Keeping KDE under Kontrol

July 4, 2007

You’ll generally hear KDE referred to as the more resource intensive of the two heavywheight *nix desktops. I don’t know if that’s true. I’ve never seen – or looked for – benchmarks. To me GNOME has always felt slower, and I experience alot more freezeups. However it is undeniable that KDE keeps alot more processes running – even with no applications in active use.

If you’re coming from Windows and are a habitual background-process assassin this may strike a nerve. But in comparison with GNOME I find this tolerable, as the KDE processes benefit you in noticeable ways. The benefit comes from the main thing KDE brings to the window-and-desktop-manager table – integration. Individually, I generally find the Gtk apps better. But everything in KDE not only looks the same, it interacts with everything else. This will keep improving in KDE4 – and I understand that it will become more and more a part of GNOME. It’s mostly thanks to DCOP, which I’m working on writing more about.

My point here is that I can live with all the background processes if it makes me more productive. So much of this is subjective. For most people – as interface designers long ago discovered – slowing down a process by adding some minimal animation and sound will actually make it feel snappier, thanks to the presence of feedback. I myself usually turn all of that stuff off when I have the chance. But my wife would keep clicking and clicking without it.

However, some of the Beryl/Compiz stuff really appeals to me. When it actually works and doesn’t mess up everything else, it makes me feel like I’m working in a more advanced environment, which more than makes up for the added microseconds. (I say that now, but I’ve never actually left it enabled for more than a week on any system as the crashes and glitches do not make me feel more productive.)

I get some of the same effect with KDE’s integration. If anything I wish there were more communication between apps, and I could embed everything in Konqueror. (And that all of the world’s web applications would play nice with it.) I also really love booting to console, using a lightweight WM, and not having any process start without my conscious involvement. I even love having almost everything work right out of the box, and being able to explain to a new user in two or three sentences how to fix their desktop to their liking and get started working, as in GNOME. Different strokes and all.

Anyway, if you are trying out KDE, and you want to trim it back a little, but still have some idea what you’re messing with, the KDE-Wiki has a nice little guide for you:

KDE Wiki : Performance Tips

(Yeah, I know, that was a long intro for a little link to something not-so-new. Hope it helps someone.)


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