Gnome deps and desktop memory usage (was: Adding printers vs Xubuntu philosphy)

Eero Tamminen oak at
Fri May 5 19:57:17 UTC 2006


On Friday 05 May 2006 21:30, Jani Monoses wrote:
> Why you're avoiding Gnome dependencies?
> As you point out below to save startup time and RAM. Even a few megs can
> make the difference between your app fitting or starting to cause disk
> thrashing because of swapping.  Even if these are not a drastic savings
> given that the rest of the system including gtk is already quite resource
> hungry they are still savings.

My main point is that if user can already run Firefox, he has enough memory
to run a lot of other applications too, although not necessarily at the same
time.  There's quite a lot of gnome apps that use less memory than Firefox.

The memory usage of individual applications is not so much of an issue[1]
because user has control over them.  If application(s) take too much memory,
user can close the other applications (and learns that he should/can do it). 
The base/system (i.e. desktop) memory usage is much more important because
user doesnt' have control over it.

[1] Of course applications using less memory should be preferred if they
offer about same set of features and are otherwise nice like Abiword is
compared to OO.  If the memory usage is "reasonable", it's performance
that counts.

My mail is not about the printing itself, just about why not to relax a bit
with the gnome deps and concentrate more into making sure that the desktop
footprint is reasonable (unlike with Gnome).  The reason why Gnome is so
awful performance-wise is that the desktop (nautilus, panel and the out of
process panel applets etc) take so much memory.

I've seen recently a lot of mails about panel applets.  Are XFCE panel
applets in- or out-process?

> printing is actually provided by libgomeprint which we use as well since
> it does not depend on anything else.


> > Because there are additional libraries, more space is used from the
> > ISO-image/CD/harddrive, but as libraries are shared, it's only one-time
> > increase of (tens of) megs(?).
> even if libraries are mostly shared,  there is some  data which is not
> shared, so every app started adds up to the memory usage because of data
> in the library. Look at recent discussions on the gnome-performance list.

I've done a lot of Gtk memory profiling, so I know where that goes,
although I'm less familiar with the gnome components.

This point was mostly about disk space usage, is that one of the reasons
why you're concerned about Gnome deps?

(because then using programs that bring in e.g. lesstif makes less
sense. :-))

> What *can* be a problem is that if the applications require other
> processes
> > to run at the same time (gconf, gnome-vfs etc) *and* those processes
> > don't quit when last client accessing them quits.  I.e. the system is
> > constantly using more memory than "required".
> right, that's why I try avoiding gconf, which again is not too big but
> considering it is mostly useless outside gnome, it is too bug for what it
> offers in our case.
> The main issue I had with both Gtk and Gnome programs was that their
> > menus (+submenus) were pretty slow to open and close (on
> > P166...).  Dialogs
> > were also slow to open, but they are used less often than menus, so it
> > wasn't annoying.
> indeed, the gtk engines and drawing methods for icons and text can be
> quite time consuming.

When compared to Gtk1 (used e.g. by Dillo and xzgv), Gtk2 offers:
- Xft & antialiased fonts (much nicer looking text and very easy
  font installation)
- Double buffered drawing (no flickery screen/widget updates)
- Full Unicode support with Pango & utf-8 (no problems with localization)

All of these have quite a large penalty on performance.
However, I think these features are worth it. :-)

	- Eero

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