KDE 4 to use much less RAM

December 14, 2007 // 1:25 p.m.

Tags: #4 #aero #desktop #kde #linux #memory #microsoft #ram #vista

Anyone paying the slightest attention to the Linux-on-the-desktop scene will have noticed that desktop environments are featuring more and more eye-candy with every release. While this has had the predictable effect of increasing processor usage and memory requirements (although the pretty things can always be turned off), it seems that the newest version of the K Desktop Environment graphical user interface will use nearly 40% less memory than current version 3.5 despite having a lovely composited windows manager (think Aero but free).

The figure comes from a test run by German magazine Pro-Linux who ran tests comparing the performance and memory footprint of the second release candidate of KDE 4 compared to the latest version of KDE 3.5.

With further good news for those of you with older systems to support, KDE developer Will Stephenson announced in a post to his blog that he'd tried a pre-release build of KDE 4 with the 3D desktop effects enabled on a laptop running at 1GHz and with only 256MB of RAM. Rather than the single-frame-per-second slide show he was expecting, Will was pleasantly surprised to find the desktop completely usable even with all the glitz and glamour turned on.

It's also worth noting that Will had some KDE 3 libraries loaded for compatibility reasons, and that final optimisation of the code has yet to take place: in other words, there's room for still more performance gains.

It's interesting to see Linux, traditionally the home of beardy geeks desperate to eke out every last bit of performance from ageing hardware, finally 'getting' what draws the mass-market to an OS: shiny things moving prettily on screen.

While it's unlikely to encourage me to move from the Gnome environment on my desktop (and don't think I can't hear the KDE fans sharpening their pitchforks at hearing that) it's certainly tempting to give it a shot at making my creaky old laptop look a bit more modern.

The finished version of KDE 4 is due for release on the 9th of January 2008. If you can't wait that long, you can grab the source for the release candidate from the KDE website.

Enough to tempt you away from the folds of Vista, or are you waiting for more games to be supported before switching to Linux? Let us know in the forums.
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