The Lightweight Champions (GNU/Linux Distros)

A personal list of what I think are the best light and easy on resource Linux distributions.


  • Introduction To Desktop Environments Used in The List

    First off, we should understand that the Desktop Environment (DE) plays a crucial role in determining a Linux distribution's characteristic of being lightweight, however, we should keep in mind that is not the only factor, and that's why I will not list every single distro that uses any of these desktop environments (listed below) because this will end up with countless number of options. So, any distro using XFCE, LXDE or LXQT would probably have very close performance to another distro using the same DE; "very close" doesn't mean identical, though, as for sure there will be differences due to the the base distro, optimizations, customizations and tweaks and more other things resulting in different experience in general. So, in this list I will only include distros that have dedicated goal of being lightweight distro and made some special work to configure it for the best performance.

  • Xfce

    Free Linux BSD Website

    It aims to be fast and lightweight, while still being visually appealing and easy to use and customizable. Very popular within the lightweight systems category.

     

    Xfce icon
  • LXDE

    Free Linux BSD Website

    is a fast-performing and energy-saving desktop environment. Maintained by an international community of developers, it comes with multi-language support, standard keyboard short cuts and additional features like tabbed file browsing.

     

    LXDE icon
  • LXQt

    Free Linux BSD Website

    Historically, LXQt is the product of the merge between LXDE-Qt, an initial Qt flavour of LXDE, and Razor-qt, it is focused on being a classic desktop with a modern look and feel.

     

    LXQt icon
  • The Lightweight Champion Distros

    Here you have it now, the best optimized light, powerful, user-friendly and for everyday-use GNU/Linux distributions:

  • Peppermint OS

    Free Linux Website

    What makes Peppermint so unique is the brilliant design philosophy that emphasizes on making the most out of the different Linux Desktop Environments out there, so it uses a hybrid DE that is mainly XFCE but replaces lots of components with ones from LXDE and copies few others from Cinnamon and Gnome.
    Another great distinctive feature about Peppermint is their focus on making Web-based apps so easy and comprehensive; utilizing a tool they've developed, named Ice SSB that creates an executable-like shortcut for any online web application, pretty much like Chrome OS's approach of implementing their cloud based apps in a native-looking environment for simplifying things and the convenience of users who are mostly dependent on the internet and live in the browser most of their time. Thus, you will find Peppermint mentioned many times as an alternative to Small Google Chrome OS iconGoogle Chrome OS. Here, however, people shouldn't think of Peppermint as merely a direct competent to Chrome OS, as matter of fact, Peppermint provides a plenty of locally pre-installed offline Linux softwares, just like any other daily usable Linux distro. And 32-bit support is still present.

     

    Peppermint OS icon
  • Linux Lite

    Free Linux Website

    Linux Lite primarily targets Windows users. It aims to provide a complete set of applications to assist users with their everyday computing needs, including a full office suite, media players and other essential daily software.
    It is based on Small Ubuntu iconUbuntu LTS and featuring the Small Xfce iconXfce desktop.
    It recently dropped 32-bit support.

     

    Linux Lite icon
  • MX Linux

    Free Linux Website

    From my testing, this is the least buggy, most easy on resources pure Small Debian iconDebian based Linux distribution out there!
    it comes with out-of-the-box drivers support making it ideal for inexperienced users. and with Small Xfce iconXfce Desktop environment it's highly customizable and so lightweight.
    Being based directly on Debian Stable (version 17 and above) gives more stability and support. It still support 32-bit systems too.

     

    MX Linux icon
  • Lubuntu

    Free Linux Website

    Ubuntu's official flavor of the Small LXQt iconLXQt DE (used to be Small LXDE iconLXDE before version 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish which was released on 18 October 2018)

     

    Lubuntu icon
  • Honorable Mentions

  • Puppy Linux

    Free Linux Website

    Puppy is Live OS (can be run from CD/DVD/Flash drive), extraordinarily small, Small Slackware iconSlackware based. Puppy boots into a ramdisk and, unlike live CD distributions that have to keep pulling stuff off the CD, it loads into RAM. This means that all applications start in the blink of an eye and respond to user input instantly.

     

    Puppy Linux icon
  • Porteus

    Free Linux Website

    Porteus is another Small Slackware iconSlackware based Live Distro that offers wide vairety of desktop environments, all of which have ISO files that are no larger than 400 MB!

     

    Porteus icon
  • BunsenLabs

    Free Linux Website

    BunsenLabs Linux is a distribution offering a light-weight and easily customizable Small Openbox iconOpenbox desktop. The current release, Helium, is built on top of Debian (stable). The project is a community continuation of Small CrunchBang Linux iconCrunchBang Linux.

     

    BunsenLabs icon
  • LXLE

    Free Linux Website

    For those who miss on the Small LXDE iconLXDE desktop on Lubuntu (which replaced it with Small LXQt iconLXQt), LXLE is for you!
    LXLE is based on Lubuntu and covers most users' everyday needs by providing a good selection of default applications, and it adds useful modifications and tweaks to improve performance and functions.

     

    LXLE icon
  • Lakka

    Free Mac Windows Linux Cubieboard Raspberry Pi ... Odroid Website

    For those who want to turn their old machines into a little retro gaming consoles, this is the way to go!
    Lakka is based on Small LibreELEC iconLibreELEC and built over Small RetroArch iconRetroArch.
    It's not officially intended to be a lightweight OS, but it's greatly optimized to run on low-end and older hardware. it also supports ARM based systems!

     

    Lakka icon

Linux is an awesome way to revive old machines and enhance low-end computers and make the most out of them by saving on resources-consumption and making the user experience much smoother and overall computing processes much faster.



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