As a result of a recent discussion on IRC, I decided to take a number of DE (Desktop Environments) for a test drive and see how much ram they used.
Test machine – Netbook with 2 Gb RAM
Method – This is a very casual test (sorry no “benchmarks”), I merely booted the appropriate Live CD, opened a terminal, and reviewed the RAM use. YMMV.
These results are simply using the default configuration as provided by the developers of the various distros and I made no attempt to tweak or adjust the RAM use.
Please keep in mind, RAM use is a crude measure of “performance”. The “responsiveness” of your window manager is dependent on a number of variables including graphics cards, desktop effects, and even sometimes a misconfigured or misbehaving wireless card. For example, on my netbook gnome-shell is using llvmpipe. llvmpipe comes with a noticeable performance hit on my netbook so while the ram use is similar to Unity, Unity gives much better performance.
Distros: I used the latest distros, even if they are in Alpha/Beta, so as to get the best possible video performance on my netbook (gma500_gfx).
I chose a range of distros to make the comparisons a little more interesting. I find XFCE uses about the same amount of RAM on Xubuntu as it does on Fedora (XFCE spin). They are at least in the same ballpark. Notice how Lubuntu (openbox + LXDE) and Crunchbang (also openbox) are “close enough”, at least for my purpose, at 165 vs 112 mb RAM.
Bodhi Linux 2.0 (beta)
Crunchbang 11 (Waldorf)
Fedora 17 (Beefy Miracle)
Linux Mint 13 (Maya)
Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal) (Alpha)
- Unity – 335 mb
- Lubuntu – 165 mb
- Kubuntu – 261 mb
- Xubuntu – 230 mb
- Gnome-shell – 335 mb
- lxde – 151 mb
- kde – 277 mb
- xfce – 179 mb
- Enlightenment – 116 mb
- Openbox – 112 mb