Re: xdm replacements?

Chris Ross (
Thu, 13 May 1999 10:34:00 +0200

Danny Ross Lunsford wrote:
> kdm, which comes with KDE, is great if you want an xlogin manager.
> (ready to be flamed)
> Seriously, KDE/AfterStep coexistence is cool!

No flame, honest! One of my prinicpal reasons for using Afterstep
(apart from the fact that I really like it) is that is it is
small, light and fast. My computer is a 486/66 with 32Mb RAM,
1024x768x8bpp graphics and a little over 700Mb of hard disc. The
impression I have from reading about KDE (and Gnome) is that they
would be horrible on such a "small" machine. That really they're not
very usable on anything less than a fast Pentium class processor
with lots of RAM and 32bpp graphics. Would you say that was fair
comment? In fairness I have to say that I haven't actually tried it
- because of the above!

For me, one of the great attractions of Linux / Afterstep is that
it remains very usable on older, less capable hardware. Sure it's
much nicer if you throw lots of hardware at it, but you shouldn't
absolutely have to. Let's not get into the M$ "have the customer
by the xxxxx let's extract more money now" cycle of having to
repeatedly buy a new computer and new versions of the software you
already have just so that you can do the same wordprocessing you've
been doing for the last ten years. 

It's vitally important that we continue to not only support but
continue to excel on the lowest end hardware. Not just for the
benefit of the many people I know who simply can't afford better
equipment (you might as well tell them to get rid of their
fifth-hand cars and buy a Mercedes because it's so much nicer). I
know that the prices of new computers are tumbling fast but to put
it in perspective they *still* cost as much as many peoples' annual
summer holiday and given a straight choice between having fancier X
Desktops or two weeks in Spain this summer many people would
understandably go for the latter. Sorry if that's not geeky enough
but I have nothing to prove on that front.

The other reason to excel on this level of hardware is projects like
the port of Linux to the Psion 5 PDA: 18 MIPS, 4bpp graphics, 8Mb
RAM and max 64Mb disc (actually compact flash but same difference,
and maybe you can buy 128Mb CF cards now but the principle holds). A
Linux machine that I have with me anywhere and still have as a
bona-fide part of my home network using Bluetooth and Virtual
Private Networking, giving me full, peer access to all my email,
files, programs etc. is very definitely something that I would like
to see. (Look for the Linux7K lists / information if you're curious
enough). KDE has it's place, but it's not *every* place.

Yet another reason is the typical business scenario of buying the
latest, fastest computers for one group of the workforce and
trickling the everything down until it really gets to be unusable.
Afterstep should become the enviroment of choice, because it enables
businesses to add the latest powerful software onto the latest
powerful hardware, yet maintain *the same environment* for all
users. Even if in practice, they're actually running little more
that X-Servers at the low end with the applications themselves on
more powerful machines, maybe even one of their co-workers with the
fancy new hardware. This is an extremely powerful and cost-effective
business model, it's an advantage that Windows that simply can't
touch (MS seem to obsolesce hardware in at most two iterations
nowadays) and one that really should be promoted much more heavily
in evangalising Linux to the business community.

Or are the reports of KDE's resource requirements wildly wrong?
Should I give it a go?

To bring this back to topic, let's continue to make Afterstep a
truly excellent Window Manager, with everything that you need to run
modern, capable software in the best possible environment, without
giving it resource requirements that put it through the roof. There
are a lot of secondhand computers out there that can be had for less
than many brand-new graphics cards even. Buy a few and cluster them.