Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Why are WM's so slow?

This topic is 5303 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

I''ve got Gnome 2.2 running on my 900 MHz computer with a GeForce 2 GTS, but if I run the same thing on an older computer (ie, my old 380 MHz computer) then it runs REALLY slow. Not 42% slower, I mean like 200% slower! What did computers do back in the old days (pre 2000) when they weren''t that fast? Did people put up with Gnome and KDE and stuff like that being that slow? Have Gnome and KDE gotten bloated these last couple years so much that they run that slow? Shouldn''t they be more scalable? Would an older version of KDE or Gnome run faster on older computers?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Programmers today do a little less optimization, on average, than they used to "back in the day." Applications today are larger, more complex and do more, too. But the big problem of Linux WMs is hardware acceleration. Giving users all the eye candy without hardware acceleration means a whole lot of CPU-intensive software processing going on. This is why some Linux users switch to less flitzy WMs like blackbox and fluxbox and Fltk, or even mid-range flashy WMs like Window Manager and AfterSTEP.

I believe that the architectures of GNOME and KDE are rather complex, too. GNOME relies heavily on Bonobo, which is a good thing, but which may incur a processing overhead that becomes noticeable on some machines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It seems I''m going to be installing Linux on a bunch of computers at an elementary school, and those computers are OLD (i think 133 MHz old). These kiddies are gonna be learning Linux, and I''d like to let them see something on the screen other than text. These kiddies are used to Windows, and if they only see Linux as a stupid command line platform, well that does more harm than good. So I wanna use some kind of window manager that''s pretty quick but still looks comperable to what these kiddies are used to (so that they don''t get turned off and run away screaming "LINUX SUCKS!!!" to all their friends and family and neighbors).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You shouldn''t interpret processing power so linearly. Let''s say you have a PC at 100mhz. For the sake of an example I''m going to exagerrate things a bit. Let''s assume the OS takes 60 mhz, and you have an application with a max load of 30 mhz per ''cycle''. The Application will be able to update itself 1.333 times per second.

Now let''s run the same application on a 200mhz machine. The application will have 140 mhz available (if the OS is the same), and will be able to update itself 4.6666 times per second. You processor was performing at 200%. However, the sample application is program is performing at 4.6666 cycles per second. This means the application is performing at nearly 300% compared to the old PC. You only doubled the power, but you tripled the speed of the application.

In your instance the proportion of power change is even larger so you should expect to see drastic differences between the two PC''s. Its alot like income. One person might make 30,000 per year. Another person might make 60,000 per year. Even though the 60k person is only making twice as much, he will be able to save ALOT more than twice as much per year. The 30k person will struggle to be able to save anything. Hope that''s a decent analogy.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You should just switch Window Managers like Oly said. Blackbox is touted for it''s "thinness and performance". Most of these will give enough of the "Windows" feel without all the transparent windows, high fonts and other features everyone wants.

Interim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
XFCE looks pretty good. I'm thinking either that or I'll find an old version of Mandrake. I mean, an older version would HAVE to be less bloated and run faster, right? The only thing I'm worried about is that an old distro would have old versions of stuff, like the kernel and glibc, so installing anything would be pretty tough.

But why can't Gnome and KDE run faster? Sure they're intended to run on fast computers these days, but is that a good excuse? Windows(R) is STILL much faster!

[edited by - BradDaBug on June 4, 2003 5:41:48 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
someone should write a "gtk-light" that cuts out piles of thick steamy fat. like themeability. and pixmap widgets.

the library should be no bigger than 32KiB... i think its possible..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by BradDaBug
It seems I''m going to be installing Linux on a bunch of computers at an elementary school, and those computers are OLD (i think 133 MHz old).
Why are you installing Linux at an elementary school, in the first place? Linux is not a desktop OS (alright, not yet).

quote:
These kiddies are gonna be learning Linux, and I''d like to let them see something on the screen other than text. These kiddies are used to Windows, and if they only see Linux as a stupid command line platform, well that does more harm than good.
No, teaching them Linux as a "Windows replacement" does more harm than good. The benefits of Linux come from its Unix underpinnings. Why not give them a minimalist UI, but teach them Unix philosophy and principle, showing them how much they can accomplish with the system. Virtual terminals, process control, piping and redirection, assembling simple commands into powerful tools via the shell. You could write a bunch of simple command-line graphics tools and let them combine them in interesting ways - one could extract frames/cells of animation from a bitmap file (provide a template bitmap file) and generate several bitmaps; another could take a series of bitmap files and delta encode them into an animation file while the last one could compress the animation file and turn it into a self-executing binary. You could write them in a "scripting language" so that they can take the tools from machine to machine and run almost immediately.

There''s a whole lot of stuff worth teaching about how Linux differs from Windows, and those things are worth emphasizing or exaggerating to make more apparent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One thing to consider is installing Linux as a thin client, and using X redirection to display sessions from a single powerful server. Single instancing (that is, when multiple users run a program it only sits in RAM once - except for bits that have to be different, such as the actual document being worked on, etc.) makes this really efficient, and X is designed with this in mind.

There are some websites/distros out there to help you with this:
http://www.k12ltsp.org/

You can do this with just about any *NIX (and even Windows, via Terminal Services). You can even use Windows (even 3.1!) and Macs as thin clients if you want to, via X-Window display software.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree with the idea of not teaching them that linux is a windows replacement.

As for a light weight wm that will look like windows and run on 133 mhz systems. I use IceWM in my two laptops. 133 and 166mhz systems with 48 M ram. What typically slows it down is if I run something that used any kde or gnome stuff. then the memory get''s gobbled up fast and the disk cashing kills performance.

The only thing Ice needs to make it totaly like windows would be the ability to put icons on the desktop. Other than that it looks pretty much like windows. one of the theams that comes with it even has the windows start button!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
**** WARNING ******

Potentially unpopular opinion

**** WARNING *******



You are running RedHat aren''t you???

Comparing SuSE, Mandrake, Debian (w/ XF86 4.3 + GNOME 2.2 + KDE 3.x), Slackware, and RedHat 7.3, 8.0, and 9.0... RedHat is the slow beast of the group, in fact Slackware 9 is about 150 percent faster running the same version of X and the same versions of GNOME and KDE.

About version 7.3, RedHat became bloat-ware, and I have not used it since except to install it to show people why we are using Debain and Slackware in our shop...

Sorry if that offends someone of the die-hard RH camp...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You mean me? I use Mandrake.

But that's interesting. Where are the Linux benchmarks? Why don't I see performance benchmarks in a typical review of a distro? The only benchmarks of any kind I've seen involving Linux were some comparing Quake 3 on Windows and Linux (I think the Linux version ran about 1% faster, btw). Maybe they're out there, but i've never seen any. For instance, I'd like to see some comparing Gnome and KDE's performance. Maybe if more scientific ways to determine Linux & Co.'s flaws were used instead of just little whiny kiddies griping (like me) more progress (as in faster performance, which I think everyone would agree is a good goal) would be made.

[edited by - BradDaBug on June 8, 2003 1:06:00 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
The great dilema and certainly the issue at fault for Linux not completely dominating the PC world is... "The Desktop!"

Choice is what makes Linux fans such die-hards, and at the same time it makes the Linux experience very inconsistent, particularly for n00Bz. Perhaps someone should pull a Mac OS X and take the Linux Standard Base and put a clean, asthetically pleasing GUI desktop on it. My guess is that if this was done well, and was ''commercial quality'' (stupid term...) that it would be quite well received even by those who don''t currently consider it an option.

btw... If you care what my opinion about default speed is, it is (from fastest to slowest) Slackware -> Debian -> Mandrake -> SuSE -> RedHat. The more featrure-rich the default environment, the slower the speed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
The great dilema and certainly the issue at fault for Linux not completely dominating the PC world is... "The Desktop!"
For Linux to succeed on the desktop it needs to approach the problems from a completely different angle than Windows. Linux will never be a "better Windows" than Windows itself.

quote:
Choice is what makes Linux fans such die-hards, and at the same time it makes the Linux experience very inconsistent, particularly for n00Bz. Perhaps someone should pull a Mac OS X and take the Linux Standard Base and put a clean, asthetically pleasing GUI desktop on it.
Aesthetics is nothing without usability. The big problem is that usability from the Linux/Unix point of view is a lot more expansive and all-permeating than from the Windows/Mac/GUI point of view. Nice clickable buttons and descriptive icons are nothing if you can''t be efficient, if you can''t be flexible, if you can''t - for example - string various simple tools together to create specialized on-the-spot utilities that solve the particular problem you''re working on.

The Unix command-line interface and the Graphical User Interface, as popularized by Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows, are more than just alternative interaction mechanisms; they are separate philosophies, and noone has yet figured how to bridge the gap between them. Until you do, a Unix GUI will always feel hacked on, no matter how "integrated" into the OS it seems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by avianRR
I agree with the idea of not teaching them that linux is a windows replacement.


Me too. It is not a replacement, it is a good alternative for "some things".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmm,

Well, if you''re looking for something sleek.. WindowMaker does a good job of keeping resources down to a minimum without sacrificing aesthetics too much.

Sawfish is decent because you can configure the hell out of it ( especially if you enjoy LISP and love to hack Emacs ), but on its own it is pretty bare.

Gnome and KDE, as stated by other people, require a lot of extra processing because they are more complex architectures in a lot of ways.

If you''re using IDE hardware, you might see if DMA is properly tuned and turned on. You will notice things to be horridly slow if you haven''t tuned IDE properly on your system, since disk I/O performance will suck. Check out ''hdparm'' for more details.

Other than that, there are several things to consider... probably too numerous to list completely since hardware and setup is fairly diverse across the board.


HTH,

.zfod

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites