I feel that with all the additional apps pre-installed, and relying heavily on deriving elements from Ubuntu and Gnome, elementary must be heavy.

So I would like to know an as-quantitative-as-possible analysis of how heavy the OS is on RAM (and may be the system in overall) compared to Classic-Ubuntu/Gnome-Ubuntu. This is a problem that every user who is stunned by the awesomeness of Pantheon would like to get an answer to, before switching their OS/Desktop, so that they don't feel the hesitation that it would slow down their PC.

PS: Please feel free to add external links that may be helpful, but as of now I haven't been able to find a proper place that provides some sane discussion of this technical overhead comparison.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Thomas Dickey, Julie Pelletier, mdpc, Jeff Schaller, Scott Aug 20 '16 at 5:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I am unsure as to the usefulness of this; how many people run a completely stock default install? – Jeff Schaller Aug 20 '16 at 0:19
  • I am not sure what you imply – brijs Aug 20 '16 at 0:24
  • As soon as anyone does anything different, the comparison is moot. Change desktop environment, change the mta, tweak Apache, etc – Jeff Schaller Aug 20 '16 at 0:26
  • A technical comparison is useful to the user of said technologies – brijs Aug 20 '16 at 0:34
  • 1
    @JeffSchaller It's still meaningful to compare the default installation. A lot of people stick with the default installation. – Gilles Aug 20 '16 at 0:56

What applications are preinstalled is completely irrelevant. An application that is installed but not running costs nothing but disk space.

I don't know why you feel that elementary must be heavier than Gnome. Gnome itself is pretty heavy.

There was an article comparing Linux desktop environments in the Layer 3 Networking Blog in April 2013. Elementary didn't exist yet but the author tested a lot of environments. While figures can vary quite a bit depending on what applets, widgets and so on are loaded, the order of magnitude is telling: ~200MB for KDE, slightly less for Unity and Gnome3, ~50MB for lightweight desktop environments, a few MB for heavyweight window managers, <1MB for lightweight window managers. (Those figures are for the WM/DE only, not the base system.)

Hectic Geek compared elementary Luna with Gnome in August 2013. They found that there was no significant difference in memory usage and boot times.

Brendan Ingram compared the RAM usage of several configurations in July 2016. He found that Gnome on Ubuntu 16.04 took 700MB (that's total RAM, not just the desktop environment) while Pantheon on the elementary OS version based on 14.04 took 600MB, i.e. Pantheon used slightly less memory but that was an older version.

The upshot is that Pantheon as configured by elementary and Gnome or Unity as configured by Gnome use similar amounts of memory. Elementary's default setup requires roughly the same amount of resources than Ubuntu's.

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