This is probably an over-reaction, but I am having a few problems with Linux and would appreciate some advice. First, a few general impressions. Dare I suggest that X may be bloated? Don't slate me for this, it's just that things seem sluggish; maybe I'm using the wrong windows manager. The biggest problems I've had so far are: things being slow to load, sndconfig reporting errors on a card that works perfectly under Windows, and not being able to get Netscape to display readable fonts (despite installing webfonts). When I attempted to install a 'minimum' version of Mandrake by picking one windows manager, only installing what I thought to be absolutely essential packages of a few hundred kb, I suddenly find that over 300Mb have gone. This seemed huge for just an operating system plus windows manager. Maybe this point is unfair and perhaps I should compare to NT which possibly takes the same. I do want to use Linux as it is far more stable and configurable and I am prepared to learn how to use it. I could just do with some advice as to a good place to start (which windows manager &c.) I'm currently using Gnome under Mandrake 7.2.
The key thing to remember about "X" is that it's a client/server based situation. The X server handles the display, window managers attach to the server and handle execution of program code (this is a real basic run down). Window managers are getting more and more bloated everyday, just look at Enlightenment (http://www.enlightenment.org).
As for size, Linux distributions themselves tend to be unorganized and bloated. Get used to that, you have to hope the given distribution has a "custom" install section where you can hand pick packages. I would recommend checking with the X consortium (www.xfree86.org) and make sure you're using the latest X server (X servers contain the "drivers" for your video card) and do some looking concerning your kernel version's support for your soundcard.
FreeBSD and OpenBSD are a little less bloated, you should look into them as well.
Dont forget that when you install Linux, you not only install the OS you install a LOT of apps that come with your distro. As far as the bloat of the window manager/desktop enviornment I can only say it is GOOD! If you have less then 128MB you need more. This is 2000 not 1996. Id recommend 256MB with the new web browsers (netscape6, konqueror) out, which are huge memory hogs! Memory is getting cheap, dont run scared at the 256MB number. All this new software reqires new memory limits, dont tie yourself to staying in 1996. The only reason that Win 95 ever ran in 4mb is becuase it wasnt protected memory! The only reason NT ran on 12MB/16MB was becuase it was all so integrated (so was 95) it didnt DO anything and it didnt change from what microsoft compiled. Make yourself more familiar with the architecture of Windows and XWin and you will see why X is so big.
OK, i got more to say
First, if you dont have hardware acceleration in Linux, thats another problem. You see, all but a few cards use the CPU to draw to the screen, not the video card. Check out <A HREF="http://www.xfree86.org" target="_new">XFree86.org</A> to find out what cards support hardware accel. Since the CPU does the drawing, the slower the CPU, the less the RAM, the higher the resolution, the more work your CPU will have to do to draw to screen. This issue of CPU to screen is finally getting fixed with XFree86 4.0+. They are working more towards hardware acceleration on all cards with 4. The current version of XFree86 is 4.0.1 (what i use). Having a hardware accelerated card is the key. So buy a tnt or voodoo (i hate voodoo) or ATI or G400 (or a few others) and get that acceleration. Nvidia even makes commerial drivers for linux that have hardware acceleration.
Bloated? Ummm. In most distros - yes in terms of hard disk space. Since they tend to include all-god-damn-libraries-and-even-more. On the other hand when you install Win9x/NT you'll have nothing but the system. No developement tools. No any kind of e-mail/news programs, no office programs, no games... well... minesweeper. Install same quality tools to Windoze and you'll notice 10 gigs for system is quite limited :-)
In memory footprint? - No. Did you know that X reports video card's memory as used system memory (it is not taken from system memory pool)
On load? - My system boots linux, opens good amount of services and opens X (using Gnome) in less time than my Win 98 boots to network login.
On screen redraw? - If you happen to own unsupported card - probaply you end up using software acceleration -> clutter. Get supported card and whoooppps it runs. Also remember X is just a program among programs in linux, if system is heavily loaded it will affect display performance - but that's the price for OS designed as God intented. (suggestion: Use "renice -15 pid_of_X" and you'll have some more UI speed...)
I see alot of suggestions of buying more HW and all, but may I suggest a lighter weight Window Manager then the Bloated Gnome or KDE. IMHO Blackbox looks pretty nice, and is quite small and fast. Sawmill is another good choice.
Indeed it would be a better comparison between NT based systems and Linux. And whoever said NT will run in 12/16MB should ask him/herself if (s)he is a machoist or what. keep in mind that the Win9x/ME series of OSes are really only 16-bit code patched with a 32-bit extentions. It is really just DOS running and not capable of fully protecting apps or it's self from each other of it's self no matter what M$ says! That's why it crashes so much! What a lame excuse for an OS!! NT and *nix systems do this "protecting" at the cost of increased memory usage. The advantage *nix has (amongst others) it that you don't have to run a GUI with it's huge memory demands or a smaller GUI. Just look at the difference between NT4 and Win2000 It's roughly equivilent of the differense between fvwm and KDE.
As for the disk space and the rest, I would seriously suggest considering the linux From Scratch project. If you do, i guarante that you will understand very clearly exactly how your system works, and how much it sucks that most popular distributions often leave you with a slow, bloated, non-standard, often mis-configured machine.
The BSD's are excellent choices BTW and are a bit more stable than even.
Kill TUX!?!? I say *No Way*, just that it's time to take him off the merry-go-round and put him on the roller-coaster.
U want to really *know* Linux?
<A HREF="http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/" target="_new">http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/</A>