Posted by: Anonymous Coward
on February 20, 2007 12:13 AM
GNU/Linux is nowhere near as bloated as Vista, or even XP. The latest Slackware 11 with all the bells and whistles runs much faster than even Win2K on the same hardware. I'd say it's roughly comparable in performance to Win98, i.e. close to no delays in everyday operation on a high-end P3/low-end P4 with 256MB or so of RAM.
Having said that, there has been considerable bloat in GNU/Linux recently - not so much in the kernel, which is what Linus is responsible for, but in the various distros and desktop environments. In particular, Gnome and its success with Ubuntu has been a driving force for huge amounts of bloat in the layer between the kernel and the applications. Automounters, hardware abstraction layers and Mono are all a huge tax on the performance of even a moderately modern system, not to speak of the amount of complexity they add for those that actually need some amount of control of their system.
I prefer Gnome's widget set and look and feel to KDE (disregarding my feelings for partially non-free Qt and Trolltech for the moment), but I find its lack of configurability extremely limiting. Since Patrick Volkerding, the Slackware uber-dictator, has stopped supporting Gnome because it "takes too long to compile and package" (which should tell you something about the complexity of the code, if you've never had the pleasure of trying to compile it on your own), I routinely install Dropline Gnome which is a 3rd party distribution of Gnome for Slackware, but online on modern systems that can handle it.
Even so, I use the excellent Xfce4 as my desktop environment - it provides the Gnome hooks I need to use Gnome's features without actually putting up with a lot of Gnome's bloat. On older systems, I don't bother - I just install blackbox/fluxbox and customize it a little bit to make it work for the particular user or application.
As far as I'm concerned, Linus is doing the right thing - instead of talking about the problem, he's doing something about it. If users find his patch to be good, then we'll see if the Gnome project decides to implement it or not.
Personally, I'd like to see a desktop environment that uses Gnome's widget set and look & feel but doesn't ship with all the newfangled bloatware that make my system harder - not easier - to use. I'm still hoping that Gnome's management will change direction in the near future, and start allowing for user control instead of preventing it while maintaining their uncluttered style.