It might not get the attention Fedora and Ubuntu do, but its parent is still one of the major enterprise Linux distributions. Released on schedule as always, openSUSE is considered by many to be the best KDE distribution, constantly contributing directly to upstream KDE project. A number of other desktops are also supported, I will take a look at some of them in this article.
I’ve installed openSUSE 13.1 using openSUSE Network Installation CD (netinstall). I brought in the desktop environments one by one, reboot the computer, log in, and measure the startup memory for each one of them in a terminal. I left the desktops as they were installed by default, without any modifications.
Measuring memory is easy, Linux kernel keeps track of it all the time. Kernel data is accessed by free command, and printed on the screen. Of interest to us is the value on -/+ buffers/cache line, 121MB in the example below:
Measuring desktop memory
openSUSE is a great distribution with a great community. It is well known for its excellent Gnome and KDE support. As such, it is never described as a lightweight distribution.
In the latest versions, openSUSE installation media started to offer support for lighter desktop environments, such as LXDE and XFCE. These environments have almost the same application selection as the Gnome version, under a much lighter memory footprint.
If you are looking for a lightweight distro, this is not the time to give up on openSUSE, especially if this is your favorite OS. Try the LXDE/XFCE environments, as lightness goes they are definitely in the same league with Lubuntu/Xubuntu and Fedora LXDE/XFCE Spins. You can do even better, if you build your own desktop starting from a regular server install and adding only the necessary desktop components.
In this article I will describe how to build a light LXDE desktop on the latest openSUSE 12.3 release. I will start with a server install, and I will go trough the process of adding an X Window server and LXDE desktop environment. It is not difficult, and at the very least, it is an opportunity to learn more about a Linux system.
The same way can be done with any other window manager. The result will be different, as each WM/DE has its own memory footprint.