Saturday, July 31, 2021

Linux Cinamon, KDE, XFCE Desktops and seven Linux Distributions

 



This post is about seven Linux Distributions, memory used when first booted, number of applications in the default menu, startup and shutdown, and Snap packages too. Also mentioned are a few snags you may enjoy when using KDE, or installing a second Ubuntu distribution. Contrary to popular thought, the memory used between several distributions with different Desktop configurations is relatively mild in the amount of memory used. The biggest differences is the number of menu entries in each of the distributions.

I write the memory used is relatively close because they all use less than one megabyte of memory. Unless you have an older computer, or are otherwise memory constrained, all of the Distributions I mention should not be a memory problem. Cinnamon I understand can be a memory hog, but in the Latest Mint, there is a memory check and reset if needed to limit the memory bleed. Also there is not clear indication what causes the memory bleed as of today. Things change quickly however, so what I write may be wrong or outdated.

I also included Snap packages, because they are either loved or hated by users. Loved because everything is configured and dependencies are included. Hated because Snap Packages can not be modified by the user. You get what the creator deemed proper, nothing more, nothing less.

In my situation, I tried an Ubuntu child which did not install Snap packages until a later upgrade. One of the packages was my web browser, which I sync across a few other devices. It looked horrible after sync, so I changed the settings. When I used my other devices the web browser looked horrible on them. Snap packages are not my cup of tea.

In that regard, everything Ubuntu or created from Ubuntu, with the exception of Linux Mint (as far as I am aware) will install snap packages at some point. If you are okay with Snap, Ubuntu is great. If Snap interferes with your settings and usage, you have been warned.

If you wish to add a second distribution on your computer, and your first Distribution is a flavor of Ubuntu or derived from Ubuntu, Grub is not going to be happy. All the Ubuntu derivatives I have tried are identified as “Ubuntu” in Grub. Grub, in my experience, will not create two Ubuntu entries. What I have experienced is one of the Ubuntu Installs loses it's Grub entry.

My main go to Linux is Debian Linux which I recently upgraded to Debian 11 Bullseye. I use the XFCE Desktop which makes a slight difference on memory used. Ditto for Endeavor OS. Linux Mint Distribution uses Cinnamon Desktop, KDE anything of course uses KDE Desktop.

KDE if you are not aware, is a little different in some important respects than the XFCE or Cinnamon Desktops. KDE is KDE centrist, and may not run some non KDE programs. XFCE and Cinnamon will run KDE applications. I have never experienced problems with KDE apps, or apps from other Desktops in XFCE or Cinnamon Desktop. Take that comment for what it is worth.

This may have changed since I last time I used KDE, but beware in general. If your data is stored in KDE applications, they may not export to a format you want. It does not seem like an issue at the beginning, but rears its ugly head down the road when you have a lot of information to export. It is important to me that any app I use does not hoard my data. By hoarding I mean there is no easy means to export my data from the application. KDE apps in the past did not export so the data could be used in other applications. If I wanted to change applications, I would end up doing unending CTRL + C and CTRL + V to copy my data into another format.

A great example of a well behaved application is ZIM Wiki. All the information I put into ZIM is of course displayed in Zim. However the information is stored in individual text files on the hard drive. If I ever want to replace Zim, I can delete it, and all my information is safe and readable.

In general, if you like to tinker with your Desktop and make many big and small changes, KDE is the go-to Desktop with Cinnamon second. XFCE is the most limited along with Mate, and can be boring to look at. On to what I started this post for:

 

Distribution

Memory usage at Boot up, Menu Entries, Startup and Shutdown,  Snap

 

Debian 11

522588 MB         ~ 43 Menu Entries            Fast                         Not by default


MX Linux 19.4

522588 MB         ~ 123 Menu Entries!        Fast                             Not by default


Endeavor OS 2021.04.1

525452 MB            ~ 47 Menu Entries       Fast                            Not by default


Feren OS, Kubuntu, KDE Neon

660236 MB        ~ 55 Menu Entries     Both Pauses                     Will add Snap


Kubuntu, Feren OS and NEON are based on Ubuntu Linux, so memory usage, menu entries, Startup and Shutdown and Includes Snap information should be about the same. Very nice desktop though!

I listed the menu entries, but my counting skills are not the sharpest, so I may be off a few numbers either way. MX Linux as noted has more menu entries than any other two Distributions combined. I am not privy to details, but I think this comes from the Anti X side of MX Linux. Anti X has so many menu entries, even a seasoned user could get lost in the menu. I am not sure why a distribution aimed at new users goes out of its way to stuff the menu with apps and options. I am more in line with elementary OS and Zorin Linux, less is better. I would rather add fifteen packages than remove thirty or more packages and/or menu entries.

A few points to remember are:

Memory usage is not really an issue for most semi new or new computers unless you are a graphics app heavy user. Even memory starved computers (64 bit) can run (almost) any distribution, though the user won’t be happy with the outcome. (At least a few distributions these days check available memory and will not install on low memory machines.) KDE is a tinkerers dream, and options seem endless. Cinnamon has enough desktop options to keep most users happy. XFCE is the most limited modifiable Desktop environment.

If you use KDE, ensure your KDE applications have a usable export options - to .txt or some such. Ubuntu based distributions are all similar, so expect the same results from different flavors. KDE also favors the use of Snap packages from what I (unofficially) read.

Finally, without modifying Grub Menu, Grub does not know what to do with two Ubuntu Distributions, one of them will lose its Grub entry. Ubuntu does have a Grub entry modify app and there are web


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