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Emanuele
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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:06 am

To expand on a issue mentioned in an off topic thread: I think that the only sensible desktop environment with 128MB of RAM is LXDE. Is anyone aware of other options?

With most developers buying a model B, there is a real possibility that they will be using custom distros with desktop environments that might not even run on a model A. If it turns out that LXDE really is the only sensible option on a model A, we might as well endorse it as the "official" desktop environment for Raspi.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:32 am

xfce ? fluxbox ?

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:35 am

Sure, lxde is great. It's not the only option though. I'd use xfce because it's lightweight AND full featured. Otherwise I'd probably just use openbox and some sort of panel lightweight panel.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:53 am

That's what I'm concerned about. Is XFCE really an option on 128MB? I doubt it, but I'd be happy to be proved wrong. Assuming that it starts up, how much memory will you have left to do anything?

By the way I run plain openbox myself, but I think most newcomers would need a panel, a file manager, a launcher, etc... For what I understand, that's basically what LXDE is.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:27 am

Xfce isn't as fast as everybody thinks. In benchmarks it performance equally to gnome 2.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:33 am

You're right, I would actually say any X11 environment is a poor option for 128MB. It will not be a pleasant user experience.

When you talk about performance, what exactly are you referring to? Memory, disk IO, cpu load, response time?

Alpine linux is said to be able to run XFCE on 42MB of RAM (or uses 42MB of RAM, I am not sure). Either way, it is possible to optimise the system to run fairly well. I just don't think that a distro like fedora, ubuntu or even debian is appropriate for the purpose.

Anyway... we'll see what what happens when these are released.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:14 am

Once I figure out how to do it, I'm going to try various desktops. I need to get my wireless dongle working first so I can ssh to the board and get stuff on to it.
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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:16 am

I didn't know about Alpine, I've checked their web site and it looks impressive. I'd prefer to stick to the standard libc, though.

Anyway, after reading about 42MB, I've looked around and I've found this:

http://auriza.site40.net/notes.....tallation/

It's on an older debian and I don't know what version of xfce they used, but it's only 40MB of RAM! So maybe xfce is viable after all!

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:21 am

Desktop environments: Gnome 2 (yes, a basic Gnome 2 installation is lightweight), Xfce, LXDE.
Window managers (you don't need to run a desktop environment to use a window manager): IceWM, Openbox, Fluxbox, ...
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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:45 pm

I've tested out Alpine linux with XFCE in VMWare. The entire system uses about 50MB of RAM and runs very smoothly. It's a shame that it's an x86/64 distro.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:05 pm

I'm running Arch Linux with Evilwm with no panels or titlebars or anything and it takes about 30mb of ram. To open a program all I do is type CTRL-ALT-ENTER and it opens the terminal, and then I just type the name of the program I want to open. Easy as pi. I suppose you could also set it up to open a program launcher instead of a terminal.
And right now my web browser (surf tabbed) is open with 5 tabs and my computer is only using 99mb of ram. With one tab, 56mb ram. I think a lot of things can be run in under 128 mb of ram.

EDIT: I turned off the tabs and now when I load a web page my computer uses only 50mb of ram.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:31 pm

yeah you can just use a simple WM and a launcher like gmrun, but I don't think that's what he's after.

Here's a quick test... XFCE+Midori(5 tabs open)+geany+htop+Terminal*2+Abiword+Thunar
Basically I tried to have a realistic environment open. Plenty of memory to spare.


The point is that if the OS is well designed, memory shouldn't be an issue even at 128MB.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:51 pm

I don't use a desktop environment myself, but for a newcomer that's usually considered too limited (but of course I don't have any hard data on it).

More in general, here is how I see it.

I think that a default setup has to be chosen for people who don't know/care what's the difference between a window manager and a file manager and just want to click on a big Download button on the main web site. It looks like xfce is an option after all. Ultimately, it's a decision for the foundation to make, they're working on it, and they have plenty of time to do it. Any decision they make is likely do disappoint someone. Personally, I'm pretty much happy with any solution they come up with. Just thinking that throwing some alternatives / experiences on the table by different people would be useful.

EDIT: changed the title of the topic

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:52 pm

I've got some instructions on setting up LXDE from Eben so will hopefully try that once I have got sensible networking going at home - need to get wireless up and running and at the moment it's not working (and don't have the time to drill through the wall to hardline my internet connection). Think I need to recompile the kernel. Have to do that at work though. Still, all good clean fun this Pi lark!
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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:06 pm

I would go with LXDE. Beautifull, clean and has low mem requirements for the stuff it provides. Well it's GTK though (more of a KDE/Qt guy myself), however I believe it could fit both Model B and A with moderate packages installed.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:10 pm

Also, if we need to support composite output, the dialogs have to be configurable so that they can fit in something like 680x440 pixels. I don't think that we can reduce the font size that much, as the text must be readable on an interlaced display. I remember ages ago (486 era) scrolling the virtual screen to be able to see some dialogs and it was horrible.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:31 pm

Quote from ShiftPlusOne on August 23, 2011, 08:33
You're right, I would actually say any X11 environment is a poor option for 128MB. It will not be a pleasant user experience.

Hm... Maemo users might beg to differ with you... ;)

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:34 pm

I have been giving a lot of thought to the memory issue. This is something that I battled a lot with The OLPC XO

I did some experiments with debian on a QEMU arm box with 128Meg. and had a good look around. The options that struck me as best with regards to window managers Were jwm, OpenBox and Enlightenment. Add to that any number of tiling window managers which, While Lightweight are somewhat of an acquired taste.

OpenBox is the WM behind LXDE and is the primary resident cost of LXDE. It seems to use around 6-7 meg. jwm uses less memory, but seems to not be quite so good at handling window manager hints, sometimes things like Fullscreen windows are a bit wonky.

Enlightenment is a different kettle of fish entirely. It's a Eye candy option but surprisingly lightweight, the underlying libraries have had specific attention paid to ARM+EGL implementation. It is worth looking at http://www.bodhilinux.com/ which is a Ubuntu based distribution using Enlightenment available for 128Meg machines. Right now, the released version is i386 but they have ARM builds in development and operating.
Here's a review of Bodhi. Definitely a thing to keep an eye on.
[embed][/embed]

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:06 am

Quote from Svartalf on August 24, 2011, 22:31
Quote from ShiftPlusOne on August 23, 2011, 08:33
You're right, I would actually say any X11 environment is a poor option for 128MB. It will not be a pleasant user experience.

Hm... Maemo users might beg to differ with you... ;)

Yeah, Maemo looks pretty good, but I wouldn't use it for a desktop environment.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:33 pm

if you check out xmonad with debian you can get a nice tiny install, with some tweaks you can get it to run at about 25mb with dmenu to start programs.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:25 pm

I've been playing with LXDE on the alpha and it's not bad. App start time isn't great (IceWeasel took ages, all CPU), but in general use it seems fine. However, I've broken my install somehow (or the mouse at home is iffy) so now I've got all the kit home the left mouse button doesn't work, which rather wrecks tomorrow efforts to get wireless working. It has suddenly started taking an age to boot to the login too.

Time to re-image the SD card and start again I think, and can only do that at work. Oh well....
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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:21 am

I think I already posted this to some other thread, but the first Linux system I installed was on a 386DX33 with 16 Megs of RAM so I can't believe people are whining about 128 Megs. It ran X-windows - I think I used twm - just because that's what I used. I'm still using fvwm2. Yes, it uses a flat text .fvwmrc file that you edit to create the menus to launch your fav apps, but it does the trick.

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:46 am

Personally I like OpenBox, coupled with tint2 I think that it could work just as good on the Pi as it does on my X86_64. However as I'm not on the right machine right now, I can't take a measurement to see how much actual memory it takes.

Pantherman

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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:28 am

Tint2! That's the one! I've spent many hours looking for a lightweight panel that doesn't look like it's from Windows 95. That's the one I've ended up with ages ago, but have completely forgotten about it.

Here's an old screenshot I've dug up... took me ages to customize it just the way I liked it.
That's a 300MHz ,128MB thinkpad. =)


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Re: LXDE, XFCE or just a plain window manager?

Sat Aug 27, 2011 10:41 am

What's about the memory consumption of the GPU? I think I read somewhere in the forum about shared memory. If I'm right, there won't be 128M left on model A.

And for the initial purpose of this device, there must be enough space to run an IDE and do some memory allocation from within my own programs. This could easily hit the limit (especially when introducing arrays ^^).

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