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Thread: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

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    What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    I'm not a programmer. I don't understand how programs work. So if someone can explain this in plain English (layman's terms), that'd be great.

    I have a slightly older laptop, and I use IceWM on it. I've found some of the lighter-weight applications (like Leafpad and XTerm) load up immediately (literally one second after I press the keyboard shortcuts for them) but normal-weight (not even that heavy) applications (like Gedit and Gnome-Terminal) take as long as 12 seconds to load up.

    What exactly makes lightweight applications lighter and able to load up more quickly? Just curious.

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    Re: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    AFAIK:

    • If you don't have a lot of memory, the program doesn't have as much room to store its data. Logically, the longer a program has wait for memory to be freed, the slower it will run.
    • If you have a slow processor, the "instructions" of the program will take longer to process and carry out.


    So a program dealing with large amounts of data or a lot of instructions to carry out will run slower on a computer with smaller amounts of memory or processing capabilities.
    Last edited by vf514; April 7th, 2007 at 09:34 AM. Reason: forgot a word

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    Re: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    Any combination of the below often can, but not necessarily does in every case:

    - Having less features (as your text editor examples illustrate)
    - Being written in a language that suits the task
    - Being written in a language that has a fast execution speed
    - Being compiled optimally
    - Code being optimized
    Previously known as 23meg

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    Re: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    With lightweight the programmers probably mean:
    1.It uses less libraries, so less memory is used (libraries are the "tools" that the programmer uses to make a program)
    2.Uses less variables, and global variables are rarely used(global variables use far more memory and isn't that efficient)
    3.Probably re-uses code, so overall there is less code(Object Oriented Programming can do this)

    I only know some Python programming, so there could be more ways to make a program lightweight with other languages.

    Also, depending on which language you use, the program will run faster. For example, the C language runs 1000x faster than Python or so I have heard.
    Last edited by EdThaSlayer; April 7th, 2007 at 09:41 AM.
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    rai4shu2 is offline Extra Foam Sugar Free Ubuntu
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    Re: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    It's usually the number of libraries and add-ons (plugins/extensions) that makes most programs bloat. A classic example is Office apps.

    Programs that do everything internally with low-level coding are generally much lighter, but they are of course less modular and flexible.

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    Re: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    Quote Originally Posted by aysiu View Post
    I'm not a programmer. I don't understand how programs work. So if someone can explain this in plain English (layman's terms), that'd be great.

    I have a slightly older laptop, and I use IceWM on it. I've found some of the lighter-weight applications (like Leafpad and XTerm) load up immediately (literally one second after I press the keyboard shortcuts for them) but normal-weight (not even that heavy) applications (like Gedit and Gnome-Terminal) take as long as 12 seconds to load up.

    What exactly makes lightweight applications lighter and able to load up more quickly? Just curious.
    Start by reading this book for a bit more understanding:

    LFS-BOOK-6.2.pdf


    Last edited by RAV TUX; April 7th, 2007 at 09:51 AM.

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    Re: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    Thanks for all the replies.

    So I'm gathering that the lightweight applications load up more quickly because they use fewer libraries, and the time it takes a heavier application to load is the time it takes to load up all the extra libraries?

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    rai4shu2 is offline Extra Foam Sugar Free Ubuntu
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    Re: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    For load time, there's also the matter of sessions/profiles, and whether you have to load large amounts of data by default for a particular application. Some programs are good about loading only what they need for a particular view, and others simply dump everything in memory and count on you having tons of it (which typically takes longer to load, as well).

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    Re: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    So I'm gathering that the lightweight applications load up more quickly because they use fewer libraries, and the time it takes a heavier application to load is the time it takes to load up all the extra libraries?
    that's only part of it.
    the bigger picture :
    programs are run from memory but stored on disk. so when you start an apllication, it has to be read from the disk and stored in RAM before it starts executing.
    Therefore :
    - a large program will take longer to load (disk access is relatively slow)
    - a program the uses lots of libraries needs to load these libraries as well

    apart from size (which affects load time and amount of memory occupied by the application), lightweight can also refer to memory usage during execution. If the memory used to eg. store values in variables, is not released again when it's not needed anymore, the memory usage builds up. ("memory leaks")

    And then there's programming style. For every given problem, the programmer chooses a sollution. Some algoritms (sollutions to a given problem) are more efficient than others so they take less CPU cycles or les memory usage or less disk I/O and make the application run smoother and less "resource hungry"

    That, and a combination of other factors (eg 23meg's list).

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    Re: What exactly makes a lightweight application... lightweight

    Thanks. I think I'm beginning to get a better understanding of the issue.

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