mercoledì 8 agosto 2012

KDE4 memory usage

When kde4.0 was released, in 2008, received wide echo in the Internet a comparison (published by a kde developer, the post is no longer online, but the results are reported here) between the memory consumption of the "old" kde3 and "new" kde4.

Kde4 supporters decry kde3 as a desktop environment designed and developed ages ago (first release 2002), now sad to see, unable to compete with the graphical interface of Windows and Mac.
All right, but kde3 allowed you to do absolutely everything in the PC, while kde4 (while incomparably prettier to look at) takes a few steps back: eg, in the bar kde3 allowed to keep the date and time in a single line which, after 4 years of kde4 I'm not yet able to configure properly, or, kde4 includes a window manager compiz-like, fine but the effect desktop-zoom by mouse scrolling was postponed to kde5 (

At the approach of kde4 release, it was a celebration like "with the new qt4 libraries, kde4 will be faster than kde3". Now, I do not know what is meant by "faster", but I think a faster desktop environment consumes few resources, leaving most of them to the operating system being more responsive to user requests.
I mean, if they had rewritten kde3, with the same functionality, basing it on qt4, kde4 would have been faster, more complete and still good looking.
Instead, kde4 did not intend to maintain all the features of its predecessor (I suspect that the above comparison gave a -39% memory consumption in favor of kde4.0, because that version did not include many features as kde3 did), instead increasing the DE's equipment on the "social" side (Nepomuk / akonadi / strigi and all the other bullshit draining resources).
Using kde4 I had the impression that it was heavier and less configurable than kde3, but these were impressions rather than numbers.
Furthermore, comparisons of memory consumption kde3-kde4 were addressed with the objection "when upgrading from kde3 to kde4 you've updated the whole system, how do you know which part of the system consumes more memory than before?".

I then compared KDE3 vs KDE4 on my own, without pretending of being scientific, taking the line - + buffers / cache out the output of "free-m" in:
Debian Lenny with KDE3.5.9
Debian Wheezy (up-to-date) with KDE4.8.4
Debian Wheezy with TDE3.5.13 ( )
Debian Lenny with KDE3.5.9 with compiz
Debian Lenny w/o GUI
Debian Wheezy w/o GUI

First detection: without X11 graphic server (/etc/init.d/kdm stop), lenny consumes 89MB against 74MB of wheezy (the latest operating system consumes less, thankfully).
Second one: kde4 consumes more than kde3, in all flavours. In order to compare the two versions of kde without the tare weight of the underlying operating system, I also tested trinity (kde3 fork) on wheezy (175 versus 316 of kde4).
Being using the kde4 system for everyday use, I did the measurement with a new user, of course stopping Nepomuk / akonadi / strigi and leaving unchanged the graphic effects options (kde4 with graphic effects should be strictly compared with kde3 + compiz, in fact: 316MB against 196MB).

Concluding, kde3 is the graphic system I prefer (even for sentimental reasons), but staying on it means being tied to a system (debian lenny) no longer updated, with obsolete kernel and hardware recognition; stay on qt3 libraries (kde3 being incompatible with qt4) means you can not update other programs with qt-based interfaces (eg vlc or virtualbox); TDE can be installed even on recent systems, but being the project developed by volunteers, it's not equal to kde3 (mainly lack of localization and bluetooth support); I'm sadly disappointed for a DE (kde4) which no longer refers to everyday work users (as did kde3), focusing more on eye-candy and plasma toys (someone said " try razor-qt, the kde4 without plasma"?;)

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