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.

John’s Background Switcher failing to switch backgrounds? Try this:

JBS isn’t totally down with the whole “Switch User” thing.

If John’s Background Switcher (JBS) is failing to switch backgrounds automatically but can still manually switch them, it may be because the user account it’s running on was logged into after another currently running user account.

I discovered this problem recently on a Windows 7 SP1 Home Premium 64-bit PC on which I’d logged in to a non-admin user account before logging in to my own admin account. JBS started throwing errors. Rebooting the PC and logging in to my admin account first before logging in to the other account fixed the problem.

Which sources to use in HostsMan

Only 3 of the suggested sources are usable, and you may want to add another custom source.

If you hate ads, you’ve probably already tried an ad blocking solution like AdBlock Plus (ABP). If you’re reading this, you probably also discovered the huge negative impact of in-browser ad blocking on browser performance. And so now you’re trying HostsMan instead.* Unlike ABP, however, HostsMan doesn’t make it obvious which hosts file sources you subscribe to. Enabling all of them sounds like a good idea, but doing so hoses some functionality such as social sharing bookmarklets.

I’m still testing HostsMan in lieu of ABP on my Windows 7 64-bit and Windows 8.1 August Update 64-bit PCs, but so far the following hosts subscriptions have blocked ads without compromising useful features:

  • MVPS Hosts
  • Peter Lowe’s AdServers List
  • Malware Domain List

You can also add AdAway‘s** list by doing the following:

  1. In HostMan’s Manage Update Sources dialog, click Add Source…
  2. Enter an appropriate name in the Name (ex: Example’s hosts file): field.
  3. In the File name or URL: field, enter
  4. Click Test Connection to ensure you entered the right details.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Force an update from HostsMan’s main window.

You don’t have to reboot for changes to take effect, though your internet connection might hiccup while the OS becomes aware of the new hosts file.

What your HostsMan Manage Update Sources options should look like.
What your HostsMan Manage Update Sources options should look like.

More specific reasons I disregard the remaining hosts sources:

  • hpHosts (all): far too aggressive and insufficiently specific.
  • Cameleon: not updated often enough. As of this writing, the most recent update was in April 2014.

Sadly, Cameleon’s state betrays one major downside of ad blocking using hosts files: they aren’t updated nearly as frequently as ABP lists. EasyList, for example, is updated daily. Of the sources I recommend, the most recently updated is the Malware Domain List at October 31, 2014. Peter Lowe’s list was updated on October 10, while MVPS and AdAway were updated on September 30. Yikes.

*More thorough comparison of ABP and HostsMan.

**AdAway does for Android what HostsMan does for Windows. However, it needs root permissions and you definitely need to reboot between hosts file updates as there’s no other way to make the OS aware of the changes.