Gnome using quite little memory at boot and further

It looks like the Gnome shell doesn’t have to eat so much memory. Ubuntu is supposed to use ~1.2 GB at start at idle. It is quite different here,

just 646MB, not 1.2GB…

I’ve got pretty much the same memory as you - I don’t mind using it though.

I’ve got a bicycle in the shed - I like the wheels to go round on that.

Don’t understand peoples preoccupation with things like this, it’s 2018 not 1998.


Can you please reword that? I don’t quite understand if you’re pointing out there is a problem, or pointing out there isn’t a problem.


I didn’t get it either. Judging from his background picture he is using GNOME on Cosmic.

I guess that he found out that the gjs “big hammer” patch improved memory usage a lot?

Still waiting for @vanvugt to have his CPU optimization for the “hammer” packported to Cosmic as well. Thank you Daniel for all your optimization work. :wink:


I am not pointing out a problem, but that Ubuntu can be used with less memory as possible. Most complain that Ubuntu uses about 1.2GB at idle at boot. I am using Dingo, quite naturally, because when it is out there, I don’t find any reason to use Bionic – living dangerously. :slight_smile:
I am using Dash to Panel, rather than the D2D or Ubuntu dock.

Is the rewording of the topic all right?

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It’s certainly an interesting point @chanath. I have seen a number of “Distro Reviewers” on YouTube pull up htop and use that as a measure of how good/bad a distro/release is. On a cold start, if a distro uses more than a few hundred MB of RAM (out of their 8GB) then they get upset. Nice to see we’re coming in under the radar :slight_smile:

The topic wording still says “1.2 MB” which I assume is just a typo and should say “1.2 GB”.

Aside from that, yes I agree some people do complain about memory usage only because memory usage is a confusing topic and different tools will measure and report different memory-related metrics. And regular users who aren’t computer scientists often don’t know the difference between them.

In the screenshot above, the number 646M shown by htop is indeed the amount of physical memory in use for the entire system. If you look at the list in the same screenshot though you will see only 140M of that is from /usr/bin/gnome-she (which I assume is “gnome-shell”). However those numbers are both RSS (resident set sizes) and so may change according to how busy the overall system is, even if gnome-shell itself doesn’t allocate anything new.

I think a more stable and accurate measurement of memory allocated by the program actually can be found in /proc/PID/status as VmData. But regardless of what tools you use, it’s important to avoid the beginner’s mistake of judging a program by its virtual size. A virtual size (VIRT in htop/top, or VSZ in ps) is not a measurement of memory used, but a measurement of virtual address space allocated. Indeed if anyone measures system impact using VIRT or VSZ then they are mistaken.

That all said, you also can’t judge a program by its RSS (RES) either (140M in the screenshot) because the kernel is entitled to trim that down to zero at any point, which is not an indication of a more efficient program. It would only indicate that the overall machine is running out of memory.

There lays the real problem… all of htop, top and ps by default report the two metrics that are not accurate measurements of program performance. So of course many people are going to get muddled. To actually measure what a program is doing you need to look more closely at /proc/PID/status or elsewhere (like decoding /proc/PID/stat or /proc/PID/maps).


Changed that MB to GB :slight_smile:

Considering that Windows10 allocates more than 3GB on a fresh start, I’d say 1,2GB is quiet slim.
I think comparing ubuntu with the gnome DE to xfce or something is quiet unfair, comparing what features DEs like xfce lack and how the overall look is.

We shouldn’t compare Windows 10 to Ubuntu at all – different worlds.

But we should compare the different Ubuntu derivatives among themselves (even with those that were once). If you were to compare the Gnome DE with another, that would be Ubuntu Budgie, as it is based on Gnome.

On the matter of being fully fledged and snappy, I’d choose Kubuntu, then again Gnome DE and KDE are of different worlds.

Christ, that’s better than I get in fvwm, which after login sits around 960 Mb!

960 MB is the my htop value with gnome-shell, ubuntu-dock, desktop-icons (nautilus 3.30) tracker and htop active on my updated cosmic install.

which is pretty good, I think :wink:

FIrefox raises that to1,5 or 1,7 GB with 2 tabs open.

What is the official Canonical recommendation for Ubuntu? Still 2 GB? I think that should be raised to 4 GB. Even most mobile phones ship with 3 or 4 GB these days…


Firefox is an additional app working, the memory it takes is not a question here. The thing is Ubuntu with Gnome, could boot up faster without running (most probably) unnecessary apps at boot. I have no idea what those apps might be. Additional background apps working mean, battery would get drained faster.

Here’s a screeny of Htop with the Terminal (doing the daily upgrade) and Opera on.

Just 1.05GB…

This even takes less memory than Unity with Dingo I have. The laptop is more than 4 years old and with a Pentium processor. :slight_smile:

Back on the subject of simple and accurate measurement…

I forgot to mention that providing your machine has no swap files/devices (see /proc/swaps ), then you can use the above RES (also known as RSS) values as fairly accurate measurements of applications’ memory usage.

I just test the DE, but would be not using the Gnome-shell as the daily driver. I just wanted to show that it can be made to use less memory at the start. Using many background apps (known or unknown, most probably unnecessary ones) eat up the laptop battery, so they should be taken off. That’s up to the devs. If Ubuntu uses 1.2 GB at the start and keeps on using it all the time, it’d just drain the battery.

Actually, CPU usage needs power not the RAM :slight_smile:

Edit: or WiFi and Bluetooth where you actively need power to send signals

I don’t really understand this statement. Do you have the feeling that there is some unnecessary load, but you can’t find what is it?

I wrote earlier that I’m not sure what they are. Only, if the standard Ubuntu boots using 1.2 GB memory, and the non-standard Ubuntu with Gnome shell boots using ~0.65 GB, then some extra apps must be working.

I’ve not been using the standard Ubuntu since 17.10, just starting to play with it with Dingo. I don’t have a desktop computer for more than 15 years, so the laptop battery drain is a major matter for me. Most probably for most of us laptop users today. (Off topic - I bought a German designed 13" laptop few months ago, of course came with Win10. It runs 10+ hours until the next charge with that OS. Very convenient!)

Now it’s a bit clearer, thank you. If the comparison is between Bionic 18.04 and Dingo 19.04 (which is still in development, though), it’s surely do to the work on gjs and hopefully some new improvement :slight_smile:

The difference in battery usage respect Windows/Mac I believe is mostly due to the drivers

No, it is not a comparison between Bionic and Dingo, but between standard Ubuntu 19.04 and non-standard 19.04, same DE after all.