Is GNU / Linux more efficient than Windows in terms of RAM usage?

Windows and Ubuntu: logos

Controversial question that surely raises some criticism or discrepancies as usual when comparing different services or products. In this case, we will invoke the eternal fight again Linux vs. Windows to compare the use that both systems make of main memory, that is, how each one handles memory without going into technical details.

When we talk about main memory we talk about RAMWe are not referring to secondary or massive memory such as hard drives, nor to fast buffers such as cache or buffer, registers, etc. Well, this memory, with the MMU of the architecture of the machine and the operating system, or rather, the kernel, will manage it to manage it and distribute it among the running processes that exist.

The question we pose in the title refers to whether such management is more efficient in Windows or Linux. Well, we simply have to analyze the resources needed by both systems to see that Windows demands much more RAM than Linux, we just have to look at the minimum requirements of each of them. Although it is true that in GNU / Linux varies depending on the distroAs you know, there are some lighter than others and with more efficient desktop environments that can even run on machines with few resources (such as the Raspberry Pi) or on older computers.

But if we compare a non-lightweight distribution, like Ubuntu, with respect to its equivalent in the Microsoft world, we continue to see that Ubuntu's requirements are much less than Windows. For example, the latest versions of Windows would need up to 4GB to function properly, while Ubuntu is enough for half. Therefore, it can be ensured that the efficiency is better in Linux, leaving more resources available for applications or video games ... Which is an advantage.

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  1.   chicholito said

    Dear Isaac PE, I agree with your article that Linux manages resources better in general, especially RAM. Now, Windows usually has countless more processes running than Linux. Antivirus, firewall, anti malware, various telemetries and a long etc. Linux does not need these processes, which works in its favor. Windows 10, considering the aforementioned, also manages resources flawlessly. Greetings.

    1.    Isaac PE said

      True, but still, I think the Linux kernel handles RAM better. And I don't want to say that Windows is a disaster in that sense ... And if you want, since I did not do it in the article, I can go into some more technical details, such as how Windows "degrades" performance as it happens. the uptime, whereas in Linux, the amount of memory demands from the start of the system until a moment X, remains the same (assuming the same processes are active). I don't know if I explain myself ...

      A greeting!

  2.   clown said

    I just need to put ...
    … »This study has been carried out at a prestigious university in the United States», in the style of an informal, since you do not demonstrate anything objectively.

  3.   What is this said

    But if W10 also works with 2GB of RAM! Both in a 32-bit and 64-bit. Where do they get that they are 4GB?
    What's more, on their official website they clearly state that the 2GB of RAM is required for new devices, that even those upgrading to W10 from previous versions will only need 1GB.

    And since when does this data mean that one manages memory better than another? Sorry, I followed this page a lot, but today the myth has fallen.

    1.    Isaac PE said

      We are talking about 64-bit in both cases. And notice that at no time do I talk about consuming 4GB, but they are the requirements ...

      1.    Here is this now said

        Of course, the requirements are (At least on your website) 2GB and 1GB for those who update

  4.   Here is this now said

    But if W10 also works with 2GB of RAM! Both in a 32-bit and 64-bit. What's more, on their official website they clearly state that the 2GB of RAM is required for new devices, that even those upgrading to W10 from previous versions will only need 1GB. Where do they get that they are 4GB?

    And since when does this data mean that one manages memory better than another? Sorry, I followed this page a lot, but today the myth has fallen. What a palace.

  5.   Artai Sculpt said

    Comparing the memory management of both operating systems is like comparing bacon with speed. It does not make sense because they are not even similar operating systems: one with a monolithic kernel against another with a hybrid kernel.
    You can at most compare how much memory both consume at rest, but even that doesn't make sense, because both systems use a memory cache that reserves a percentage of physical memory to "get ahead" of the execution of the processes. That is why claiming that Windows 10 consumes 4 Gb is FALSE, for example.

    1.    Isaac PE said

      Of course they have nothing to do with it, but that does not mean that they cannot be bought ... You can buy cars with Diesel cycle engines with others with Otto cycle and nothing happens ... In the case that you raise, you could only compare Linux with yourself ...

      1.    Artai Esculta Fernandez said

        That is what it is about, you cannot compare something that is radically different, that is not based on the same principles and that does not work in the same way.
        You can keep trying to compare cucumbers to spoons if you still think it's useful, but at least do it with some kind of objectivity and not just for the sake of it.
        If you want a comparison example, do it with POSIX systems: BSD vs GNU / Linux

  6.   What comes that said

    But if W10 also works with 2GB of RAM! Both in a 32bit and 64bit. What's more, on their official website they clearly indicate that 2GB is required for new devices, that even those who upgrade to W10 from previous versions will only need 1GB. Where do they get that they are 4GB?

    And since when does this data mean that one manages memory better than another? Sorry, I followed this page a lot, but today the myth has fallen. What a palace.

    1.    Isaac PE said

      Hello, I have talked about the latest versions of Windows. It is true that for Windows 10 only 2GB are required for 64-bit, because they have optimized it more thinking about mobile devices ... But in previous versions it was not like that.

      You are right in that sense. Should have specified. Perhaps the logo in the image also incites confusion. But if we go into technical data, Linux is more efficient managing RAM, regardless of whether it needs 2Gb, 1 or 512MB ... Or even less in light distros.

      1.    Here is this now said

        I like Mint, I don't know why but on my laptop it is the one that best manages the RAM of three (Ubuntu, W10 and Mint). By opening the same programs, all three ate less at Mint, by far. They were the "standard" versions so to speak, Cinnamon, Unity and Windows. Ubuntu was the "worst" of the three, without being bad, of course. But they were very light tests, I never did a deep analysis of the subject.

    2.    Miguel said

      It is totally comparable, it does not matter if they are different, what is measured is the use of RAM,

  7.   Here is this now said

    I'm sorry that the message was sent so many times. I did not know if they had been sent

    1.    Isaac PE said

      Nothing, do not worry…

  8.   Gregory ros said

    I totally agree with your article. It is difficult to compare both systems, because Windows requires additional utilities for proper operation, but to be honest, if it requires them, then it is fair to have them for comparison, I put the case of antivirus, in Linux you can operate without it without problems , in Windows it would be foolhardy to get to work with it without activating one.
    Point to part is the case of some distros, Ubuntu for example, in which a year, more or less, consumes much more RAM than normal, I suppose it will be due to some unresolved bug, but even so it uses less RAM.
    As you mentioned, it is only about the RAM, but I can't help but also think about disk usage, you just have to see what one or the other occupies after installation, and that's not counting that most Linux distros already give you the most of the programs that you are going to use later.

  9.   Rubénix said

    Clearly, Windows needs a lot more RAM than Linux. On the same computers, consumption is lower in versions of linux comparable to windows. That is, kubuntu, mint mate consume much less than windows 10, both newly installed. Let's no longer compare months later.
    If we make the comparison with xfce or lxde versions against windows, the consumption is much lower due to its graphic environments. Ubuntu is an exception in the world of linux. And still it consumes less than W10.

    A firewall doesn't consume as much, and a lightweight antivirus like security essentials doesn't either. In addition, you can also install them on linux. But all the software for this platform has much less requirements than for windows. That is why you can "revive" old computers with linux.

  10.   yukiteru said

    Well my father has a Windows 10 AMD64 with 2Gb of RAM in an AMD Athon X2 @ 2.9 Ghz and the truth is… that 1,5 Gb of RAM is consumed from the start (the only non-default service is AVG Antivirus) and he reacts which slug, slow as nothing. Consuming 1,5 Gb of RAM as soon as the OS starts up is EXTREMELY INEFFICIENT.

    The system is only about 7 months old, and in comparison, my Gentoo OS is almost two years old and from the start it still consumes the same, 180 mb of RAM with all the services above (AppArmor, Samba, sensors, smartd, hdparm, firewall , ntpd, dns cache). In fact, right now my system consumes 1.5 Gb of RAM, with all services, Firefox with 27 open tabs and SpaceFM, let's talk about RAM management efficiency and Linux is winning by a landslide, and that I use GTK3 that they say eats too much RAM.

    Not counting, of course, with the adaptive capacity that Linux has to handle RAM and modify its behavior in a granular way throughout its VM, which Windows does not have even in dreams. Not to mention the ability to allocate SLAB / SLUB memory of the Linux kernel and its marked differences and advantages compared to the SLAB model that Windows uses.

    In terms of use of resources Windows, obviously lags behind, in fact they accept it themselves, they recognize many of their problems and they know that they must solve them, but they are simply not a priority of the company, just as it was not a priority of the company to fix the old svchosts.exe bug that when updating Windows XP, Vista and 7, could eat all your RAM memory just checking the system and looking for updates.

    Anyway, you can talk very technically about the subject, and at the end we will know who will be the winner of the contest.


  11.   Thoronaug said

    I have been using Linux as the main operating system in all my computers for more than 15 years and indeed, the consumption of resources in general (not just RAM) is much lower in Linux. It is absurd that no one tries to prove otherwise. It would have no credibility.
    But to conclude that Linux consumes less RAM than Windows because its minimum requirements are lower, shows very little rigor on the part of the author of the article and a total lack of resources.
    These articles do GNU / Linux a disservice and amount to saying "Linux is better just because, period." Linux is better, yes. Those of us who know both systems well know without a doubt. But it must be demonstrated with strong arguments, that there are and many.

  12.   Exos said

    It gives me the cessation that many comment just to generate a stir, especially that one that said that operating systems cannot be compared due to the difference in the architecture of the kernel (WTF?). First of all, 99% of computers are based on the Von Neumann architecture in which memory is clearly the second most important part, so to say that they cannot be compared is extremely fallacious, the architecture of the kernel does not have anything to do with it either. , Dragonfly and Darwing are also hybrids and have a memory management similar to Linux ...

    The question is simple, I have migrated machines with modest 2GB or up to 4GB of ram to Linux (and for common people I usually recommend kubuntu, which KDE is not at all light between what there is) and the performance difference is ridiculously visible in favor Linux. To say that Windows has to run more services is half a lack of knowledge, in fact Linux runs a dedicated service for each of its features basically, and although it does not run a "LinuxDefender", if it runs iptables, SELinux and other protections rules, which are implemented at the kernel level.

    Not to mention the user spaces and others that Linux has to run, in fact I invite you to review your memory consumption in Linux, and you will see that 90% of the memory used is in user space (applications, graphical environment , etc) than in the operating system….

    It also only remains to install a distro (like kubuntu), and a windows, without more programs than the ones it comes with from the factory and see the ram consumption of each one, not to mention that distributions like xubuntu come with complete suits of applications with basically everything ; browser, mail, audio / video players, etc. While windows… well….

  13.   Chaparral said

    I'm sorry for me, it was not a palace. I followed this page a lot and I will continue to follow it among other things because I like Linux infinitely more than Windows and it is always good for me to be aware of the news. An opinion is an opinion, very respectable indeed. But then there is the personal freedom of each one and also to whom God gives it, Saint Peter may bless it.

    1.    Neanderthal said

      Are you seriously trying to make me see that Linux runs more processes than Windows? xDDD. I don't think anyone here doubts that Linux is so much faster than Windows, because it would be silly to even compare that. But this is not being compared here, what we are trying to compare is memory management. Is Linux faster handling the same number of EXACTLY SAME processes as Windows? That is the question. I don't know, and I imagine the answer is yes, but here we are comparing whether Linux is lighter than Windows, not whether Linux manages memory better than Windows. I think Linux has a thousand good things to do with these nonsense articles.

  14.   Antonio Gutierrez said

    I think you mistook the term efficiency.

  15.   Purified said

    The important thing is that in Linux you can see porn the same or faster than in wintendows

  16.   Jonathan said

    Well, in my case it is something that I have verified many times, especially with the arrival of Windows 10. There are new machines with core i5 and Windows 10 makes them feel very very slow. And in general a windows machine lately consumes an exaggerated memory, with 8 gb of ram it is generally occupied almost 5 or 6 gb. In Linux the truth is that it is so efficient, that in machines from many years ago, such as a single-core processor that I have made work very well, and they even serve for photo editing with gimp and everything, not so fast of course, but that would be unthinkable with windows.

  17.   dingo said

    The doctor recommends a little objectivity at breakfast. It doesn't do the linux universe any good to publish this kind of "news".

  18.   Joseph said

    Well, seeing what I have seen, I refer to the practical tests that I have carried out on many computers of different specifications, and I can say that Linux clearly manages the ram and especially the resources better than Windows. Tested on Core Duo computers with 1-2 Gb of Ram, where Windows literally crawls as soon as you open two applications, Mageia 5 and 6 (version 6 is even in development) with KDE desktop (supposed to be the heaviest and let me That I doubt it), it runs much better, and it is not just my opinion, it is that of common users who use the system daily to work those who tell me about it.

    I am not going to go into technical concepts, since in the end what the common user demands is that the equipment works correctly and after a while, especially Mageia in this case wins by a landslide. I have ported more than 20 computers from Windows to Mageia and after almost a year they are still working like the first day.

  19.   Guillo said

    The title talks about ram management, but in the article you only talked about the memory that one or another distribution occupies (they are different things). At least they could have been more technical on the matter, I can install arch without a graphical environment and it will take up practically nothing ram ...
    Pretty poor article.