Default RAM consumption

How much RAM does your OS consume when no other programs are running ? I tried Ubuntu and it consumes 2GB without any other application running.

I think it is Gnome. What is your experience with other DE ?

For me it is 1.1GB with MATE.
I needed to exit some programs I have autorun on login, namely Plank, Caprine, Seafile client and Gigolo.
So my system takes 1.6GB ready to serve me. I have no swap.

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You are with Ubuntu ? Which version ?

Debian 10 now. But you made me courious, so I checked on different machines in my family :slight_smile:
My sons desktop runs Linux Mint 19.3 MATE, there is only the Seafile client I needed to exit. After that it showed below 1GB, around 850 MB. This is an old machine.
My wifes laptop shows exactly 1 GB. The system is the same here, Mint 19.3 MATE, but different theming, and desktop wallpaper. Not sure, if the memory consumption difference may be caused by this?
Anyway, MATE is among the lighter DE’s, I think its closer to XFCE than KDE regarding consumption.
So I think, if your system takes more memory than you think it should, first change your DE to MATE or XFCE. I think, the DE will make the difference. I don’t think the distro (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint) makes noticeable difference in this regard.

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Lubuntu takes only 500-600 MB.

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Sure. And MX with Fluxbox would take approx the half of it :smiley:
It’s a matter of taste -personal preference, and a balance between comfort and resource requirements.
For me MATE is the perfect match.
Anyway, having 8GB system RAM 1…2GB idle OS RAM usage is affordable, I think. With only 2GB (or less) of system RAM I’d look for a more spary system.
On my laptop typical RAM usage is 2.5…3.5GB.
I’ve hit the magical 4GB limit once with GIMP, working on a huge graphics. Other than that only couple times a month, when I run virtual machines in Virtualbox - in these situations I need more RAM, otherwise the 4GB would be more than enough for me :slight_smile:


920 MB here using Mint Cinnamon 19.3. Gnome it’s self is very heavy on ram. Ubuntu one of the worst ones on my hardware. But there are always trade offs. If you have the ram to spare 2 GB should not be problem.

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When I shut down everything but Variety, Mint 19.3 shows 1.7 G RAM is in use.

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An Ubuntu (18.04) server I manage (work):

top - 09:23:50 up 43 days, 15:27,  3 users,  load average: 0.01, 0.01, 0.00
Tasks: 237 total,   1 running, 147 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
%Cpu0  :  0.0 us,  0.0 sy,  0.0 ni,100.0 id,  0.0 wa,  0.0 hi,  0.0 si,  0.0 st
%Cpu1  :  0.0 us,  0.0 sy,  0.0 ni,100.0 id,  0.0 wa,  0.0 hi,  0.0 si,  0.0 st
%Cpu2  :  0.0 us,  0.0 sy,  0.0 ni,100.0 id,  0.0 wa,  0.0 hi,  0.0 si,  0.0 st
%Cpu3  :  0.3 us,  0.7 sy,  0.0 ni, 99.0 id,  0.0 wa,  0.0 hi,  0.0 si,  0.0 st
KiB Mem : 65967824 total, 63690220 free,   911848 used,  1365756 buff/cache
KiB Swap:   999420 total,   999420 free,        0 used. 64379132 avail Mem

So it’s using ~900 MB (of 64 GB), and it’s pretty much idle… it’s one of 6 in an Apache Spark cluster… When it ramps up to do some analytics, ALL that RAM gets chewed up on every node (and it’s smart enough not to bother with swap)… and it’s still not enough, I’m bumping them all up to 128 GB this arvo… Boy am I jealous! I’d kill for a machine with 32 GB, never mind 64 or 128 :smiley:

Anyway - all my Ubuntu machines have at least 12 GB (and most have 16, and most use DDR4), and I never hit the “wall” (unless I overdo it running multiple VM’s in virtualbox) - but I’d love to have something like a hex or octa core with hyperthreading (or whatever AMD’s version is) and 64 GB RAM (or more!) to run VM’s on… My home “lab” ESX servers only have Core2Duo (with HT) each, and 16 GB RAM, which is way too little, hardly ever even bother turning them on… easier to build + boot a VM in virtualbox…

No point showing my work Ubuntu desktop usage - it’s chock-a-block full of Chrome tabs! :smiley: Plus gnome-shell and pulse-audio and sayonara and remmina (why on earth that chews any noticeable CPU or RAM, just to show RDP to a remote Win server I don’t understand)…

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I think if you just want more RAM, regardless of the speed/quality, then you can get cheap upgrades easily. At least that was my experience.

About a year ago, I was stuck with 16GB RAM, which annoyed the hell out of me, because it always was full. (Yes, I do a lot of shit on my computer…)
Then I finally stood up, said “fuck it” and ordered 32GB RAM, that aren’t the fastest or best, but I needed more RAM!!!
That’s how I ended up with 48GB :sunglasses:

However… Last Christmas I got a new CPU cooler (beQuiet Dark Rock Pro 4), because my hexacore CPU was downclocked for like 2 years, since it always overheated. So this time I got a monster CPU cooler. So for easier installation, I removed the RAM before I could do it. After some fiddling around, I finally managed to mount the CPU cooler properly. Then I notice “holy crap, it blocks out 2 RAM slots…”. Yeah, I was so professional. Well, so long story short, I am stuck with the slower 32GB and my premium super fast 16GB are laying around in a box. To my defence: my mainboard is smaller than I ever wanted it to be and the CPU cooler is HUGE!

I have 2x 8GB premium and very fast RAM + 2x 16GB good enough RAM, that is not really bad, but it isn’t top notch, either.

Can only recommend this CPU cooler. Really great performance, and I don’t regret buying it, because I mainly blame this small motherboard that has everything cramped into a too small space…

To anyone questioning my madness:
I actually need a lot of RAM for my job. Sometimes I need to run several VMs at the same time + a Windows VM, that already needs like 10-20GB RAM on its own, because Windows sucks and the corporate app that it runs already needs at least 4-6GB RAM to even work properly…

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Around 500MB. Running Manjaro XFCE.

Gnome is notorious for using more ram at system idle. Not sure what the reason is for that, but Ubuntu Gnome has been quite ram-heavy since about v17.04 from my experience.

~620 MB

User programs running

  • KSysGuard
  • MEGA client
  • KDE Connect
  • Printer software
  • Kate


  • Debian 11 Bullseye
  • KDE

System Specifications

  • ThinkPad Twist (13" Laptop)
  • 4GB RAM
  • Intel Dual Core
  • No dedicated GPU
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KDE is that light ? I always pictured it as a rich desktop.


It was never optimised to work with Ubuntu. Certainly was not ready to be on an LTS. I guess, in 19.10 memory usage has been greatly reduced. Hopefully in 20.04 it will be optimal.

KDE is one of the most customizable, but it’s also one of the lightest on RAM.

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KDE makes my system boot up a lot slower than other Desktops. Still I use it because once it is started, it works great and is so customizable.


I hated it for its Windows 98 looking windows. Never tried it again. It was some time back.

KDE, XFCE, Gnome, Cinnamon and many other DE’s can be customized to make everything look very different from how it looks after a clean install with the distro’s default themes and appearance settings. :wink:

I had no idea of KDE mods at that time. I was very new to it :slight_smile:

Linux Mint 19.3 Cinnamon, looks like about 750 MB right after boot up.
771000 free / 1024 = 752.9. Total ram on PC is 8 GB.

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