Does having 16 MB of

Does having 16 MB of

Post by Robert Hell » Mon, 12 Jun 1995 04:00:00

  In a message on 11 June, wrote :

pa> My two cents/question:  why is X11 such a memory hog, anyway?  I'm not
pa> particularly fond of Windoze, but I will give it this:  it runs just fine
pa> on 8Megs of ram.
pa> (BTW, that's a really arrogant statement to say that because a machine
pa> has less than 8 megs of ram it's a toy.  That's very, very elitist.)

First of all, *all* GUI servers are memory hogs, to a greater or lesser
extent.  Windoze is a *16 bit* system that is in reality a singer-user
system (yes, it multi-tasks after a fashion).  X11 is a little more
general purpose and has a few more bells and whistles.  A big factor is
the extent that the *hardware* matches the server's model.  One of the
very big wins of the Macs is the video hardware was designed to mate to
the GUI software.  Thus the Mac's Finder is very memory tight.  Ditto
for the Atari ST series.  Typical PC video is about the *worst* for most
GUIs, although some of the newer video boards are designed for MS
Windows (more or less), but even so, there are limitations due to
BIOS/bare MS-DOS requirements and requirements of the bus structure and
the fact that the video system is not super tightly coupled to the
processor.  The more the server can off-load to the hardware and/or
dedicated video memory, the less system resources the server needs (both
memory for Pixmaps and code for actual drawing or window management).

Actually Linux and X11 will work with only 8meg -- it just does more
paging.  It also depends on what you are running.  More stuff needs more
memory.  Some apps are small and some are large.  Also:  there are
several ways of handling certain kinds of things with X11:  using
Pixmaps rather than XImages for image stuff for example changes who has
to allocate the memory (Pixmaps are allocated by the server and XImages
are allocated out of the application's memory -- this might not make any
difference if both the application and the server are running on the
same system, but does make a difference if application and server are on
different systems).  It is also hard to say which hogs more memory:
Pixmaps or XImages -- this depends very much on how the server does
things and may depend on the video hardware too (can the server put
Pixmaps in video RAM or not? Can the video hardware/firmware manage

My ideal of a very "system"-cost-effective X server:  one that lives almost
entirely on the video board (X server in firmware).
("system"-cost-effective: minimizes the use of system resources like
memory and processor cycles.)

About a machine with 8 megs of ram being considered a toy:  depends on
how you define things.  If one is doing serious image processing
especially as part of image understanding, anything less than 96meg of
ram (and a disk less than 2gig) would be a toy.  If all you are doing is
writing letters to your grandma, a 128k Apple ][ is more than enough.

 t ATP/Linux 1.42 t OS-9/68000 -- The only *real* operating system.


Robert Heller                        ||BIX:        locks.hill.bbs  ||FidoNet:    1:321/153  /\CompuServe: 71450,3432


1. Does having 16 MB of RAM make a BIG difference.

Hi everyone,
I currently have a 486 / 66 running linux kernel 1.2.1 with 8 Megs
of RAM. My question is : Does it make a considerable difference in
speed to have 16 Megs of RAM? Also Would you recommend buying a 486/100
or getting more RAM in my currenty setup? I only have 300 bucks to spend
and cannot decide between more RAM or a faster CPU/MB.


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