Looking for lightweight Linux distro

By TorturedChaos ยท 11 replies
Sep 20, 2010
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  1. I'm trying to find a lite weight Linux distro for one of the computers in our office. Its has an AMD Athlon 2.1ghz with 480MB of RAM, and with XP Pro on it, its so sluggish.
    We don't use it for much - all it has to do is access the web, load pdf & maybe tiff files, and be able to access our networked server, with an easy to use GUI desktop. Not asking much right :p.

    I have used Ubuntu some, but still a Linux noob, so I was hoping someone had some good ideas for a distro.

  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Ubuntu would be ideal. It'll be absolutely fine on that hardware, and faster than XP Pro is currently too. The official minimum specs are here, though you may find your RAM will struggle to run a live CD for installation. I would recommend you install using the Ubuntu alternative CD instead.

    The best thing to do is try to install from a live CD, and if that fails, install from the alternative CD instead. You'll experience some slow down due to the lower RAM, but it should handle simple stuff like office documents, email, web browsing etc without any issues at all.

    I've also got a step by step Ubuntu installation guide in my signature below as well, so should answer anything your unsure about.
  3. TorturedChaos

    TorturedChaos TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 839   +29

    Ok I will give Ubuntu a try on it then.
  4. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    PuppyLinux is incredibly lightweight and will do what you need. It wants to run off a live cd, you'll have to find a tutorial in how to get it installed to the hard drive.
  5. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I did consider that, but wasn't sure if it would be too in-depth to setup, for such light usage.

    It's a better alternative though, if the OP can get it running, as it'll run much faster than Ubuntu will on that hardware. :)
  6. TorturedChaos

    TorturedChaos TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 839   +29

    Ok I will look into PuppyLinux. I'm sure I could find a way to muddle thru the install. But how friendly is the desktop environment for it? I think my co-works could handle Ubuntu, desktop is fairly user friendly.
  7. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    No idea to be honest, I've never used Puppy Linux, I just know its lighter than Ubuntu. I'm sure SNGX can explain it in more detail for you. :)
  8. TorturedChaos

    TorturedChaos TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 839   +29

    Well I played with PuppyLinux off the live cd a bit, but I think the desktop setup might be a bit much for some of the people who will be using it.

    I think I'm going to go with Ubuntu. Should run ok on that computer.
  9. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    The best way of finding out will be to actually do it. :)

    You could also consider xubuntu, which I believe is lighter than Ubuntu, but despite using a different window manager (i think its XFCE) its still got the feel of Ubuntu.

    You could always try that if Ubuntu doesnt work to your satisfaction.
  10. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    I only suggested Puppy because I don't get the feeling with Ubuntu that the system is any more responsive on older hardware than XP is (at least with a default install). Ubuntu gets a lot of love for being able to run on older hardware, but in the end if it isn't faster than XP what are you really gaining other than perhaps 'freedom'. Puppy is less user friendly, but as with any linux distro it is highly customizable. I have Puppy on a P2 350 with 192Mb of RAM and unless you are playing video or browsing the web on moderately fast broadband (because pages come in faster than they will display) you can't tell it is a 10-11 year old computer.
  11. TorturedChaos

    TorturedChaos TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 839   +29

    Yah I hear you there, but I need this computer to be fast on crappy hardware, but still be rather user friendly. Not asking for much at all :p

    But I loaded Ubuntu on it, and opened a couple pdf files of architectural plans and it does load much faster than with the previous XP install. So far it seems to be doing what I want. Maybe I will play with Puppy on another computer and see if I can get it customized to how want it, then try again.
  12. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    I conveniently forgot that you had said it was to be used in an office as opposed to personal use. Ubuntu probably is the best for that situation.

    Good that Ubuntu seems to be running faster than XP.. I don't have a ton of experience with Ubuntu but I have installed it a lot, I just never got a feel that it was much faster than XP. But then again maybe the last time I really had a good basis for comparison was a long time ago (Ubuntu 7 or 8). Remember XP used to be fairly fast or at least usable on stuff like P2s back when it came out, but with SP2 and 3 so much stuff got added you can't run it on P2s anymore. When it came out a P2 400 or so was still nothing to laugh at, and you were 'high class' if you had a P3.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is you probably made the right choice with Ubuntu. But any alternative OS on this site is very poorly represented, and, probably for good reason Ubuntu is often suggested. But with so little representation I offered Puppy Linux as an alternative for 'low spec' systems simply because I have a working PL system on very old hardware and it works great for many things.

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