10 Best Lightweight Linux Distributions For Older Computers - LinuxConfig.org

One of Linux's biggest selling points has always been is ability to trim down and use as few resources as possible. Linux can bring old computers back from the dead and make them fully functional again with less resource intensive systems.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://linuxconfig.org/10-best-lightweight-linux-distributions-for-older-computers


Great article, but I’d add Slackware. I realise that Porteus technically fills the Slackware slot, but a stock Slackware install is marvelously lightweight: the space it takes on your drive is largely configurable and the RAM requirements are technically 64mb (in practice, I don’t run it with less than 512mb), it can use very old CPUs, it has lightweight window managers available, and boots to a text console by default.


I’d add Bunsenlabs Linux.
It’s very lightweight, the choice of Openbox as window manager is quite original, and even a non-PAE version is available for download.
Quoting from the homepage:

BunsenLabs Linux is a distribution offering a light-weight and easily customizable Openbox desktop. The project is a community continuation of CrunchBang Linux. The current release is Helium, derived from Debian 9 (Stretch).


Thank you for including Puppy Linux among your list, and especially for recognizing that it is best described as a collection of operating systems. You are forgiven for not getting everything else exactly right. Keeping track of what’s happening to that collection is a full time job. Each Puppy, itself, is designed to use and share many low-resource-demanding components yet be binary compatible with one version of a ‘major distribution’ such as Slackware, Ubuntu or debian. Such binary compatibility enables a Puppy to access the repository of and use the applications developed for that major distribution’s version. For example, Xenialpup can use the Openshot Video Editor developed for Ubuntu Xenial Xerus. Particularly important are every Puppies’ ability to install current applications relating to security. The modular design of any Puppy developed in the last five years enables the substituting newer kernels, patched against meltdown and spectre viruses, for the older kernels used when they were first published. Every Puppy published in the last five years can use the most recent versions of firefox quantum, Google-Chrome and several other web-browsers.

Puppy Linux is a fan-based and driven collection. Anyone is welcome to remaster an existing Puppy, build a Puppy from scratch using Puppy’s build tools, develop or modify any application, seek assistance in such endeavors and publish their creation. Which is why keeping track of everything happening is difficult. Just to mention a couple of the most recent projects: both 32-and-64 bit Puppies binary compatible with Ubuntu Bionic Beaver, a 32-bit Puppy binary compatible with Ubuntu Cosmic Cuttlefish, and TazPuppy –combining Puppy’s ability to preserve customizations and working applications with Slitaz’s ‘rolling release’ system and ‘low-footprint’ applications.

Puppy Linux Discussion Forum is also the home of the ‘DebianDogs’, pure debian operating systems constructed from “DebianLive”. All Puppies and ‘Dogs’ are designed to run from any media as Co-existent (Frugal) operating systems. That is, they do not require their own Partition, and can be run from a folder on a partition also used by Windows or another Linux operating system.

Because of such diversity (and because many reviews are both undated and out-of-date) it is strongly recommended anyone considering Puppy Linux first scan discussions on Puppy Linux Discussion Forum or, better still, join and ask for advice as to what may work best with their computer and objectives.


I also use Puppy, but for a simpler reason: it just works, and faster than anything else I’ve ever tried.

I’ve installed it on heaps of old computers and given them to people who know nothing about Linux; they just want to get online. I also use it myself, and although I enjoy fiddling with it, you don’t have to!

Old hardware can vary greatly, especially if you can’t add any memory to them. If most distributions don’t work, the easiest choice is between using an outdated version (risky, with all the security issues around nowadays) or giving up. With Puppy, you can simply try a different edition (plenty of advice in the forums). It’s never failed me yet.


Hi there. I’m a casual puppy user as well. Nothing much to say but the description saying “the ubuntu version is outdated” might make a negative impression. I mean, this distro is very active. If you need newer software versions, you can always do it in a lot of different ways. If you get stuck into something. There would always be anyone to answer and help.


You’re quite right to include Puppy Linux in this list. The community as a whole might be quite surprised to find out just how many Linuxians do in fact make use of it.

It’s far more versatile than many people think; we have members who often run this, from a USB stick, on machines that have dead or disabled hard drives…even, in some cases, with no drive at all.

I started my personal Linux journey, some 5 years ago, with Ubuntu ‘Trusty’. Great distro…until Canonical, in their wisdom, decided to arbitrarily drop support for my elderly ATI graphics. Freeze-ups, several times a day, became a regular occurrence. An acquaintance on the Ubuntu Forums suggested I try ‘Puppy’. So I did…and was so impressed with it that I eventually installed it, as a ‘frugal’ install, on my hard drive.

The graphics problem disappeared as though a switch had been thrown. And I haven’t looked back since.

Too many people in our community view Puppy as little more than an interesting ‘curiosity’…or as a ‘toy’ distro. Something to play with, but never to be used for serious work of any kind.

I’ve run it exclusively for the last 4 ½ years, and have yet to come across anything that I can’t get to work with it. I regularly perform screen-casting & graphics/video-editing on an elderly Compaq desktop with only 3 GB of RAM, handled with aplomb. The Murga-Linux Puppy Forums are an amazingly friendly place; full of highly-knowledgeable & extremely talented individuals.

AppImages work especially well with Puppy…kernel and glibc versions notwithstanding.

I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to revive an old piece of hardware, or who is simply fed-up with Redmond’s product. (It uses far fewer resources, so leaves much more for you to use, doing what you want.)