a linux distribution that will even let you use console mode applications in that amount of space, but I have a sneaking suspicion that slackware is the answer. However, the last few times I've tried to install slackware (on a lark, to see what it's like lately) it wouldn't install or wouldn't run, and I've ended up installing gentoo. A slow install is better than no install... maybe that ought to be the new gentoo motto? :)

  • Easy to Find Out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:23AM (#9386780) Homepage Journal
    Just fire up top and see what's running. You may be surprised by how much RAM some applications take, but keep in mind that the number reported for X tends not to be accurate (They nmap the video card RAM so it gets reported as used RAM or something like that.)
  • by Vann_v2 ( 213760 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:23AM (#9386784) Homepage
    A lot of it is illusory. When dragging windows around, for example, XFree86 seems slow because it renders the whole process poorly. Things jitter and blink and just look horrible. In Windows and MacOS X things look nice and smooth. However, if you actually measure these things, XFree86 is faster. The same can be said for a lot of things. That is, they seem slower because the way XFree86 does things (which, by the way, is being worked on extensively thanks to people like Keith Packard).
  • by tjwhaynes ( 114792 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:23AM (#9386786)
    I use FC2 on my desktop at work and I'm often irritated by the long startup times for many apps. Although the machine there isn't anything special (P4 2.8Ghz, 384MB Intel onboard video, 40GB HD) it's a bit much to wait around 15-20 seconds for OpenOffice to load (yes, I do increase the memory settings), or 8 seconds for Ethereal (gui). Once things are cached it's not too bad, but still nowhere close to say MS Word's sub-second load time on the same hardware.

    And why do you think that MS Word pops up instantly? Think about it - it's a large program split over multiple files, all of which have to be accessed before the program can be run.

    Now consider how long it takes to open a New window in once it is loaded.

    Finished thinking? Good.

    At this point, you are hopefully at the right conclusion - MS Word is already mostly loaded when you clicked on it to run. Almost all MS apps preload large sections of the core functionality in a standard install to improve responsiveness once the system is up and running. Alas this approach is also taken by a load of other apps on Windows with the net result that even though the desktop in Windows XP pops up faster on boot than previous iterations of the Windows OS, it can often be a couple of minutes before the hard drive stops popping and thrashing and the system becomes quiescent (and usable).

    Real start up times for apps are difficult to gauge even when they aren't preloaded. is a slow starter although it is leaps-and-bounds better in version 1.1 than it used to be when it was first released and I hope that the improvements in start time continue . That said, on days when I'm writing a lot of documentation, it gets loaded in the morning once and gets used all day without complaint. If I accidently shut it down, most of the files used are still in the linux file cache and restarting it is a matter of a couple of seconds of turn over.

    Toby Haynes

  • by iso ( 87585 ) <slash AT warpzero DOT info> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:24AM (#9386808) Homepage
    The problem here seems to be that you're trying to run the latest and greatest on old hardware. Why not try a distribution from a few years ago?
  • by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <sether AT tru7h DOT org> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:25AM (#9386821) Homepage
    > I'm using Gnome and sometimes KDE for Mandrake and
    > when I'm in WinXP the system is a lot more fluid
    > then in KDE or Gnome.

    I did the KDE/Gnome thing for a while, until one day when I was dorking around with some opengl stuff and playing with some test apps.. I think at the point I noticed the problems with KDE or Gnome the most was when I was testing a physics library that's out there.

    Under Gnome or KDE (default config, though under Gnome I did kill off as many services as I could) I would quite literally get 3-5 fps on a test app that was dropping blocks out of the air and bouncing them around. It was unusable. On a lark, I swapped to twm for a few minutes to see if the issue was my machine or the window manager.. instant 50 fps boost running the same program. I've now sworn away using KDE or Gnome, and settled on one of the "lightweight" managers out there.

    I'm sorry, but if the desktop software is that inefficient then there's no way linux is ever going to improve its status.
  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dash2 ( 155223 ) <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:26AM (#9386837) Homepage Journal
    Those of you who are posting stuff about Fluxbox, Windowmaker, Ratpoison, *insert your favourite WM here*, are missing the point, and need to RTFA.

    There is a huge segment of the market with 64-128M PCs who don't want to be forced to upgrade their hardware just so as to run XP. If Linux could run responsively on that much memory, it could own that market. But instead, modern distros are too slow.

    For this segment, Fluxbox, dillo etc. are not an option - they need the user friendliness of a proper desktop environment (help browsers, tooltips, proper word processors etc). KDE and Gnome could provide that - but they need to control the bloat.

    To be fair, I hear KDE has improved a lot in this respect, and my mobile PII with 192M is reasonably nippy running Gnome and openoffice. So improvements will come.

    But talking about the command line and fluxbox and all that is just irrelevant.

  • Just out of curiosity, how many Graphical User Interfaces have you written?
  • Re:That's why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:27AM (#9386850)
    What an elitist load of crap. There is more to computer use than compiling your kernel over and over. Some of us use our "toys" to create spreadsheets, edit video, etc. Not everything is more efficient from the command prompt.

    All in all you make a really crappy salesmen for Linux.
  • Re:That's why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Delphiki ( 646425 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:28AM (#9386860)
    Considering attitudes like this are so prevalent in the Linux community, it's no wonder that Linux has come to dominate to the desktop market. Oh, wait..
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:29AM (#9386876) Homepage Journal
    Windowmaker provides a very pleasant environment and it's a lot smaller and lighter than the Gnome or KDE desktops. And while you can't theme it to hell and back... it's got a nice, consistent and user-friendly configuration tool, including support for its lightweight themes.

    OpenStep (GNUStep) is a decent toolkit, and it should be possible to use GNUStep and write applications that will compile under Cocoa on Mac OS X as well...

    Why these aren't more commonly used, I don't know. They don't have that Windows-style panache, I guess.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:33AM (#9386925)
    Fr'instance, I have a Thinkpad 600 with 64 MB of RAM. The thing is just sitting in a box right now because I've been unable to find a distribution that will run gracefully on this machine.

    It's called Windows 98. ;) But seriously, I don't think you'll be able to get much of a graphical setup going on 64M of ram nowadays. Mainly because most of the cool-new-graphical-apps are memory hogs. You're probably better off doing a console only install with Screen to manage all the apps you could need, mutt for email, naim for IM, mpg123 for music playback, and links for www. Use ctrl+a-n to flip through all those apps, you could probably leave em all open all the time too since they're light enough.
  • by geeber ( 520231 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:36AM (#9386963)
    Linux is NOT obviously more rock solid. People have been saying this for years but it is simply no longer true. Win2k and XP effectively eliminated the stability gap, especially when compared to KDE or Gnome.

    I don't know how things stand on the server side, but in my experience on the desktop, XP wins in both stability and speed. I could comfortably run it on a 400 MHz AMD k6-2 with 128 Mb of RAM. Try doing that with Fedora core 2 or Mandrake 10.

    It is definitely time people let go of old saws like "Linux is obviously more rock solid" and face up to the reality of desktop users experience.
  • by xeeno ( 313431 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:38AM (#9386986) Homepage
    Because people keep insisting that they be as friendly and action-packed as a typical windows desktop.
    As long as the powers that be insist upon making popular desktops do everything without the need of a shell window, then they are going to be bloated. I don't care how pretty KDE is, it actually irritates me when after a default install of it I have to go hunting through the menus to find the well-hidden shell.

    This is what you guys get when you keep preaching that linux is just as friendly as windows so everyone should switch. You get the same kind of bloat windows has.

  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:38AM (#9386990) Homepage
    XP on the other hand is unusable on machines with 256 mb without significant tweaking.
    XP is perfectly usable on a box with 128 MB of RAM. You won't be running any new 3D games very quickly, but IE and Office work just fine. It's a tad slow, but hardly `unusable'. And that's with no `treaking'.
    Same goes for Linux.
    Actually, Fedora Core 1 with the default desktop and stuff works fine on that same box (p2/266 128mb ram Dell laptop.)

    And note that Linux is a kernel. Don't want to run some bloated window manager? Then don't! I'm using fvwm95 right now and it's only using a few MB of ram. Yes, this box does have 1 GB of ram, but fvwm95 gives me what I need. And if you don't need X, don't start it, and even brand spanking new Linux distributions will run ok in 32 MB or so of RAM. Such a machine could make an ok small DNS or Web server ... try getting XP or 2000 to even install with only 32 MB of ram. Mostly because Windows doesn't let you turn off the GUI.

    If you want to run an os on a machine from 2000, use an OS from 2000.. how hard is that to grasp?
    It would be easier to grasp if it wasn't so mind-numbingly oversimplified.
  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:39AM (#9387007) Homepage Journal
    X11 is fine. Please don't confuse GNOME with X11, by today's standards X is pretty lightwieght.

    I used to run Linux + X11 on a 8Mb 386DX-25 desktop. Worked fine and fast running Window Managers like IceWM and AmiWM.

  • by 13Echo ( 209846 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:39AM (#9387010) Homepage Journal
    I wouldn't blame the newer KDE or Gnome releases. They only require more power because that's what people want; an environent that has Windows-like features and capabilities that are often expected in a modern and easy-to-use desktop. The same could be said for Mac OS X, which requires reasonable amounts of power to perform nicely as well.

    I run Gnome 2.6 on a PC with a 450 MHz P3 and 256 MB of RAM, which is piddly by today's standards. It runs fine.

    An no.... Windows 2000 is not "very quick" with 128 MB of RAM, it swaps in and out very frequently. It's only reasonable if you have at least a 7200 RPM hard drive.

    As for the original post on the subject, XFCE is great if you want the look and features of a 20-year old UNIX interface... That's exactly what it is, which is why it runs so well on older hardware. Gnome is carefully written and runs fast for what it does, so it's not fair to complain about it if you are on hardware that is half a decade old and are trying to use a desktop of 2004.

    This is such a tired and silly subject... People complain when they don't even know how Linux uses shared and caches memory when they see the system monitor and scream (on IRC): "Why is t3h Gnomer terminal using 15 MB!!!!111 OMIGOSH!!111 T3H Epiphany is using 104 MB!!!111"... Bah. Get real.
  • by teeker ( 623861 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:39AM (#9387013)
    I wonder... did s/he compile the lastest custom kernel for their hardware? Did they tune ATA I/O performance with hdparm? Did he disable non-essential daemons running in the background? I doubt it.

    True, but then again they didn't do it for Windows either. Regular users don't care to dig that deeply into their system, they expect it will simply work. If it doesn't work at least as well as Windows out-of-the-box, well then there is another Windows user.
  • by Brian Kendig ( 1959 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:40AM (#9387025) Homepage
    Also, by making the user interface more and more bloated, it becomes less and less useable on older hardware. And that used to be one of the strengths of Linux, that you could run the latest distributions of Linux on old hardware and have them still be quite useable.

  • Re:Well duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:42AM (#9387046)
    No. Per his definition, if the serious under-the-hood types couldn't ditch Konquerer for another browser, it would then be bloat. What the average serious tech type chooses to do is irrelevant (per said definition).

    I don't think this definition is inherently unreasonable.
  • Re:That's why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abdulla ( 523920 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:43AM (#9387059)
    That kind of elitism denies the progress that both projects have made. I use my computer primarily for programming in C++ but enjoy the simplicity and convenience that both environments bring to mundane tasks such as moving files across ssh or samba. I'd hate to play music or use an instant messenger in a terminal. You don't get the depth that these graphical tools in these environments offer. Don't put them down just because you prefer one way and feel that others who don't are simple users.
  • Re:That's why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:44AM (#9387071) Journal
    Yes, but any window manager can put a spreadsheet and a graphics app on the same screen, as well. In fact, the more you're pushing the system with applications, the less you want a complicated desktop sucking down cycles.
  • Re:That's why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skeezix ( 14602 ) <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:45AM (#9387075) Homepage
    I use my GNOME Desktop as a tool. I'm not sure why you think a full fledged desktop can't be used as a tool for getting real work done. I actually don't know a single developer who doesn't use a full fledged desktop. I think people like you who insist on using some minimalistic window manager and have an attitude about everyone else are a fringe minority. The rest of us enjoy the integration benefits a full desktop offers.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:48AM (#9387133) Journal
    And yet, somehow all those "features" on Linux, end up using more memory and requiring more CPU speed than the Windows "bloat". An interesting point of view... to say the least.

    The fact is that on my home machine, in Windows 2000, I have more free RAM and faster boot up times _with_ IE loaded (if nothing else as a desktop/file manager), than in KDE _without_ Konqueror loaded.

    There are no two ways about it. KDE isn't "feature rich", it's a piece of badly-programmed bloatware. Even if you turned off all the "features", it's still more bloated, slower and less user-friendly than Windows with all of that turned on. (In fact, even than windows with 6 pieces of spyware of your choice.)

    Note that so far I'm only talking about KDE, not about Linux in general. Yes, I know, you can run another dektop environment. I'm writing this in XFce myself, so, yeah, I know already.

    The problem comes when you need to load any app that's based on KDE. Then all the bloated beast is loaded into RAM. Not only then there goes your machine's RAM, you also get to wait several extra seconds for all that KDE bloat to load. Not "features", but hundreds of megabytes of pure library bloat, which you can't turn off. Whoppee.

    Now say a friend tells you to also run some Gnome program. Whether it's Gnomeeting, Evolution or whatever, it doesn't matter. You're now _also_ loading the Gnome libraries in memory, alongside the KDE ones which already were making your machine swap. Whoppe. The RAM and CPU manufacturers must be doing cartwheels for joy by now.

    Now also add Mozilla and a few others who can't just be a browser or whatever, they also have to have _yet_ _another_ set of their very own GUI widgets and bloated libraries.

    Then edit something in OOo. OOops, yet another case of its own libraries. It can't even freaking use the perfectly good font rendering of X, it just has to come with its own font directory and libraries. And manage to look _worse_ than X's font rendering. (To its defense, though, it's just as retarded under Windows too.)

    Well, not to sound only negative, here's my constructive suggestion for the day: if you're going to advocate Linux, might as well get a profit out of it. Buy shares in some memory manufacturer ;)
  • by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:50AM (#9387156)
    The jittery window dragging... that may be true for kde and gnome, i don't know. I do know that running Enlightenment (no kde or gnome) i get smooth moves. This is on a crappy rage mobility video card from 3 years ago, with something like 8 megs of shared video memory, and a modile duron 800MHz, with 128M RAM. So maybe it's the window manager acting as a bottleneck for redrawing. But as you said, that is why it is good to have separate layers that can be independantly improved.

    Another thing, if something "seems slow" to the user, then for all intensive purposes you might as well say "it is slow". If it gets the task done faster, but leaves the system unusable for 2 seconds, who cares? thats 2 seconds that you are forced into "serial mode" instead of a "parallel mode" of work.

    You make a good point, I just don't think it can be a general statement.
  • by Prototerm ( 762512 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:50AM (#9387159)
    No matter how well a C compiler is written to create optimal code, it just isn't the equal of someone experienced writing in Assembler from the get-go. The problem is, where do you find the sort of qualified Assembler programmers you need to write the sort of tight code required to increase speed and reduce memory footprint? Does anyone even know Assembler anymore? The big loss, of course, in using Assembler would be portability across different CPU's.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:51AM (#9387174)
    What seems to be the most reason of slow desktops are
    anti-aliased fonts (yeah they look nice, but everything is done on the client side, not server side as it should be) and horribly inefficient toolkits generating too many X calls. One example that I would like to highlight is the FOX toolkit which has very efficient automatic delayed paint / layout algorithm. FOX applications start up in the matter of milliseconds.

    To quote the original author of FOX:
    "The delayed painting is important, as it prevents stacking up huge piles of expose events when for example dragging [solid-, or opaque-dragging] windows over FOX applications. By NOT doing the unnecessary work, the system actually catches up more quickly, and never falls behind more than one repaint.

    The delayed layout is responsible for the extremely fast startup times of FOX applications. As hundreds of Widgets are being added during construction of an application's GUI, recalculating layout after each addition really kills startup performance.
    Delayed layout benefits performance each time many GUI Widgets are added or removed, or if layout hints are changed with widespread effects. It also makes opaque resizing [supported by a few X Window Managers] quite fast."

    Recently though they added anti-aliased fonts, startup times almost trippled and overall performance went down with it (still not as worse as some other toolkits).
  • by It'sYerMam ( 762418 ) <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:54AM (#9387214) Homepage
    Of course KDE/GNOME are competing with Windows - that's what they're designed to do. With Windows prettiness comes (at least near) Windows bloat - prettiness is bloat
    On the other hand, desktop software still often uses less resources than Windows, and if it doesn't we have lesser pretty alternatives - old GNOMEs, fluxbox, etc etc.

    Me, I prefer the midpoint of XFCE, as it is minimally bloated, but still quite pretty.

  • Stupid Apologists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:55AM (#9387228)
    As expected on slashdot there are whole ton of stupid comments exonerating Linux for one reason or another. Instead of addressing each of them individually, I will hit a bunch in in this post.

    In light of the Windowes System Requirements, is this really that big?
    Why does it matter what the requirements on the box say? KDE/GNOME are as slow or slower than windows when run on the same hardware! So the fact that windows has hich system requirements doesn't excuse the fact that Linux has higher ones.

    But it isn't as heavy if you don't run those Desktops and applications.
    That is not a fair comparison. It is easy to be lighter weight when you don't do as much.
    If you need to do everthing that you can do in windows, then Linux is signifcantly slower (mostly footprint and loading time) than windows.

    But Windows preloads thier applications.
    That is a good argument for Mozilla vs. IE on windows, but in most cases is not valid. Like the submitter stated, even third party applications tend load quicker on windows that most linux applications do in windows. I have used Linux for years and I can't tell you how many times I have gotten tired of the slow responsiveness of KDE and GNOME and have reverted back to my old TWM (or even more lightweight) ways. Where-as on the same machine Windows 98 or 2000 were quite responsive (just not very usefull for what I was doing).

    Secondly there is no reason that Linux could not preload common applications to make them run faster, and if that makes the system more responsive they should do so. But I really don't think that would completely solve the problem, it would just make the boot time longer, and boot for a Linux desktop is already longer than for Windows XP or OS X.

    So basically it comes down to the fact that it is (relatively) easy to write full-featured software and it is easy to write light-wieght software but doing both is hard. Microsoft is doing a better job than the open source desktops in that regard.
  • KDE / GNOME roots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chrysrobyn ( 106763 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:56AM (#9387241)

    When I saw GNOME under development, I never thought to myself, "self, now that GNOME thing looks to speed things up". Never once did it even occur to me that all that PrettyFactor would be light on memory or CPU. Is the Linux Desktop getting heavier and slower? If you use GNOME or KDE or any other "user friendly" desktop environment, yes.

    I've got a 486/66 at home running a mail / web / name / shell server. He's keeping up pretty well, but I must admit that console dselect takes a minute longer than I would prefer to start up. For his every day tasks, even keeping up with updates, it's more than enough-- so really, this is a question of the GUI end of things.

    I wonder how well it would work to introduce one of those reviewers to a very well set up and themed tvtwm2 or whatnot. You know, without all the Kapps or Gapps. I bet the reviewer says it's snappy as a rubber band, but it doesn't do anything (most of those setups don't have any easy to find buttons, you have to click on a blank background to start anything). I think under that environment, Moz, OO, Wine, etc. work, but the plethora of free apps that make Linux interesting to the hobbyist seem to take advantage of the easy to use Glibs and Klibs. The reason for the "bloat" (i.e. heavier and slower) is the added functionality and eye candy.

    You can take your lean and mean Linux Desktop, but don't expect it to run all the pretty apps nor expect it to have anti-aliasing and PrettyFactor3.0.

  • Re:That's why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:57AM (#9387251)
    Considering attitudes like this are so prevalent in the Linux community...

    Attitudes like this? The parent merely speculated about why one might make one choice (a full desktop) over another (a leaner window manager). I use Gnome and am not the least bit offended; I like the eye candy. You don't see attitudes like this in the Windows community only because there are no such choices. We simply do as Microsoft says.

  • KDE (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:57AM (#9387255)
    KDE has only been getting faster. KDE 3.0 was way faster than 2.x, and it only got better in 3.1 and now in 3.2. Also Distros based on kernel 2.6.x also feel more responsive. To me things are getting better...
  • Re:That's why (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chthon ( 580889 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:58AM (#9387272) Homepage Journal
    Enlightenment with the Aqua Theme ! Fantastic.
  • by ashpool7 ( 18172 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:06AM (#9387377) Homepage Journal
    what the hell is anyone doing about it!

    Seriously, if KDE is so big and fat, then why isn't it being stripped down? If the libraries and recycleable components are taking up too much RAM, why isn't anybody pairing them down to "lean and mean" pieces.

    Is it because this development isn't sexy? If so, I'll say that's BS. When the Firefox RC came out the other day, the first thing I wanted to know was if:

    A) the installer was smaller
    B) the RAM footprint was below the 18-30MB that it usually runs at

    (and if they fixed leakage... why is it when I close all my tabs I don't get back to 18MB anymore?)

    That kind of stuff is cool. Making an iTunes ripoff just because it's "new to Linux" isn't.

  • by DrJay ( 102053 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:09AM (#9387412) Homepage
    I think the problem here is that no Linux Desktop project is going back and optimizing the bloated stuff they're creating. They just release and move on to tacking on the next set of features. It's an interesting contrast with what MS and Apple are doing.

    MS is taking so long to make Longhorn that they have both time to optimize what they're working on (whether they'll do so is a different question) and the hardware has time to grow into it.

    Apple grossly overshot the existing hardware with 10.0, but have since been going back and optimizing the hell out of everything. Every release is faster on all generations of hardware in ways that indicate they're paying attention to the user experience, rather than necessarily focusing on new features.

    Either of these approaches is difficult, if not impossible, for an open source project. MS's long range approach runs into trouble because every .001 version change gets used and suggestions are made based on that. Long term planning is difficult when every transition gets nitpicked. Apple's approach would require that the coders for desktop environment, its key applications, and the XFree folks all get together and coordinate their efforts.

    Can't offer a suggestion, but i figured i could throw out my interpretation of the problem....

  • by GrassMunk ( 677765 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:09AM (#9387415)
    Just so you know, 2 years ago when XP came out ( was it 2 or 3? ) a 1.5ghz was god damned fast and people were buying 600mhz systems because they were good enough to run the latest windows os. Now compare redhat 8 or mandrake 7.2 to windows xp and im sure it will seem on par with windows for the time. Thats the key difference in my mind between linux and windows. Linux: You can get the newest WM feature tonight. If you wanted you could install Gnome Dashboard. Windows: I gotta wait until 2007 for the newest system to come out. Its not anyone's fault that Linux is where MS will be in a few years.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:10AM (#9387422) Journal

    >But you can't have it both ways. You either get features, or you get slim.

    Windows has features and runs fast, as shown in the article.

    Windows people are having it both ways.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:13AM (#9387459)
    Because word was written in C and OO is wrtten in JAVA
  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:13AM (#9387460)
    So software developers are taking advantage of faster CPUs and the dirt cheap price of RAM. How is this bad? I want my computer to do more over time, not to minimize featuresets just so hobbyists can screw around with full installs of the latest distros on an old Sparc 10 taken from an office trash heap.

    People who want to Linux on crappy old hardware need to use crappy old distros or run BlackBox. That's life. Obsolesence is just the way of computing, and that isn't going to change just because a few morons refuse to give up on that old Pentium 233 and buy an Athlon.
  • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:14AM (#9387471) Journal
    >A lot of it is illusory.

    Isn't that the point of a windows-based system?

    >XFree86 seems slow because it renders the whole process poorly

    So how isn't it slow? How does a display system just "appears" slow to the user, but it actually isn't?

    >if you actually measure these things, XFree86 is faster.

    And what measurement is that?

    If it appears slow, why isn't it slow?
  • by cowbutt ( 21077 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:16AM (#9387490) Journal
    [as posted on osnews]

    1) Is your X server using an accelerated driver, or the framebuffer device, or even the generic vesa driver?

    2) If you are using an accelerated driver, which one? Some provide more acceleration than others.

    3) Are you using anti-aliased font rendering? If so, did you check to see whether your driver supports hardware acceleration of the RENDER extension?

    4) Did your friend disable unnecessary background processes, or did he just do a "full" install so he didn't miss out on any goodies.

    Finally, users don't want fast machines that do nothing, they want machines that perform some useful task. For years, the calls were for "usable desktop applications", tools such as xpaint, xfig, midnight commander and Lyx + latex being judged as being "unsuitable". Well, now we've got the kind of fully-featured applications that were being called for, but in order to create them _in reasonable amounts of time_, and with a reasonably high level of reliability, reusable component architectures (e.g. GTK, DCOP, Qt, etc) need to be used.

    As the motto goes - "Good, fast, cheap - pick any two" (where "good" in this case means "efficient", "fast" means "available now rather than in 10 years time" and "cheap" still means low cost). The mass market appears to have decided that it likes "Cheap" and "Fast" - just like with PC hardware, in fact.

    If you think there's a market for "Good" and "Fast", go right ahead and try to make some money doing it.


  • A big part of this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:16AM (#9387498) Homepage Journal
    is because there are so many different widget libraries still in use. Suppose the user is running kmail in gnome, and browsing with mozilla, with OO.o in the background. Hardly an uncommon situation. But that's 4 different widget sets, and a lot of memory could be saved if all apps used the same widgets as they do on Windows. Sadly, choice is often not good.
  • Re:That's why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by berzerke ( 319205 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:17AM (#9387511) Homepage

    I love Window Maker -- it's great, and i prefer it to GNOME or KDE any day...

    However, for someone switching over to Linux from Windows, GNOME or KDE would be a better choice. It's much closer to what they are used to than Window Maker. They will be having to learn enough new things. KDE and Gnome still have their place. Personally, I like KDE, but that's just me.

  • Re:Well duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jason Hood ( 721277 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:27AM (#9387647)

    And yet, somehow all those "features" on Linux, end up using more memory and requiring more CPU speed than the Windows "bloat". An interesting point of view... to say the least.

    "more CPU speed"? Winders can actually make the CPU run at a higher clock rate? Dear Lord please tell me you dont actually believe that.

    As for memory usage, linux prefers to cache rather than just return memory that isnt being used. Most users rerun the same processes over and over again and so instead of freeing the memory and then trying to reallocate, the kernel caches it. Oh and what about XP allocating 100MB of swap on boot? I dont know of another OS that subscribes to that insanity. Whats that registry patch that disables that again? Boot up and check your swap allocations.

    Which part of KDE is slow? Badly programmed? All of it? Its not feature rich? You obviously havent used since 2.x . It doesnt have all the features of Winders but Winders doesnt have all the features of KDE either. I would list them but if you would actually try it you would see for yourself. I dual boot at work (several times a day for dev) and I can tell you that it takes about 1 minute for XP to load and 20 seconds for Linux/KDE.

    One of my favorite things about X is that if an app crashes, there is no waiting to kill it (unless you want to). If you kill it, its gone immediately. Memory is free, it doesnt spend time creating a dump that you wont report anyway. KDE (and probably Gnome) also have this feature but I dont use it unless its an important app.

    Linux/KDE has its shortcomings but for a lot of people it is very well suited. The same can be said for Winders.

    Please stop spreading FUD. You obviously dont know anything about operating systems or window managers.

    Have a good day.

  • by silicon not in the v ( 669585 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:29AM (#9387685) Journal
    This is what you guys get when you keep preaching that linux is just as friendly as windows so everyone should switch. You get the same kind of bloat windows has.
    WAKE UP! If you read the editorial, you totally did not grasp what he was talking about. It's WAY beyond "the same kind of bloat". It's much worse. Systems that can fly with Win98 or WinNT are barely usable with newer Linux distros. This isn't about being "as bad" as Windows. This is about dropping off the cliff beyond that. It used to be that people not using Linux was because they haven't tried it, or couldn't learn to use it. Now, you're getting people who want to use it, have tried it, and had to abandon it and go back to Windows because their machine couldn't handle Linux. That is the inexusable part.

    I'm trying to adapt to Linux, but it's painfully slow. I've got a 300MHz K6-2 with 192MB RAM, but I'm going to have to try a slim window manager because KDE bogs everything down. My complaint is that it seems there aren't many window managers that are in a middle ground. I've looked at several of the smaller window managers, and they seem way too spartan. They're barely better than a straight Xserver. Can't you get wallpaper, desktop icons, a Start menu, and taskbar without the thing sucking resources like a sponge? That right click program menu is a waste of time because you have to minimize the apps you're running to right click for that menu.
  • Re:That's why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mudfly ( 194653 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:36AM (#9387786) Homepage
    Maybe if Windowmaker followed the work being done at they would have their menus populate the applications just as KDE and Gnome do.
  • by g_bit ( 253703 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:40AM (#9387832) Journal
    Sorry, but I disagree oh "insightful" one.

    Just because you can't think of any useful graphical tools doesn't mean that there aren't any.

    I think that the many people who use Photoshop, Quark, Excel, Visio, etc. would agree with me.

  • by Ill_Omen ( 215625 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:42AM (#9387857)
    Wow, you sound just like Bill Gates.

    I want to run Linux on crappy (three year) old hardware. My crappy (three year) old hardware was running just fine. Then I decided I wanted the latest security updates (because only a moron refuses to give up on that old RedHat 7.2 when RedHat 9.0 has security fixes, right? ;) ). Guess what? My productivity got shot to hell because it can't handle the latest KDE.

    Linux was supposed to be different from Windows. You weren't supposed to have to upgrade your CPU in order to get the latest security/bug fixes.
  • by RhettLivingston ( 544140 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:42AM (#9387866) Journal
    Slower/faster cannot be measured by clock speed alone. If it feels slower, it is slower. The reason is that there is more going on than just the movement of a window. There is a person moving that window. That person is likely thinking and may even be reading something on that window while they are moving it. If it is flashing and ugly, just the distraction from a thought train in progress may in fact "slow" that person's process down. It might even derail a thought and cause something to be missed that was vital. A concentration on speed instead of the holistic process of the common computer user (as opposed to the specialist) is part of the reason Linux is behind on the desktop.
  • Duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by misleb ( 129952 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:43AM (#9387867)
    The point isn't that Linux does necessarily use less resources... it is that it can use less resources... out of the box. Just because some people choose a distribution that is bloated by default doesn't mean Linux is bloated or getting bloated. The Linux kernel is still relatively small. Whatever you decide to use beyond the kernel is up to you.
  • Memory is Cheap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mslinux ( 570958 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:44AM (#9387880)
    I buy computers for a large university in Virginia. Engineers, Bus, CS and Arch majors now must have a minimum of 1GB of RAM. This will get them through 4 - 5 years of college. It costs an extra 250.00 to buy a Dell D600 Latitude laptop with 1GB of Ram instead of 512MB.

    What's the problem? RAM is cheap and fast. It's natural to see apps such as KDE and Gnome and the Windows GUI use more of it.

    Also note that "Linux" is only a kernel... not an OS. Many on /. have posted this, but it needs to be said until all of the idiots out there that contiunally talk about "running Linux" get it through their thick, ignorant skulls. One should say that a Linux based OS that uses KDE is bloated... that would be true, but saying "Linux" is bloated is misrepresenting the issue entirely.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:49AM (#9387946) Homepage Journal

    Err, no. I've used more window managers under various *nix systems over the years than I care to count including Openview, Motif, Openlook, DCE, fvwm2, blackbox, WindowMaker, KDE2, KDE3, and Gnome.

    They all run fine if you shut off the extra eye candy, fade/slide effects, transparency, skinning images, etc.

    There are no CD player docklets on my desktop, nor midi managers, MP3 rippers, or anything else that wants to periodically check to see if it needs to do anything. If I need it, I'll start the app required at that time.

    In other words, modern window managers give you the option of leaving all the glitzy CPU-wasting eye and ear candy enabled, or you can have it fast. Even WindowsXP has the same problem -- you have to shut all the junk off before it'll respond with any kind of speed.

    As to memory requirements, I'll just point out that the window managers being compared don't include all the audio and internet hooks that KDE or Gnome do. Modern users expect those hooks, and they take space. Get over it.

  • Re:That's why (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dementedWabbit ( 675528 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:51AM (#9387972)
    Amen. It's comments like that which make new users (YES I AM NEW TO LINUX, AND I WANT MY GUI DAWGGARNIT) cringe at the prospect. I don't have the money to blow on a new top-of-the-line spankmeister of a pc; I find my Celeron 600 with 256mb RAM does almost everything I want - at a decent speed - on Win2K (pfft!). And Win95. And WinNT. And Win98 (but that's a sad story). Yet install a recent copy of Linux (most recently tried Mandrake 10 - and no, that's not the only flavour I've tried); the pc goes so fast it almost catches up with a cooked fillet of fish on dry land running from Barney the ShoeMouse! That's using plain old default install (ie like a newbie). I think the guys out there who make things count should look at this as being a major issue with Linux and fix that FIRST before trying to compete in mainstream. Because until Linux stops being so top-heavy, it will be popular - yes! it is VERY stable, yes! it has uber-benefits, but it will never take over other OS' as a realistic alternitive. Well, my 2c, anyway (cowers behind flame-retardant underwear).
  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @11:52AM (#9387986)
    There is more use to terminals than compiling your kernel over and over as well.

    Just because someone has no need for a gui doesn't make them elitist. The grandparent post was mainly refering to experienced computer users. Obviously a beginner needs more help, but experianced users who use DEs (I use Gnome myself even though I like to think of myself as hardcore) do it mainly because it looks nice and it has gimmicks, that's why I have always either used Gnome or KDE and am not planning on giving them up.

    One can achieve a lot through a text interface, it is not the only way to do things, but it is a legitimate way to do things, and for many people it is the most efficient way to do something. File operations are especially fast from the console. Things like spreadsheets and video editors can be invoked through the console with FVWM just fine.

    I agree with the grandparent. If you have the skills to live without one, using a DE is a personal preference. I have chosen to use one because of my playful instinct and the grandparent has chosen not to use one because of their desire for efficiency. These are both legitimate causes of action.

  • No, it isn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:01PM (#9388076) Journal
    The point of the article is that mainstream desktop distros are not any better off than windows xp in terms of requirements. Therefore, they cannot be used to replace windows 98 instalations on corperate desktops and as a consequence linux is losing a major oppertunity. That is the only point the author was trying to make.
  • Re:That's why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oogoliegoogolie ( 635356 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:03PM (#9388091)
    Oh Oh, I think I smell an engineer here!

    Do people honestly use file selector windows and drag and drop, and find that more efficient than tab completing in a terminal window?

    What do you mean by 'more efficient'. It takes less time? It takes less energy? Are you saying you get a stiffy because you you burn 1 less calorie every 10 minutes using tab completion compared to drag n drop? Please explain what you mean by 'more efficient'

    Do I just need more practice?
    I think you need a life and a more open mind. Not everyone uses computers to be "efficient." Do you measure the worth of everything you have or do in your life by it's efficiency? If you do then I feel sorry for you.

  • Re:Well duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skiflyer ( 716312 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:05PM (#9388113)
    I think the 2.6 kernel has done alot towards this as well... I know I have a 500 MhZ machine with 196 Megs of RAM, and have tried distro after distro trying to resurrect that machine as a desktop with little luck because of general slowness. But then came the 2.6 Kernel and KDE 3.2... and that combination makes it useable.
  • by KarmaMB84 ( 743001 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:15PM (#9388248)
    If you can start typing in the WORD PROCESSOR, it's pretty much ready to use, isn't it?
  • by TimeZone ( 658837 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:21PM (#9388336)
    Running old distributions is not a great idea. Remember all those security notices that you ignored? Well, they didn't go away. Old (unupdated) Linux distributions make great targets for script kiddies.
  • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:22PM (#9388348)
    That's funny. So, XFree86 is faster, yet looks slower. Windows is slower, yet looks faster. Now, call me weird, but I'd prefer something that seems faster to something that is faster, as if it's faster to me, that's all that matters.

    This is the same ol' get-out-of-zealotry-free card that gets slung around on slashdot. is slower than the big bad alternative? Pah! is faster, but looks slower! So there!


  • Re:That's why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mysticalfruit ( 533341 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:23PM (#9388359) Homepage Journal
    Tragically, you still have those scars on your arms where you had to drain a pint of your blood into a small window carved from the hip bone of a midget suspended over a copper bowl and chant a bunch of phrases that you didn't understand before you could get it to work.

    Granted, you still have todo all that stuff for linux, but instead of a window it's a small ivory penguin...
  • by scruffy ( 29773 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:24PM (#9388371)
    We can't expect KDE, GNOME, or OO to suddenly trim down to where we can run them on old PCs. Someone else will need to "scratch an itch" to accomplish this task. If we are thinking of third-world countries, I would think that there are certainly enough programmers in those areas (considering the outsourcing boom) to accomplish this mission.
  • by RdsArts ( 667685 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:26PM (#9388418) Homepage Journal
    And I'll say it again. KDE and GNOME not only want the broken UI behaviors of Windows, but the bloat as well.

    If you look at the Amiga, RISCOS, and (for the most part) the Macintosh, they achieved unbelievable usablity not because they had flashy libraries or k3wl tr4nsp4r3nt t3rm1n4lz, it's because they use the hardware well and tried to give a small, innovative UI to the user. Just because their not mainstream you might not see them, but look at XFCE and ROX. Both are desktops (hell, ROX is trying to write our own desktop apps) that take the GTK libraries and make fast, powerful, and small desktops that do their jobs and do them well. Not only are their easier to debug, they are easier to use and faster even on dated hardware because they are not trying to be the massive beasts KDE and GNOME are pushing them to be.

    You will not see ROX push a web browser into ROX-Filer. You won't see XFCE do alpha-blending in the dock. You'll just see programs that do a job, and do it well. With GNOME's main library.

    They follow the UNIX way which has been lost on the big desktops and it shows.

    For a example of how bad the big desktops are at deciding where to put things, look at the fake SSH/FTP/HTTP/HTTPS things in KDE via FISH, and GNOME via GNOME-VFS. THESE SHOULD NOT BE DONE BY THE DESKTOP AT THE LEVEL THEY ARE! They should be pushed to a small userland daemon at best, or a small combination of userland and kernelspace at worst. This way all apps could use them seemlessly and without the massive overhead of bringing in Yet Another Library, including current commandline tools, without changing a line of code. It's simple things like that that bloat them, and as they act as a point of code "contention," hurt them both because it forces KDE developers to work on one implementation, and GNOME developers to work on another.

    And for the last time, UI and library bloat != UI ease of use. Just look at the old Macs. If a interface is correctly done, even if it bares no resemblence to a existing one, the time to relearn it should be trivial.
  • Re:That's why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:27PM (#9388428)
    Not every window manager arranges your files and apps like a desktop, putting things where you left them, not giving you nasty surprises, working in a way that makes sense to anyone who doesn't give a damn about window managers. It's taken GNOME / KDE long enough to get to that point, and they're all the better for it.

    While I appreciate that GNOME / KDE aren't the lightest WMs, they're about the only ones that are proper desktops as far as mere mortals are concerned.

    I'm sure you could get similar functionality by cobbling a WM, a terminal app, some kind of file browser, etc. I've put up with that kind of crap on Unix for 15 years when lesser machines such as the Mac, Amiga, Atari ST etc. had it way back then. I'm glad that the mainstream has finally left that kind of mentality behind. It doesn't stop anyone using GNUStep or E or CDE or whatever, but unless you are seriously strapped for memory, or the box lives most of its life unattended there is little point.

    Personally I just enjoy having a proper desktop because I despise screwing around in some config file to add a lousy icon or to change the screen resolution, or having to run mix and match apps to be able to browse files, networks, printers etc. when they are all inconsistent with each other and the WM. Give me GNOME any day.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:33PM (#9388526) Homepage Journal

    ... to put it mildly.

    The fact is that on my home machine, in Windows 2000, I have more free RAM and faster boot up times _with_ IE loaded (if nothing else as a desktop/file manager), than in KDE _without_ Konqueror loaded.

    I see exactly the opposite, and so do my coworkers, who primarily use Windows. Starting a year or so ago, they've all been pushing hard to get us new laptops with 1GB of RAM, because the tools we use just don't fit in 512MB... on Windows. On Linux, I can run DB/2, Websphere Application Server and Websphere Application Developer in 512 MB without hitting swap... with swap *off* if I want to, whereas their machines with the same stuff running grind continually.

    (Note: To run with swap off, I have to use a different Window Manager... KDE pushes me over the edge and into mild swapping -- nowhere near as bad as on Windows, however).

    As far as the size of KDE, well here are my numbers: With Linux 2.6, X and blackbox running, my laptop (Debian unstable) consumes 28MB of RAM just after boot, excluding disk cache and kernel buffers. With KDE 3.2 instead of blackbox, that number rises to 114MB, and that includes a hidden Konqueror instance, a bunch of systray apps and one GNOME app. So KDE plus some GNOME consumes 86MB more than blackbox, which is a very minimal WM. That's a lot, but it's hardly "hundreds and hundreds" of MB. Starting openoffice pushes that up by another 20MB. Mozilla (full suite) is about 40MB.

    Getting back to the Windows comparisons, with Linux and KDE, my system runs acceptably well with 128MB of RAM, swapping a bit, but not too badly. With Windows 2000 it's horrible with only 128MB. It boots up okay, but as soon as I start trying to run more than one app... ugh.

    With 1GB (hey, I may not *need* the RAM like the Windows users, but I'm not going to turn it down!) in my new laptop, I never yet seen my box even touch the swapfile, even with KDE, Mozilla, OpenOffice, WS, WSAD and a couple of small GNOME apps running. After being up for a while, I always see nearly 100% of RAM in use, but that's because Linux uses it for disk cache, which is a good thing.

    Meanwhile, my colleagues running Windows can push their 1GB machines into swap -- although it's difficult.

    Since my basis for comparison is machines running a certain set of heavyweight development tools, it's possible that the difference isn't actually Linux/KDE vs Windows, but rather the implementation of those tools on the two platforms. However, since the bulk of the tools (and the part that consumes lots of RAM) is all implemented in Java, and therefore is the same code, it's hard to see how the tools could differ that much across the platforms.

    So, I'm not saying you don't see what you see, but something is clearly different, because I see completely different behavior on both my Debian and my Gentoo systems (the Gentoo box consumes less RAM than the Debian boxes for the same set of running packages, at close to the same versins).

  • Re:Memory is Cheap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gothzilla ( 676407 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:35PM (#9388547)
    How is $250 cheap? That's part of this whole issue. Quite a large number of people consider $250 to be a lot of money, especially for ram. Besides I think Dell is ripping you off. According to price watch, PC4400 DDR 512 meg ram is going for $174 right now. PC2100 is $48. For me with 4 kids, $48 is a lot of money to spend on ram. Thats a pair of shoes right there.
    The reason this is an issue for me is that if I can't afford to buy new computers every few years for me and my kids then we're left behind in a technology black hole. I used to think that we could always use the latest greatest version of *nix but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Just like we still have to run win98 on some computers, we'll have to keep using old versions of *nix.
  • Re:That's why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pestie ( 141370 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:36PM (#9388559) Homepage
    This is part of why I love Slashdot - we're such a schizophrenic bunch. On the one hand we're pissing and moaning that Linux isn't accepted as a desktop OS, but when someone points out that KDE and Gnome are just as slow as WinXP we're all about command lines and window managers from the late triassic period. Yes, I realize Slashdot is made up of countless individual members, each belonging to various "camps," and that certain stories tend to bring out the loudest and proudest of whatever camps felt most agitated by the article in question. We have, in no particular order:
    • The "nobody needs a GUI anyway" elitists
    • The "nobody needs anything more than fvwm/twm/WindowMaker" elitists
    • The people who wish Linux was more like MacOS, only cheaper
    • The people who wish Linux was more like Windows 95/98/2K/XP, only cheaper
    • The "I use my computer to do stuff, not just recompile my goddamned kernel" crowd
    I could go on, but you get my point. Nobody's ever going to be truly happy, and everyone's going to find something to bitch about, despite the fact that GNU/Linux/*BSD/Open Source/Free Software gives us all a frightening array of options that will allow us geeks to build exactly the operating environment we want. This is our reward for being the "smart kids," and the only thing it costs us is a little time and effort.

    Apparently, though, there are some who feel that somehow they're owed this level of flexibility, but with easy, one-click installtion, too, as if the latest installers should simply read our minds and know how we want everything configured. OK, maybe that's not the mindset - what these people actually seem to be thinking is, "my way is clearly best - why can't everyone just make it work like that?" Grow up, people. Seriously.

    FWIW, I just installed Mandrake 10 on my 400 Mhz PII (256M RAM, 60G total HD) at home. For the first time I decided to make a real effort to use my Linux box as a desktop system. For the most part I've been extremely successful. The vast majority of what I use my PC for is net-related, and 98% of what I did in WinXP I could do in Linux. I was already using Mozilla as my browser and e-mail client anyway, etc. But there was absolutely no doubt that KDE runs slow as ass on a system of that vintage. I look forward to the day when I can just drop $500 or so on a nice, cheap 3 Ghz system to replace that old dinosaur. But for now I'll continue the experiment and enjoy life in Linux-land, despite the fact that that old machine would run Win98SE a hell of a lot faster than it runs Linux/KDE right now. If I really need to I can fall back to my 1.1 Ghz, 512M RAM Duron running XP.

  • Infiltration (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) * on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:42PM (#9388638) Homepage Journal
    This article is really an attack on the what Miguel calls the "infiltration" strategy. The writer keeps talking about new users from the Windows world, and the disappointment they'll face when they try to use the distributions that try to recreate a Windows-like environment and run Windows-like apps.

    It's a mistake to paint it in broad strokes and say the Linux desktop is getting slow. One type of approach to a desktop is slow.

    So when people talk about 10 GHz CPUs with so much hope and optimism, I cringe. We WON'T have the lightning-fast apps. We won't have near-instant startup.
    Yes, we will, it's just that my "we" is different than your "we." But he knows this:
    Sure, you can just about get by with IceWM, Dillo, AbiWord, Sylpheed et al. But let's face it, they don't rival Windows software in the same way as GNOME/KDE, Moz/Konq, and Evolution.
    Yeah, they don't rival them, in the sense that they don't suck enough. :-) Evolution has a lot of really weird crap in it, that a lot of people would never expect (or want) to find in a mailreader. Evolution sucks.

    Obviously, when I say Evolution sucks compared to Sylpheed, I'm speaking from a certain point of view. But when he says Evolution is better than Sylpheed, so is he: he's talking from the infiltration point of view. Ok, so infiltration is having a problem. But let's just be honest about the limited scope and premises behind what we're saying, ok?

    Oh, and..

    Why should a 1 GHz box with Fedora be so much slower than a 7 MHz Amiga?
    This isn't a realistic expectation. The Amiga is never going to be matched by anything mainstream; not enough people care about snappiness for there ever to be a sufficiently critical-mass market. But the better Linux desktops (not Gnome and KDE) can get to within a factor of about ten, and given the hardware situation (a machine is now considered "old" if it only has ten times the processing power as the fastest 68k Amiga) that's good enough. But quit expecting it from Gnome; Gnome's goal isn't to be like an Amiga, it's to be like Windows. Did Miguel ever say he was trying to make an environment that the huge Amiga market would comfortably migrate to? ;-)

    Now I just gotta find a file manager comparable to DOpus 5.x...

  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:43PM (#9388656)
    Yes, I think that's the point, and that a lot of people didn't read the article - it's not that both Windows and Linux desktops are getting fat (they both are), but Linux with one of the two major desktop packages is actually performing WORSE on the same hardware, with debatebly less features.

    It used to be that you could argue that you could take that old machine and instead of throwing it away and buying a costly new system, or spending a lot to upgrade it, you could just switch to Linux and get the same or better responsiveness as Windows running on a new box.

    Now it's reversed itself. Keep in mind we are limiting the subject to the big two Linux desktops, which are what a new user would be expected to use.
  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:44PM (#9388677)
    Despite all the +5 upmods in this article describing very valid criticism of poorly programmed desktop emulators like KDE, nothing will change.

    I've been saying for YEARS how Linux desktop environments are jokes, are bloated, are slower than Windows, and more. I've been knocked down as troll, modbombed, told my opinions are flat-out wrong, and been called a "Microsoft shill" more times than I can count. The fact is a large part of the Linux community will never leave its little shell and realize the truth of things. They're too busy circle-jerking over the latest version of KDE because it "sure shows Microsoft."

    All your criticisms are valid, but nothing will change. We'll continue to get bigger and slower versions of KDE and GNOME and XFree86. Nobody wants to change, because a lot of Linux users fear change. We just HAVE to still be able to run xclock, right? Heaven forbid we move off of old technology and try something new [].

    Linux is always getting feedback like this from users, but developers ignore it. The community will tell you "so where's your patch?" or "don't criticize a volunteer effort." The developers don't seem to have any sense of sanity when it comes to mature, professional desktop design. It's still the same hacky, silly, amateurish attitude from 1998 when these projects first began. I mean, compare the "feel" of using OS X to the "feel" of using KDE. This subtlety is what volunteer hackers working on 20 more sidebar buttons for Konquerer lack.

    It's become a penis size contest. "Microsoft has Win32? We'll have Xlib, GTK, WxWindows, QT, Mono, etc. etc.!" The idealistic "freedom of choice" absolutist mentality was a neat idea for the magazines in the late 90s when Linux was a poster child, but that era has died and gone and now it's about RESULTS. No, you don't need two desktop environments. Any sane individual would see that we have wasted over half a decade in spreading our efforts across two desktop emulators when Linux needs one really good one. Think in terms of a project manager--would you have your teams working on two projects that do the exact same damn thing in order to give your customers "choice" between them? No, you'd combine efforts to make the single product you put out extremely good, so the user WON'T NEED to choose anything else. Because in all honesty, copping out to the choice excuse is just laziness being justified with ideology. "But this is how we've done it since the late 90s! It's all about choice!"

    Everyone wants to reinvent the wheel. Everyone wants to do things a different way. The result is this massively huge mess of desktop incompatibility that looks completely unprofessional to everyone outside the niche communities that embrace it because it's "not M$." When someone like me brings up the need for standards, there is always the requisite reference, even though fd.o has done jack-shit to bring KDE and GNOME together. When exactly does this mysterious combining of standards occur? It's all hype to shrug off criticism.

    Think of all the time that's been wasted. We could have developed one incredible development library, running underneath one incredible desktop environment. Commercial apps might have existed by now because they would know they could put out a binary installer (you know, since there would be a binary installation/uninstallation API instead of relying on whatever hacky package manager exists on the command-line) that would always be able to install and run on the environment. You know how you can run Office 95 even today on XP? Companies need that kind of assurance, as do consumers.

    It would be one thing if people just admitted where things really are. "We do have a lot of redundancies and amateurish approaches to these solutions, but someday we do plan to get there." That would at least be respected. But no, it's "KDE and GNOME blow OS X and Windows out of the water! There is absolutely no reason to use anything else!
  • by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @12:52PM (#9388826)
    Desktop Linux will never happen until dependancies can be quickly and easily resolved (even if it means each app that would run comes with its own copy of every library it needs and keeps it in its local folder -- Windows style) and there's no building from source.

    Windows works the way it does because the Kernel is virtually unchanged during updates...the external API and syscalls don't change. (XP SP2 changes a few of them to be more secure, that is however, the last time I can remember an API change in the middle of a revision.)

    Linux desktop already works for basic stuff -- but to be a truely multipurpose desktop, we can't have desktop users futz around with dependancies, compling from source ./configure;make;make install type things. Too complicated for regular people, although not too bad for people like us.
  • Re:Well duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iplayfast ( 166447 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @01:02PM (#9388991)
    Because the environments you are talking about are two different animals. In one (windows) it's the operating system, in the other it's the desktop environment. You can choose to not run a desktop environment or run a different one because it is separate from the operating system in unixs. In windows it's integrated.

    So just to sum up.
    In KDE, Konqurer is integrated into the desktop environment, but you can freely use another browser, or another desktop.

    In Windows, Internet Explorer is integrated into the operating system but you can freely use another browser, but you are still stuck with Explorer integrated in the operating system.

    get it?
  • by aetherspoon ( 72997 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @01:05PM (#9389034) Homepage
    It is one registry key!*
    Ye gods, I mean, most shells' installers even change the key for you!

    Mind you, this is coming from someone who is using Litestep as a shell and a heavily modified command line as a file manager, but come on... no need to exaggerate what you just did. Maybe it is just because you were too "anti-Windoze" to realize that Windows is actually not nearly as difficult as you make it seem. Linux isn't that difficult either.

    *(This is, of course, only for NT4/2000/XP - Under a 9x, you don't even open the registry to do it!)
  • by tjwhaynes ( 114792 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @01:09PM (#9389108)
    But if that's true, then why does word still load faster if I'm using the Crossover Office plug-in under linux? That removes all of the pre-loaded .dll arguments, now doesn't it?

    I'm not pretending that isn't slow at getting started. In fact I wrote precisely that in the last paragraph of my parent post. On my A31p Thinkpad, Writer takes 8 seconds to pop up the flash screen and a further 8 seconds to complete loading on the first attempt. Once cached, a reload takes 1 second to pop up the flash screen and 2 more seconds to pop up the main screen. Loading an entire Word processing application from disk (not cached memory) in sub-second time isn't possible on todays machines without some tricks, whether they be file caching, library pre-loading or popping up the window to give feedback to the user even though you can't actually start using that window for several more seconds.

    Note also that my parent post said a Default MS Word install. Not a customized install. Most people breeze through the install clicking next and leaving the defaults alone so Startup wizard is almost certainly on for most MS Word users.

    Toby Haynes

  • Re:That's why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by override11 ( 516715 ) <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @01:19PM (#9389230) Homepage
    Or maybe you could make some 'default icons' yourself and submit them to the dev maintainers to be included in the next release...
  • by GridPoint ( 588140 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @01:21PM (#9389262)
    As a previous poster said, if a GUI system "feels" slow, it is slow. If the system "gives the impression" of being fast, it is fast.

    The only evaluation criteria of a GUI is user perception, not "number of widgets per second" or "number of window moves per second". User perception is notoriously hard to measure, however, so people tend to revert to the "number of X per second" style measurements. Such measurements are useless, unless they can be tied to user perception (such as "more widgets per second makes the system feel more responsive").
  • Re:Well duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by urbaneassault ( 233554 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @01:26PM (#9389326) Homepage
    Excellent points, and it made me crack up in cubetopia. I think the poster voiced some of the major issues facing us as we push for a greater punch into the desktop market.
    Windows/blows/whatever isn't the answer for all, and the best way to get people to switch is to make them feel at home. "At Home" shouldn't also recreate the memory footprint of windows. We have an OS that, at its foundation, can run circles around the competition, yet we see the major distros package KDE and Gnome as default managers. Things like prelink help, but it's still a clunky way to solve the infinite library problem plaguing desktop linux today.
  • Re:That's why (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ikoL ( 159552 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @01:37PM (#9389472)
    Actually, I've had more success introducing windows users to WindowMaker than the more "windowslike" managers. Generally I found that if it looked too much like windows people kept deciding to treat it "just like windows"; which kept causing problems because many individual elements were quite different.
    WindowMaker was simple to learn and different enough that people focused on learning new skills rather than retraining old ones.

    But that's just my experience, your milage may vary
  • by gamartin ( 145290 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @01:57PM (#9389810)

    The idea of this post needs to be strengthened: this is how the standard software development cycle works; first make it work, then make it work better. In this case the 'it' seems to be catching up to the Windows desktop; we can argue whether this is a good goal, but it seems to be a necessary goal that is getting a lot of broad attention.

    Think about how open source development works -- the single most important issue is 'Is there a way to do it?' That's what matters -- you're cool if you find a way to solve a problem. Initially nobody cares if the solution is inefficient. Only later, when things are more stable and there are relatively few complaints about lack of features, do performance and efficiency become important.

    Let's face it... the linux kernel is much farther along the optimization curve than the GNOME/KDE projects and OpenOffice; GNOME/KDE and OpenOffice are still throwing out major new functionality left and right with all the inefficiencies inherent in that process. Only when the user interface issues stabilize, meaning all the necessary functionality is basically there to compete with Windows, will thoughts turn to issues of performance and efficiency. For me personally, the point where the Open Source desktops were good enough was passed several years ago; perhaps this thread indicates it's been passed for a much larger number of people as well.

    Here's an idea specifically for GNOME/KDE to chew on: the UI should be like a typical game and adjust its behavior to the resources available on the machine -- an old machine with few resources should not even attempt animations or textures, while a new machine with many resources could. A mature UI should be able to adjust to available resources to optimize the user experience.

    Similarly, the OpenOffice people are aware of the speed problems, and are balancing them with cries for important features.

    More generally, this is just standard software development -- get it working, then get it working well.

    The only reason we can even hope that Open Source will work better than Windows in the long run is that ideally Open Source will settle around proven long term stable solutions which will be polished to work very well (such as the Unix-style influences with the proven 30 year track record), rather than the Windows world which requires the upgrade treadmill to generate revenues and constantly writing new code for solutions in search of problems. If Open Source development continually thrashes around on the feature treadmill and never settles on stable solutions, there is no reason to expect Open Source to be any better than commercial. Let's hope that GNOME/KDE are simply in the process of converging toward a fairly stable idea of what a 'modern desktop' is, and OpenOffice is converging toward a fairly stable idea of what a 'modern office suite' is. Beware the Microsoft strategy of competition by feature war and constant distraction with new technologies -- not every feature and technology is important.

  • Re:Well duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by np_bernstein ( 453840 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @02:24PM (#9390223) Homepage
    Should have just tried windowmaker. It takes a little while getting used to the idea of not having a file browser, but once you do, it's amazingly lightweight, clean and neat. I use it on all my older machines.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @02:43PM (#9390482)
    i would have let it go but... who the hell wants to worry about object frameworks? i want a system to run my applications without me worrying about the way they were developed. i want to start a bunch of applications and do multitasking without any of those worries. remember, not every person who uses a computer is a developer.
  • Re:That's why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @03:03PM (#9390715) Homepage
    Note also that Windows uses a lot of "cheats" (or clever programming, depending on who you ask) to make the system appear fast

    Here we go...

    for instance showing the login screen for Windows 2000 and its successors BEFORE the system has finished loading and all daemons have started running.

    This is true. True more so for XP than 2000. But that doesn't make it any faster because there's still a couple of seconds where you can't do jack shit even though the screen is already "drawn". Never fooled me, really. But then again, I've never seen Linux (any distro with any window manager or not) boot faster than Windows. I'm sure you can boot Linux in about 3 seconds if you spend 4 months tweaking it and that's been done as a cool geek experiment, but the average Linux user (if there's ever such a thing) probably won't go there anyway, and neither will the major user-oriented distros.

    And also we have the thing with IE and lots of other MS software being loaded in the background wether you ask or not

    OK, let's do a little experiment. Load up Windows. Download Geoshell [] and reboot. Now, load up Process explorer [] and try to find a single instance of a process mapping the IE render library (mshtml). No? OK, now load IE. How fast was that? Now load Mozilla or Firefox. This whole "oh teh M$ is teh cheat" is absolutely bogus. IE is simply fast, and Mozilla is simply slow. Period. That doesn't make one a better browser than the other, but I'm not going there.

    and only hiding the icons instead of unloading them when the user tries to "close" them thereby sacrificing memory to gain percieved speed for the user.

    What exactly do you mean? When I close a window I expect the process to go away and be unloaded. If anything the executable image will remain in memory and it will load without swapping next time, but are you saying that Windows "hides" windows instead of unloading their processes when I ask it to? That's nuts. Or are you referring to this []? Heh. You really don't believe the argument that this problem is a Microsoft issue, right? Because the only application that has that problem happens to be Mozilla.

  • Toys and Tools (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ChozCunningham ( 698051 ) <slashdot DOT org ... nningham DOT com> on Thursday June 10, 2004 @04:03PM (#9391428) Homepage
    Different /.'ers obviously use the computer for diffrent tasks. Defining text interfaces (tool) and graphic interfaces (toy) seems a bit simplistic division, and leads to so many elitist flames and division of camps. There are toys that operate from both in the windows world, as well as tools. A GUI is abstraclty more versatile (since a CLI can be implented within it), as well more usable to the masses.

    I'd have to say that I am not only more productive on a computer because it's easier to learn new tools, but that the gui itself is one of the main tools I use. I use the desktop not only to switch between apps, but as a clipbook/news reader/clock/media player, and only do so because it it is convienent enough to not interfere with "work" I have to do on the same machine. Those are tools I couldn't take advantage of in a CLI-only space.

    As a new linux user, I find it horrifically interesting that there aren't any(?) DE's that allow one to work without a shell. Constantly, one has to open command shells to perform trivial tasks. When adding that to learning a semi-functional DE, I understand why so many people are linux-shy. I must give props to Kuake for taking some of the sting out of this, but it seems it should be in every distro's default DE, since they require a terminal so much.

    This may lead to a bit of hatred from both sides, but the complete integration of basic UI (classic), graphic features (skins) and a command line (adress bar, command prompt) in XP is one interesting solution. Additionally, the XP installation takes a more friendly approach to what a user's GUI should look like for them: By default all the graphic bells and whistles are "on" and can be turned off by those experienced and inclined to do so. I think this is an important advancement over a typical linux distro's philosophy, which has a lot of features (sub-pixel blending, etc.) "off" by default. Users inclined to seek these features are those least interested in using them.

    Despite all the windows-bashing here, perhaps people should appreciate what they have done well (as well as bash their wicked ways). A great solution would be a new linux based GUI that offers 100% of shell functionality (and no prettiness), rather than "live on top" of an existing CLI, and then develop optional graphic touches as a layer above that. This would scale as well, or better, the current MS offering. Graphic flourishes could be added later in a consistent and pleasant manner.

  • Re:That's why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nametaken ( 610866 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @04:27PM (#9391732)
    I've always thought one of the greater strong points of linux distros is that there is so much choice and variety.

    I'm typing this from a IBM 385XD which runs at a blazing 233 mhz, and sports 32MB of ram.

    I'm using my orinoco wireless for networking, listening to streaming radio with xmms from shoutcast, and using firefox for my daily slashdot reading.

    MOST importantly, I'm not the worlds biggest linux guru. I didn't do any intense tweaking for performance on my own. I got everything running using a modified knoppix-debian distro called "damn small linux". As knoppix always is... a very easy to install and use base.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2004 @04:39PM (#9391884)
    Why not use the Win Key, instead of these fingers stretching key combination ? Why not just use that very Win key just for the Window manager, and keep the other ones (Ctrl, Alt, Meta, Compose, Whatever) for regular applications, since regular applications usually depend on these anyway ?
  • by Quixadhal ( 45024 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @04:40PM (#9391905) Homepage Journal
    When I first started setting up linux as a server and as a desktop (rather than just fiddling with it), we had the brand new 1.2 kernel series, and X11R4.

    Back then, we built a 486/133 machine with a whopping 16M of RAM, and an uber-l33t Vesa Local Bus video card (3dfx #9, if I remember correctly).

    Loading up a dozen text shells, a copy of netscape with several windows open, xpaint, emacs(!), and a few dozen copies of xeyes... it REFUSED to swap!

    We were finally able to get it to swap by loading GNU Chess and having it play itself (which forks a second copy and talks over sockets).

    Our first server was "tested" with 4 Megs of RAM and a copy of DOOM under both DOS and Linux. The linux version performed better.

    Now, given that the 1.2 kernel could perform remarkably well with X windows and netscape, for what should be considered a "normal" workload... why is it that virtually every distro I can find today feels like a salt-crust grill with molassas syrup and eats up enough ram just sitting there idle to choke Bill Gates's horse?

    From my whitebox linux desktop at work, here are the top 10 Bloated Sacs running right now...

    18020 15216 Mar10 ./setiathome -nice 19
    18384 2560 Mar08 /usr/bin/gnome-session
    18504 1020 Mar23 /usr/local/pgsql/bin/postmaster
    19476 668 16:26 sort -n -k 5
    22692 6736 Mar08 gnome-panel
    36088 5096 Mar08 nautilus
    36736 14344 Mar08 gnome-terminal
    69616 38132 13:28 thunderbird-bin
    76276 47712 13:34 firefox-bin
    116172 40324 Mar04 /usr/X11R6/bin/X

    Note that this is 40+14+5+6+3 = 68M of RAM just to allow me to have a prompt. Yes, I know I could stop using gnome, but that only trims the outside fat.. the marbled fat inside X11R6 and the mozilla twins are harder to get at.

    Do I get MORE done now with all this cr@p running than I did 10 years ago? Nope. Do you?
  • by orasio ( 188021 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @06:08PM (#9392731) Homepage
    That would be good UI design, hiding the load times from the user, as long as that feature does not create new errors. We are not discusing some race, it's about the time, and the experience of the user.
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @06:51PM (#9393070) Journal
    Obsolesence is just the way of computing

    Since when? I can't think of anything that makes that a rule. Sure, CPU-intensive applications won't work on old, slow machines (what makes them "crappy" btw?), but why is it that programs which don't have any more features than their predicessors need to waste several orders of magnitude more RAM and CPU power?

    What does Mozilla do that Netscape 3 didn't? What is it doing with all that CPU power? Dillo isn't fully developed yet, but it's well on track to get all the features a browser needs, all while being incredibly easy on resources.

    What is it that Evolution, KMail, and Mozilla-mail and all the rest need all the massive resources for? Sylpheed does practically everything a MUA could need to do, all while using a fraction of the resources of the more popular ones.

    Why is it that OpenOffice needs massive ammounts of RAM and CPU power? Abiword uses practically no resources by comparison, yet it has many of the same features. Sure, it's not done yet, but how could 25% more features mean a program that takes 1000X as long to start-up?

    Nobody is complaining that they can't play-back Divx video on their 100MHz system... Everyone is complaining that many programs have massively high resource requirements FOR NO REASON AT ALL. It's not as if GNOME is now made up of full motion video, animated graphics, etc. It's doing all the same things it was doing years ago, yet it's taking more resources to do all the same things...

  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @07:28PM (#9393355) Homepage
    On a dual-boot Fedora/XP 2600 Athlon I administer the difference is staggering.

    Boot time (from GRUB menu to login screen):

    Windows XP/Lunar: ~20 seconds
    Fedora/XFree86/gdm: ~1.5 minutes

    I don't know what Microsoft do, but they've tuned their boot process something wicked.

    Granted, a stock Fedora install runs a whole lot more services (apache, sendmail), but I'm sure it can be much faster.

    Many services don't need to run in series. For example, the random number generator can be started while ethernet discovery is taking place, or sendmail can start up while X is probing the monitor. Similar reasons why a 'make -j4' runs so much faster than 'make'; the two bottlenecks when compiling (or loading an OS), cpu and disk, just aren't being used the whole time, one is usually waiting on the other at any given time.

    Time to experiment with the & parameter...

  • Re:That's why (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zirtix ( 443841 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @07:45PM (#9393466) Homepage
    With respect:
    There may be "people who wish Linux was more like MacOS, only cheaper". But I think there are also a lot of people who wish Linux was more like MacOS, only freer.
  • by spoco2 ( 322835 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @07:50PM (#9393488)
    You've hit the ol' nail on the head there, Slashdot will always have people who bitch and moan about something.

    However: The thing is that a large chunk of comments and articles these days on Slashdot are about 'Linux becoming mainstream', 'This year is Linux's year', 'Why the f*ck isn't the entire world using Linux dammit?', 'Windows suxxors'

    So, the retort to the increasing realisation that each year that Linux is supposed to be 'the' desktop environment that slips by with it still floundering is: 'Make Linux usable for the average desktop user'.

    How do you do that?

    Make it have an easy to use interface that is attractive and does everything the 'average' user wants...

    No, Windows has this... bitch and moan as much as you like about MS, but their interface works pretty darn well... people seem to be able to pick it up pretty well.

    "But, but look at those system specs you need"

    OK, so do better.

    Guess what?! Linux is finally getting desktops that work in a similar fashion, and they TAKE UP RESOURCES!

    You don't get things for nothing people... you're starting to see that maybe MS isn't quite as stupid and incompetant as you've always believed... that maybe it's not quite as bloated as you first believed... Hell, you've had the open source community slugging away at this for... how many years now? and they haven't really done any better... so give them a break and rather than trying to convince everyone that Windows really is shit, create something that comparable.
  • Re:No, wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by damiam ( 409504 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @09:59PM (#9394163)
    most users _want_ their desktop to do more. People want their _apps_ to do more.

    Most people don't distinguish between the apps and the desktop. People think of the computer as an appliance which does various tasks, not as an app on top of a desktop on top of a WM on top of a windowing system on top of a C lib on top of a kernel. The GNOME and KDE teams are trying to improve the overall user experience.

    This bullshit where GNOME is adding P2P and blogging, and KDE thinks it has to have 20,000 sidebar buttons and configuration panels on everything is completely ridiculous and unnecessary. All that stuff is supposed to be taken care of by the app writers.

    It is being taken care of by the app writers. Who do you think wrote the p2p and blogging apps? They didn't just pop out of thin air. You sound as if you think it's a bad thing that such apps are available.

  • by fitten ( 521191 ) on Thursday June 10, 2004 @10:34PM (#9394356)
    I haven't had my GUI or IE on Windows take my whole machine down since around 1999.
  • Re:That's why (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bulliver ( 774837 ) <(bulliver) (at) (> on Friday June 11, 2004 @12:57AM (#9395137) Homepage
    The real issue is why so many linux users feel the need to 'sell' linux to others. Sure some big players such as IBM try to sell linux as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that is not (nor ever was) the goal of Linus Torvalds, and a large majority of OS software developers. They just wanted to have their 'own' system to work and play with, rather than having the software they use dictated by a monopoly. Is it just me that's content to run my linux box and feel silently superior without pushing it on every windows user?
  • Re:That's why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lvdrproject ( 626577 ) on Friday June 11, 2004 @03:55AM (#9395775) Homepage

    Well... this is another problem i have with you guys. It just absolutely boggles my mind how such intelligent computer-savvy people can not use Windows. You guys can do things on Linux and BSD that put even the best Windows experts to shame... but you can't figure out how to use Windows. I mean, honestly, i can expect that some of you will have genuine problems with Windows, due to hardware incompatibilities, special software needs, and so forth, but every single time i suggest that Windows might be better than Linux at something, i get twenty people replying to me saying that Windows doesn't work and it's slow and it always crashes and la la la. I find that extremely hard to believe, unless (a) you haven't used Windows since Windows 98 (which was bad, yes) or (b) you tried Windows for 10 minutes and you were too lazy/zealous to try to solve your problem. But... i'm just ranting now. :)

    In any case, i guess we just don't have any luck with each other's OS of choice, because (unless you're talking about Windows 98) i don't really know what you're talking about. I have never once had my entire computer lock up because one program was doing something. Photoshop, gigantic beast that it is, can spend 30 seconds loading up on my computer, and i will be completely free to do anything else that i want while it is. My Windows machine boots up just as fast as, if not faster than, any Linux machine i've ever used. As far as image previews in Explorer, i do agree with you there -- images do take a few seconds to load in that. However, this could be a configuration problem, i dunno. (I know that i have caching of thumb-nails disabled on my machine because i don't often need to see the previews, so maybe that's it.) And i've never had to wait for the 'Open With' dialogue on my machine, either. It opens as soon as i dismiss that retarded 'wuld u liek windose 2 serch for ur program on teh intarweb??/' thing (which i hate, by the way).

    And, um, yeah. KDE isn't an OS. :/

    I like how i get modded a troll because i said something bad about Linux, by the way. Over-rated, i can understand, because what i said wasn't terribly fantastic, but come on. Suggesting that there's something Linux might suck at is not trolling.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie