What Is a Lightweight OS
With the addition of functions and the innovation of interaction, the software (OS and apps) has become bigger and bigger. Nowadays, all OS versions want to offer the cool experiences to users. Therefore, they are usually equipped with latest and greatest features, as well as cool visual effects.
All those eat your PC resources including CPU, GPU, RAM, disk space. With time going by, your PC becomes slower and slower. Then, you need to upgrade hardware or replace the PC. Obviously, this will cost a lot of money.
If you want to save money, a lightweight OS is a good choice. The lightweight OS will not occupy so many PC resources and can run well on old and resource constraint hardware. Although the features and interactions are not so cool, the lightweight OS can meet the need for daily use.
In general, all the normal operating systems like Windows 7/8/10, Ubuntu, etc. are heavyweight operating systems. If you want to seek for a lightweight OS, you should consider those lightweight Linux distros that can run well on old PCs.
These lightweight Linux distros usually feature desktop environments like XFCE, LXDE, MATE, etc. In addition, a lightweight OS usually comes with the most basic tools and applications. It won’t pre-install a large amount of software that may not be used, thereby reducing the system resource consumption.
In this way, it can free up more resources for the main software or applications you want to run. The intuitive feeling is that the speed of the computer has become faster.
Best Lightweight Linux Distros
Among Linux distros, there are many lightweight distros. But not all these Linux distros are easy to use. If you want to choose an easy-to-use lightweight Linux distro, you can refer to the following items.
1. Lubuntu or Xubuntu
Lubuntu and Xubuntu are official flavors of Ubuntu. Both are lightweight Linux distros. The difference is that Lubuntu uses the LXDE/ LXQt interface, while Xubuntu uses Xfce desktop. Therefore, the two flavors have different look and feel, and different preinstalled software.
Comparing the two flavors, Lubuntu is lighter, while Xubuntu has better expandability. Both the two flavors can run well on older or underpowered machines, support Ubuntu software repository, and come with a set of important but lightweight software and tools for office, multimedia, internet, etc.
Lubuntu (18.04) minimum system requirements are as follows:
- CPU: Pentium 4 or Pentium M or AMD K8.
- RAM: 1 GB (If you just use local programs like LibreOffice and don’t use advanced internet services like Google+, YouTube, Google Drive, and Facebook, 512 MB of RAM is also OK).
Xubuntu minimum system requirements are as follows:
- CPU: Intel or AMD 64-bit processor (for 64-bit Xubuntu); 32-bit processor with support to PAE (for 32-bit Xubuntu 18.04).
- RAM: 512MB.
- Storage Space: 8 GB of free space.
2. Linux Lite
If you are not used to Lubuntu or Xubuntu, you can try Linux Lite, which is a lightweight Linux distro based on Ubuntu LTS. Like Ubuntu LTS, Linux Lite also has a 5-year support period (only a major update every 5 years, but with various small updates), which means that Linux Lite is more reliable.
Linux Lite uses Xfce desktop, but it is not very light-weight, because it comes with a suite of software, which makes it an OS fully functional out of the box. It is praised to be specifically developed to ease Windows users who want to enter the world of Linux. Finally, it also supports Ubuntu software repository.
Linux Lite minimum system requirements are as follows:
- CPU: 1GHz processor.
- RAM: 768MB.
- Storage Space: 8GB.
- Resolution: VGA screen 1024×768 resolution.
3. Puppy Linux
If you want an extremely lightweight Linux distro, Puppy Linux may be a good choice. Its size is only a few hundred MB (300MB or less), so that it can be directly stored in a USB flash drive and started. Once the boot is successful, you can eject the USB and run it in RAM.
Puppy Linux is a completely independently developed Linux distro that uses JWM and Openbox window managers by default. It comes with only some basic applications like Abiword for word processing, Gnumeric for spreadsheets, and various graphic editing and media playback programs.
But due to the Woof project, Puppy Linux is compatible with other distribution packages, such as Ubuntu, Arch Linux and Slackware. Therefore, you can access to their software repositories to install necessary applications.
Puppy Linux’s minimum system requirements are as follows:
- CPU: 333MHz processor.
- RAM: 64 MB (256MB is recommended).
If you want to know more lightweight Linux distros, please read the original text: 7 Best Lightweight Linux Distros for Old PCs.
Angelique Chrisafis is the Guardian’s Paris correspondent. She is responsible for churning out quality articles based on her research while keeping an eye on the tech world. She likes technology, gadgets, and food. Works as an individual contributor to the team.