The set up:
Testing was done in a virtual box host with 8 cores, 16 gigs ram, and AMD graphics. Client for each one was 4 gigs ram and 40 gigs hard drive space. Each was done with a clean install and the most current daily build (RC for 19.10, not likely to change much before release).
In this test we are testing HTOP reading for 3 criteria: CPU, Tasks, and Mem. CPU is the cpu load at the time of screenshot. Tasks are the number of threads (or tasks) running at the time of screenshot. And Mem is the memory load for the OS at the time of the screenshot. Each one is considered low to be a better number, less cpu load, fewer tasks (or threads) running, and lower memory footprint.
The takeaway for this is Lubuntu is the clear winner in all of these categories, Kubuntu comes in at a hot 2nd place (except in mem where it’s near tied for 2nd). I’m a big fan of Mate and really wanted to see it do better here.
Lubuntu average score: 129.9
Lubuntu is the clear cut winner in all fields. If you want the least amount of OS in the way of what you’re doing, or you have low end or old hardware to run on, Lubuntu is definitely your go to. I’ll give you a bit of a heads up though, this is the newest of the Ubuntu line, sort of.
The name Lubuntu goes way back, but, this Lubuntu uses LXQT and is only the third release as such. I think this is the low end distro to keep and eye on.
Kubuntu average score: 177.7
A few years ago the perception of KDE was that it was massively bloated. But that’s just not true, and this test proves it. Kubuntu comes it at a very respectable 2nd place. This is the OS to run if you want shiny, new, sparkly, with bells and whistles and probably one of the most customizable desktop environments on the market. In fact, one of the genuine faults of KDE plasma is that it’s TOO customizable. This one is my recommendation for anything from low end to bleeding edge and everything in between.
Xubuntu average score: 181.4
I’m actually disappointed in this one. I’ve always known Xubuntu as the low resource, low end computer friendly OS. I’m actually completely shocked that Kubuntu beat Xubuntu in this simple scenario. I will say though that it wasn’t by much. and if all the bells and whistles in Kubuntu are too much for you then Xubuntu is a great option. Simple and easy to use this is a good all around choice.
Ubuntu-Mate average score: 199.7
This is another one I thought would be lower than Kubuntu. This one isn’t as disappointing though considering the Mate gang have been doing some AMAZING things with this OS. Originally a fork of GTK2 this one is a modern day flashback to Linux of old.
Ubuntu average score: 293.8
What can you say other than Gnome is the new bloatware of the Linux world, and Ubuntu uses Gnome with some extensions and customization that make it work and look much nicer than default gnome, but it’s still gnome (and slow) under the hood. Another comment to add here is I had to wait nearly a full minute for the cpu load to calm down under 100%. None of the other test subjects had this at all. Ubuntu proper tested the worst of them all in this simple test.