The Lightweight Champions (GNU/Linux Distros)

  • Introduction To Desktop Environments Used in The List

    Desktop Environment (DE for short) plays a crucial role in determining the distribution's characteristic of being lightweight, however, we should keep in mind that it is not the only factor, in fact, listing every distro that features one of these DEs (which are XFCE, LXDE, LXQt) would result in a plethora of options, most of which has similar performance. The performance varies due to other reasons such as the base distro, kernel-level optimizations, and even UI customizations and other possible tweaks. Thus, I will only include the distros that have the goal of being lightweight and made some special effort to configure it as such.

  • 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 shortcuts 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

    Now we will dive into the best performing candidates:

  • 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 DEs out there, so it uses a hybrid DE that is mainly XFCE but replaces lots of its 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 for the convenience of users who are mostly dependent on the internet and live in the browser. Thus, you will find Peppermint mentioned many times as an alternative to Small Google Chrome OS iconGoogle Chrome OS. Here, however, people should not think of Peppermint as merely a direct rival 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 it still offers 32-bit support.


    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 features 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 distro out there!
    it comes with an excellent out-of-the-box drivers support. Also features Small Xfce iconXfce which makes it highly customizable and lightweight.
    Being based directly on Debian Stable (version 17 and above) gives more stability and software support. It offers 32-bit system 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, and Small Slackware iconSlackware based distro. 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 are missing the Small LXDE iconLXDE desktop on Lubuntu (which replaced it with Small LXQt iconLXQt), LXLE got you covered!
    LXLE is based on Lubuntu and provides a good selection of default applications making it a good option as a daily-driver.


    LXLE icon
  • Suggestion: Turn Your PC into A Console Emulator!

    Are you so done with your old PC and want to throw it out of the window? Well, hold on, these Linux-based system can breathe life into your crappy computer and turn it into a little retro gaming console (as long as your processor is x86 or ARM). These distributions don't require much of a horsepower as they are optimized to run on older hardware.

  • Recalbox

    Free Linux Raspberry Pi Odroid Website

    Recalbox is a light embedded system created to run on the raspberryPi ,raspberryPI 2 and on PC x86/x64.


    Recalbox icon
  • Retropie

    Free Linux Raspberry Pi Website

    RetroPie allows you to turn your Raspberry Pi or PC into a retro-gaming machine. It builds upon Raspbian, EmulationStation, RetroArch and many other projects to enable you to play your favourite classic games with the minimum set-up.


    Retropie icon
  • Batocera.linux

    Free Linux Raspberry Pi Odroid Website

    Batocera.linux is an operating system (like Windows 10 and Mac OS) specialized in retrogaming available for your pc and different nano computers like the Raspberry and the Odroids.


    Batocera.linux icon

Linux is an awesome way to revive and enhance low-end machines and make the most out of them with minimal consumption of resources, giving users an opportunity to have a decently performing experience on their old devices.

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