Apr 302011

desktopIn these days there is much talk about Unity, the new default desktop environment of Ubuntu one of the most popular Linux distributions, and so Unity will become the normal desktop environment for many users, there is also a lot of talk about Gnome 3 with its new features and capabilities that usually you love or hate. Others Linux distributions point on minimalism on their desktop such as Bodhi Linux or CrunchBang.

But how much memory your desktop really uses, just to getting started and give you the chance to do something?

How to take the numbers

I’d like to check the memory usage of every Desktop environment without personalizations (applet, screenlets, etc.); the best way to check this is login in your computer with a user that you usually don’t use (on my Gentoo I’ve used root, normally I never login into the graphical environment of root) or if you don’t have any user usable for this create a new user, than logout from your normal user and login with the new one.

After this just open a terminal and give the command

#free -m
              total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:          1506        454       1051          0         75        214
-/+ buffers/cache:        164       1341
Swap:          494          0        494

in this example the memory used is 164 MB, other information that could be useful are: Distribution name and Version, 32 or 64 Bit, Desktop Environment name and version.

I’m starting with the ones that i can test personally:

Distribution Architecture Desktop Memory
Arch * 32 Openbox 3.4.11 54
Arch * 64 Gnome 3.0.1 247
Arch * 32 KDE 4.6.2 907
Debian 6 32 XFCE 4.6.2 74
Bodhi 1.0 32 Enlightenment 0.16.999 66
Fedora 15 32 Gnome 3 181
Gentoo * 64 Fluxbox 1.1.1 107
Gentoo * 64 Gnome 2.32.1 179
Xubuntu 11.04 32 XFCE 4.8.0 164

I’d like to have some information from KDE (Kubuntu or maybe Chakra), Unity, Gnome 3 and also from other distributions, please leave a comment with your information so I can add more data in the table.

* Arch/Gentoo have rolling release so don’t have a version number.

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  17 Responses to “Poll: What’s the memory usage of your empty Linux Desktop Environment ?”

  1. As root user:
    Arch, 32-bit, Openbox 3.4.11: 54MB

    Arch, 64-bit, Gnome 3.0.1: 247MB

  2. I think the test should be make with some programs opened. Just open a image viewer and memory usage grows, depending you use. Browser and flash plugin together eat a lot of resource.
    Can you post some test about memory usage of those distributions and some programs opened? Should be an interesting article.

    • As first thing i’d like to know what’s the usage of an empty Desktop environment; with programs it’s a bit harder we could sue for exampel how much use a Mozilla 4 and a Libreoffice for example but i think there would be too many different factors

      And you..what are you using, and how much memory it eat just to start 🙂 ?

  3. 883 Mb with multihead KDE4 from git on Kubuntu 10.10 amd64.

  4. Using free you will not get any information about the slab cache which is unallocable too.
    A more correct value comes from /proc/meminfo, or easilly by (run as root):

    # echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
    # free

    ciao 🙂

  5. Fedora 15, 32 bit, Gnome 3, 181 MB…

    Ho effettuato il test al login, installazione pulita! Spero siano info utili 😉

  6. kubuntu 10.04 con firefox (6 schede aperte) e amarok in play: 1218 MB O.o

  7. Arch, 32bit, KDE 4.6.2, 907MB
    This was my clean environment, but I use lots of plasmoids and a few daemons constantly open, includin Nepomuk and Akonadi (I use the akonadi based KDEPIM beta, so akonadi contains all of my emails and contacts…)

  8. ubuntu 11.04 unity desktop 64bit
    570 MB
    unica applicazione aperta: il terminale.

  9. Ubuntu 10.10 min install 32bit Xfce4
    356 MB

  10. Arch 32 bit with ratpoison + nitrogen: 42 MB
    With openbox: 39 MB

  11. slackware 13.37 64 bit KDE 4.5.5 = 389;
    come sopra con thunderbird, firefox (4 schede), dolphin, amule, gkrellm e un terminale = 628;
    mi suona strano il tuo
    Arch * 32 KDE 4.6.2 907
    sicuro che non ci siano applicazioni aperte?


  12. So what does this tell me? Using more memory is good or bad? I guess that depends on how the DE uses the memory. Does it say anything about the speed or the minimum requirement of the DE?

    • Is just one of the parameters of course. On old machine (or without much RAM) this can be an important parameter. i also like a DE that use small memory (i use fluxbox) on my Gentoo with 4 GB so i can use Ram for virtual machines..

  13. ma la versione 11.10 quanta ram occupa

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