Will open source desktops succumb to bloat?

Will open source desktops succumb to bloat?

Summary: Open source gives you control of your desktop, but is that really a good thing?


Ben Franklin in his primeI re-boot the Windows box here every few days.

It's not all Microsoft's fault. It's the utility applications. They either grab memory (let me maintain that spam list in the background) or they grab processing (let me check you for viruses while you work). And they never seem to let go of any of it.

The impact is cumulative, like having relatives over. Fish and visitors stink after three days, as Ben Franklin once said. Did they have a Microsoft beat at Poor Richard's Almanac?

These sad thoughts come courtesy of Matt Asay's latest, via Jesse Robbins. You become what you disrupt. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. (Is everyone a tech analyst these days?)

I would like to think that such technologies as SaaS and virtualization offer a way out of the trap. When software is a service, the applications live somewhere else -- they're the server's problem. When you push virtual desktops down to your workforce, they get what you give them and don't invite applications over.

But when it comes to ordinary desktop users, not so fast. Isn't Google Desktop getting, well, bloated? Isn't virtualization, in a way, one of those unwanted housepests itself?

So are we talking here about human nature, or something that we can do something about? Open source gives you control of your desktop, but is that really a good thing? After all, I tend to forget my passwords. I need to be ready if an IM should break out. You don't really want to wait for your word processor to boot up, do you?

Of course not, until my virtual house gets so crowded I have to get out to find peace. That may be why tech analysts like Franklin and Townshend were so fond of taverns.

Topics: Open Source, Hardware

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  • No, I don't believe it will

    Mainly because we don't really need to run all the life support applications that a Windows machine needs. And the ones we do, well we can re-nice those so they don't interfere with daily operations. CRON is easy to use and a great tool as well.

    But as for the desktop getting to the same state as a Windows machine? I don't see that happening. As it is I have desktops that get pounded on daily that are up for months at a time with no significant performance degradation. And I am not alone in this with Linux desktops.

    [B]Master:[/B] uptime
    10:25am up 241 days 2:13, 2 users, load average: 1.20, 1.17, 0.99

    Linux User 147560
    • Oops... bit of a correction

      Really wish there was a frakking preview on these forums!

      [B]"But as for the desktop getting to the same state as a Windows machine? "[/B] SHOULD read [I]"But as for the desktop getting to the same [B]bloated[/B] state as a Windows machine?"[/I] ]:)
      Linux User 147560
  • RE: Will open source desktops succumb to bloat?

    Probably on some distros. Part of the problem is that many apps are going beyond the "do one thing right" approach largely in part to user demand. People want evolution to interact nicer with Open Office, people want gaim to talk to their Window Manager for alerts. The thing that open source has going for it is that its usually a lot easier to remove bloat.
  • it was happening a bit, but then ubuntu/gnome2 happened

    I was finding kde pretty bloated.
    But then ubuntu and debian started using the slimmer gnome2.
    Also ubuntu (and other distros) don't start all the unnecessary services they once did, and so now they are quite quick.

    I also like the way a lot of people use busybox instead of the fatter old seperate packages.

    And if you really want incredible lean-ness with functionality, try puppy. It is incredible.

    It isn't quite QNX (remember that, the whole posix multitasking microkernel OS plus an X equivalent, plus a browser on a single floppy (1 meg). That was amazing.

    The good thing about open desktops is the vast amount of competition. This can't happen in a monolithic organization like microsoft. If someone make a Distro like Vista, people would hack it apart, keep the good bits, throw away the cruft.
    Problem is, this is very hard for microsoft because it involves egg-on-face, admitting failure (although that hardly matters now market perception is at rock bottom).
    This is the culmination of the over-riding of Jim Alchin, and the rule of Ballmer. Keep flinging poo at open source, that'll work (not).
  • Yes, but it is self correcting. If it swings too far towards the bloated

    end, there will be a lean and mean distribution that comes on the scene, and we start over again. So, no real big problem. As another poster noted, nobody can hack apart Vista and create a lean and mean version, so we are stuck with the bloated one. And, that is what open source is all about, you can not stop anybody from performing elegant hacks!!