Bold Prediction: KDE Will Steal The Lightweight Linux Desktop Crown In 2020

Forbes 1 month ago

When I say “Xfce,” it’s a good bet you think about a lean, responsive Linux desktop environment that’s particularly light on system memory usage. And you’d be absolutely right. Does that same description dance through your head when I say “KDE?” If not, one can hardly blame you. KDE seems to be perceived as a “bloated” but beautiful desktop environment. If you hold that belief, I’m here to tell you it’s time to change your opinion.

Well, this was certainly unexpected...
Well, this was certainly unexpected...

I’m as surprised about writing this article as you are at reading that headline. But yes, folks, in much of my initial testing the latest version of KDE (5.17) is using less RAM than Xfce 4.14.

After seeing a couple stray comments on Twitter making this very claim, I felt compelled to see if there was any substance to it. So I set up a couple test environments and recruited my podcasting colleague Zebedee Boss (of Destination Linux) to run independent tests of his own.

Test #1: IDLE RAM Usage, VM Versus Natively Installed

Here are the Linux distros I used for this round of testing:

  • Kubuntu 19.10 (with KDE Plasma 5.16)
  • KDE Neon (with KDE Plasma 5.17)
  • Xubuntu 19.10 (with Xfce 4.14)

I installed each distro inside a virtual machine using GNOME Boxes, allotted 4GB of RAM, and set each display to 1920 x 1080. I fully updated each VM image, rebooted, and then let the machine sit idle for 3 minutes. After that, I captured the current RAM usage using htop.

I carried out the exact same test on an Intel Core-i7 XPS 13 (16GB of RAM) with natively installed and full updated versions of these distributions. Here are the results:

Idle RAM Usage: Virtual Machine vs Native Install (XPS 13)
Idle RAM Usage: Virtual Machine vs Native Install (XPS 13)

What immediately jumps out is that KDE Neon – using the latest version of the KDE Plasma desktop – uses the least amount of RAM inside a virtual machine, and comes within spitting distance of Xubuntu 19.10 on the native installation.

You can also see a clear improvement in RAM consumption between KDE Plasma 5.16 and 5.17.

Honestly? My preconceived notions led me to believe I’d see north of 1GB RAM being consumed by KDE Neon. And the differences here are practically “margin of error” territory. That said, this is far from a scientific evaluation as I’m not tracking what process every scrap of memory is being devoted to.

BONUS DATA: Zeb’s Native Tests

My colleague Zeb ran similar tests after installing a handful of distributions on his custom-built AMD PC, but he put Arch Linux (with Xfce) and Ubuntu 19.10 into the equation. Here are his system specs:

Zeb's custom-built Linux rig
Zeb's custom-built Linux rig

And here are his results. Incredibly, KDE Neon is neck-and-neck with Arch, and comes out ahead versus Xubuntu.

Idle RAM Usage: Zeb's Custom AMD PC
Idle RAM Usage: Zeb's Custom AMD PC

Test #2: MULTITASKING RAM Usage, Virtual Machine

Next I wanted to see how each distro measured up in a virtual machine under some light multitasking. So I loaded up Firefox with two tabs open playing the same content, as well as each desktop environment’s native File Manager and terminal app.

KDE NEON + File Manager, Terminal and Firefox
KDE NEON + File Manager, Terminal and Firefox

Then I used htop to write down the overall RAM usage. Here are those results:

Multitasking RAM Usage in VM (Firefox + Native File Manager + Terminal)
Multitasking RAM Usage in VM (Firefox + Native File Manager + Terminal)

Again, this a close race and is by no means scientific, but in this particular test KDE Neon walked away using the least amount of RAM. Clearly the KDE Plasma developers have put recent effort into optimizations, perhaps as a result of their work on the KDE Neon spin for Pine64’s original PineBook?

In any case, very surprising revelations so far as I wasn’t expecting KDE to be this lean!

One can’t help but wonder what advancements next year’s KDE Plasma 5.18 will hold for users. These results led me to ask a divisive question on Twitter: Could KDE steal the crown from Xfce in 2020?

I think it has a strong chance of doing so, and Xfce Core developer Sean Davis agrees with me:

Xfce Core developer (and great human) Sean Davis
Xfce Core developer (and great human) Sean Davis

(It’s disheartening to learn that the Xfce is stretched thin and lacks the resources it deserves, but that’s another topic for another time.)

SO WHO WINS?

This initial testing certainly demands further exploration on a wide range of hardware and scenarios, but the answer is clear: we, the users, win.

With an abundance of choice and talented developers across the board putting their blood, sweat and tears into advancing the Linux desktop, the takeaway is that with each passing month, Linux becomes an even product regardless of how mighty or meager your computer is.


Source link
Read also:
Forbes › 1 month ago
If you haven’t been paying attention to a little Linux desktop distribution called Deepin, it’s time to put it on your radar.
Forbes › 2 weeks ago
The long-awaited new version of Deepin Linux is coming very soon.
Forbes › 1 week ago
Like to check out various Linux distributions but hate reinstalling all your favorite software? Click the easy button with a simple bash script!
Forbes › 1 month ago
Ubuntu 19.10 officially launches today, and if this release is any indication, next year’s Ubuntu 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa” is going to be one outstanding desktop Linux distribution.
CNET › Technology › 2 weeks ago
YouTube will let you override the up-next algorithm with a queue of your own on desktop, and it revamps the look of homepage for desktop and tablet.
Forbes › 1 month ago
System76, the Denver-based Linux PC manufacturer and developer of Pop OS, has some stellar news for those of us who prefer our laptops a little more open.
Forbes › 1 month ago
Linux Mint 19.2 hits the test bench with an exhausting look at gaming and the out-of-box experience.
Forbes › 1 month ago
Lara Croft’s latest sprawling adventure is finally landing on Linux next month, courtesy of the porting masters at Feral Interactive.
Forbes › 2 weeks ago
Can a 'Frankenstein' Linux distro teach you valuable lessons? Yes, yes it can. Find out why my hunt for a 'forever distro' is over, and the surprising plot twist that unfolded.
Forbes › 1 month ago
Ditch the wires on Linux by connecting your Bluetooth gamepads -- and keep then connected with this quick workaround.
Sign In

Sign in to follow sources and tags you love, and get personalized stories.

Continue with Google
OR