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Old 12-04-2018, 05:33 PM   #1
trafikpolisen
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Why is everything so memory-hungry these days?


Why is it that a just booted fresh install of for example Linux Mint or Xubuntu uses 600-700 MB+ of memory, when not THAT long ago Ubuntu or Xubuntu used only a bit above 100 MB with no programs launched? Even distros today marketed as lightweight seems to use wasteful amounts of memory for (me at least) no obvious reasons.
This got me thinking, so I installed old Xubuntu 9.10 on a VM, followed by the latest LTS version of the same system, 18.04.

Here's a few random comparisons:
Network Manager was 592 KB, now 16,3 MB
Thunar was 1,3 MB, now 12,6 MB
xfdesktop was 6,1 MB, now 34,9 MB
xfce4-session was 1,2 MB, now 13,5 MB

The systems back then felt just as usable and visually appealing as they do today (at least to me), but with a fraction of the memory consumption. Yes, memory may come in abundance these days, but why use for example 28 MB (galculator) when the job could probably be done with a MB or two?

One of the reasons I switched from Windows to Linux was how fast, efficient and lightweight Linux was compared to Windows back then. Might still be faster and more efficient, but when it comes to memory usage, the difference seems smaller these days.

And don't get me started on smartphones. Why does for example Spotify, an ONLINE music service, hog up almost 7 GB? Just seems stupid.. Yes, I know this is storage and not RAM, but it's still interesting..

When the car manufacturers design a car, they want it as efficient as possible to consume as little petrol as possible. When chip companies designs CPU's, they probably wan't them to use as little power as possible in relation to performance. Why couldn't the same philosophy apply to software?

Can someone explain this?

Last edited by trafikpolisen; 12-04-2018 at 05:37 PM.
 
Old 12-04-2018, 06:05 PM   #2
dugan
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Interesting. Did this happen with the GTK2->GTK3 transition?

Last edited by dugan; 12-04-2018 at 06:11 PM.
 
Old 12-04-2018, 06:23 PM   #3
syg00
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Hardware is cheap, people (time) are expensive. Especially when there are so few of them like on most FOSS projects.
Hence things like java come to dominate - and thus the programming "paradigm". People used to worry about memory management, now they just leave it to the garbage collection. What a great name ...
And the next 6 releases are spent trying to paper over the holes.

Damn, I hope I never become cynical.
 
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Old 12-04-2018, 07:13 PM   #4
dugan
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syg00: His examples are all C programs.
 
Old 12-04-2018, 08:07 PM   #5
frankbell
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Memory usage expands to fill available memory. It's been that way since the days of 64K.
 
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Old 12-04-2018, 09:58 PM   #6
BW-userx
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Quote:
slackware-14.2-install-dvd.iso 30-Jun-2016 23:18 2.6G
slackware-12.0-install-dvd.iso 02-Jul-2007 04:50 3.6G
Looks like Slackware got smaller.
but rule of thumb is, the cpu and memory can handle more, so the programmers program it to have more to handle. That is the way I see it

Last edited by BW-userx; 12-04-2018 at 10:05 PM.
 
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Old 12-05-2018, 11:29 AM   #7
trafikpolisen
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Yeah, I'm no programmer, but I guess the memory usage reported when running a program isn't the actual amount that program uses, but more of a "reservation". Is that correct?
Also, there was mention here of maybe having something to do with switching from GTK2 to GTK3.
Maybe I'll test every major release of a distro from say 10 years ago until now and see if there is a gradual increase or if memory consumption significantly jumps at any point. Maybe Xubuntu, to have the same desktop environment all the way, to avoid the transition to hideous Gnome 3.
 
Old 12-05-2018, 11:40 AM   #8
trafikpolisen
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It just seems that desktop Linux used to be so lean and elegant compared to now. Although it's still a lot better than Windows in my opinion.
 
Old 12-05-2018, 11:51 AM   #9
ehartman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BW-userx View Post
Looks like Slackware got smaller.
That only looks that way:
since 13.0 the DVD is splitup into an "install" one (actually: two, 32-bit and 64-bit) and a (common) source one.
Quote:
-r--r--r-- 1 root root 2814377984 2016-07-01 01:18 slackware-14.2-install-dvd.iso
-r--r--r-- 1 root root 2773483520 2016-07-01 01:22 slackware64-14.2-install-dvd.iso
-r--r--r-- 1 root root 4044005376 2016-07-01 01:26 slackware-14.2-source-dvd.iso
and as you can see, the source one is largest.
 
Old 12-05-2018, 11:51 AM   #10
BW-userx
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I'm still runnning the old stuff, WMaker, Blackbox, Window Mangers, not desktops. But I got 16GB Ram compared to 16MB which as a big deal way back when, and a lot more costly then today.
486 CPU
Quote:
RAM. Most if not all of these era motherboards are going to use old 30 pin ram simms.
There a little hard to find but not terribly expensive online. the MB I am using has 32MB
which is also the most allowed, high end 486 MB’s could allow up to 64MB using 16MB simms.
32MB and defiantly 64MB is complete overkill for the era of gaming we are making this PC for.
Now we're using Gig a Bytes. I don't think 32MB of ram would even run today Computers.

maybe compare between Linux and Windows ram usage for apps and the desktop.

Last edited by BW-userx; 12-05-2018 at 11:59 AM.
 
Old 12-05-2018, 11:53 AM   #11
snowpine
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Maybe using more RAM makes the system faster?

Imagine we have to transport 1,000 kids to school. You are proposing that we should only put a few kids on each bus, and to make many trips with busses that are mostly empty. I propose we get a big bus, pack it full of kids (to the safe limit), and make only one trip.

Another analogy, suppose you are going on a casual day hike. You buy a huge oversized mountaineering backpack, and use it to carry your sandwich and bottle of water. Do the other hikers say, "look at him, he is such a smart hiker, he is only using 5% of his backpack!"

I guess I'm not understanding your value conclusion that empty, unused RAM is "good." I would argue that empty, unused RAM is "bad" because it is a wasted resource.

Last edited by snowpine; 12-05-2018 at 11:57 AM.
 
Old 12-05-2018, 12:02 PM   #12
hazel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
I guess I'm not understanding your value conclusion that empty, unused RAM is "good." I would argue that empty, unused RAM is "bad" because it is a wasted resource.
Isn't that one of the differences between Windows and Linux? Linux uses all available RAM for buffering because buying RAM and not using it is wasteful. But the result is that Linux seems to be using all its memory even when it's not doing much, so it looks less efficient than Windows.
 
Old 12-05-2018, 12:37 PM   #13
trafikpolisen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
I guess I'm not understanding your value conclusion that empty, unused RAM is "good." I would argue that empty, unused RAM is "bad" because it is a wasted resource.
Well, I have 20 Gigs of RAM in my main computer, but my old laptop only has four and if the web browser eats up one Gig or two, there will not be a whole lot left with a few other programs running before memory runs out. If things was a bit leaner like they used to, I could run more stuff before being out of resources.
 
Old 12-05-2018, 12:54 PM   #14
BW-userx
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why you not looking into a less memory hog web browser, if there is such a thing, because it is the contents in the web page that sucks up the ram. I'd think.

@snowpine, and them Buses for the kids would be the BUZZ Speed of the Mother Board on an autobahn.
 
Old 12-05-2018, 01:35 PM   #15
snowpine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trafikpolisen View Post
Well, I have 20 Gigs of RAM in my main computer, but my old laptop only has four and if the web browser eats up one Gig or two, there will not be a whole lot left with a few other programs running before memory runs out. If things was a bit leaner like they used to, I could run more stuff before being out of resources.
When you measured Mint and Xubuntu using 600-700mb RAM, was that on your main computer with 20gb, or your old laptop with 4gb?

Generally in my experience, Linux is "smart" enough to use more RAM on high-RAM computers, and less RAM on low-RAM computers.
 
  


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