How did XFCE get so heavy weight? Ranting about GTK and QT nightmare...

That's something I wanted to get off my chest, so here we go. I've been a huge fan of XFCE and was waiting for the arrival of 4.14. It was a complete disappointment for me. I've just downloaded Manjaro XFCE 20.0.1 ISO and looked at how much RAM it uses. HTOP said that Manjaro XFCE is using about 750MB RAM on idle?! How did XFCE become this bloated? I'm not pointing fingers at Manjaro developres. You guys are doing a great job. This is something XFCE related. I am aware. This is one of the frustrations I have with Linux. My Fedora 32 Workstation uses around 850MB of RAM on idle. So, it is pointless to give XFCE a shot these days.

I am also having trouble with QT and GTK compatibility for a really long time. If I use a GTK based desktop environment, QT apps will look alien. If I install Plasma desktop, I will have to look for a GTK theme for my "Global Theme" of Plasma which is not global by the way. Global means it effects everywhere. I don't know why QT and GTK teams can not work together, so both API would be compatible with each other. I don't like working with Kdenlive just because of that. I am considering completely ditch anything related to KDE as well at this point :frowning:

These are some of the trouble I had with Linux. What do you guys think? Do you think I'm over reacting? Please share your thoughts and (if possible) solutions for the problems I'm facing right now. Regards.

Yes, totally.

Memory usage - Install and run ps_mem to see what it taking up RAM and clean it up. It can be slimmed down a lot. It probably isn't xfce. It is everything that is packaged with the distributions you are testing.

Theming - While it isn't perfect, there are quite a lot of ways to solve this problem. On XFCE you can use kvantum to set a matching qt theme. Of course, there is the requirement to find a theme that has both a kvantum version and a gtk version but there are quite a lot of those available.


The Global Theme in Plasma pertains only to Plasma, and it is called "global" because it changes all Plasma-specific theme-related settings, which you can normally set separately via the individual components under Appearance in the Plasma System Settings module, i.e. ...:

  1. The window decorations.
  2. The application theme. (Note: Kvantum themes have to be installed separately.)
  3. The Plasma theme ─ i.e. the look & feel of the panels and of the widgets on the desktop.
  4. The mouse cursors.
  5. The color palette.
  6. The fonts.
  7. The desktop layout ─ i.e. panel and widget placement.

Matching the GTK themes to the Qt themes is somewhat of a challenge, but there are theme choices that bring the two closer together in look & feel.

However, Plasma and Qt are a lot more liberal on account of what one can do with them, and, by design, GTK is not.

There is some collaboration between the GNOME developers ─ who are also responsible for GTK ─ and the KDE developers, but it has so far mostly been a one-way street, with the GNOME team acting like a dictator via the RedHat-sponsored specifications. As such, the incompatibilities between GNOME and Plasma/KDE have historically always been around.

Yes. :slight_smile:


Just a quick answer:

  • XFCE transferred to Gtk3, which automatically needs more RAM.
  • on Manjaro we try that every app looks great independently for which framework it was written

If you want to have DE with less RAM usage use either LxQt or KDE's Plasma5.


That's something I live in every distro. It's not specific to Manjaro, and you guys can only do so much for the problems at hand. GTK3 really needs to consider decreasing the footprint which seems very unlikely at this point :frowning:

While manjaro adds some features (like snap if you just get the full version) .. xfce itself has become 'heavier' along with the times. Even if you strip it down .. you wont see a massive difference between say KDE and XFCE in terms of ram usage. That is that a slightly minimalist (but still fully featured) setup will have you running somewhere between 350-550mb or so depending on how spartan you like it, or if something like dropbox is a necessity.

But honestly -- whats really the point of griping over 200mb of RAM anyways? If you really want something slim you should ditch the DE altogether .. but still .. do you really have a machine with less than 1GB ?

This probably means you havent read the handful of relevant wiki entries or forum tutorials etc.
There are more than a few ways to get things synced. For example I think a few manjaro GTK desktops use kvantum as the QT theme engine ... so if you have a matching kvantum theme with your gtk theme it works. Other methods include, qt5ct, 'emulating' it automatically .. or using built-in options such as on Plasma:
System Settings > Application Style > Configure Gnome/GTK Application Style is your friend. is too.


Also use minimal ISOs as they come with less additional services like no flatpak nor snaps.

Since 2004 when i started using linux ram usage has steadily crept up take openbox as a example it used to consume with # about 50 mb about 80mb with nvidia drivers, xfce about 150mb.

Times have changed comps are 10 times more powerful, ram is cheap, users demand more services,
No DE uses more ram than a web browser forget what ram is used its not a measure of performance anyway its how its used some desktops DEs measure also ram in cache KDE dropped that a year ago so it looks better on paper as users complained it was ram heavy, gnome includes cache so i'm told, different programs measure ram in different way.
By the way on a build your own system Gnome uses less startup than KDE.

As @philm pointed out go for minimal if it that important and never connect to the internet as browsers use 2-3 times as much ram as the system.
OR better still invest in modern hardware with a min of 8gb of ram.


That is interesting. My Wayland Gnome setting uses around 480-500MB and x11 session uses around 550-600MB.
If you want to a stick around GTK based DE, you should also check out Budgie or MATE.

[quote="cscs, post:6, topic:141958"]
That is that a slightly minimalist (but still fully featured) setup will have you running somewhere between 350-550mb or so depending on how spartan you like it, or if something like dropbox is a necessity.
I do not use any startup programs, and I don't have many programs opened at the same time.

I did ditch DEs, but neither i3, nor DWM was good enough for my use case. They simply needed too much work. I want to get the most out of my computer. It has 4GB of ram, and I'm not in position to buy anything due to the quarantine here.

I can give it a try. Thanks :slight_smile:

Then I would recommend LXDE or LXQt as your desktop environment. Of all the complete desktop environments, those two are the most lightweight.

But do bear in mind ─ as @mandog said ─ that a web browser is always going to be a memory hog. Chromium uses more RAM than Firefox when in use, but it also frees up more RAM again after it is shut down.

Also make sure you disable all of the systemd services that you can do without.

While that is true due to the poor design of most modern websites, there is always the option of alternative browsers (like Midori) to bring RAM usage down if people are willing to change.

Isnt that what RAM is for? To be used by the system. When was the last time anyone maxxed out their RAM (assuming 4gb or more fitted)?

It all depends on workload. On my main desktop I am typically using around 32GB of RAM. When I only had 32GB, I had to be careful.

If you have no swap or swapfile. Your system will freeze up or lock up. But if you have swap or swapfile. There more than a 50% hit on proformance. It that noticeable. But that have not happened to me in almost 5 year now.

Maxed out 4GB, and had swap thrashing


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In this article, the writer mentioned the post of a GNOME developer who has the same frustration with me:

In his words, I could see myself. I believe this is why Ubuntu is not getting more users.

This may be a trivial thing to most of you guys, but it looks ugly. If you have the time and patience to read the article, please do. You will get my point.

The mouth-spewing of 'we must lock down users in order to have a stable ecosystem' was quite widely disliked (and refuted).
And anyways - what does that have to do with your gripes with XFCE ?

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My tests show that for running a desktop these days without constantly swapping you need at least 8GB of RAM.

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