In this guide, let’s discuss Lightweight Linux Distros available for PCs with older hardware configuration. A lot of tech enthusiasts happen to own a computer system that is almost a decade old. If we look at the hardware evolution in the tech world, we have come a long way. The cost of an Intel Core i5 chip-based computer that used to cost around $600 7 years ago, is now costing over $1000. That itself says, how computer hardware has evolved rapidly. The software has also evolved accordingly.
The question that comes to the mind is, what if someone owns any old hardware assemble of PC.? Most likely it won’t run the latest software. Then is there a way to use these machines or simply discard them for being obsolete.? Various lightweight Linux Distros can be the answer to all these questions.
I have listed some Linux Distros that can still make an older system run fine enough. I have briefly described the Distros and also mentioned their system requirements. Even though the hardware setup of your PC may be a tad older, these Linux OS can work efficiently with the hardware. When I say older hardware, you can think of the decade-old Pentium chipset based PCs or even older than that. The requirement of memory is also minimal. Some of the distros also have an advanced variant that you can use on more modern systems that are less than a decade in age.
Table of Contents
Best Lightweight Linux Distros of 2020
You can find the Linux OS I have mentioned in this guide on their official websites. Make sure to download them from the official site only. Otherwise, if you download them from unknown websites, then you may end up downloading malware as well. So, stick to official sources of the lightweight Linux distros only.
Damn Small Linux
Yes, you heard that right. This is the name of the operating system based on Debian OS. It offers fewer apps on board that pretty much solve your daily requirements with your PC. DSL supports Firefox and Netrik browser. For word processing it uses Ted. For messaging on the internet, it uses an application called Naim based on AOL. The image processing is handled by Xpaint.
Currently, you will find only DSL v4.410. This Distro has not received any update in years. nevertheless, for minimal running and lightweight Linux experience Damn Small Linux will do just fine.
|CPU Required||i486DX Intel|
|Minimum Memory||16 MB|
It is the lightweight avatar of Ubuntu based on the LXQt environment and uses Linux kernel 5.00. v19.10 is the most stable version of you will find. You only get the essential apps and services with this OS. The apps you get with the original Ubuntu accompanies this lightweight distro. However, the resource consumption will be fairly minimal.
A user can also download additional applications using the built-in software center. Along with the older systems, you can also use Lubuntu on modern-day machines. The user experience will be smooth.
|CPU Required||Pentium 4, Pentium M, AMD K8|
|Minimum Memory||1 GB|
Elive Lightweight Linux Distro
Again it is another Linux distro with minimal system requirements. It is also based on the Debian environment and is around 14 years old. The current version available is 3.0. Thus, it makes the OS suitable for running efficiently on older machines. A direct download of Elive will require you to pay a $5 amount. However, if you are a freebie lover, then all you need to do is enter your email ID and within a few hours, you will receive a download link.
|CPU Required||500 MHz CPU or newer|
|Minimum Memory||192 MB|
If you have a taste for aesthetics then you will surely strike the right chords with Ubuntu MATE. There are a dozen customization options that you can use to make your system look cool. Though it is a notable Linux distro, it won’t run on systems that are too old. One major reason is Ubuntu MATE requires up to 8 GB of hard disk space. It supports 32 and 64-bit architecture
List of Pre-installed Apps Ubuntu MATE offers
- Network Manager
- Orca Screen Reader
- Disk Usage Analyzer
- System Monitor
- Power Statistics
You can additionally download more software using the Software boutique.
|CPU Required||Pentium M1 GHz CPU or newer|
|Minimum Memory||1 GB RAM|
Bodhi Lightweight Linux Distro
This open-source lightweight Linux distro was released a decade ago. It supports theme customization based on Moksha supported themes. Its system requirements are very minimal. Being an old operating system, it can easily run with older systems. Bodhi Linux is still getting software upgrades. Its developers also provide technical assistance through a dedicated live chat service.
Variants of Bodhi Linux
- Standard Edition that supports 64-bit architecture
- Hardware Enablement Release [good for modern hardware]
- Legacy Edition [suitable for really ancient machines that supports 32-bit architecture]
|CPU Required||500 MHz CPU or newer|
|Minimum Memory||256 MB RAM|
It is a portable and modular OS based on Slackware. You can run it from any bootable media. It consumes less storage space which is a good thing for running on older systems. Porteus supports both 32-bit and 64-bit architecture. This means the latest systems can also try Porteus out without any hiccups. This distro is popular for its faster bootup speed and its ability to run directly from the system’s memory.
You don’t need an internet connection to install its application packages. They are compiled beforehand. You can simply activate them or deactivate if you do not require an app.
Variants of Porteus
- Porteus Kiosk 5.0 [it requires 1 GB of RAM and is more secure]
|CPU Required||32-bit/64-bit CPU|
|Minimum Memory||36 MB RAM|
Here is another lightweight Linux Distro that should finely run with the hardware setup of your PC. The software gets regular updates every year from its original developers. The current stable version is 20200223. Absolute Linux comes with all the basic apps you will need for your system making it a worthy and lightweight daily driver. This lightweight Linux distro is based on the Slackware distro and it runs on the iceWM desktop environment.
This OS specifically supports only systems with 64-bit architecture. If you install the latest OS then it will consume close to 2 GB of the hard disk. It also has a live version that you can install using CD-drive. Older PCs used to have CD-drives.
|CPU Required||Intel 486 CPU|
|Minimum Memory||64 MB RAM|
This is another lightweight distro of Linux for older PCs. It comes in two variants, Standard and Light. As the name suggests, the light version is better for running on older hardware devices. The standard version requires more resources to run. But it can also run on older systems. Just make sure the hardware is not too old if you prefer the Standard version of VectorLinux.
|CPU Required||Pentium166(light) | Pentium 200 CPU (standard)|
|Minimum Memory||96 MB(standard) | 64 MB RAM(light)|
So, this was a detailed glance at the best lightweight Linux distros that are still available in 2020 that you can use on any old PC. All these Linux distros are available for free, so choose the right OS according to the old hardware that you have. I hope this guide was informative.
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