Windows, OS X, or Linux: on which OS do apps use the least RAM?

Windows trounces macOS & Ubuntu in client application RAM consumption.


UPDATE: In the latest version of this study, Windows 10 trounces Ubuntu and macOS.

Some caveats on what follows:

  1. Testing was done on Firefox only. Howeve since Firefox is open source, very actively developed, and has prioritized low RAM usage, it’s a good representative of well-engineered multiplatform apps.
  2. The developer’s conclusion is based on the factor by which RAM consumption changes. My conclusion is based on the total RAM consumption, period.
  3. The Windows results are for Windows 7. Since subsequent versions of Windows are known to use progressively less RAM, it’s safe to assume RAM consumption is better on Windows 10.

That said, below are the results for Firefox on all 3 OSes:

Memory Usage of Firefox with e10s Enabled – Eric Rahm
Linux wins, Windows 7 comes in second, and OS X finishes 3rd.

Clearly, if client application RAM consumption is your major concern, Linux is the OS for you. Windows comes second, while OS X brings up the rear. Feel free to use this as ammo in the nearest OS flamewar.

TV: the reason tech giants are sitting out the net neutrality debate

The streaming TV and placeshifting future we want requires a non-neutral Internet.

Per the New York Times:

Silicon Valley’s giant companies have been quiet lately on the question of whether the government should protect an open Internet, which they’ve previously argued is vital to innovation. Don’t count on them staking out a stronger position even though President Obama has stepped into the fray, and Washington looks to be gearing up for an epic battle over the rules that govern the Internet.

Why is this happening? One word: TV. Google, Apple, and Microsoft are all trying to revolutionize the world’s biggest broadcast medium. To do so, their UX must be equal to or better than incumbents’. Unfortunately, it isn’t right now. To watch ESPN on Comcast, for example, change the corresponding channel and you’re watching ESPN immediately. To do the same thing on a streaming service, there’s a multi-second wait while the video buffers. The problem worsens geometrically as as you switch among multiple channels.

There are 2 ways around streaming buffers. Option 1 is to constantly stream all channels to the end user, as cable and satellite do. That solution is prohibitively bandwidth intensive. Remember, users who subscribe to Comcast internet only are still limited to the bandwidth they pay for.  Just because you don’t use Comcast for TV doesn’t mean you get to use Comcast’s TV bandwidth. Ergo, streaming all channels all the time could easily exceed a user’s available bandwidth, not to mention their data cap.

A streaming TV provider could circumvent that problem by paying the cable company for use of their dedicated TV bandwidth, which is obviously a fast lane and non-neutral approach. It could also simply pay ISPs to implement global QoS policies that prioritize its traffic, which is exactly what net neutrality would preclude.

Option 2 is hyperlocal CDN – think CDN-At-The-Node (CDNATN*). All channels would be streamed to a neighborhood node, which then dispatches channels to users on request. Since content providers such as Netflix and YouTube already have CDNs collocated with ISPs, this isn’t out of the ordinary. However, the deployment cost scales geometrically, since streaming TV providers would have to install CDNATNs for every ISP in a given area.

Given the above, net neutrality is actually a threat to tech giants’ future business, hence their reluctance to get on the net neutrality bandwagon.

Another reason is the tech industry’s core business plan is monopoly creation, but Peter Thiel does a better job of explaining that.

*This is a hypothetical term I totally made up, but feel free to use it and credit me.

Learn how Windows (& OEMs) handles USB devices at Microsoft’s USB blog

I'll take "Universal" things with not so universal implementations for $400, Alex
I’ll take “Universal” things with not-so-universal implementations for $400, Alex

If you’re a hardcore tech user, more than likely you’ve run into a few USB troubles here and there, such as this one afflicting my Mac OS X Mavericks using DJ friend:

I’ve had a few issues myself over the years, ranging from printers suddenly vanishing from the OS to mice that refuse to wake when the PC is resumed from sleep. I once returned a Belkin hub under warranty 3 times in a row because devices connected to it would disappear after the PC had been running for over a day or so.*

Fortunately, Microsoft has an entire blog devoted to USB and its attendant issues. Unfortunately, like most good things at Microsoft, it isn’t promoted at all. The blog is great for troubleshooting, but it’s also highly informative for power users who want to know how Windows handles USB under the hood.

*The root causes of the above issues are Link Power Management & Selective Suspend (and their equivalents on other desktop OSes). Both features allow the OS, the host device, and/or the client device to move to very low power states so as to save energy. Apparently, their implementation can vary at the OS, host, and client levels, resulting in odd behavior.