The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Suppose you’re using a laptop or computer that has low system resources. In that case, it’s not possible to be benefitted from the full potential of Linux distros such as Ubuntu because it requires significant resources. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have alternatives to choose from for Linux distros that work with older laptops.

Now there are many lightweight Linux distros that allow you to enjoy an uncomplicated computing experience with your older computer and also provide you with stunning graphical desktops. These lightweight Linux distros are compact, quick, and secure, and they also have many useful features and due to the light desktop environments, they also use less power. So, we have compiled a detailed list of some of the best lightweight Linux distros that you should definitely give a try in 2021.

Excited? So, Let’s Get Started.

Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Linux Lite – best linux distros

It’s not just that Linux Lite was created to be light and responsive on older PCs. It’s also explicitly designed with Linux beginners at heart. This can be seen in the easy, Windows 95-esque Xfce desktop environment, which features a familiar taskbar with the “Menu” button that looks similar to the old Windows “Start” menu.

This lightweight Linux distro is a Debian-based distro built on Ubuntu’s LTS (long-term support) version of Ubuntu, which means you’ll get top-quality software and hardware compatibility straight out right out of the gate. The documentation is easy to follow to help you get started with the basics you’ll confront, including troubleshooting wireless networks as well as graphics speed.

Regarding the system requirements, you’ll require an operating system that runs at 1.5GHz and 1GB of RAM, as well as 20GB of hard storage space to download Linux Lite to disk. However, they’re generally less user-friendly than Linux Lite.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for Linux Lite:

  • 1GHz or faster with 2 or more core (64 bit Processor)
  • 1GB Ram
  • 20GB Free Storage

AntiX – top linux distros

AntiX is among the top options for content on a system that has a limited amount of resources. The complete version of antiX that uses IceWM in conjunction and the Rox File Manager can be described as among the lightest distros and comes with a wide range of applications, lightweight and mainstream apps, and for nearly any task on the desktop. One of the most exciting features of this lightweight Linux distro is its metapackage installer, which helps make the distro available to new users.

AntiX booted into a nice look IceWM window manager, with icons for the desktop. Another exciting feature that the distribution offers is its custom-built antiX control panel that you can utilize to alter almost every aspect of the installation. You can, for instance, modify various aspects of the desktop’s appearance, including themes, menus, and wallpaper, and configure an antiX advertisement blocker image and modify the automount behavior using customized modules available in the Control Panel.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for AntiX:

  • Intel-AMD x86 compatible systems
  • 256MB RAM
  • 4.0GB hard disk size

Puppy Linux – linux distros 2021

Next up on our list of lightweight Linux distros is Puppy Linux that is just around 300MB, making it one of the most compact releases on this list. It utilizes a mix that combines JWM along with ROX Desktop to provide a light desktop experience.
Puppy Linux is described as a collection of several Linux distributions with the same basic principles and a unique range of configurations and apps, and the same behavior and features.

Making the switch to an Ubuntu-based distribution, for instance, would allow assistance for Debian packages, and the Raspbian distribution makes it simple for users to set up this lightweight Linux distro.

Puppy Linux is a complete system that comes with no software, making it the perfect choice for those looking to create your personal simple Linux environment. The GUI isn’t the most advanced; however, it’s speedy and runs nearly.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for Puppy Linux:

  • 600MHz processor Intel-AMD system
  • 256MB RAM
  • 300MB Free Storage

Bodhi Linux – lite linux distros

If you’re searching for a lightweight Linux distro to run on an old laptop, there are high chances that you’ll come across Bodhi Linux. It is a lightweight Linux distro specifically made to run on computers with limited capabilities. Bodhi Linux is a light release that comes with Moksha Desktop. Moksha isn’t equipped with an internal window compositor as of default, but Compiz effects can be added.

In terms of aesthetics, Bodhi Linux looks great and works flawlessly. With the help of Ubuntu repositories, you can get access to a wealth of software for free. With the latest version of Bodhi Linux 5.1 released, it’s available in four different versions: Standard, AppPack, Legacy, and HWE.

Each edition is unique and has its uses. If you’re looking for an operating system that is 64-bit and has kernel updates that allow you to use new hardware support and features, then you must think about the HWE version. If you’re not worried about the kernel, then you need to choose the regular release. Additionally, Bodhi Linux Legacy is 32-bit and can be used to give new life to your fifteen years old computers. It is also possible to use the AppPack edition, a live system-based OS that connects to your PC and runs the standard applications.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for Bodhi Linux:

  • 500MHz processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 5GB storage

Ubuntu MATE – popular linux distros

If it were my job to pick one of the “heavyweight” among this list of lightweight Linux distro that runs on older computers, I’d go with Ubuntu MATE. With the most recent version of Ubuntu MATE, you’ll find many new features and improvements. This includes various color themes, an easy install, the experimental ZFS, and GameMode by Feral Interactive. This is among the best desktop environments and that’s why you will get a more refined look with MATE, which you could even run on limited hardware.

Additionally, Ubuntu MATE also offers an elegant Linux experience that will help make the transition for a Windows user an enjoyable experience. We often criticize the smaller Linux distros that do not use many resources; however, that’s not the case with Ubuntu MATE.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for Ubuntu MATE:

  • Core 2 Duo (64-bit)
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB Storage

Arch Linux + Lightweight Desktop environment

If you are someone who likes to customize and personalize your system, I’d recommend Arch Linux. The desktop interface in your OS can make it light or heavy. Arch is essentially a simple lightweight Linux distro that isn’t loaded with a large number of pre-installed applications.

I would recommend that you try a lightweight window manager such as i3. It’s said that the most efficient DE does not have one in the first place. If you’re looking to change Arch to a speedy and light Linux distribution with an environment for desktops, several options are available, including amazing Xfce and the LXQt.

It is important to note before deciding on Arch Linux. Make sure your system isn’t built on 32-bit technology, as Arch makers have stopped providing 32-bit versions due to the declining popularity of 32-bit platforms. You can opt for the forked archlinux32 version also.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for Arch Linux:

  • Core 2 Duo (64-bit)
  • 530MB RAM
  • 2Gb Storage

BunsenLabs – new linux distros

BunsenLabs continues the community from the CrunchBang Ubuntu project, which shut down in 2013. CrunchBang gained a reputation by using the primary Openbox Window Manager, which has its software repository and exceptionally lightweight system resources.

Of the projects established following the CrunchBang era, BunsenLabs is the only one still being maintained. The lightweight Linux distro follows the CrunchBang trend and uses a Debian base with a simple user interface and Openbox window manager as well as a BunsenLabs-specific software repository.

There are 32-bit and 64-bit versions available that work with each of the x86 and ARM processors. The minimum system requirements are set at 1GB RAM, with the complete installation of the current ISO is approximately 2.1GB. BunsenLabs is faithful to its CrunchBang origins. However, be aware that it might be uncomfortable for Linux novices.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for BunsenLabs:

  • Supports both 32bit and 64bit systems
  • 1GB RAM
  • 20GB Storage

LXLE – linux server distros

Similar to Lubuntu, LXLE uses the basic LXDE desktop application. However, because LTS versions are available for five years, the focus is on its hardware stability and support for the long term. The most recent version was an upgrade of the current Ubuntu LTS. The focus of this lightweight Linux distro is on reviving old devices, and the distro has been intended to be an operating desktop straight out of the box. It’s designed to appeal to current Windows users.

The programmers spend substantial time implementing every necessary modification and tweaks that improve performance, yet they do not skimp on the finer things. The program’s aesthetics is a significant aspect of the game, as shown by the variety of wallpapers available in the app and clones of Windows applications such as Aero Snap or Expose.

The lightweight Linux distro includes full-featured applications across various categories like audio and video, internet graphics, office games, and much more. There are also valuable tools, such as an app for weather that runs on terminals and Penguin Pills, an interface that can be used as a graphic for various antivirus scanners.

As with Lubuntu, LXLE is available as a Live image on 32-bit and 64-bit machines. The minimum hardware requirement is at least 512MB of system memory at the minimum, and 1GB is recommended.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for LXLE:

  • Supports both 32bit and 64bit systems
  • 1GB RAM
  • 512GB Storage

Q4OS – lightweight linux distros

Q4OS is a Debian-based lightweight Linux distro that runs on the slimmed-down Trinity desktop experience. It includes a collection of custom-designed utilities and optimizations, paired with a focus on creating an efficient system. It’s equally appropriate for novices and Linux veteran users. While Q4OS’s default installation does not include the full range of programs, you will get powerful tools to install applications and custom codecs according to your needs. When you use a relatively modern computer, it also supports desktop effects.

Contrary to most popular Linux distributions, Q4OS has an option for downloading Trinity as a separate download, following the standard Plasma desktop. Q4OS also has a Windows installer, meaning that you can install Q4OS onto your Windows PC as you would with any other Windows software. The installer can be used with Windows 10, 8, or 7 versions and supports Secure Boot. Q4OS also comes with native utilities like Desktop Profiler and Software Center and installers for third-party apps with x86/32 bit, ARM architecture, and more support.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for Q4OS:

  • 1GHz CPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 5GB Storage

Xubuntu – small linux distros

Another one of Ubuntu’s flavor options, Xubuntu, is an Ubuntu-based lightweight Linux distro using Xfce as the primary desktop interface. It’s not as light as LXQt, but it requires a lesser amount of system resources than vanilla Ubuntu.

Xfce is also able to ensure that the user experience is clean and is exceptionally user-friendly. Since it’s one of the Ubuntu varieties, it can receive regular updates. Just a few days ago, Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo stable was released. Then, just a few days later, Xubuntu 21.04 stable is accessible for download. If you own an old laptop or computer which is more than ten decades old, Xubuntu may not work well, but when you own a modern computer, Xubuntu is the way to take.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for Xubuntu:

  • Intel or AMD 64-bit processor
  • 512MB Ram
  • 8GB Storage

Porteus – lightweight linux distros

Porteus is a lightweight Linux distro based on Slackware created to be fully portable and operate on removable media, like USB sticks or CDs. USB stick or CD, however, it can also be downloaded to a disk. It’s speedy, as it’s tiny enough to run on the system RAM.

The most distinctive selling point of Porteus is the fact that it is in a compressed form and builds the file system in real-time. In addition to the pre-installed software, the other software available to the operating system is available as modules, making the OS extremely compact and small.

Porteus is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit machines. The distro gives users the option between MATE, Openbox, KDE, LXQt, Xfce, Cinnamon, and LXDE desktop environments after you download an ISO image.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for Porteus:

  • 1GHz CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • 1Gb Stoarge

Zorin OS Lite – most popular linux distros

Zorin OS Lite is an ideal distro for people bored of Windows slowing down their potato PC. Zorin OS is one of the most stunning lightweight Linux distro available and is an excellent replacement for Windows.

Although it’s not one of the most lightweight Linux distro available, it’s an excellent distro due to Xfce, making Zorin OS Lite perform more smoothly. Additionally, it comes with an impressive amount of valuable and pre-installed tools to run a lighter version.

The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021

Minimum hardware requirements for Zorin OS Lite:

  • Intel or AMD 64-bit processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 5GB Storage

Wrapping Up

So, if you’ve never attempted Linux before and fortunately have an old laptop then why not take a look at some of the best lightweight Linux Distros and discover what difference a light Linux distribution could make. If the resources of your system aren’t a problem it’s possible that you’ll have more success with beginner-friendly Linux versions instead.

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The 12 ESSENTIAL Best Lightweight Linux Distros in 2021
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