I3 tiling window manager to lower RAM consumption

Hi all,:wave:

I just wanted to ask your opinions on a certain matter.

My aim is to bring RAM usage down a bit in my new Linux Lite install.

When looking at htop after a cold start I realize around 750 MB of RAM (or slightly more) is used with nothing triggered off by me except htop.
My Lenovo desktop machine has 4 GB of RAM.

For comparison´s sake I took a look at my Debian VM. Starting it with the default xfce DE I get 403 MB under the same circumstances …

… and 251 MB when starting it with no DE but just the i3-tiling window manager. So i3 tiling WM gives me a great advantage there. :+1:

I was wondering if I should apply the same scenario to my main system (Linux Lite). :thinking:

My questions are:

  • does anyone have some experience with the i3 tiling WM? Is it good for everyday use :question:
  • do you have any other suggestions for bringing RAM usage down (at least a bit) :question:

Many thanks in advance and many greetings

Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

Instead, I would just upgrade my RAM. You need at least 8GB these days, even for Linux. If I remember correctly from your other topics, you keep fighting with your RAM usage. Upgrade would take care of it for good. :sweat_smile:


Do you really need to lower the RAM usage?
Is there anything working slow, or do you get temporal slowdowns because of swapping?

At the moment I have running Evolution, Element-desktop, Seafile client, Chromium browser with couple tabs open, and RAM usage tends to be near 3GB. It’s below 4GB.


I believe you are worrying about something, you do not need to worry about. And like @shamu suggested, buy more ram if you are worried about it.


hi Rosika,

I have it in Void in my old laptop… it also has xfce… I can choose which on the login screen
It is awkward to use compared to floating windows, but you can get used to it and you can certainly do any cli work .



Hi all, :wave:

thanks a lot to all of you for your suggestions. :heart:

@shamu :heart:

Thanks for your opinion.

Well, to be honest, I didn´t really run into any difficulties as far as RAM is concerned.
It´s just that I noticed RAM consumption in Linux Lite is a bit higher than it was in Lubuntu.

Therefore I decided to ask around a bit. :blush:

You´re very perceptive.
Still, I wouldn´t call it “struggle” but I´ve always been interested in the topic of RAM and how to keep RAM consuption as low as possible.

While your advice of upgrading RAM certainly makes sense I´d rather not do it at the moment.
Right now I have firefox (1 tab) and thunderbird open and htop says “1.89 GB / 3.75 GB”.

Thanks a lot @shamu

@kovacslt :

No, not really.

If I want to start a VM (e.g. Debian, which I assigned 1 GB of virtual RAM to) I just have to close either firefox or thunderbird before, that´s all.

No, actually not.

Also thanks for providing a screenshot.
So to be honest I really seem to be able to manage with my 4 GB of RAM. :blush:

@easyt50 :blush:

Thanks, Howard, for your opinion.
I guess you´re right. :+1:

@nevj :

thanks a lot, Neville. :heart:

Yes, it´s the same with me on my VMs.
I was just asking the question as I tend to use i3 tiling WM there on an on and off basis, not regularly. So I lack a bit of experience…

O.K., I think I´ll give it a try on Linux Lite then.
I guess a bit of practical usage will give me the foundation for evaluation.

Thanks again for your report.

Many thanks to all of you and many greetings

Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

For awhile, I to was very interested in how much Ram a Distro took up right after it loaded and I executed Top. I once had 5 Distro loaded on one HDD. One of the first things I did was to compare the amount of Ram each took up. I was thinking the less Ram a Distro took up the more efficient it was.

But I realize that with 4 GB of Ram (now 8 GB), it was more important in how well I liked the Distro vs the additional 200 or 300 MB of Ram a Distro would take.

So if you are an average PC user, after Linux is loaded and when you are using your PC, how much Ram are you using then? 2.5 GB, 3 GB. Maybe you are not even using your entire 4 GB of Ram most of the time. As I write this message, Top shows 2.4 GB being used.

1 Like

Hi Howard, :wave:

thanks for your report.

Pretty much the same with me.
Before setting up a new system I like to compare RAM after a cold start with a live system.
That is if I intend to change the OS.
Mind you, I was on Lubuntu for 6 and a half years. My switch fo Linux Lite is just a recent one.
I did a bit of comparison beforehand, too; so the fact that LL uses a bit more RAM didn´t come as surprise to me… :wink:

Yes, Howard, that´s quite true. :+1:

Well, it depends of course what (heavy-weight) programmes I´m running at the time.
Right now:

firefox (1 tab), thunderbird, oclock, firetools, thunar, 2 terminals, htop …
… and
mpv player in a loop:

firejail mpv --volume=120 --loop=inf /media/rosika/f14a27c2-0b49-4607-94ea-2e56bbf76fe1/DATEN-PARTITION/Musik/sounds_von_anoise/sounds/coffee_shop.ogg

I hope I haven´t forgotten anything… :wink:

htop says: 2.06 GB / 3.75 GB.

When completely idle after cold boot … I´ll take a look at that tomorrow.

Thanks again and many greetings
Rosika :slight_smile:

You are welcome! I still run LL 5.9. After doing some personal customization, panels, dock, scripts running in the background, well, the way I like it, my RAM usage is 3.5GB, idol. Using a browser or Gimp, it could go up to 4, 4.5GB easy. I would be in trouble with 4GB. Upgrading RAM is totally up to you, only you know what you are gonna use your distro for. However, upgrading is so easy to do and cheap enough too these days.
BTW, Even LL devs admit, Linux Lite is really not that “lite”.

1 Like

Hi @shamu, :wave:

Thanks for the heads-up. :heart:
And indeed, that´s good to know.

Well, that certainly makes sense to a certain degree.


Let me take the opportunity to come back to the topic of i3 tiling WM, if you don´t mind.

In the meantime I posted a question regarding i3 tiling WM on the Linux Lite forum (here ).

I wanted to know if installing it on LL might cause some difficulties like the installation of another DE theoretically could provoke.

Up to now I haven´t received an answer. So I guess no harm done asking the very question here as well.
Here it is:

I´d very much like to know your opinion about i3 tiling window manager.

What I want to do is install it on Linux Lite 6.2 as it may provide certain benefits (amongst others lower RAM usage, I guess).
At least from time to time starting the system with i3 tiling WM might be a good idea for me. :blush:

I´m not looking for installation help. There´s a very good article by Dave McKay on
https://www.howtogeek.com/769284/what-is-the-i3-tiling-window-manager-and-how-do-you-use-it-on-linux/ .

My question is more of a general kind:

On Help Manual - Software it says:

If you desire to install another desktop environment, we cannot provide specific instructions on how to do this. There are far too many variables involved and much can go wrong.

Well, I know installing another DE on a system which already makes use of its own DE may be risky at times. :slightly_frowning_face:

But what about i3 tiling WM?

I mean: is it to be seen as a “desktop environment:question:
My understanding is: it´s a window manager (not a DE per se).

So what it boils down to is:

Is it safe to install i3 tiling WM alongside the already installed “heavily modified version of the XFCE desktop environment” :question:

Many thanks in advance and many greetings

Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

I have done exactly that in Void linux in my laptop.
No problems
The login screen gives me a choice of i3 or xfce.


Hi Neville, :wave:

That´s good to know. Thanks a lot.

I´ve been using i3 tiling WM with my VMs but that´s not on a daily basis. So I thought asking about that might be beneficial.


In the meantime I got one answer from the LL forums.
User trinidad seems to be a bit more sceptical:

You will probably have trouble with some notification windows and some Lite specific application windows.
I definitely prefer openbox to i3wm but if you really want that i3wm desktop run Debian, Devuan, BunsenLabs, or Arch, Bunsen being the easiest.

Hmm… I´ve never experienced any trouble in my VMs with i3wm.
And you also say “no problems”, Neville.

So I may give it a try after all.

Thanks a lot and many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like