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Follow The Netbook Road

November 6th, 2008 by

As many people will have noticed from my ramblings on twitter and identi.ca and also from my sporadic almost dumb sounding questions on IRC (thanks very much for your patience in IRC btw), I have been working on getting a usable installation of openSUSE on the eeePC 701 – both GNOME and KDE4. As I have a 4GB SSD model my aim is to have a feature full install taking up no more than 2.6GB. Yes I know this doesn’t help those with the 2GB model, but I’m scratching my own itch here ;). Ultimately I would like to be able to create USB and CD images of the builds in time for 11.1′s release which is in about 43 days time, problem is KIWI does not like me :( but I will persevere and see what I can conjure up in time. I am a happy user of openSUSE 11.0 with XFCE on my eeePC at the moment, but I fancy a bit of a challenge and a good dose of stress and anger trying to get it to work will be a welcome distraction from the stress and chaos I have to deal with at work :)

So what packages am I looking at putting on there? Below are a couple of tables of applications and what I have selected for each DE including ASUS eeePC related drivers (ACPI/Events) and also bluetooth; I have tried to stick to those that come with the DE e.g. all KDE apps are KDE4 variants, and if a DE provides an app for a function I try to use that.  So the first iteration of the table is:

  KDE GNOME XFCE
Terminal Konsole GNOME-Terminal Terminal
Text Editor Kwrite Gedit Mousepad
Web Browser Konqueror Epiphany Epiphany
File Manager Dolphin Nautilus Thunar
Music Player Amarok2 Banshee xfmedia
Video Player Dragon Player Totem xfmedia
PDF Viewer Okular Evince Evince
IM client Kopete Pidgin Pidgin
IRC client irssi Pidgin Pidgin
Office Suite OOo OOo OOo
E-mail Kmail Evolution Claws-Mail
RSS Akregator Liferea Liferea
Calendar Korganiser Evolution Orage
Addressbook Kaddressbook Evolution Claws-Mail
Flashplayer Yes Yes Yes
Java Java-1.6 Java-1.6 Java-1.6
Codecs Xine Gstreamer Xine
Photo Viewer Gwenview F-spot Ristretto
FTP Client Dolphin Nautilus Gftp
Networking NetworkManager NetworkManager NetworkManager
Total Space Taken Up 2.6GB / 2676552k 2.7GB / 2752336k 2.6GB / 2718412k

 

As you can see KDE4 takes up the least amount of space followed by XFCE with GNOME dropping into third place.  This surprised me as I actually expected XFCE to be way ahead in the lead.  I then tried to minimise the number of applications and tried to use apps that could multi task, still prefering those that are included as part of the openSUSE distro:

  KDE GNOME XFCE
Terminal Konsole GNOME-Terminal Terminal
Text Editor Kwrite Gedit Mousepad
Web Browser Konqueror Epiphany Epiphany
File Manager Dolphin Nautilus Thunar
Music Player MPlayer Totem xfmedia
Video Player MPlayer Totem xfmedia
PDF Viewer Okular Evince Evince
IM client Kopete Pidgin Pidgin
IRC client irssi Pidgin Pidgin
Office Suite OOo OOo OOo
E-mail Kmail Claws-Mail Claws-Mail
RSS Akregator Claws-Mail Claws-Mail
Calendar Korganiser Claws-Mail Orage
Addressbook Kaddressbook Claws-Mail Claws-Mail
Flashplayer Yes Yes Yes
Java Java-1.6 Java-1.6 Java-1.6
Codec Framework
ffmpeg Gstreamer Xine
Photo Viewer Gwenview Eye Of GNOME Ristretto
FTP Client Dolphin Nautilus Gftp
Networking NetworkManager NetworkManager NetworkManager
Total Space Taken Up 2.6GB / 2662540k
2.6GB / 2682516k
2.6GB / 2716364k

As you can see KDE is still the leader, but GNOME has managed to close the gap significantly.

You will notice that there are some notable applications missing from both tables, both from the Mozilla family – FireFox and Thunderbird.  I chose not to use FireFox as the browser as I have been experiencing some icky lockups with it, and this is irrespective of platform.  I decided against Thunderbird because it just did not like to display correctly on the 7″ screen, even the version supplied by Xandros refused to display nicely.  As KDE4 doesn’t have a native IRC client yet I have chosen irssi, i will update the list when a native KDE4 client is available – most likely Quassel.  Also as it stands Kaffeine is not available for KDE4 yet, when that happens I would imagine I would replace MPlayer with it.

Both the GNOME and KDE4 builds were based on a minimal X install – for GNOME add gnome-panel and gnome-session; for for KDE add kdebase4-session, kdebase4-workspace and kde4-win; XFCE was based on the supplied pattern.  One thing I did notice is that 11.1 (Beta4) seems to have put on a bit of weight in comparison to 11.0, a base install appears to be ~400MB more O_o.  I am going to to do a verification shortly and file a bug so hopefully I can thin them out even further.

If people have any recommendations or suggestions as to what applications to use, then please let me know.  My next step is to create both ISO and USB images, any and all help would be much appreciated – SUSEStudio access would be even better ;)  This list is not meant to be the be all and end all, but more a matter of itch scratching.  Yes I know I could reduce the space taken up if I didnt bother with any of that non-free codec crud, and drop flash from the equation, but I’m pragmatic and ultimately want to see people use openSUSE.  Get them using our distro first, once thatis established then we can educate them on the ugly side of things.  Once I manage to create the images with the above package list i will look at creating a completely free version with no colsed codecs/apps.

Once again I’d like to thank all those on IRC for there help and advice – JP Rosevear, James Wilcox, Stephan Binner, Will Stephenson, Martin Schandler and Hubert Figuiere.

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3 Responses to “Follow The Netbook Road”

  1. I’ve got some suggestions for Xfce (packages could be found in X11:xfce Build Service project)
    * replace Epiphany with Midori
    * replace Evince with Evince-GTK

    As you could’ve guessed I think that you bring in lots of GNOME dependencies into your Xfce install. These could be avoided, but I’m not sure I listed all changes that need to be done … I’d be glad to help with this investigation!

  2. HG

    How about the memory consumption of these different desktops? Can you also give some numbers there? Maybe: after startup, web-browsing with 10 pages, office suite…

  3. Will Stephenson

    Here are the old KDE 3 memory consumption numbers that our blue-haired KWin hacker Lubos Lunak did. I’d be very interested if someone repeated those stats, but memory consumption is tough to measure right, and I’ve got a feeling that there is a lot of optimisation possible in KDE 4.