Light-weight Linux distribution

Appearance move to sidebar hide Lubuntu is described by its developers as light-weight in comparison to Ubuntu

A light-weight Linux distribution is one that uses lower memory and/or has less processor-speed requirements than a more "feature-rich" Linux distribution. The lower demands on hardware ideally result in a more responsive machine, and/or allow devices with fewer system resources (e.g. older or embedded hardware) to be used productively. The lower memory and/or processor-speed requirements are achieved by avoiding software bloat, i.e. by leaving out features that are perceived to have little or no practical use or advantage, or for which there is no or low demand.

The perceived weight of a Linux distribution is strongly influenced by the desktop environment included with that distribution. Accordingly, many Linux distributions offer a choice of editions. For example, Canonical hosts several variants ("flavors") of the Ubuntu distribution that include desktop environments other than the default GNOME or the deprecated Unity. These variants include the Xubuntu and Lubuntu distributions for the comparatively light-weight Xfce and LXDE / LXQt desktop environments.

The demands that a desktop environment places on a system may be seen in a comparison of the minimum system requirements of Ubuntu 10.10 and Lubuntu 10.10 desktop editions, where the only significant difference between the two was their desktop environment. Ubuntu 10.10 included the Unity desktop, which had minimum system requirements of a 2 GHz processor with 2 GB of RAM, while Lubuntu 10.10 included LXDE, which required at least a Pentium II with 128 MB of RAM.

Overview of some distributions

Comparison

Distribution Minimum system requirements Desktop / Window manager Based on Package manager Image size Purpose Latest release year Maintainer Created Founder
Absolute Linux CPU: Intel/AMD 64bit

RAM: 64 MB

1+ GB suggested

iceWM Slackware XPKGTOOL 2264 MB Desktop 2023 Absolute Linux Team 2007 Absolute Linux Team
Alpine Linux RAM: 128MB (256MB to install) None by default BusyBox, musl APK 8 MB (container), 130 MB (disk) Lightweight desktop, security 2023 Alpine Linux development team 2010 LEAF Project members
antiX CPU: Intel/AMD X86

RAM: 256 MB

IceWM, Fluxbox, JWM MEPIS < Debian Synaptic 700 MB Base, 1GB Full, 310 MB Core Desktop, portability (with persistence) 2023 Anticapitalista 2007 Anticapitalista
Bodhi Linux CPU: 32 bit 500 MHz (non-PAE)

RAM: 512 MB

drive: 5 GB

Moksha (a fixed E17) Ubuntu < Debian APT 575 MB (Standard),
1024 MB (AppPack)
Desktop 2023 Bodhi Linux team 2011 Bodhi Linux team
BunsenLabs Linux RAM:

256 MB to run X
1 GB for Firefox
2+ GB recommended

OpenBox Debian Stable Synaptic, APT, dpkg 674 MB (i386, no PAE)

1100 MB (i386, AMD64)

LiveCD, LiveDVD, lightweight desktop 2021 Core maintainers 2015 Core maintainers
CrunchBang Linux CPU:x86/ARM

RAM: 1 GB Drive:2.1 GB.

OpenBox Debian dpkg 1600 MB Lightweight Desktop 2013 Philip Newborough (corenominal) 2010 Philip Newborough (corenominal)
CRUX CPU: x86-64 (AMD Athlon 64, Intel Core, Intel Atom) or newer processors

RAM: 192 MB (2017)

OpenBox - pkgutils 1773 MB BSD / experienced users, lightweight 2022 Core maintainers 2002 Per Lidén
Damn Small Linux CPU: 486dx

RAM: 8 MB

Fluxbox, JWM - APT (optional) 50 MB Desktop 2024 2005 John Andrews, et al.
Elive CPU: 32 bit 500 MHz (non-PAE)

RAM: 512 MB

Enlightenment Debian APT 3 GB Desktop 2024 Samuel F. Baggen 2005 Samuel F. Baggen
Gentoo Linux RAM: 32 MB None by default, but you can install any - Portage 400 MB Desktop, server, source-based, advanced Rolling release 2002 Daniel Robbins
GoboLinux RAM: 128 MB RAM

1000+ MB for full graphic

CPU: x86_64

Awesome - 1900 MB Desktop 2020 GoboLinux team 2003 Hisham Muhammad and André Detsch
Knoppix RAM:

32 MB text

512 MB LXDE

1 GB recommended

CPU: 486

LXDE Debian dpkg 701 MB Live 2020 2000 Klaus Knopper
Lightweight Portable Security iceWM Arch Linux 390 MB Secure live operating system 2021 United States Department of Defense 2011 United States Department of Defense
Linux Lite CPU: Intel/AMD 64bit

RAM: 768 MB (2020)

disk: 8 GB

Xfce Ubuntu APT 955 MB Desktop (Windows users) 2023 Jerry Bezencon 2013 Jerry Bezencon
Lubuntu

No minimum system requirements provided.

LXQt Ubuntu APT 916 MB Lightweight desktop 2022 Lubuntu team 2009 Lubuntu team
LXLE RAM: 1 GB (2022)

CPU: 64-bit (2022)

LXDE Ubuntu LTS APT 1300 MB Older computers, intermediate users 2022 LXLE team 2012 Ronnie
Nanolinux RAM: 64 MB (2017)

CPU: 486

SLWM on Nano-X Tiny Core Linux; MicroCore Linux with BusyBox. 19 MB Lightweight, Runs on RAM, advanced 2015 Georg Potthast - Georg Potthast
OpenWrt CPU: x86 and over 50 router platforms

RAM: 32 MB (2018) 64 MB recommended

None (headless server) - Includes LuCI admin UI - opkg 6 MB SOHO Routers 2023 OpenWrt developers 2004
PCLinuxOS

CPU: 64-bit (from 2016)

RAM: 2 GB (2020)

KDE, MATE, XFCE Mandrake APT-RPM 1000-3800 MB Live 2020 Bill Reynolds 2003 Bill Reynolds
Peppermint Linux OS

CPU: x86

RAM: 1 GB.
4 GB recommended

XFCE Debian, Devuan APT 1332 MB Desktop 2023 Peppermint, LLC 2010 Peppermint, LLC
Porteus

CPU: 32 bit

RAM: 36 MB

(multiple) Slackware USM 260 MB (LxQt) Lightweight, portable (with persistence) 2022 Porteus 2010 Fanthom
Puppy Linux

RAM: 256 MB (2017)

JWM-2.3.2 Ubuntu LTS from Puppy 6 Puppy Package Manager 234 MB (Slacko) Portable (with persistence), lightweight 2023 Puppy Foundation 2003 Barry Kauler
Salix OS

RAM: 512 MB

CPU: Intel Pentium III 1 GHz

Hard drive: 8 GB

MATE, KDE, Xfce, Fluxbox, Openbox Slackware slapt-get 613 MB (Fluxbox), 852 MB (MATE live) Desktop 2022 George Vlahavas 2009 George Vlahavas, Thorsten Mühlfelder and Cyrille Pontvieux
Slax

RAM:256MB

without web browser

KDE till Slax 8
Fluxbox since Slax 9
Slackware till Slax 8
Debian from Slax 9
APT 226 MB Portable 2023 Tomas Matejicek 2002 Tomas Matejicek
SliTaz

RAM:

24 MB loram-cdrom

128 MB loram

256 MB standard

Openbox - TazPkg 50 MB Portable. Live (no persistence by default) 2021 dev team 2008 Christophe Lincoln
Tiny Core Linux

CPU: 486DX

RAM: 46 MB

FLTK/FLWM Tiny Core Linux appbrowser (GUI) tce (CLI) 11 MB (Core), 16 MB (TinyCore), 106 MB (CorePlus) Portable, advanced 2023 Tiny Core team 2009 Robert Shingledecker
Tiny SliTaz

CPU: 486DX

RAM: 4 MB

8 MB recommended

None (VNC viewer or headless server) SliTaz Tiny SliTaz WEB site Down to 800 KB, likely a 1.44 MB floppy Portable. Live (no persistence by default) 2021 dev team 2016 Pascal Bellard
Trisquel Mini

RAM: 256 MB

CPU: 64-bit CPU for latest version

LXDE Ubuntu LTS APT 1200 MB Free software: desktop 2023 Rubén Rodríguez Pérez (quidam) 2005 Rubén Rodríguez Pérez (quidam)
TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library

RAM: 256 MB 2017

None (headless server) - Includes Webmin admin UI Debian (a minified base) dpkg 212 MB (Core) Lightweight headless server 2020 TurnKey Linux team 2008 Alon Swartz, Liraz Siri
VectorLinux Light

RAM:

64 MB Light edition

96 MB Standard

256MB Live

Several / IceWM Slackware slapt-get 618 MB Desktop 2017 - 2001 -
Void Linux

CPU: ARMv6

Pentium 4 (SSE2)

RAM: 96 MB

Hard drive: 350 MB

Xfce, or none - XBPS 250 MB (i686, without desktop environment) Desktop/embedded 2022 (rolling release) Void Linux Team, Void Linux Community 2008 Juan Romero Pardines
Xubuntu CPU: Intel/AMD 64bit

RAM: 1 GB

Hard drive: 8.6 GB

Xfce Ubuntu APT 1660 MB Lightweight desktop 2023 Xubuntu team 2008 Xubuntu team
Zenwalk Xfce Slackware netpkg 974 MB Desktop 2020 development team 2004 Jean-Philippe Guillemin
Distribution Minimum system requirements Desktop / Window manager Based on Package manager Image size Purpose Latest release year Maintainer Created Founder

See also

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