First impressions of PopOs Cosmic Desktop

Upgrading PopOs to Cosmic Desktop Last week, I upgraded my standby laptop to PopOs Cosmic Desktop. PopOs from System76 is a customized Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. Their latest version is based around the Cosmic desktop, which promises better UI and performance.
PopOs with Cosmic Desktop
Upgrading an existing PopOs installation
Overall impression: Not impressed with the RAM usage (or CPU) – esp when opening up a browser (Firefox or chrome). The below image shows results from htop command. I also tested with Xubuntu and Lubuntu.
htop on Cosmic Desktop with firefox running
I upgraded from the previous 20.10 version which EOLs very soon. I might do a clean install to check if the resource usage improves. Granted I am pushing a laptop with low specs (2 core Celeron N4000+ 4 GB LPDDR4).
When I posted the above screenshots and my comment on LowEndSpirit forum,  one of the users (rightfully) asked: “Why would you go with GNOME with those specs (CPU and RAM)? That’s not even just GNOME, it’s GNOME + Pop!_OS’ theme layer.” They went further on to ask: “Did you consider?
  • Xfce: MX Linux, Linux Mint Xfce, Xubuntu, Linux Lite, SparkyLinux Xfce, Manjaro
  • MATE: Ubuntu MATE
  • LXQt: Lubuntu, SparkyLinux LXQt
  • Plasma: Q4OS. Not listing super lightweight distros”

I concurred with their views

Upon installing  Xubuntu,  the performance did not change much. Lubuntu gave some different issues, including networking and VPN configuration. I used the 20.04 versions of both.
htop on Xubuntu
htop on Lubuntu
Upon completing my tests, my response was as follows: “Valid Questions. Like I mentioned, this is my standby machine, so I can take slight liberties. However, my personal preference is Debian/Ubuntu derivatives with XFCE or Ubuntu Mate. Gnome is not quite to my taste- in fact, I had the same RAM/CPU issues (very high usage) on Macbook Pro 15. I recall reading somewhere (do not have source right now) it is a legacy GNOME issue that has passed on over generations of distros. I could be mistaken there” p.s: as I speak- the laptop has KDE Neon installed, so some sanity restored.
KDE Neon Desktop
htop on kde neon with firefox running
Upgrading KDE Neon

This post was updated on 2022-02-16