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KDE 4 Uses 40% Less Memory Than 3 Despite Eye-Candy 566

Posted by Zonk
from the optimization-in-action dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Pro-Linux reports that KDE 4, scheduled to be released in January 2008, consumes almost 40% less memory than KDE 3.5, despite the fact that version 4 of the Free and Open Source desktop system includes a composited window manager and a revamped menu and applet interface. KDE developer Will Stephenson showcased KDE 4's 3D eye-candy on a 256Mb laptop with 1Ghz CPU and run-of-the-mill integrated graphics, pointing out that mini-optimizations haven't even yet been started." Update: 12/14 22:40 GMT by Z : Or, not so much. An anonymous reader writes "The author of the original KDE 3.5 vs KDE 4.0 memory comparison has come out with a more accurate benchmark. In reality, KDE 4.0 uses 110 MB more memory than KDE 3.5.8.
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KDE 4 Uses 40% Less Memory Than 3 Despite Eye-Candy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:43PM (#21692142)
    GNOME running WITHOUT Compiz requires a good 256MB.

    That's WITHOUT the eyecandy.

    Good job KDE! It's yet another reason to stop using GNOME, if all the Microsoft pandering wasn't enough.
  • Nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cairnarvon (901868) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:45PM (#21692166) Homepage
    Between this and Miguel de Icaza, it looks like I'll finally be switching to KDE.
  • xfce. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:51PM (#21692240)
    I'm not sure why anyone would run KDE or GNOME. The are both clunky.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:51PM (#21692242)
    ... with careful work. And a primary focus on excellence, instead of making money. And people that do care about their product.
  • Re:Nice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kusanagi374 (776658) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:52PM (#21692254)
    Absolutely. Either GNOME catches up or Kubuntu 8.10 will become mainstream Ubuntu.
  • Re:less memory! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jlarocco (851450) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:52PM (#21692264) Homepage

    I don't use KDE, but I use fluxbox so I can use my gigs of ram for actual applications. Until memory is literally free, all you "but memory is so cheap" people can kiss my ass.

  • by CajunArson (465943) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:56PM (#21692304) Journal
    Uh... if you saw the number of bugs currently open in this "release candidate" (and I use the term loosely) you might be a little more realistic and less idealistic. I use KDE exclusively, but I'm holding off a big permanent jump until this gets A LOT more polish. One problem with OSS is that there's plenty of work that needs to get done that isn't "fun" and people don't like to do the stuff that isn't "fun" for free. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's not important.
  • Re:Ohhhh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:56PM (#21692310) Homepage

    This is going to be interesting to see go down... what will Microsoft's response be??

    You've already heard Microsoft's entire planned response (i.e. nothing).

    If Microsoft were cornered on the question, their response would be "RAM is cheap and anything other than our software is crap anyway".

  • Re:Sweet! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OECD (639690) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:56PM (#21692312) Journal

    A non-functioning "release-candidate" uses 40% less memory than it's predecessor. Impressive.

    If it's a release candidate, it's functioning.

  • New Headline: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:59PM (#21692340) Homepage
    "KDE 3.5 Was A Major Memory Hog"
  • Re:xfce. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:24PM (#21692578)
    bash FTW !!!!!!
  • Re:Just tried (Score:5, Insightful)

    by value_added (719364) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:43PM (#21692740)
    Still, covering 1/4 of the screen sure didn't take much memory!

    Speaking of wasted space and distractions, and not to be trollish, but I've always wondered why it is that KDE and Gnome insist on using large-to-oversized-to-supersized icons for everything, KDE being notable in that it traditionally distinguishes itself with icons of brighter colors, in wilder designs, and offers greater customisability?

    Seems to me that the term eye-candy, while often used in a disparaging fashion, should refer to a certain kewl aesthetic, rather than literal candy of the M&M variety. It's almost the inverse of a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy episode -- instead of getting a great design from three flaming queers, you get a flaming queer design from a bunch of straight guys. Well, maybe not that bad, but still.

    I mean, really, do people really need toolbars that takes up a 1/3 of the space of an application window? Is the boredom threshold so low that everything has to be decorated with bright colours, or is it that people find it hard to to hit things with their mouse? Sure, both KDE and Gnome are better than Windows, but by the time you've customised things to be less ... well, goofy, you might as well have installed something like Fluxbox or go back to using nothing but xterms, learning to do without the more subtle but useful effects available or being developed elsewhere.
  • by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:49PM (#21692792) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure that Gnome is more fully featured than KDE... If anything KDE seems to have (with 3.5.1 at any rate) far more capabilities than any other DE that I have used (I was looking at E17 and XFCE about 5 months back), it is nice that those bells and whistles are easily tucked away to give the end user a clean and uncomplicated experience, yet sufficiently accessible if you find you need them.

    In this case the reduction in memory footprint really does seem to be down to better code / new and better technology than simply stripping out functionality and tweaking things so that they appear better. I used to hate doing windows installs because the install wizard would always point out that W95/W98/W2k/WXP was faster, more secure and more capable than its predecessors, something that was almost never true, as such I was concerned that the 'hype' about KDE4 being better, faster, lighter etc.. was just a ploy by KDE fans and marketeers, however for once it seems I can put mu scepticism away and look forward to the day KDE4 becomes available for Debian Stable.... :)
  • Re:Sweet! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kawahee (901497) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:00PM (#21692886) Homepage Journal

    MS is just looking more and more incompetent all the time.
    You're saying Microsoft is incompetent, but the KDE team just shaved layers of bloat off of the core code and did more with it in 40% less memory? It's not like we should be patting them on the back for fixing their own code.
  • by Ash-Fox (726320) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:29PM (#21693092)

    Too bad it doesn't look good.
    KDE4's appearance hasn't been even finalized yet.
  • by visualight (468005) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:30PM (#21693104) Homepage
    Are you kidding? It took me a minute to figure out what you're saying, because Gnome does in fact look "completely different" from XP, yet the Gnome camp likes to point to KDE and say "Clutter!". The "Gnome is Microsofts worst nightmare" clears things up, but man are you wrong. Users coming from Windows are Attracted to KDE, and Repulsed by Gnome, because Gnome looks completely different from XP and doesn't have any configuration options (clutter).

    In other words, Bill loves Gnome.

    Maybe that's why there's so many KDE users when Gnome comes as default on damn near everything.
  • by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:30PM (#21693106) Homepage Journal
    Totally, but then we (I assume I can include you in this) use the OS's we use because they are more adaptable and configurable, I couldn't care less what a default DE looks like, I have spent the last 6 years organising my working environment so that it works, the look and feel has evolved and is represents what works for me, not what some KDE Dev (bless them all) thinks is a good idea.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:43PM (#21693226) Homepage Journal

    * It is not a project of the self-proclaimed "free" or open-source software movement, and does not suffer from popular fads among it, such as Xft/fontconfig and autoconf.
    Ok, maybe Ion can run on smaller hardware, but it isn't exactly a feature worth trumpeting that the fonts are going to look like crap. Xft/fontconfig was a brilliant piece of work that finally put to rest all of the moronic "X11 is obsolete and must be completely replaced" ranting. While the dorks were chanting for X11 to be replaced, the Xft/fontconfig people were fixing the exact problems that were supposedly insurmountable. And they did so in a way that preserves X11's legendary network transparency.

    Omit this functionality if you wish but don't advertise it as a "feature."
  • misleading article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sentientbrendan (316150) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:53PM (#21693330)
    The summary incorrectly states that KDE 4 is demonstrated on a "56Mb laptop with 1Ghz CPU and run-of-the-mill integrated graphics."

    Actually, the article states that it was run on an X60. I have an X61 (almost identical) and let me tell you, those are not the specs. It has a core 2 duo with an embedded graphics card capable of playing halflife 2 and portal (although not at excellent frame rate).

    The article states that he used CPU scaling and some kernel arguments to reduce the system settings. This is actually very misleading and isn't equivalent to a system that ran at 1GHZ, as some commenters on his site point out.

    The CPU may be running at a lower clock rate and have one core disabled, but clock rate isn't the only thing that determines CPU speed. The core 2 duo comes with SSE3, which any real 1GHZ machine will not have, and is majorly impactful for graphics operations. Also, the core 2 duo is designed for energy efficiency much more than prior intel and AMD CPU's. So, it likely has significantly more instructions per clock than a real 1GHZ machine. Finally, the graphics card is actually pretty decent (vista aero runs on it fine...) so there's nothing surprising about the computer being able to offload a lot of work to it.

    So to summarize this computer has: SSE3, more clocks per cycle, and a nice graphics card that real machines of the 1GHZ era will not have. I'd be surprised if a machine with a lot higher MHZ but lacking SSE3 and the grpahics card could compete.

    Also, all he ran on it was an instant messenger... which he said started slow. If he'd down any significant work with that amount of ram given KDE apps, it would have started swapping endlessly. This is not much of an endorsement for KDE.

    Also, even if the claims of this article were true, which they aren't, it wouldn't be that impressive. I used to run OSX on a 333MHZ PPC with 32MB of ram, and it had all of the graphical glitzy crap that KDE and Gnome barely make work on high end machines. That a 1GHZ machine would seem impressive just shows how bloated and horribly slow modern desktops like vista, KDE, and Gnome have become.

    As a side note, if Gnome or KDE work on your hardware (good luck) then go with it. I know that at least Gnome is pretty well supported, and that makes using linux a bit easier. If not, I highly recommend XFCE. It lacks some features, but has a much lighter weight design, is more compatable with various hardware, and has a window manager that isn't a total piece of shit like metacity and friends. It is especially handy for a laptop with an external monitor. Since xinerama actually works in XFCE (it has major bugs in metacity) you can run both your external monitor at full resolution and your laptop at a lower one, and stick all of the small windows you want to monitor on it (instant messenger, email, etc).
  • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@nospaM.gmail.com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:59PM (#21693388) Homepage Journal
    Well, this 4.0 release shouldn't really be considered a full DE (by the developers' own admittance), but rather a framework, so comparing it to a full Gnome desktop isn't really fair.

    My typical Gnome desktop with everything running -- Epiphany with six to ten tabs, Tomboy, Empathy, and Rhythmbox, weighs in at about 350MB, so Gnome still doesn't seem that heavy.

    If you use KDE with all KDe apps, it'll be fast and lean. It's the same with Gnome. Lean is relative to other full-featured DEs, of course.
  • Yeah but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by real gumby (11516) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:03AM (#21693418)
    Would it be 60% without the ocular sweetums?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:03AM (#21693420)

    In KDE dev language, a release candidate is a beta.

    Actually, in the latest release cycle, a release candidate is actually an alpha. It's telling that the announcement for Release Candidate 2 included "The codebase is now feature-complete. [kde.org]". Yup, that's right, they actually called something that wasn't feature-complete "Release Candidate 1", despite not being remotely finished.

  • Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:05AM (#21693442) Journal
    And this is coming from a defender of the free market and devout believer in its virtues, but since Microsoft has largely benefited from partnering up with other large manufacturers of hardware and assemblers of said parts into systems to be sold, it would not be that hard to believe that they designed to a certain market level.

    I.E.... "here you go gentlemen, the standard system you are able to use is X Ghz, and X Gigabytes of DDR 1600, anything less than that will be obsolete by the first service pack anyways, so get crackin'!!"

    Linux people and most of the OSS folks (Unix as well) have been server dedicated systems for a long time, and built on a robust or rather "efficient" (perhaps a better term is "effective"?) platform. As a result, they've been building to extract as many cycles and memory space as possible for use by client applications, not the Host Operating System.

    As a result, Microsoft has it in its best interests to PUSH the upgrade cycle. If they can be depended to push the upgrade cycle to keep selling new boxes, the retail computer builders will continue to give Microsoft the plugs and keep shipping their OS as the "default" or "preferred" or "Supported" Operating System for their Big Bad Ass Kicking Rigs (tm).
  • by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:13AM (#21693492) Journal
    Hey!

    You sound like my dad, only he doesn't use a cane and he DID work on those punch card systems... he still reminisces about it and had that EXACT attitude when I showed him some of my OOP work in college, he asked me "where's the workflow, where's your goto's and breaks? what's all this mess?"

    Granted he was from a generation that could use that "poor coding practice" of "goto's" and the like to go to the moon (presuming the naysayers are wrong :)... while the current generation can't even turn the damn TV off long enough to think for themselves... perhaps gates was right about that.... 640K is all you ever need, if you're not filling it up with pictures of Britney and the latest American Idol's nudie pics.
  • Re:bash? pffft... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:17AM (#21693518)
    Point taken, but for KDE to expand on the old functionality while reducing memory footprint by 40% is not a tradeoff - it's just a flat-out improvement.
  • Bad measurements (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Percy_Blakeney (542178) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:21AM (#21693988) Homepage

    I'm sorry, but just adding up the memory usage columns from something like 'top' is a horrible way to measure actual memory usage. Why? Well, shared libraries is one big reason. Most of those applications are likely to use a similar set of shared libraries, which the operating system only loads once in memory and then uses for all of the applications. However, things like 'top' include the memory usage of those libraries in every application that uses them. Thus, if 'libkdeprint' is 1 MB and is used by 10 KDE programs, the ACTUAL memory usage of that library would be 1 MB, but top would report 10 MB of memory used (1 MB for each app).

    This effect is very noticeable with desktop environments like KDE and GNOME, where there are a ton of programs that all use the same set of shared libraries. If you reduced the size of a few very basic libraries (e.g. 'libkdecore') by a sizable amount, then you could show a fake "huge savings" across the ~30 KDE/GNOME apps that were running.

    It isn't that I doubt that KDE 4 uses less memory -- it undoubtedly does -- it's just that using overly simplistic methods to measure the difference in usage is misleading and somewhat pointless.

    See a longer discussion of the issue at: http://virtualthreads.blogspot.com/2006/02/understanding-memory-usage-on-linux.html [blogspot.com]

  • by bendodge (998616) <bendodge@@@bsgprogrammers...com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:44AM (#21694470) Homepage Journal
    I'd have to back you up there: when I first installed Ubuntu I went with KDE because it seemed less foreign than GNOME. (And I'm quite happy.)
  • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) * <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:54AM (#21694528) Homepage Journal
    I think this is probably true.

    As a matter of corporate policy on a high level, Microsoft obviously benefits from and feeds into the upgrade treadmill. I don't think it's hard to believe that there's a quid pro quo with the hardware manufacturers on this; at the very least it's an obvious symbiosis. Microsoft craps out a new OS every few years with vastly increased system requirements (at least in order to run well), and in return the hardware manufacturers continue to bundle Windows. (There's more to the relationship, obviously, such as Microsoft's pricing structure for OEM licenses, but I think the hardware/software upgrade path is a part.)

    However, I don't think most of Microsoft's programmers necessarily go into work every day saying to themselves "today, I'm going to build the shittiest, most resource-hogging chunk of code I can, so help me God." I suspect they probably just code for whatever their higher-ups tell them the target platform is going to be. If you're an overworked programmer, and if management makes it obvious that they care more about shoveling in the features than in optimizing code for performance and footprint, you're not going to optimize.

    I think that's Windows in a nutshell. Somewhere along the line, some suit decides what the target platform is going to be; at the beginning of the development cycle it's probably pretty top-of-the-line kit. Everything is targeted towards this, and the end result is massive increases in bloat. Optimization is hard and unless you emphasize it and reward it, it's not just going to happen all by itself.

    On the OSS side, you see a lot of optimization happen because many developers are working with limited resources and aren't in a position (or have the desire) to go out and buy a faster computer to make some chunk of code run faster. If you write an OSS application that requires your users to go out and buy a new system in order to use it, you've just alienated a lot of potential users -- or, hopefully, created a demand for someone to optimize the code and get it running on existing, slower hardware.

    In short, I don't think Windows' footprint and mediocre (or negative) performance gains is due to bad coding as much as it's a direct result of institutional culture. It's a good example of what can happen to any product or project if performance isn't a key consideration, and particularly if it takes a back seat to featuritis.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wwahammy (765566) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:01AM (#21694586)
    What DRM processing? You act like every single system call is brute force decoding a message from the NSA or something. You're making this absurd accusation without backing it up.

    When Ballmer claimed open-source is Communist, he was rightly criticized for making an absurd accusation with no evidence. Perhaps this should go both ways.
  • Re:Just tried (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pherthyl (445706) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:12AM (#21694636)
    I'll save you some time and tell you that you can't change the panel yet. It's coming though. KDE 4.0.0 is going to be a bit rough, so don't let that taint your perception of the whole KDE 4 cycle.
  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:42AM (#21694790) Journal
    Again, the same. I have used both DEs a lot and I find KDE more capable technically, but Gnome is easier on the eye. I like the top bar and separate window bar at the bottom. I also like the distinct lack of clutter. However, the new KDE looks better in terms of performance and with the new QT libraries, it's apparently easier to create apps that work on Linux and Windows.

    If anyone created a KDE "theme" that made it look and work like Gnome, I'd be extremely happy with it. Probably the KDE camp would find that distasteful though.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:52AM (#21694846) Homepage
    No one else needs to. We just hit the recompile button and hey presto!
  • Re:Nice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Friday December 14, 2007 @05:33AM (#21695306)

    Absolutely. Either GNOME catches up or Kubuntu 8.10 will become mainstream Ubuntu.
    Gnome will never catch up, for one simple reason. C versus C++. And bear in mind that I am first and foremost a C programmer. It has been blatantly obvious for many years that C++'s ability to express abstraction far exceeds that of C, with a corresponding increase in developer productivity. Remember, I am a C programmer, there is no bias here, just cold facts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2007 @06:12AM (#21695498)
    2 gigs of ram is now $50
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231121 [newegg.com]

    That 200MB of ram you are saving costs $5. I think $5 is worth it for an easier to use desktop.
  • Re:Actually... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by marcello_dl (667940) on Friday December 14, 2007 @06:43AM (#21695622) Homepage Journal
    In my experience a linux desktop is noticeably faster than an XP one, especially if you are doing things in the background (mastering, file transfers, network). The GUI is faster, same programs take less time to start up (gimp). MS stuff feels faster than Linux equivalents on the same OS, yes. But when i get into excel and find no regular expressions as find options, I wonder if people dissing openoffice because it lacked some equation editor options were on crack.

    XP boots faster, but it's not ready when it displays the desktop, so i always get the hourglass. Notfunny.
  • by ivoras (455934) <(rh.ref) (ta) (sarovi)> on Friday December 14, 2007 @06:44AM (#21695626) Homepage
    See the screenshot from the article: here [kdedevelopers.org]

    Are the GUI designers taking a nap while the programmers work? What's with all the empty space and huge nonessential widgets? Every single window in the screenshot (except maybe Konquerer) needs heavy redesigning:

    • System monitor: Huge tabs, huge menu Compare it to Windows's Task manager or OSX Activity monitor - they pack much more data in a more readable way.
    • Kopete: That toolbar is enormous! And the status bar at the bottom of the window looks mostly useless. The icons inside it are not only badly distributed spatially and of uneven / visually unadjusted size, they are also ugly and uninformative. The whole window looks like it's been designed by a novice VB programmer in a hurry.
    • That window in the background: It looks like it's some sort of configuration application, and from what I see, the "main thing" in the application, probably the reasin the application exists, takes only about *half* of the window space. I'm talking about the list of effects. The rest of the window is taken by the menu, probably some kind of toolbar, probably a search bar, some kind of help label, tabs, a "hint", and a space at the bottom of the window which probably contains "ok/cancel/reset" buttons.
    I'm not saying that all window elements should be close together - I appreciate the aesthetic space around the widgets, but this particular UI on this particular screenshot is heavily underdesigned.
  • Re:Actually... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday December 14, 2007 @09:10AM (#21696272)

    But when i get into excel and find no regular expressions as find options, I wonder if people dissing openoffice because it lacked some equation editor options were on crack.

    No, they're just people who care about writing equations more than they do about using regular expressions. You're the one on crack if you find that hard to understand. Different people have different needs; for example, my problem with OpenOffice Calc is that it wasn't capable of making bar graphs with "whiskers," which was required for my lab reports in materials class.

  • by phybere (970508) on Friday December 14, 2007 @10:22AM (#21696864)
    You're absolutely right, but that's why we have video cards with several hundred megabytes of onboard memory.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:02AM (#21697266)
    He didn't become evil until the evilness was "enabled" by the market and reinforced by investors. Without a perfect storm of opportunity and investment, he would be just another geek. Arguably, he would be a better geek if he were able to concentrate on building great products instead of making his budget. There is an eposide of "Star Trek" in which Spock fits equally well into both the "good" Enterprise and the "evil" Enterprise in the mirror-image parallel universe. Gates would fit in equally well as an OSS guy.
  • Re:Unbloating? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Sczi (1030288) on Friday December 14, 2007 @11:45AM (#21697772)
    Just remind him of Mark Twain's quote: I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.
  • Evil? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:37PM (#21701060)
    He's not "evil" because of what he says. Evil is also a matter of what one does, so one ought to look at actions as well as words. People frequently do evil with good intentions; I dare say that people do evil that way more often than they do evil for its own sake. Callousness and indifference also seem to outweigh those who would revel in cruelty for no reason, for that matter.

    He did evil due to his methods of competition, destroying competitors by underhanded legal, quasi-legal and illegal means (breaking contracts, lying, and hiring lawyers to bail them out of trouble, etc.). He's done evil in forcing people to do things that are good for Microsoft, but harmful to themselves and to their businesses.

    He's also done good, though, using his wealth to help the poor. Thus, he's doing better than he could be doing, but not as good as he should be doing. But that describes a lot of people, myself included.

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