If you like to microoptimize, you should use LXDE. xfce isn't anywhere near as lightweight as it claims to be, and with LXDE you only get what you really need.
Originally Posted by Rexilion
That was the configuration for the first attempt. However, it's core component, PCManFM crashed every once in a while and we found it overall to be somewhat unreliable and unstable. This was also the case for lxdesktop if I recall correctly. That was a little more severe as it could take down the entire X session and 'deliver' my parents a scary looking TTY. Yes, this was on a 12.04 release of Ubuntu, where version 0.9 is used. Quantal uses 1.0 and Raring is using 1.1 as it seems.
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
Upgrading would not take much time since I have a ridicilously sophisticated configuration back-up and management system, but who knows what other snags I will hit. I already have to keep the kernel pinned to v3.4 otherwise nouveau regresses while hibernating. I bisected the commit, but since it was part of the huge nouveau rewrite (read: breakage everywhere for anything before nv50) it's hard to pin down.
XFCE takes 40MB (tops!) more than LXDE, and that is not much for a 512MB machine. Even the DE is 'slimmed', so conventional benchmarks probably don't apply to this specific situation. I.e. there is no gconfd or networkmanager running anywhere.
there is definitely a place for small lightweight linux distros which have simplified window managers and a set of core graphical libraries.
think tomtom, maemo, even android itself (though now Arm performance is very good and memory is cheap it's not so lightweight)!