We highlight a list of 10 lightweight Linux Distributions ideal for your older PC in 2023. We give you their features and what makes them perfect for reviving older hardware.
We believe that you should not throw away any hardware, especially PC and its components. Ideally, well-designed software should always run on any hardware. There are many Linux Distributions specifically designed for older hardware and PCs. And you can quickly revive them with the help of these Linux operating systems. In this post, we highlight ten such Linux Distributions which are lightweight and old hardware friendly in 2023.
Table of Contents
10 Lightweight Linux Distributions 2023
1. Linux Lite
The first lightweight Linux Distribution we feature in this list for 2023 is Linux Lite. Linux Lite is a continually developed and improved Linux Distribution based on Ubuntu and Debian. This decade-old Linux Distribution is perfect for your older hardware which needs a friendly and well-designed distro. The team markets this distro as an ideal starting point for Windows users who ends up with not supported hardware with Windows. The primary advantages of this distro are well customized and nice-looking Xfce desktop with an Ubuntu base, the latest Kernel and, of course, a 32-bit ISO image.
Advantages of Linux Lite:
- Customized Xfce desktop
- Native applications
- 32-bit support
- Active development
- Minimum system requirement < 1 GB RAM
2. Puppy Linux
The second distro that we feature in this list is Puppy Linux. Puppy Linux is a little different than traditional distros out there. It is designed to run from RAM without needing to install it in a physical system. If appropriately configured, you can save the sessions, plus it continues to work well even if you remove the bootable medium.
This Linux distro is binary compatible with Ubuntu LTS versions; the latest version is based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. Since Ubuntu dropped the 32-bit support, the newest version dropped the 32-bit version.
Puppy Linux use cases are perfect for older computers, Netbooks, and hardware with less than 1GB of RAM. At the core, it is run by superfast JWM (Jow’s Window Manager), Puppy Package Manager that supports .deb, .rpm and its native PET packages.
Overall, it’s a perfect and well-designed Linux Distribution for older hardware, hands down.
- Based on the Ubuntu LTS Version
- It can run on low-end Netbooks
- Works directly from RAM even after removing the bootable media
- Unique package manager – Puppy Package Manager
- Powered by JWM
3. BunsenLabs Linux
The third lightweight Linux distro in this list is BunsenLabs Linux, a successor of the Crunchbang project. The BunsenLabs Linux is based on the Debian Stable branch, bringing modern applications to your low-end system. This distro provides a 32-bit version image for low-end systems and a standard 64-bit system for your regular hardware. At the core, BunsenLabds is powered by a pre-configured OpenBox window manager with a stunning tint2 panel, pre-configured Conky and jgmenu.
This is a well-designed, superfast, stable and nice-looking distribution for older systems.
- Based on Debian Stable branch
- Openbox window manager with tint2 panel, conky and jgmenu
- It provides a 32-bit installer
- Help and support are available via official forums
Lubuntu is famous for being a lightweight Linux Distribution. It is an official Ubuntu Linux flavour that features the lightweight LxQt desktop environment. Lubuntu gives you modern Ubuntu Linux packages and technology while it features the LxQt for your low-end hardware. Although it might require some extra system resources compared to other distros in this list, it is still a go-to Linux distro for older hardware.
If you need a moderately lighter Linux Distribution which is stable and works out of the box, then choose Lubuntu.
5. Absolute Linux
The fifth lightweight Linux distribution is Absolute Linux, based on Slackware Linux. This distro packages all necessary day-to-day applications in its installer image so that you get a complete distro out of the box. Absolute Linux features the IceWM and ROX Desktop, which gives you ultimate speed while using it on your older hardware. It is systemd-free, which offers an extra advantage over other distributions.
- Based on Slackware
- Packages necessary software
- Powered by IceWM and package manager Slapt-get
6. antiX Linux
Yet another lightweight Linux distribution we want to highlight is antiX Linux. The antiX Linux is based on Debian stable branch and has several attractive features. At its core, it uses IceWM, Fluxbox, and ROX Desktop options, giving you an excellent and fast desktop experience. It is entirely systemd-free and uses sysVinit and runit system. The antiX Linux also gives you a 32-bit installer and has four variants – Full, Core, Base and net catering to different use cases.
- Based on Debian stable
- It provides a 32-bit installer
- Systemd free
- Powered by IceWM and other window manager flavours
The LXLE Linux is a spin of the Lubuntu LTS series with an LXDE desktop instead of an LXQt desktop. The choice of applications, installer and other features makes it a perfect distro for older hardware. It is ideal for reviving your old system with a stable Ubuntu-LTS base and a fast LXDE desktop environment.
However, in my personal opinion, I feel LXQt is a little faster than LXDE. Well, that feedback might be relative and can be different for you. There are not many Linux distributions today, which give you an LXDE flavour. Hence it is one of the unique and lightweight Linux distributions for your daily use.
8. Porteus Linux
The Porteus Linux is a remix of Slackware Linux that features the old KDE 4.0+ desktop environment (before the KDE Plasma series). This superfast Linux distribution is perfect for your antique hardware because it is based on bleeding-edge Slackware and gives you a 32-bit version. This distro can run from Live USB or a CD, or any bootable media and comes with just 300 MB of installer size.
If you love the old KDE (like me!) and Slackware simplicity, this is a perfect distro for you, even your new hardware.
Q4OS is a unique Linux Distribution in this list. It targets the older Windows systems, which have become obsolete today. Many older PCs used to run Windows XP and Windows 7. They no longer work well with Windows and some modern Linux Distributions because the modern and updated OS requires much more computing power and resources.
Q4OS targets those use cases and give you a well-designed Linux Distribution with features such as a 32-bit installer, Windows installer, Trinity Desktop environments, pre-made Windows themes, etc.
10. MX Linux
The final Linux Distribution in this list is the famous MX Linux, which has made its features and uniqueness in recent times. However, I doubted whether I would list MX Linux as lightweight. Because in my opinion, it is a medium-weight Linux Distribution if you consider its KDE Plasma flavour.
However, it has some features which make it a perfect candidate for lightweight Linux distributions. MX Linux is based on the Debian Stable branch and created with antiX components. It features its own MX Linux native applications for your additional workflow. You get KDE Plasma, Xfce and Fluxbox as desktop options.
Summary & Conclusion
If you look closely, most of the lightweight Linux distribution we listed here is based on Debian Linux. It is truly the “Universal Operating System”. Modern Linux Desktop Environments like GNOME 40+, and KDE Plasma with Systemd init systems are no longer compatible with older hardware. Also, as technology progresses, more software complexity is introduced, requiring higher-end systems.
That said, I hope you get some idea about which lightweight Linux distributions to choose for your old laptop or PC from this list. Each of them serves different tastes and needs with one goal: to revive your older systems. So, take your pick.
Some image credit: Respective Linux Distributions
This article, Top Ten Lightweight Linux Distributions, is filed under the Top Ten List.