bloated vs. lightweight WM's

Sami Samhuri sami at
Tue May 25 19:06:17 CEST 2004

* It was Tue, May 25, 2004 at 08:36:06AM -0400 when Brian J. Tarricone said:
> Olivier wrote:
> >You know that the OS is caching data, don't you. Better use the "free"
> >command and read the "-/+ buffers/cache:" line to get the actual memory
> >usage (minus the OS caching which has nothing to do with actual process
> >memory usage)
> >
> yes - linux, at least, does some very heavy memory caching.  if you 
> _really_ want a good measure, reboot your system, go straight into xfce, 
> check used memory, reboot, go straight into gnome, check used memory, 
> reboot, etc.  even then, it's certainly possible that there might be 
> some fluctuations.  ideally, try to turn off as many background services 
> as possible (apache, sshd, etc.) before testing.  might not be a bad 
> idea to turn off swap as well.  if there's a /proc or sysctl interface 
> that deals with memory caching, that would be of use as well.
You would have had to seen the entire thread [1] to understand what the
original poster was trying to achieve. The poor guy just wanted to see
the difference between memory use in different environments for his work
with all his services and programs open to simulate normal use. He did
reboot between each test and had the services running on purpose. After
posting he was inundated with messages telling him why his test were not
accurate and all sorts of other things similar to what's being said
here. The difference between a window manager and a desktop environment
was also pointed out to him. :)

> plus, i'm not sure why everyone is measuring with things like evo, 
> firefox, etc. open.  these things have nothing to do with the DE.  the 
> only way having extra apps open should effect the DE is in the case of 
> the WM, since the WM usually allocates per-window resources to keep 
> track of data about them (plus widgets for window decorations).  even 
> then, adding applications makes the "benchmark" more unreliable, as apps 
> like firefox may initially e.g., allocate bunches of memory which it 
> quickly frees on startup, further compounding the caching problem.  if 
> you want to get a remotely accurate measurement, it's important to 
> _minimise_ the number of other apps open, not the opposite.
He was not trying to benchmark the individual environments, rather he
wanted to know how they stacked up against each other on his machine for
his own purposes.

> these "benchmarks" aren't really that good because they rely on 
> reporting facilities that don't tell the whole picture about what's 
> going on behind the scenes inside the kernel.  i'd thank the original 
> poster to relay this back to gentoo-user, as whoever started this thread 
> there is spreading some misinformation based on incorrect assumptions 
> and poor methodology.

I recommend people here reading the original thread to get the context
it was in. The guy got enough flak from the Gentoo users. :) Presumably
because many of us probably use the lightweight DEs and WMs that looked
so big and bulky in his tests.


Sami Samhuri
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