Why do Linux users seem to be so obsessed with their distro of choice being “lightweight”? I simply don’t get it, and quite frankly, I find the whole notion of “Lightweight Linux” laborious.
Yes, that’s right. Linux needing to be “lightweight” is a complete an utter farce. Think about the machine you’re currently using. What hardware specs does it have? I’d be willing to bet that it has at least 2GB of RAM, a multi-core CPU and a whole lot of storage. According to the recent Ubuntu Desktop Metrics, 4-8GB of RAM is most common.
The laptop I’m currently on has 8GB RAM, a 4 core i7 CPU and 256GB of SSD storage. I’m currently running UbuntuMate 18.04 with Firefox and around 10 tabs open, Thunderbird for my email, I’m typing this article in Remarkable, and I’m chatting to friends on Keybase.
If I look at my system monitor, I’m using around 25% of my RAM, and less than 10% of my CPU (albeit with tiny peaks that last for fractions of a second).
My laptop isn’t a particularly powerful machine; actually, it’s probably below average by today’s standards. But even if my laptop was half as powerful as it actually is, I still wouldn’t be taxing the machine in any meaningful way.
I personally believe that is harps back to days of old when machines were nowhere near as powerful as they are now, when how “light” an operating system was really did matter (hello Windows Vista). Over time, computer specs have increased exponentially, but the requirements of operating systems haven’t followed that same curve.
Browsers are pretty darn heavy on resources these days, but unless you’ve got 100 tabs open, even they will run just fine on a low-spec machine.
Yes, you need a hefty machine for modern games, but that has always been the case. Plus, many people still don’t use Linux for gaming, despite Linux games being so common on the Steam Store these days. 🙁
But even if you are using your machine for gaming, why do you need a “lightweight” OS? You have a powerhouse of a machine. Is an extra 200MB of RAM usage, and a few CPU cycles really going to cause any kind of noticeable impact on your system’s performance? I seriously doubt it.
Sure there are going to be edge cases where people need a really lightweight OS so they can run Puppy Linux on an Amiga 600. But let’s be honest here, even the $35 Raspberry Pi doesn’t need a particularly light OS.
Please, Linux community, I beg you; stop with the “how light is it?” comments, as no one really needs to care.
640k of RAM ought to be enough for anybody.
-- Bill Gates
Update 25th July: I’ve had quite a lot of feedback on this post; mostly positive, but some negative too, which is fine. I wanted to clear a couple of things up to save me repeating myself over and over.