Other Window Manager Resident RAM usage



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This is for the RES (resident memory) RAM usage of window managers (from my computer in August 2021). The top command was used to get these numbers.

Window ManagerResidential Memory in MB
MCWM (+xterm)2.6 (+14)
BSPWM (+sxhkd)3.4 (+2.9)
JWM (no dependency options)5
SpectrWM8.2 - 9.8
JWM (when compiled with basic options)10
JWM (with background image used)10 (temporarily up to 300, after it starts)

The above ones are listed, because they're the window managers that I'm familiar with using or was curious about, and because they're BSD style.

Before reinstalling JWM a few days ago, this window manager used 4 to 6MB of residential memory with optional dependencies on, and with a background image set. Update: After re-compiling later on, JWM appeared to temporarily use 15 to 300MB of RES when a background image was set. It seemed that, after a while, the RES memory for JWM dropped back to around 10MB. Using an external program like bgs for setting the background doesn't cause a temporary increase in RES, but it doesn't allow transparency with windows that use it.

https://l3net.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/a-memory-comparison-of-light-linux-desktops/comment-page-1/ shows memory usage in MB from 2013, it's not indicated what measurement of RAM is used (whether it's residential memory):

A few from this chart that are BSD-like, for comparison:
  • DWM - 1
  • TWM - 1.2
  • Xmonad - 2
  • JWM - 3
  • i3 - 3
  • Blackbox - 3
  • IceWM - 4.5
  • FVWM - 13

Feel free to post any type of RAM statistic on any Window Manager or Desktop Environment. When posting about Desktop Environments, include metrics for the WM used with it. When a window manager is compiled with different options (one being the bare minimum), it can give varying RAM statistics.

A previous discussion with the narrower topic of TinyWM is at Thread tinywm-the-lightest-of-all-window-managers-and-desktop-environments.81880.
Last edited:


Son of Beastie

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With base memory halved to 1,024 MB, swap enabled and video memory increased to 48 MB:
  • less than 100 M memory (RES) …

In a far less constrained environment, 370 M:


% uname -iKrsU
FreeBSD 14.0-CURRENT GENERIC-NODEBUG 1400030 1400032
% pkg info -x plasma5-kwin
% pkg -vv | grep url | grep -v pkgbase
    url             : "pkg+http://pkg.FreeBSD.org/FreeBSD:14:amd64/latest",
    url             : "file:///usr/local/poudriere/data/packages/main-default",


From the manual page for htop(1):

       Memory sizes in htop are displayed in a human-readable form.  Sizes are
       printed in powers of 1024. (e.g., 1023M = 1072693248 Bytes)

Where previously I wrote less than 100 MB, that was a transcription error. Should have been less than 100 M; now corrected.

It may be human-readable, but it doesn't help me … powers of 1024, FFS. I have no idea what 370 M is in MB and right now I'm too lazy to use an online converter.