The E17 release manager has done a "desktop shootout" where he compares the start-up speed and resource consumption of the KDE Plasma, GNOME Shell, Xfce, Unity, and Unity 2D desktops. He also ended up throwing in E17 and TWM too.
See the E17 release manager blog post
for full details about this Linux desktop shootout. Key takeaways from the blog post include:
- "Also not a big surprise, Unity is about as slow as KDE if you take into account the 1 second variance that I mentioned previously. Not a great showing in startup time or memory usage from the most widely used Linux desktop."
- "I threw GNOME shell in there because I know that the community there is a bit disgruntled about always being represented as Unity. Congratulations guys, you beat out Unity by a few seconds and quite a bit of memory! Downside here is that this was the only desktop environment from which I was unable to reboot my machine using a GUI. Sarcastic slow-clap for removing a necessary feature. Second round of slow clapping for being the only desktop to create popups (seen at bottom) with no timeout."
- "XFCE loaded fast enough that I didn’t feel like I could take a coffee break during the process, and it didn’t spam me with popups either."
- "Clocking in leaner and faster than other desktops, the champ, E17! With a massive…2 second lead over GNOME Classic…and a colossal…4MB over…GNOME Classic…what the hell? This was actually really surprising to see, considering how often I brag about E17 being so much faster and smaller than everything else."
- "GNOME has obviously put a lot of effort into speeding up load times, and they deserve the rewards that come with their hard work. Congratulations to them, and I hope they enjoy the knowledge that they have the desktop which, using a default profile, is the fastest desktop to be able to access a terminal. They also have the lowest memory footprint under these conditions. Great job!"
- "TWM is the winner here in every category by a digital mile. The damn thing is so fast that it even makes LightDM and my entire system load faster just knowing it’s going to get a chance to run. I have no explanation for the speed difference, so I won’t bother trying here. I salute you, TWM. Your ability to manage windows is matched only by the speed with which you can manage them."
TWM was the winner in speed and resource consumption, albeit the default window manager is rather basic and not widely used by those on the Linux desktop.