Fast Lightweight Linux Distributions

After adding the information about lightweight Linux apps, I figured I should write about some of the lightweight Linux distros. There are many distributions that can be installed on on your slower computers to make them run faster. You can even install them on your fast computers to make them even faster! Remember that almost all Linux distributions can be made lightweight by installing lightweight Linux programs instead of running bloated Linux programs.

Some lightweight Linux distributions are not full blown Linux distributions and only have a set number of Linux programs that can be installed easily without having to install the software manually. There are also some Linux distributions that are full blown Linux distributions yet still are lightweight as they run lightweight Linux software, you can still install any of the non-lightweight Linux programs as well. I will have some of each listed below and you can make the choice as which one you would like to try out on your PC.

If you do not want to install these lightweight Linux distributions to your hard drive right away you can always install them onto a USB flash drive and run them from the USB thumb drive to try the lightweight Linux distribution out before you install it to your hard drive. Remember that running them from a USB thumb drive will be slightly slower than installing the lightweight Linux distro to your hard drive. If you use a USB hard drive or a eSATA hard drive instead of a USB stick you will get a better feel of the speed when installed onto your internal hard drive.

The boot times below were tested on a T7500 2.2GHz with 4GB of RAM from USB flash drive created with unetbootin. I know this isn’t the best machine to give you boot times from since the laptop has a decent CPU and RAM, but all my other slower machines do not boot from USB and they don’t have a CD-ROM drive. They are running Linux, but had to take hard drive out, toss it in another machine, install, then put the drive back in the laptop. So I can’t test boot times with them.

Damn Small Linux
Damn Small Linux is a very small lightweight Linux distribution that can run from a USB flash drive, business card cd, regular cd, hard drive, and SD card if your PC supports booting from SD! It is only 50MB! So you can store it on just about any media. Damn Small Linux is light enough that it can be powered by a 486DX with only 16MB of RAM! You can also run DSL fully in RAM with only 128MB of RAM! DSL comes with easy to use lightweight setup programs to setup internet, printers, etc.
  • Boot Time:
  • Window Manager: JWM, FluxBox
  • Web Browser: Nettrik, Dillo, FireFox
  • File Manager: emelFM
  • Email: Sylpheed
Slitaz Linux
Slitaz is another very small lightweight Linux distribution! This lightweight Linux distro can be a fully functional desktop or server with only a tiny size of just 30MB! Slitaz is not based on any other distro as it was built from the ground up. If installed to a hard drive it will utilize 80MB.
  • Boot Time:
  • Window Manager: LXDE, OpenBox, JWM
  • Web Browser: Midori
  • File Manager: PCman
  • Email: Claws-Mail
Xubuntu Linux
Xubuntu is a lightweight Linux distribution that is based off of Ubuntu of course. This lightweight distro has access to the full access to the Canonical’s repositories. Can run on 256MB of RAM although 512MB is recommended. ISO image is 664MB and requires 4.4GB to install on hard drive.
  • Boot Time:
  • Window Manager: XFCE
  • Web Browser: Firefox
  • File Manager: Thunar
  • Email: Thunderbird
Macpup Linux
Macpup is a lightweight Linux distribution with a 164MB ISO image. Macpup is based on Puppy Linux. I find the menu a bit busy, unorganized, and a little hard to use. Not sure if it’s the colors of the menu, but I find it hard to find what I’m looking for. Some think the name Macpup is a Puppy Linux designed to run on Mac computers, not true, this is for PC.
  • Boot Time:
  • Window Manager: Enlightenment
  • Web Browser: Firefox
  • File Manager: Rox-Filer
  • Email: Sylpheed

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