GNOME dependencies

jmak jozmak at
Thu Aug 9 00:14:24 UTC 2007

On 8/8/07, Jani Monoses <jani.monoses at> wrote:
> Because it came up in the other thread, and also because I have been thinking about it lately:
> I started out with the 'no gnome dependencies' policy in addition to the no 'mono/java/kde' one
> because most apps were covered by GTK only alternatives and we had to have some kind of
> criteria.
> It is no doubt that having additional dependencies affect performance so while not very quantifiable
> it made sense to avoid those apps.
> The disadvantages of having gnome deps (or any extra deps for that matter) are:
> - size of packages on the CD (I have not looked at this lately, IIRC it was something along 20M or more,
> I may be wrong though)
> - installed size on disk (only a minor issue)
> - startup time - GNOME deps mean an additional 25 or so shared objects linked to the app, all of whic are
> processed at startup. The difference is noticable, especially slower CPUs.
> - memory footprint - the same shared objects, even if possibly shared with other apps consume extra RAM,
> IIRC between 500K and 2M per process using them.
> In case of long running processes these affect the memory used by the desktop permanently. In case of explicitely
> started apps the main drawback is the startup speed.
> I have been thinking lately about using even more GNOME apps in Xubuntu. Until now in the past cycles we
> picked evince, gnome-system-tools, gcalctool and some of the python tools specific to Ubuntu (update manager,
> restricted manager). All of these have been previously - and in collaboration with upstream - been made
> buildable with GTK only dependencies. There are some other in the queue for Gutsy if upstream GNOME accepts
> some patches.
> There are two problems with having separate GTK apps (not GNOME ones built without GNOME libs)
>  - duplication of effort. We would be better off if some apps were comaintained with Ubuntu.
>  - the GTK apps are usually less featureful and less actively maintained (ex: xfburn, xarchiver)
> So we would gain by starting to use some GNOME apps while keeping Xfce core obviously. But we'd give up
> some space on the CD (maybe not that bad) some memory and startup times. These will not help in making
> Xubuntu lighter. That characterization has only been true when compared to GNOME or KDE though, with
> python running in the base system (hplip daemon for HP printers ), firefox in the mix and the liveCD no longer
> installing iwth 128M it is not really a light distro anymore.
> So we have a choice of keeping it like now, only small GTK only apps and let the user add whatever else she needs
> or start making a more complete and maintainable default at the cost of making it too heavy for some hw configurations.
> And by this I do not mean CD size or startup time or even short term memory use, those will probably not make much of a difference
> but long running processes. Do we want gnome-power-manager and network-manager? IS Xubuntu widely used on laptops and wifi setups?
> Do we want update-notifier (I am sure we do). All these are continually running and each eats up somewhere around 3-4 megs of RAM.
> The printing applet which is the default since feisty is also always running and is a python app, 4-5 megs probably.
> From a developer perspective and long term the easiest would be to add in as many GNOME stuff as possible besides the Xfce core and thunar.
> What's best for most users we don't know. Some use Xubuntu because they like Xfce or hate the other desktops but they have powerful computers.
> Other are more sensible to changes in RAM usage.
> I would like to hear feedback from more people, more importanlty from those who deploy many Xubuntu's either in LTSP setups or preinstalled
> on old computers who have a better idea of what most people like dislike and would like to be changed. Personal opinions are ok as well
> but those are often far too biased.

Here is an idea.

Why don't we set up a poll and ask xubuntu users about the hardware
they use. IF the majority use middle aged or newer computers, like me
for instance, (mine is 5 years old and still runs happily under gnome
kde and xfce) then add gnome components. If the majority still uses
very ancient ones, then stick with the current setup.



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