Linux desktop comparison (pt. 4): Less common GTK+ DEs

This is part 4 of our desktop testing series. We’ll deal with some of the less common desktop environments in this entry which by chance are are all GTK+ based.

These are:

For test criteria and the basic Arch system, please refer to the first part of this test.

GNOME 2

GNOME was the most used Linux desktop before the new version 3. GNOME 2 is quite old now but it is still a standard desktop in several more conservative distributions. And while it is not nearly as common anymore as it once was, it may still be the most used DE of this part of our test!

The GNOME 2 desktop

Installation

Using mirror from 04/30/2011 (Kernel 2.6.38)
pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit dbus xf86-video-vesa gnome

Statistics

Memory usage right after starting up GNOME 2 (with a second login on tty2) and used disk space after removing pacman cache. Here are the values I got with cat /proc/meminfo and df respectively df -h:

Arch Linux + GNOME 2 (2.32)
MemTotal: 1028476 kb
MemFree: 888080 kb
Buffers: 15672 kb
Cached: 63488 kb
Rootfs: 1299288 / 1.3G
RAM used at startup: 140396 / ~137 MB
Disk space (less basic system): 645000 / 630MB

ROX DE

ROX is best known for ROX-filer, a widely used file manager. A little less common is the ROX desktop. Like one would expect, ROX-filer is the heart of it, but there are several other parts which form the ROX DE together. In its default shape it is very simplistic – and certainly not nice-looking. But don’t be fooled: With a little customization it can look a lot better than it does on this screenshot!

The ROX desktop

Installation

pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit dbus dbus-glib virtualbox-archlinux-additions gconf libxxf86vm openbox rox
pacman -U rox-session-0.41.0-5-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U appearance-0.9.1.ml-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U rox-clib-2.1.10-2-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U appfactory-2.1.5.ml-2-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U archive-2.2.git.ml-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U mini-clock-2.0.0.ml-2-any.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U resolution-0.3.ml-1-any.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U rox-edit-2.2-1-any.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U rox-font-0.9.2.ml-2-any.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U rox-keyboard-0.11.1.ml-1-any.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U rox-mouse-0.10.1.ml-1-any.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U rox-trash-0.3.0.ml-2-any.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U traylib-0.3.2.1-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U rox-trasktray-0.7-1-any.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U python-pyalsaaudio-0.7-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U rox-volume-0.4.14122008-1-any.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U systemtray-n-0.3.2.1.ml-2-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U tasklisk-0.5.ml-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz

Statistics

Memory usage right after starting up ROX (with a second login on tty2) and used disk space after removing pacman cache. Here are the values I got with cat /proc/meminfo and df respectively df -h:

Arch Linux + ROX (0.41.0)
MemTotal: 1030652 kb
MemFree: 955128 kb
Buffers: 10084 kb
Cached: 36784 kb
Rootfs: 1087652 / 1.1G
RAM used at startup: 75524 / ~74 MB
Disk space (less basic system): 433364 / 423MB

Enlightenment E17

Enlightenment started as a hacked window manager that was amazingly customizable. E16 is the current stable version. With E17 however, so many things have been added that it is no longer considered just a WM but in fact a real DE. E17 is officially in beta stages but it is already pretty stable and used for everyday work by many users.

The E17 desktop

Installation

pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit dbus virtualbox-archlinux-additions e-svn

Statistics

Memory usage right after starting up E17 (with a second login on tty2) and used disk space after removing pacman cache. Here are the values I got with cat /proc/meminfo and df respectively df -h:

Arch Linux + E17 (snv-72693)
MemTotal: 1030652 kb
MemFree: 934808 kb
Buffers: 8772 kb
Cached: 50312 kb
Rootfs: 896992 / 876M
RAM used at startup: 95844 / ~94 MB
Disk space (less basic system): 242704 / 237MB

Sugar

Sugar is not really a general-purpose desktop. It’s a DE made for children. It would probably not be known by many people if it wasn’t the standard DE on the sub-notebooks of the well-known “One Laptop Per Child” project. It’s also available as an optional package in some of the bigger distributions.

The Sugar desktop

Installation

pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit dbus virtualbox-archlinux-additions python-pygame
pacman -U sugar-base-0.94.0-2-i686.pkg.tar.gz
pacman -U python2-xapian-1.2.10-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U sugar-datastore-0.94.0-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U icon-slicer-0.3-5-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U sugar-artwork-0.94.0-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U sugar-presence-service-0.90.2-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U hippo-canvas-0.3.1-2-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U sugar-toolkit-0.94.0-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz
pacman -U sugar-0.94.1-1-i686.pkg.tar.xz

Statistics

Memory usage right after starting up Sugar (with a second login on tty2) and used disk space after removing pacman cache. Here are the values I got with cat /proc/meminfo and df respectively df -h:

Arch Linux + Sugar (0.94.1)
MemTotal: 1030652 kb
MemFree: 911100 kb
Buffers: 12092 kb
Cached: 57340 kb
Rootfs: 1272052 / 1.3G
RAM used at startup: 119552 / ~117 MB
Disk space (less basic system): 617764 / 603MB

Conclusion

GNOME 2 is the biggest DE this time and it’s doing a little better than MATE in terms of RAM needed. Sugar needs some less RAM but it’s not a DE many people will want to use, anyway. E17 is beautiful and still rather memory-saving. And the ROX desktop is by far the most frugal one so far when it comes to memory usage!

What’s next?

The next entry will cover some rather exotic Linux desktop environments.

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