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KDE Software GUI Linux

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

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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  • Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

    by log1385 ( 1199377 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:41PM (#21692122)
    Someone call Bill Gates and tell him to read this.
    • Unbloating? (Score:4, Funny)

      by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:44PM (#21692156)
      Isn't that communist or something?
      • No kidding, you don't read about this type of upgrade very often. As a cheapskate, I think this is awesome. I'll not be holding my breath for Microsoft to announce XP's new reduced memory requirements (or - dare I say it - Apple about OSX).
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jez9999 ( 618189 )
        No, open source software is Communist. Unbloating is Stalinist.
    • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Titoxd ( 1116095 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:48PM (#21692208) Homepage

      Someone call Bill Gates and tell him to read this.
      It's 256 MB, not 640 K...
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Good job KDE! It's yet another reason to stop using GNOME, if all the Microsoft pandering wasn't enough.

      The very best way to pander to Microsoft is to make your systems look and feel completely different from theirs, and to overload the interface with configuration options and a cluttered interface. That way, you manage to alienate any flip-floppers, and strengthen the hardcore geek market, which MS accepts they will never win back. MS wins because no-one leaves their platform, the competitor survives on a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Or to completely underload it, as in Ion []
        Summary of Ion features

        * Tiled workspaces with tabbed frames, as discussed above.
        * Designed to be primarily used from the keyboard.
        * Fully documented configuration and scripting interface on top of the lightweight Lua extension language.
        * Modular design. The main binary implements only basic window manager functionality. Additional modules implement extra features and window management policies.
        * The query module implements a line editor
        • 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."
      • 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.
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kusanagi374 ( 776658 )
      Absolutely. Either GNOME catches up or Kubuntu 8.10 will become mainstream Ubuntu.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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.
    • You're that upset that Miguel left the GNOME project half a decade ago? He's not working on KDE...
  • by arse maker ( 1058608 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:45PM (#21692172)
    Now I can just leave my extra few gigs of ram nice an empty, they need a rest! Once we get it down to 640k we can move back to dos.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jlarocco ( 851450 )

      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.

    • Re:less memory! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:17PM (#21692498)
      The "unused" RAM won't be nice and empty. It'll be used as the system cache to store file data etc. that then can be accessed very quickly. Modern operating systems do not waste RAM by leaving it unused.
  • Just tried (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:47PM (#21692192)
    I just downloaded and ran the Debian live version using KDE4 in vBox. It was pretty. However, I couldn't figure out how to disable the "Lancelot" applet thing, which was annoying since anytime the mouse cursor got near it, it'd launch a 1/4-screen-covering window with lists of recent applications, documents, etc. Couldn't even right-click on it to disable.

          Still, covering 1/4 of the screen sure didn't take much memory!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tagx ( 1202976 )
      Lancelot should not even be installed by default. Try removing ~/.kde/share/config/plasma*
    • 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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by trawg ( 308495 )
        It might sound lame, but this is really the major stumbling block I have with adopting Linux as my desktop OS.

        I hate, with a passion, the default massive gumby sized icons and toolbars and everything that appear to be the norm in most Linux VMs. I don't run in 1600x1200 so I can waste half my desktop space with huge icons.
  • Well (Score:5, Informative)

    by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:49PM (#21692226) Homepage
    The laptop was recent, but he limited the memory use and throttled down the CPU to 1GHz. So it still had fancy instructions and a much bigger cache, bus, etc.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )
      Yes, but there was no attempt to hide that. And it is a development built with all the debug code in there. So it will be slower and needs more memory than the final release.

      Also notice that the guy is preparing a comparison with an older machine.
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )
        It is a demonstration. Bug fixing will have little impact on speed.

        Come to think of it, I use fvwm2, which is stable, fast, small and gives me as many virtual desktops as I like and they are next to each other. (I am not happy with less than 6 and currently use 9.)
        I never understood the appeal of these MS-like window managers. Fortunately pretty much everything works with others too, including most KDE applications.
  • New Headline: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Minwee ( 522556 ) <> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:59PM (#21692340) Homepage
    "KDE 3.5 Was A Major Memory Hog"
  • 256mb? (Score:4, Funny)

    by TOI_0x00 ( 1088153 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:11PM (#21692450)
    GEOS only uses 128kb and that is including eye candy, mind you 640*200 resolution.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:47PM (#21692776)
    "The fact that a new version of an application does not always ressourcenhungriger must prove the KDE project with the next generation of the environment."

    I think I just found my new word-of-the-week
  • 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?
  • Double buffering? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:00AM (#21693820)
    IIRC the Qt3 -> Qt4 move brought about explicit double buffering of all surfaces by Qt itself.

    Does anyone here know how much of the 40% save (however it is measured) comes as a result of applications no longer needing to do their own explicit buffering, in places where double buffering is desirable?

    And whether there is a corresponding increase in memory used elsewhere, eg within the X server or in video memory itself?
  • 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: []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:01AM (#21694588)

    Has no one pointed out that the numbers are actually completely, utterly wrong? See Lubos and Thiagos (two high-ranking KDE and Qt devs) comments here:

    See the original authors retraction, here:

    In similar conditions KDE 3 consumed 97 MB on memory, whereas KDE 4 about 170 MB.

    So really, it should be "KDE4 uses 75% more memory", which is actually incredibly lame, but doesn't make for as good a title. I'm absolutely amazed that usually cynical slashdot readers have accepted this so uncritically.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2007 @06:53AM (#21695672)

      Aaargh - it get's worse. In the new analysis, he doesn't even include X-server pixmap usage, which Qt4 abuses more than Qt3: in Qt4, all widgets are double-buffered by default, and since the majority of apps are basically windows that are almost 95% covered in widgets, this adds up, fast - a kwrite window, maximised on a 1600x1200, 24-bit screen will gobble up a whopping 6MB almost, just in double-buffering. When you take into account the fact that composite then redundantly double-buffers the entire window *again* (12MB per window, now!), it just gets even worse! So KDE4 is likely using more than twice as much RAM as KDE3, yet the headline reads "KDE4 uses 40% less memory than KDE3" and is tagged "amazing" - what a clusterfuck!

      And since people have short-memories, when they do discover that KDE4 takes up hugely more memory than KDE3, they'll remember "KDE developers said it used less, not much more - liars!" rather than "Someone not affiliated with KDE published incorrect benchmarks and we didn't take time to verify them". As if the KDE guys need more abuse hurled at them :/

  • by RossyB ( 28685 ) <> on Friday December 14, 2007 @04:13AM (#21694956) Homepage
    As with 99.9% of all memory benchmarking, it was done by someone who didn't totally understand how to measure memory use (and how Linux doesn't allow accurate measurements without a patched kernel). Just read the comments in the post which pointed at the original story [].
  • by ivoras ( 455934 ) <ivoras @ f> on Friday December 14, 2007 @06:44AM (#21695626) Homepage
    See the screenshot from the article: here []

    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.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Friday December 14, 2007 @08:10AM (#21695994)
    It uses CPU Cycles, not Memory for most cases. With faster CPU's expected you can use less memory for more eye candy

    Lets take the bouncing Icon. There are two normal ways to program this. Get the icon render each frame for each bounce and save it in memory. And just load the memory and play it. That way it plays smooth and quick every time, because it is in memory all pre-rendered. Now with a faster CPU which spend most of its time idle it can render the icon on the fly between each frame and still keep it smooth so all it needs to do is store the main image the next image to be displayed and perhaps what is currently on the screen. So with a 16x16x8 icon that is around 2k of ram using the CPU method it will only take 6k of ram. vs around 40k of ram for the bouncing icon. But if the CPU couldn't do the work in the time needed to get it done using the memory is the only good option. Memory vs. CPU has always been a balance.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson