Are you looking for a Lightweight Linux? GNU / Linux-based systems are extremely versatile. We have seen GNU / Linux installed on smartphones and also on supercomputers. Nothing resists this portable and efficient all-rounder. In this article we will make a compilation of the best lightweight Linux distributions for low-resource or older computers.
You will all remember the news about the Russian (Dmitry) who was able to boot an Ubuntu with Linux kernel 2.6.34 in a machine with an 8-bit processor. This is the most extreme case known to date, breaking the record for low resources. In fact, the system he used was an Atmega1284p microcontroller and an ARM emulator that he wrote himself to manage 32-bit software on an 8-bit chip.
The result was that Ubuntu needed 2 hours to boot in text mode and 4 hours to boot in graphical mode with this 6,5Mhz chip and only 8 bits word size. But in the end it started, which is the interesting thing about the subject. If you try that with Windows or with Mac OS X or other operating systems, you will probably die trying. Which shows the ability of Linux to adapt to whatever ...
Nor should we go to these extreme cases, the famous and successful Raspberry Pi you are low on resources and yet you can run various Linux distributions for ARM. And trust me, it does it pretty smoothly. Can you imagine the result of a more demanding operating system on a Raspberry Pi?
Sure you don't want to wait 4 hours to start your distro, but maybe you have low-resourced or old computersMaybe an 80486 or an old Am386 or you have just bought a cheap computer and with a traditional distro it is slow. If you want to know what linux to install that consumes few resources here is this list.
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To make it work Anti-X you only need a Pentium II and 64MB of RAM, although 128MB is recommended. That is why it can be installed in equipment from the late 90s without problem. Your image can be downloaded which is less than 700MB in size, so it can be burned to a CD for installation.
Includes quite a few app packages pre-installed, such as LibreOffice, MPLayer, Iceweasel lightweight browser, Claws mail client, etc. Its desktop environment is based on GNOME and is written in C ++ language, it is IceWM.
SparkyLinux it is a Debian-based distribution. It includes desktop environments such as Razor-QT, LXDE, OpenBox / JWM, e17 and MATE, a wide range to choose your preferred environment. SparckLinux is specially created to work on old computers with few hardware resources, which does not prevent having a good and complete operating system.
You only need 256MB of RAM for LXDE, OpenBox or e17, these go up to 384MB if you opt for Razor-QT. In any case, it can work with older 32-bit processors, such as Pentium III or similar, and only 5GB of free hard disk space is needed.
Between the packages included there are LibreOffice, GIMP, PlayOnLinux, DropBox, Teamviewer, QMMP and VLC, which will be installed by default. And although you have a complete guide to learn how to use it, it is not a simple distribution.
Puppy Linux is one of my favorites. Puppy is a distribution designed to use the least possible resources. It has interesting applications, it has several light desktop environments (LXDE, JWM, IceWM), it is easy, complete, you can boot from a pendrive or install it on the hard disk. The official website has a large Wiki to consult doubts or solve problems.
It is downloadable, your image only weighs about 100MB and it is available in LiveCD or LiveUSB version. It consumes so little memory, that with OpenOffice open it will not exceed 256MB RAM occupied. As for the necessary requirements, with only 64MB it can boot, although you can count on 512MB of free space to also create a SWAP partition. A 486 processor may suffice.
By the way, there is a version of Puppy Linux Lucid based on Ubuntu and another Sacko Puppy based on Slackware. Two different philosophies for you to select the one you feel most comfortable in. What's more there are so-called "pupplets", that is, distributions based on Puppy with the same objectives, speed, stability, automatic hardware detection and number of programs available in a small space.
The latest version released by the project was Puppy 6.3 in November 2015, since then there is no news in this regard ...
Lubuntu is the most popular distribution of all these is an Ubuntu with a lightweight LXDE desktop environment for computers with fewer resources. Being an official distro, its development and update goes hand in hand with Ubuntu. It can work on computers with low RAM, old chipsets, and on low-capacity hard drives. If you have a laptop, Lubuntu would also be an option to consider.
Furthermore, the software that comes pre-installed is also specially selected to consume few resources. Another advantage is the great community behind Ubuntu, so you will not lack support, updates, etc.
It is even lighter than Xubuntu, with very low requirements. The necessary resources to run Lubuntu are to have a Pentium II or Pentium III CPU (AMD K6-II, K6-III or K7) with a frequency of 400Mhz and a RAM memory of at least 192 MB.
It is the brother of Lubuntu, both official recognized by Canonical, it is also an Ubuntu with a light desktop environment, but this time Xubuntu has an Xfce environment. If you have a team with limited resources or want to have a system as light and fast as possible, it is a great choice. Xubuntu is content with only 800Mhz of processor, 384MB of RAM and a hard drive of at least 4GB.
Elementary OS it's a nice, fast and light distro. It can be downloaded for both 32 and 64 bits. It is based on Ubuntu and a Pantheon desktop environment, a derivative of GNOME. Although Elementary OS is not resource intensive, it is not recommended for computers that are too old or have very few resources. Worse, if you have a more modern but low-resource netbook or laptop, Elementary could run just fine.
The minimum requirements of Elementary OS are not excessive, but they are not the lowest either. You need a processor of at least 1Ghz x86 or higher, 512 MB of RAM, 5GB of hard disk space, a graphics card capable of controlling a resolution of 1024x768px and a CD / DVD or USB drive for installation.
Perar OS is similar to Elementary OS in certain respects. It is a distribution that tries to imitate Mac OS X, and although it has ceased to exist, you can still find servers on the network where they can be downloaded. A replacement for Pear OS was introduced, which is known as Clementine OS, this one was also discontinued, but as with Pear OS, you will also find unofficial sites to download it.
If you have an Internet connection, it will make your work much easier, but if you don't have it, it is not a indispensable requirements. You only need a processor of at least 700Mhz and 32 bits, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of hard disk, graphics card capable of dealing with a resolution of 1024x768px, and a CD / DVD or USB reader for the installation.
Based on Debian 7 and the MATE desktop environment, Point Linux is a lightweight distribution and small that can be installed on computers with few resources. It presents an interface with classic menus and is developed by a group of developers from Russia. Users of this distro will be able to enjoy simplicity, agility and stability. The image only occupies 1GB of space and is available for both 32 and 64 bits.
The minimum requirements are: have a at least 1Ghz processor, have 512MB of RAM, 5GB of free hard disk, and a graphics card capable of dealing with resolutions of 1024x768px.
It is a portable system and, Porteus, originally named Slax Remix. It is a good change if you need a very light operating system that barely takes up 300MB of space. Depending on your requirements, you can choose between different graphical environments, such as KDE, Razor, LXDE, MATE and XFCE. If you want more speed, I recommend XFCE or LXDE ...
If you are going to boot in text mode, with a 32-bit processor and 40MB of RAM will be enough. If you want to start it in graphic mode, the X system will ask you for at least 256MB of RAM, something easy to achieve even on computers from the 90s.
Unfortunately, since 2014 (Porteus 3.1) we have not had more launches by the developers of this distro. However, you can download the ISOs of previous versions.
Manjaro is a fairly new lightweight Linux distribution, based on Arch Linux but with a friendly interface for installation. That makes things much easier, those who know the Arch Linux installation will know it… You can download it in three official editions and you can also choose between a desktop environment with OpenBox or XFCE, both quite light. It is a great distribution, beautiful, simple and very complete. It is not the one that requires the least resources, but it can be a good intermediate alternative between another heavier and lighter models.
Crunch Bang (#!)
This distro with this rare name is a great system for light teams. Highly customizable with OpenBox. CrunchBang is robust and secure, offering a good experience in terms of usability. By having such a minimalist graphics system, it can be run on old computers or with few resources.
Crunchbang is based on Debian and is available for download in 32 and 64 bit images. The entire ISO only takes up 800MB and in it you will find the system and the packages included in it. You will only need a computer with a 600Mhz processor or higher, 256MB of RAM, a graphics card compatible with 800 × 600 resolutions, 2GB of free space on the hard disk and a USB port or CD / DVD drive for installation.
Since 2013 the project has been abandoned, when its lead developer ended its work and left it in the hands of the community. However, the ashes of the project have continued under the name CrunchBang ++ (Plus Plus) and Bunsenlabs. https://www.bunsenlabs.org/
As its name suggests, TinyCore is a small distro with a quite attractive graphical environment. It is a modular distribution, that is, it uses a Linux kernel and extensions developed by the community. In addition, it leaves the choice of the graphical environment to be chosen by the user. The main drawback is that TinyCore is not for newbies, with a somewhat complex installation for beginners.
The user will have full control about the applications that are installed and the hardware that we want to have support. Its installer barely reaches 10MB, so it is easy to carry on any SD, USB memory or CD. The downside is that it includes practically no packages: no browsers, no office suites, ... But if you are a senior in the Linux world, you will like its completely customizable graphical interface, its speed and flexibility. If I have to express TinyCore with one word, that would be "customizable".
TinyCore requirements are reduced to a 486DX processor and 32MB of RAM. Without a doubt one of the most minimalist and lightest.
Arch Linux with some lightweith DE
Arch Linux is probably one of the most powerful Linux distributions, but also one of the most complicated to use. Therefore it is not suitable for beginners, but its difficulty provides great flexibility and power that many advanced users are surely looking for.
Like Arch Linux it comes very optimized, so you will not waste resources like others. In addition, it comes with the basics, you can adjust it to your needs, such as installing a lightweight desktop environment. You have a choice between the different environments and lightweight window managers: Pantheon, MATE, i3, OpenBox, LxQt, ...
The Spanish distribution that comes from Galician lands, triskele, it has a Mini version that is lighter than its older sister. It is a 100% free distro like Trisquel, only Trisquel Mini is specially optimized for older or less resourceful hardware.
It uses Ubuntu Linux as a base and as LXDE desktop environment default. In addition, you can find some applications that consume few resources for your day to day such as AbiWord, MPlayer, Midori, etc.
Peppermint OS It is another lightweight distribution based on Lubuntu, that is, Ubuntu Linux with LXDE environment. In addition to keeping in mind the lightness and optimization for computers with few resources or low consumption, developers have also been very aware of the cloud.
Therefore, if you have a computer with little powerful hardware, with 192MB of RAM, and you also like Lubuntu but you need capabilities oriented to the Cloud computing, this is the best choice for you.
Linux Lite is a lightweight distribution that is based on Ubuntu LTS. You already know that these Long Term Support versions have an extended support for 5 years, therefore it guarantees stability and long-term updates.
Its creator is Jerry bezencon, which from New Zealand brings us this distro. Jerry has taken into account that the system should be as friendly as possible with the user who does not have knowledge, therefore it is easy to use. Of course without forgetting the reduced consumption of resources with the XFCE environment.
Bodhi Linux is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Ubuntu LTS and with Moksha Desktop. Its design philosophy is to provide a minimum base for users to complete the installation with the software they need, without adding non-essential packages that can fatten the distro.
Moksha Desktop It comes from Jeff Hoogland, main developer of Bodhi, when he got tired of Enlightenment in version 18. So he decided to create a fork of E17, which would include new functionalities and features that were only present in later versions.
Do not forget to leave your comments. What is your distro of Lightweight Linux favorite? In addition to these there are others such as Vector Linux, Slitaz, LXLE, Absolute Linux, MX Linux, Macpup, etc., which have not continued with their development but you can visit their corresponding official sites to download the images of the latest versions ...
If your computer has power to spare, be sure to install these Linux distributions highly recommended.