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I have always been running XFCE on my Ubuntu machines for its performance advantage over the other DEs. However I run my favourite applications on it which includes apps traditionally bundled with GNOME and KDE (gnome-power-statistics, gnome-system-monitor, kate, kdesvn to name a few).

Does this significantly diminish the performance advantage I get from using a lightweight Desktop Environment? As a whole bunch of dependencies are installed when I first install these apps from other desktop environments.

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In short, "Yes". One of the benefits of Linux is it's ability to share common libraries/dependencies among different running applications. Because of this, many users are firmly rooted to GTK, QT, KDE , etc. and will refuse to install apps that have dependencies falling outside of their chosen camp. This line of thinking can have very practical benefits on a low resource machine. Imagine three applications, all based in different tool-kits are running on a single computer. Those applications will then need all their own tool-kit libraries loaded into ram in order to function, even though many of those libraries perform similar functions. Now imagine three apps all running on a some computer, but they are all Gnome-based. In this case, all three Gnome apps can share the same libraries in your ram. As you can see, tool-kit loyalty can certainly decrease your ram usage. As well as decrease data transfer from your hard disk as the system will be retrieving less dependencies.

The flip-side to this is that if you have a relatively modern computer you may not notice any difference at all. Multi-core processors, solid-state drives, and gobs of cheap ram make many of these considerations moot. Your biggest concern may actually be that a KDE app doesn't look "right" on your GTK+ desktop.

In the final analysis, you would have to gauge yourself as to whether your machine is bogging down under the load. If it still feels like normal, then don't worry about it. Enjoy using the applications you like. If it's dragging, then you may have to reconsider looking at some GTK options for future use. Good luck, hope this helps!

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If you're not running the applications, they should only take up disk space. I suppose having more files on your hard drive might make things slower (like any indexing for mlocate, installing packages), but this is probably trivial.

While the programs are running, they are taking up RAM. When executables use the same shared library (there's surely some GTK library overlap between XFCE and GNOME), they can shared the memory where it's been loaded, so this is mitigated a little.

Some dependencies that are pulled in by the other packages may run in the background automatically, so those might add to your overall memory/CPU footprint as well. I'm thinking of things like sound daemons and gnome-session. You'd have to look for these.

In short: yes, they certainly will affect performance of your machine. To a significant degree? I dunno; depends on your machine. You'd have to do some benchmarking and specify what "significant" means. Generally, I think if you're not running any of them, it should not make a difference.

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