Suggest lighter Window Manager.

Discussions about what to change in future versions (except software request).
dcatoffm
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Suggest lighter Window Manager.

Postby dcatoffm » 07 Nov 2009, 18:25

I recently used SystemRescueCD for a backup operation (actually, I do often, but this was) on a computer with only 128MB RAM. This is still not all that uncommon on lower end machines of only a few years past. XFCE currently requires about 140MB to boot without crashing. While I could start XFCE after activating the swap space, this kind of defeats the purpose of the CD when involving several disk operations.

From what I can tell, the gui is mainly used as a launcher for the mostly text utils, and it gives you access to firefox a gPartEd. I personally see no reason why we couldn't dump XFCE in favor of IceWM or similar which boots in less than half the RAM, and just have a base gtk library available to keep firefox happy. I don't see anything that requires the features of a mid-weight WM like XFCE.

While I personally didn't need the GUI for anything, I know other (especially newer) users could be lost without it. I believe that this move would not only improve usability on low RAM computers, but may improve the user experience overall since a lightweight WM will both load and respond quicker than XFCE. I suggested IceWM because the look and operation will still be familiar from a user perspective, but of course, the choice is open to debate.

admin
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Re: Suggest lighter Window Manager.

Postby admin » 07 Nov 2009, 22:50

Thanks for this comment. xfce has been used because I consider it's the best trade-off between usability and size. It's still possible to make a customized version where jwm is used (you just have to change /root/winmgr.sh, jwm is just commented out. It was a single binary so it should be very good for old hardware. It's a very simple solution, and it works very well with 128 MB of memory in my KVM virtual machine.

I am not an expert in xfce configuration, but there may be settings in xfce that can be changed so that it reduces the memory requirements. Let me know if you find such optimizations that can be done. I prefer keeping only one desktop environment by default because it's a lot of effort to maintain duplicates in general.

dcatoffm
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Joined: 07 Nov 2009, 17:04
Location: Dover, NH USA
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Re: Suggest lighter Window Manager.

Postby dcatoffm » 08 Nov 2009, 06:10

I totally hear you. If jwm is already included, I can certainly work with that. It would be nice if its usage was a little more obvious (I'd like to be able to give out SRCD's as recovery mediums to some less technical users), like a jwiz script or something. I don't think XFCE can really be tuned down less than you already have it, but I'm curious, what exactly in XFCE do you use that you can't get out of jwm?

admin
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Re: Suggest lighter Window Manager.

Postby admin » 08 Nov 2009, 09:03

These two environments are really different: the quality of XFCE is really better, and it's and environments which is good enough to install that as the default: There is Xubuntu but no JwmUbuntu. Xfce provides many options and customizations. And also it was consistent with the choice of the default Terminal application which is the "Xfce-Terminal". This is the only good quality Terminal application (support for tabs and utf8) that does not require huge libs (unlike Konsole and Gnome-terminal). I consider Konsole is really the best terminal, but KDE is too big for that sort of livecd.

dcatoffm
Posts: 5
Joined: 07 Nov 2009, 17:04
Location: Dover, NH USA
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Re: Suggest lighter Window Manager.

Postby dcatoffm » 09 Nov 2009, 04:02

These two environments are really different: the quality of XFCE is really better, and it's and environments which is good enough to install that as the default: There is Xubuntu but no JwmUbuntu.

Not JWM specifically, but there are lightweight versions of Ubuntu, e.g. http://crunchbanglinux.org/ , based on openbox. Ubuntu by its own configurations also has a pretty decent FluxBox setup.

Xfce provides many options and customizations.

No argument that it does, but what options are necessary to a recovery CD (besides below...)?

And also it was consistent with the choice of the default Terminal application which is the "Xfce-Terminal". This is the only good quality Terminal application (support for tabs and utf8) that does not require huge libs (unlike Konsole and Gnome-terminal).

This I concede is a big point. Tabs aside, the ability to copy text from a terminal window and paste it in another (or a text editor) is a major plus in many cases, something most x-term clones can't do (at least not easily). I'm going to have to think about that one for a bit.

martosurf7600
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Joined: 27 Jan 2010, 20:49

Re: Suggest lighter Window Manager.

Postby martosurf7600 » 28 Jan 2010, 18:23

Hi, first post here. Indeed I came to make a suggestion -which I will do in main forum after posting here- but find this topic interesting and want to give my n00b point-of-view to devs and community aswell.

There's short time back I'm started using SysRescCD -although I know this recovery/backup specific distro from long time ago- and while I get used to Gentoo and text-only based terminal, I think a visual environment is very useful even for terminal use not just the GUI, I mean it's a *must* to have a terminal window with lot more than standard 25 lines of text and with history scrolling capabilities.

I hope in the future SysRescCD will continue shipping a useful GUI as it have now, being it whatever it should be, but as useful as current XFCE environment. I do love this incredible toolbox and i'm very grateful for the great work (and effort) everybody put here.

(And I'll be giving back some support in form of ca$h at first opportunity I can! =D


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