As Microsoft prepares to end support for Windows XP, many individuals with older computers are left with nowhere to go. The lower specification and power of these older machines cannot handle the requirements put across by Windows 10, and cannot stay on Windows XP as it will no longer receive support.
This has led to a rise in the trend of picking lightweight Linux distributions to run on those computers. While these distros can offer much of the same functionality of Windows XP, they are much lighter and run much faster than it, even on older computers. Here are some of the lightest Linux distributions currently.
Puppy Linux has been an enduring name in the lightweight Linux distro space for a while now, having been created in 2003. It offers an out-of-the-box usability experience for users, with all the required tools for computing at the ready. Along with this, the distro also claims to be ‘grandpa-friendly certified’, meaning that it is extremely easy to use.
It also requires an extremely low amount of resources, only around 256MB of RAM and a 333MHz processor. It also has support for older 32-bit systems, and can be live-booted using CD/DVD or USB. The OS even boots itself completely onto the RAM when the computer switches on, keeping it light and snappy.
The distro also has an enduring community around it, along with a multitude of customizability options and sub-distributions to choose from.
As the name suggests, this is a distro of Ubuntu that functions on a stripped-down version of the official Ubuntu releases. The OS itself is built with Ubuntu as a base, which means that it is compatible with all the applications and repos that are available to Ubuntu users.
It is also extremely fast, lightweight, and compatible, with the latest version even featuring a revamped desktop environment known as LXQT. It is currently on the 18.10 version of Ubuntu and is installable on computers, laptops, Raspberry Pi and many other small form factor PCs due to its low size.
All of the applications that it comes bundled with are also extremely light, as they were built from the ground up with a focus on managing space and efficiency. It comes with Mozilla Firefox, an email client, a word processor, an MP3 player, and access to millions of other applications on the Ubuntu store.
The requirements are also basic, with the listed ones being a 64-bit processor and 256MB of RAM. This distro will run on almost any 64-bit processor due its low overhead and requirements.
Linux Lite is also one of the oldest Linux distros out there, and comes with multiple features for those transitioning from Windows to Linux. This will be the easiest OS to transition to, as it was created with this very purpose. Due to this, it comes with apps such as Skype, Steam, Kodi and an Office suite for word processing and similar processes.
The distro is usable out of the box with a familiar user interface, with the user not being required to install any software upon booting up for the first time. This, along with a multitude of other features, has earned it the praise of being the best distro for use by beginners. Added to all of this, the distribution is extremely lightweight and uses a low amount of resources, making it ideal for a switch from Windows to Linux. The requirements also reflect this, with a 700 MHz processor and 512MB of RAM being all that is required for this flavour.
The LXLE Desktop distro bills itself as a ‘full-featured OS for an aging PC’, with most of its functionality built around this idea. It is extremely light on resources while maintaining a large amount of customizability and usability features. The LXLE desktop will be similar to anyone who has used a WIndows PC before, and features a collection of useful apps that are important to a normal user.
The OS has both 32 and 64 bit options, effectively covering a wide gamut of PCs. This also includes an ever-rising amount of outdated computers, which LXLE aims to bring life back to. It is also based on Lubuntu, and follows the LTS schedule, with 5 years of support from the date of release of an OS. Moreover, it aims to be usable upon first boot. The OS is created as a ‘drop in and go’ replacement for XP, Vista and 7. It requires 512 MB of RAM and a Pentium 3 CPU or higher.
This OS stands out from the rest on this list, as it is one of the more modern takes on a low-performance overhead system. It is a hybrid between a cloud-based OS and a local one, with a heavy focus on web applications. It features an application known as ICE which integrates web applications into system menus and runs them in site-specific browsers to emulate a progressive web app experience.
It comes with a Cinnamon desktop environment and Nemo file manager, allowing for the functionality of various customizability features. It is also built on the LTS codebase of Ubuntu, ensuring support for 5 years after the release of a new version. This is a perfect fir for users who work on the web for a majority of their workflow. The minimum requirements for Peppermint OS are 512MB of RAM and Intel x86 architecture CPU.
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