The other week, I made the observation that KDE seemed very slow in comparison to GNOME on my SuSe 10.0 workstation and, after dealing with the pain long enough, thought that maybe that meant that GNOME was the way to go to get the best performance out of the system. I was initially willing to chalk up the difference in speed to the added complexity of KDE and leave it with that.
SuSe 10.0 Professional comes with KDE 3.4.2. While researching the slowness problem, I had come across references on KDE.org about the recent release of KDE 3.5.1. The site didn't go into any specific mention of performance increases with the new version, so I dismissed it. Years of 'training' with Windows taught me the lesson that new releases invariably add features and slow down systems. Microsoft hides the bloat of new features behind faster hardware, so you don't always see it. I applied Windows-logic to a Linux problem and moved on.
Then an article appeared on News.com about the forthcoming upgrade to GNOME. The new version GNOME 2.14 due out next month is supposed to be faster than GNOME 2.12 that ships currently. It made me wonder whether the slow problems with KDE 3.4.2 were just endemic to that specific version, so I went and did some further research.
Sure enough - KDE 3.4.2 seems to have a reputation for being a cow when it comes to performance. Big, slow, and not very bright. I found several mentions that that specific version was buggy and slow on various distributions, including SuSe Professional 10.0.
That lead to the adventure of upgrading KDE on a couple of my SuSe 10.0 boxes. After much gnashing of teeth, I got the upgrade applied and working. The difference was night and day. It wasn't just one system either. Whenever I applied 3.5.1, performance improved.
There are still times when the system seems slow - like loading multiple tabs in Firefox 1.5, but it's nowhere near as bad it used to be under KDE 3.4.2. Applications load and things work just as smoothly under KDE 3.5.1 as they do under GNOME 2.12.
Of course, now it will be interesting to see what happens when GNOME 2.14 ships....