Linux Tactic

Maximizing Your Old Computer: The Top Lightweight Linux Distros

Introduction to Lightweight Linux Distros

When it comes to operating systems, Linux is one of the most popular choices, especially amongst those who prioritize security, customization, and open-source software. Linux has a reputation for being lightweight and fast, making it ideal for old computers and low-end hardware.

However, some Linux distros are even lighter than others, known as Lightweight Linux distros.

In this article, we will explore lightweight Linux distros, the compatibility issues they resolve, and the importance of having these systems in our computing world.

We will also be looking at the top lightweight Linux distros for 2019, their features, and how they cater to specific hardware requirements.

Compatibility Issues with Old Computers

As time goes by, computer hardware improves, and so do the requirements for the operating systems that run on them. More modern applications and software require more resources, making it more challenging to operate on an old or low-end computer.

Operating systems consume a lot of resources, and running heavyweight operating systems on old machines can be a real headache. Heavyweight operating systems like Windows 10 or even some Linux distros require plenty of resources, including RAM, processing power, and storage space.

Older computers may have about 2GB of RAM, a slower processing speed, and limited storage space, making it impossible to run heavyweight operating systems. Lightweight Linux distros come to the rescue of users with low-end computers, offering them a chance to experience a reliable and functional operating system that uses minimal resources.

Definition of Lightweight Distros

Lightweight Linux distros are operating systems designed for users who require minimal desktop environments or even none at all, needing only enough resources to run a standard operating system. There is no standard definition of what constitutes a lightweight operating system, but there are some general features that define them.

For instance, a lightweight Linux distro will typically use a low RAM capacity, simple desktop environments, and fewer pre-installed applications.

Importance of Lightweight Distros

Lightweight operating systems cater to an essential role in the computing industry due to the need to use old or low-end computers, especially in offices, schools, and even homes. They are also vital in setting up personal servers, as they require less processing power and storage space to run reliably.

Moreover, lightweight distros are known for their security and facility of customization. Lightweight distros offer more control over the system settings, reducing the risk of hacking or intrusion.

Additionally, lightweight operating systems have active open-source communities, meaning timely software updates, security patches, and add-ons are readily available.

Top Lightweight Linux Distros for 2019

1) Arch Linux and Antergos

Arch Linux is known for its focus on simplicity, openness, and rolling release schedule. It has a minimal, text-based installer that puts the user in charge of what they want in the system.

Due to its minimalistic approach, Arch Linux is capable of running on both old and modern computer hardware. For instance, Arch Linux can:

– Run on 266 MB RAM with a Pentium III processor

– Run on 512 MB RAM with a Pentium 4 processor

– Run on 2 GB RAM with a newer multi-core processor

Antergos is a modified version of Arch Linux, offering users more customization options and a more user-friendly installation process.

Antergos can run on as little as required resources, allowing it to run on older machines.

2) Lubuntu

Lubuntu is a lightweight Linux distro with the LXDE desktop environment and Ubuntu’s repositories. The LXDE desktop environment is known for its speed and simplicity, making it ideal for older or low-end computers.

The distro offers users a lightweight OS with a full user interface and the added flexibility of customizing the system to their preference. Lubuntu can run on as little as 512 MB of RAM and an x86 processor.

3) Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux is a user-friendly Linux distro known for its lightweight and efficient design. The default desktop environment comes with the JWM window manager and a user-friendly interface.

Puppy Linux comes with useful pre-installed applications such as Abiword, a word processor, and a simple Media Player. Additionally, package management is available through an easy-to-use graphical interface.

Puppy Linux can run on as little as 256 MB of RAM and a 1GHz processor.

4) Linux Lite

Linux Lite is a lightweight distro built upon Ubuntu’s LTS (Long-Term Support) releases, meaning it is reliable and has regular updates for five years. It is designed to run efficiently on older machines and multi-booting, helping users to optimize their systems’ performance.

Linux Lite uses the zRAM dynamic compression system, helping it to allocate RAM more effectively, and comes with a lightweight desktop environment. It can run on as little as 512 MB RAM and a 1.5 GHz processor.

5) Linux Mint

Linux Mint is a stable and user-friendly distro based on Ubuntu, known for its user-focused design and simplicity. It is available in multiple desktop environment flavors, all of which can run efficiently on older computers.

Linux Mint comes with several pre-installed applications, including LibreOffice, multimedia codecs for proprietary media formats, and Timeshift, a backup and restore tool built into the system. Linux Mint can run on as little as 1GB of RAM and a Pentium 4 processor.


In conclusion, lightweight Linux distros offer users a way to maximize their use of old or low-end computers without compromising functionality or security. They require minimal resources, yet still provide users with a functional, reliable, and secure operating system.

In this article, we have highlighted the importance of lightweight Linux distros, compatibility issues, and the top Linux distros available in the market along with their features and system requirements.

3) Choosing a Lightweight Linux Distro

Choosing a lightweight Linux distro can be a daunting task due to the numerous distributions available in the market. One may ask: Which one is the best?

Which one will suit my needs? How do I pick one?

There are several factors to consider before making a decision.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Distro

1. Learning Curve: One of the critical factors to consider before choosing a Linux distro is the learning curve.

Most lightweight Linux distros are known for their simplicity and user-friendly interface. However, some distros, such as Arch Linux, may require familiarity with the command line interface, while others may come with graphical user interfaces that may be more straightforward to use.

2. Minimum System Requirements: Before installing a lightweight Linux distro, ensure that your computer meets the minimum system requirements.

Different Linux distributions have various hardware requirements concerning processor types, storage space, and RAM. Familiarize yourself with the distro’s minimum hardware requirements before installation.

3. Desktop Environment: The choice of a desktop environment is essential when selecting a suitable Linux distro.

Different desktop environments have varying features, functions, and themes. Most lightweight Linux distros come with simple desktop environments, such as LXDE or XFCE, which are known for their speed and less resource utilization.

4. Community Support: Community support is one of the crucial factors to consider when selecting a distro.

Choose a distribution with a vibrant and active community that can offer solutions when you encounter issues. A well-established community ensures frequent updates concerning security patches, bug fixes, and new applications.

Checking Hardware Compatibility

Hardware compatibility is a critical part of choosing the right Linux distro. Before selecting a lightweight Linux distro, it’s important to check its compatibility with your computer hardware.

Incompatibility between your computer hardware and the chosen Linux distribution can lead to significant performance issues. Checking compatibility leads to a better user experience, smoothening out installation problems, boosting performance, and saving time.

It is essential to verify that the graphic drivers on the computer are compatible with the given lightweight distribution. The drivers manage the graphics hardware of the machine and play a significant role in determining the display’s resolution, the FPS (Frames per Second) rate, and general performance.

Additionally, when selecting a lightweight Linux distro, ensure that the desired applications are compatible and available for the distro.

Importance of Matching Job Requirements with Distro Capabilities

Different lightweight Linux distros have varying capabilities, making some better suited for certain jobs than others. For instance, if you’re looking for a Linux distro to use in a corporate environment, you may want a distro that offers security stability, robustness, and comes with options to install important administrative tools.

Similarly, if you’re looking for a Linux distro to use for gaming or multimedia functions, you may want to look for a distro that offers support for graphic drivers, codecs, and has a suitable desktop environment. Lightweight Linux distros may not be the best suited for gaming, as gaming requires more system resources and specialized tools.

While some Linux distros are equipped with gaming-related applications, it is essential to verify their compatibility with your hardware before installation.


Lightweight Linux distros offer great versatility to users, especially those with old or low-end computers, by providing a lightweight and efficient operating system that requires minimal resources. However, choosing the right lightweight Linux distro requires careful consideration of various factors.

Learning curves, minimum system requirements, desktop environments, and community support should all be considered when selecting the most suitable distribution for your computer hardware. Additionally, verifying hardware compatibility and matching job requirements with distro capabilities is vital in optimizing the user experience.

In the end, it is good practice to test the chosen distro before installation, which can lead to a better understanding of what the Linux operating system offers in terms of functionality and usability. In conclusion, the importance of lightweight Linux distros cannot be overstated, as they offer users a chance to experience a reliable and functional operating system that uses minimal resources.

Some of the top lightweight Linux distros for 2019 include Arch Linux, Lubuntu, Linux Lite, Linux Mint, and Puppy Linux. Before choosing a distro, several factors such as learning curve, minimum system requirements, desktop environment, and community support need to be considered, and hardware compatibility and job requirements should be matched with distro capabilities.

Ultimately, Linux users will have to test the chosen distribution before installation, ensuring a better understanding of the functionality and usability that the Linux operating system offers.

Popular Posts