You won’t be able to take advantage of Linux distros lightweight like Ubuntu to their full potential on an old laptop or PC with meager resources. Not all Linux distros lightweight will run on an older laptop, but that doesn’t imply there aren’t any.
Many lightweight Linux variants will allow you to function smoothly on your old machine while providing a pleasant graphical environment. These operating systems have lightweight desktop environments that make them small, fast, secure and packed with features.
Linux distros lightweight In 2021
Bodhi Linux is a Linux distro with a reasonable probability of being encountered if you are looking for a Linux version to install on an older laptop. It is a minimal Linux distro for older or less powerful computers.
Bodhi Linux is a minimal distro built on Ubuntu LTS and the Moksha desktop environment. Moksha is a desktop environment that builds upon the functionality of Enlightenment 17. Moksha does not come with its built-in window compositor but supports the addition of Compiz effects.
Bodhi Linux is both beautiful and very useful. Ubuntu provides a large number of valuable programs in its software repository. The new version 5.1 of Bodhi Linux is available in four flavors: Standard, Legacy, AppPack, and HWE.
A variety of uses are available for each variant. If you want a 64-bit OS with kernel upgrades to take advantage of recent hardware, you may want to look into the HWE edition. Choose a regular release instead if you are not concerned with the kernel.
Also, a 15-year-old PC can be given new life with Bodhi Linux Legacy, as it is a 32-bit version. You can also use the AppPack edition; it is a bootable USB drive that contains the operating system and the preinstalled applications.
If you want a Linux distro with a cute name and a specific goal, consider Puppy Linux. Please be aware that Puppy Linux is not a fork of any other distro. Instead, it can be built with the help of distro package managers like Ubuntu.
The number of available packages is dependent on the binaries you choose. The Ubuntu distro is best if you know your way around apt-get. Puppy Linux is one of the most compact Linux variants, clocking in at under 300MB in size. If you’re worried about your aging computer’s storage capacity, you should try Puppy Linux instead.
Since Puppy aims to be as small as possible, it seems that it does not come with any commonly used preloaded software. It supports UEFI and BIOS-based systems and comes in 32-bit and 64-bit variants.
The ability to boot from a CD/DVD or USB stick in live mode is included, just as in many other Linux distros. Since it starts up in RAM rather than a hard drive, it’s lightning fast. This lightweight Linux distro has been recognized as “grandpa-friendly” by its developers.
Our most recent compilation of recommended Linux distros lightweight for newcomers included Linux Lite. Recent years have seen significant growth for this OS. Lightweight, newbie-friendly, and aesthetically beautiful Linux distros are hard to come by, but your search can end here.
I repurposed my old laptop by installing my preferred Linux distro. It’s a great lightweight Linux OS built on Ubuntu and LTS editions. Every one of the most well-known and helpful applications is included.
The latest version of Linux Lite, 5.0, has improvements that make it usable right out of the box and boost the quality of life on a Linux desktop. By default, UEFI boot mode is also supported.
Due to these and other features, Linux light is often cited as a top Linux distro alternative to Windows. So, if you want to switch from Windows, Linux Lite is a great place to start.
From this group of Linux distros lightweight that works on older hardware, I would pick Ubuntu MATE as my go-to “heavyweight.” The latest version of Ubuntu MATE, based on Ubuntu 20.04, has proven to be an essential upgrade of the distro since it includes improvements to MATE Desktop and Ubuntu MATE that have been developed over the past two years.
Along with GNOME, KDE, and Cinnamon, MATE is among the best desktop environments available. This is why the official Ubuntu variant you may be able to run on your older computer looks so much better. Read our breakdown of the top Linux distros for gamers.
As a bonus, Ubuntu MATE provides a polished Linux experience that any Windows user would find familiar. We often look down on lightweight Linux distros, but that’s not the case here. The robust credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi can also use it.
Without the official Ubuntu derivative Lubuntu, a list of lightweight Linux distros lightweight for netbooks and older PCs is incomplete. This means it has access to the same repositories and packages as Ubuntu.
Despite the Lubuntu team’s shift in focus from providing a distro for older hardware to providing a functional yet modular distro, Lubuntu is another Ubuntu derivative that is speedy, lightweight, and highly compatible with older systems.
Remember that the company dropped 32-bit image support from the Lubuntu 18.10 release onward. Users of 32-bit operating systems and older PCs may have a substantial adverse reaction.
Even with its stripped-down LXQt desktop, the latest version of Lubuntu (20.04 LTS) offers impressive speed and performance. As of Lubuntu 18.10, the default desktop environment is LXQt, a modern and lightweight alternative to the previous LXDE.
Arch Linux + Lightweight Desktop environment
Arch Linux is your distro if you are an experienced user who values flexibility. It is a minimal Linux distro that doesn’t come with a ton of extra software.
If you’re looking for a window manager, we recommend i3 because of its small footprint. There will be a learning curve compared to installing other distros, but the time spent researching and reading up will make you as proficient as the average Arch user. Openbox, a lightweight window manager, is another option. As the saying goes, the shortest DE is no DE at all. You may use desktop environments like Xfce and LXQt to turn Arch into a fast and lightweight Linux system.
Because of the waning popularity of the 32-bit platform, Arch developers have discontinued 32-bit images; thus, you’ll need to make sure your computer isn’t built on 64-bit architecture before installing Arch Linux. The archlinux32 branch has been forked and may be obtained using the get option.
A derivative of Ubuntu, Xubuntu features the Xfce desktop environment by default. Not exceptionally as lightweight as LXQt, but still significantly less demanding on hardware than Ubuntu. Xfce ensures a minimalist desktop, and the distro is reasonably accessible to newcomers. Since it is based on Ubuntu, it receives regular updates.
To put it simply, Xubuntu is the way to go if you have a relatively recent computer, but it may not function well if your computer is older than ten years.
Peppermint OS stands out from other Linux versions because of its unique feature. It’s a hybrid system that utilizes cloud computing and conventional Linux desktop software. Peppermint is not only one of the quickest Linux distros lightweight.
Like all the others below, this Lubuntu-based Linux distro is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit computers. Because it is built on Lubuntu, it can access the same software available in Ubuntu.
Peppermint OS, a Linux distro, blends a minimalistic user interface with a clean, modern aesthetic. It ships with the fast and lightweight LXDE operating system and the Ice applications made for various uses. As an alternative to using one’s own computer’s programs, a site-specific browser can be used (SSB).
But with Mark Greaves’s passing, the Peppermint project has been postponed for the time being. Users will not forget his efforts on behalf of Linux. Although the 2019 version of Peppermint OS 10 (built on Lubuntu 18.04) was the last, the project’s continued existence is unconfirmed. Peppermint OS 10, however, should have support until 2025 because it is based on Ubuntu, Long Term Support.
For some Linux enthusiasts, the antiX Linux distro is built on Debian rather than the system may be the deciding factor. Given its intended audience of both older and more recent PCs, it makes it natural that this lightweight Linux distro supports both 32-bit and 64-bit hardware.
If you need a rescue CD that boots rapidly from a USB stick, antiX can do that, too, with or without persistence. The latest version of antiX, 19.2, “Manolis Glezos,” is offered in Full, Base, Core, and Net flavors. If you need full command over the setup process, try antiX-core or antiX-net and work your way up.
Manjaro Linux Xfce Edition
I could have ended this list with other fast and lightweight Linux distros, but I’ve settled on Manjaro Linux Xfce Edition. You should stop asking why. Besides my personal preference, Manjaro is one of the most popular Linux distros because of its helpful online forum and active user base.
Manjaro Linux’s Xfce version is the distro’s showcase, including an updated, streamlined, and state-of-the-art take on the popular desktop environment. Xfce, built on top of the robust Arch foundation, is fast and minimal. It will provide a great Linux desktop experience, but it is not as lightweight as other variants on our list.
Manjaro also dropped support for 32-bit architecture, so keep that in mind. As a result, it could be a deal breaker for users who choose to stick with 32-bit PCs. The new manjaro32 project is also available for testing.
Zorin OS Lite
For those who are fed up with Windows and only have a potato PC, Zorin OS Lite is the best distro available. Zorin OS is an attractive Linux operating system that can be used as a substitute for Microsoft Windows.
Zorin OS Lite isn’t the lightest distro out there, but with Xfce’s optimizations, it remains somewhat respectable. For a free product, it comes with a surprising variety of high-quality tools.
Because choosing a Linux distro may be so tricky, the GNU/Linux community often receives criticism. We don’t wholly disagree, but we think that people benefit from so many distro methods. Have a problem with a particular distro? Perhaps a better option exists, but you haven’t discovered it yet. Everyone can benefit from using Linux. Because of this, several high-quality Lightweight Linux Distro distros are available for use with older computers.
Bodhi Linux, Lubuntu, Zorin OS Lite, or Ubuntu MATE are all excellent choices for your aging computer because of their low system requirements and user-friendly interfaces. Linux Lite and Ubuntu MATE offer enhanced support and a beautiful desktop environment.
If you’re a seasoned Linux user who enjoys tinkering with the finer points of your setup, Arch Linux + Lightweight DE is the way to go. Make sure your preferred distro supports 32-bit computers if you only have a low-end machine.
Do you have any suggestions for other excellent Linux distros that we should include here? If you have any thoughts, please leave them in the comments.