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Old 01-15-2009, 10:05 AM   #1
3vra
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Is it better to use a desktop environment or a window manager


Is it better to use a window manager or a desktop environment when using Linux. I recently installed Ubuntu and decided to try gnome but after doing some reading I realized one difference between desktop environments and window managers. A window manager according to the source said that it's better for less powerful machines because it uses less resources hence my question.
 
Old 01-15-2009, 10:14 AM   #2
weibullguy
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Resources is one consideration and, yes, a window manager alone will consume fewer resources than a DE. If resources are not a consideration, which you use is a personal choice. I'm using a machine with an Athlon 5600+ and 4GB RAM, but I still use Fluxbox.
 
Old 01-15-2009, 10:22 AM   #3
H_TeXMeX_H
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I thought a desktop environment usually included a window manager, along with a file manager and other stuff. It's just that GNOME and KDE have become so bloated that you can't separate the parts out anymore.

If you want fast and light, a window manager like Fluxbox or Icewm would be best. Complement that with other software like ROX-Filer and a text editor and others and everything will stay light and fast.

Good luck with this on Ubuntu tho, I'm thinking it's gonna be difficult.
 
Old 01-15-2009, 10:40 AM   #4
3vra
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
I thought a desktop environment usually included a window manager, along with a file manager and other stuff. It's just that GNOME and KDE have become so bloated that you can't separate the parts out anymore.

If you want fast and light, a window manager like Fluxbox or Icewm would be best. Complement that with other software like ROX-Filer and a text editor and others and everything will stay light and fast.

Good luck with this on Ubuntu tho, I'm thinking it's gonna be difficult.
Just to see if I get what your saying. A DE does not have applications why it runs faster?
 
Old 01-15-2009, 11:08 AM   #5
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A DE does a lot of things that a WM does not. A DE needs a WM. You have to take that into consideration. If you just want not to use resources, don't install Xorg at all but run all your system on the command line and use links to surf the web. Or just shut down the computer and don't use any resource at all.
The DE provides you with a lot of services that you may or may not need, but it doesn't consume resources for nothing. If an old computer can't run a DE, you don't have the choice but you loose in functionalities.

Last edited by Agrouf; 01-15-2009 at 11:09 AM.
 
Old 03-12-2009, 12:20 AM   #6
bricedebrignaisplage
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Some DEs are faster and less resources hungry than others. Yesterday I saw a demonstration of LXDE and it was very impressive.

I personally use KDE (just switched back from 4 to 3.5 ). It's probably way heavier than some other DEs, but I have a fast computer with lots of memory, and I find it very easy to use.

So your choice is:
- you have a not so good computer or you really need resources, so you'll have to sacrifice functionalities (although LXDE seemed to be quite beginner friendly)
- you have enough resources, and you want comfortable DE, then use Gnome or KDE
 
Old 03-12-2009, 01:23 AM   #7
i92guboj
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3vra View Post
Is it better to use a window manager or a desktop environment when using Linux. I recently installed Ubuntu and decided to try gnome but after doing some reading I realized one difference between desktop environments and window managers. A window manager according to the source said that it's better for less powerful machines because it uses less resources hence my question.
Comparing a window manager (WM) with a desktop environment (DE) is like comparing a hammer with a toolbox. Usually, there's a hammer in every toolbox, the hammer is a core piece of the toolbox.

Every DE has a WM (kde has kwin, gnome has metacity, and xfce has xfwm). What to use is up to you. A toolbox is not "better" than a "hammer". Hammers are very well suited for some tasks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3vra View Post
Just to see if I get what your saying. A DE does not have applications why it runs faster?
A DE is a "desktop environment" in the wider sense of that word. It's more a concept than a concrete thing. There are premade desktops like kde or gnome, but you can also pick a WM, and build your own self made desktop using pieces from many places, and even reusing pieces from many of the big desktops.

It's just like the old table/paper/pencil desktop concept. Everyone has a desktop and organizes it in the way s/he thinks is better and using whatever tools s/he prefers.

I don't understand well your question there, but a desktop like kde or gnome is nothing else but a lot of programs that usually have a greater degree of interoperability, in a way that they can work in synergy and integrate with each other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agrouf View Post
A DE does a lot of things that a WM does not. A DE needs a WM. You have to take that into consideration. If you just want not to use resources, don't install Xorg at all but run all your system on the command line and use links to surf the web. Or just shut down the computer and don't use any resource at all.
Resources are to be used, that's true, as long as you use them in things that you need and not just for the sake of wasting them. The first thing to note is that using a WM is not necessarily any lighter than using a DE, and that can happen for many reasons.

For example, if you use compiz, it will waste lots of ram, and even cpu depending on the plugins you use.

If you use fvwm but you use firefox, amarok and eclipse you are going to need far far far! more ram than if you use kde with konqueror, amarok and kdevelop. Hell, even fvwm itself alone can be heavier than kde is depending on how do you configure it. It can be configured to take 2mb of ram or 200, it depends on how "creative" you are

About functionality, well, it really depends... Fvwm and most WMs (except the simplest ones) are lightyears away from kwin in which regards functionality, kwin is nothing special really., And let's not speak about metacity (whose only functionalities are just min-max-restore and almost nothing else). For me kde has nothing to offer, but for many users it has. It just depends on how do you work, and in which programs do you use.

When choosing, machine resources are important, but not to a critical extent usually. Nowadays hardware is cheap, and even 7-8 years old boxes can deal with any of the latest linux distros. So, instead I would look into functionality and personal preferences, rather than performance, unless we are speaking about any real serious limitation.

Finally, remember that no one stops you from installing as many of them as you wish and testing them yourself. That's the only way that you will be able to decide. And also note that most standalone wm's will require extra setup to behave like you want. Most of them are not for the lazy and will require from you some learning beyond point&click.

Last edited by i92guboj; 03-12-2009 at 01:30 AM.
 
Old 03-12-2009, 06:03 AM   #8
QueenZ
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There was a time when i didn't use anything more than X. I didn't have a very good computer back then and so i didn't even bother running a window maker or a desktop environment. Desktop environment is nice and all with lunchers and wallpapers and all that stuff but when you want to break free of all that just use X + wm
 
Old 03-12-2009, 06:59 AM   #9
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You can use a window manager by itself (and X, of course), but you certainly cannot use a desktop environment without a window manager (unless it's a window manager with an integrated desktop environment).

The question about which one is better is a bit useless. If you are looking for some alternatives to run a desktop environment on older PC's or other limitations in terms of system resources, then have a look at fluxbox, WindowMaker, XFCE, and similar projects. WindowMaker is a window manager with an integrated desktop environment and runs quite well even on 486 CPU's.

Arch Linux

Last edited by T74marcell; 03-14-2009 at 02:13 AM.
 
Old 03-13-2009, 10:03 AM   #10
3vra
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Thanks guys for your insight.Now the understanding is clear.
 
  


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