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Ubuntu is upstream to Linux Mint and with that, I saw Linux Mint is lightweight since it has unnecessary bloatwares removed which we had in Ubuntu. Ubuntu Gnome takes 780MB of RAM in idle usage while Linux Mint with Cinnamon takes around 440MB RAM in an idle state.(Please note these are rough figures just to convey an idea) I want to know out of curiosity what are the things removed that makes Linux Mint so lightweight.

Update 1: I don't mean to start any holy wars of the most lightweight distro available in the market but what I intend to understand is the reductions done by the developers to make a derived distro lightweight.

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  • The focus of my question is to understand what are the reductions (apart from bloatware removal) that makes a derived distro so lightweight.
    – mishsx
    Feb 28, 2018 at 18:54
  • Yeah well to answer your question I would say Ubuntu with GNOME takes 770MB RAM in an idle state and it's more if we go for the default Unity launcher...These are just factual observations supplemented by my day to day use.I cannot answer any further because I am a beginner in LINUX community.
    – mishsx
    Feb 28, 2018 at 19:02

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The core difference between as well as Linux Mint Ubuntu flavours is the desktop environment (DE) in use, relatively heavy ones are:

  • KDE (Kubuntu)
  • Unity (Ubuntu 11.04 to 17.04)
  • GNOME (Ubuntu GNOME until 17.04, Ubuntu since 17.10)

Relatively lightweight are:

  • Xfce (Xubuntu)
  • LXDE (Lubuntu)
  • Cinnamon (Linux Mint Cinnamon)
  • MATE (Ubuntu MATE and Linux Mint MATE)

The actual “lightweightness” however is highly dependent to how the system is used in the end, and therefore not to determine definitely. The most lightweight alternative of course is running no graphical user interface at all (Ubuntu Server Edition). ;)

Further reading:

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  • You do not need to run a Server Edition for having no graphical interface. You just do not install it. It is not some versions are heavy or lightweight per se, their default full install might be heavy or lightweight, which is a different thing in itself. Feb 28, 2018 at 19:24
  • @RuiFRibeiro You're right of course, I just wanted to show that the different flavours all come with their own (or none) DE and are mostly even named after them, just to underline my point.
    – dessert
    Feb 28, 2018 at 20:08
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As a follow-up to @dessert's answer, I'll offer two one-liners that seem like you might be interested in:

  1. Here's a one-liner to list the ten largest 'packages' on your system:

    dpkg-query -Wf '${Installed-Size}\t${Package}\n' | sort -nr | head

Note however, that the output can be misleading because it only tracks individual packages. Sometimes, a program is packaged in parts - for example in order to use any single component of libreoffice, many component packages are installed. Also, unless you are using snap or flatpack or similar, a program you install may bring in dependencies, which would also be other packages.

  1. The one-liner can be easily modified to sort by alphabetical order, and list all packages:

    dpkg-query -Wf '${Installed-Size}\t${Package}\n' | sort

With this version, you can create lists for each distribution that you evaluate, and compare what's installed in each by default, what the differences between them are (using the diff command) and what the space savings amount to (a bit more complex, so another question).

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