Linux – The Top 5 Lightweight Distros of 2014

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By David R – 19th February 2014
Linux – The Top 5 Lightweight Distros of 2014

Hi there, and welcome to another edition of Gamerheadlines’ top 5. Today’s topic will be lightweight Linux distributions. So, keep in mind that, while there are several amazing distros for higher-end computers, such as Ubuntu and Mint, these distros are for those of us with, shall we say… computers full of wisdom. A wisdom that can only be attained following years (and years) of experience and, unfortunately, age.

Or, to be blunt – these distros are for that Dell you bought in 2001 that hasn’t been able to come on for more than 60 seconds at a time since 2004, whenever you got that Trojan Worm hell-bent on restarting your pc every chance it got. Don’t act like you don’t know who I’m talking to. I’m looking at you, Johnny.

So, with that out of the way, let’s move on. Anyone who uses Linux knows that there are thousands upon thousands of distros available for download at a moment’s notice. Some great, some not so great, all worth looking at. However, with this many distros available for review, don’t be too surprised if your favorite distro didn’t make the cut, as we’ll be focusing solely on those that stand above the rest. The best of the very best, the few, the proud, the top 5 lightweight Linux distributions of 2014. So let’s get started!

5. Puppy Linux

If you came to this list with the intent on finding the fastest distro available, look no further. Puppy Linux, while not the sleekest around, is insanely fast. Using only 100 megs of memory on top of an installation that puts Puppy onto your actual RAM, your wait time is literally non-existent. Seriously, the moment you type or click anything on the screen, boom – it’s there, no hesitation.

However, while Puppy might be the most lightweight distro on this list, it certainly isn’t the best. Due to its size and kernel, Puppy suffers from lack of compatibility with major Linux softwares. This is mitigated by the several clones the OS contains, but these clones, while impressive, are limited in scope and ability.

Also weakening the speedy distro is an interface that leaves little to be desired. Granted, this is part of what makes Puppy so fast. But I like my operating systems to be pretty, and I’m not alone in this respect. So, while Puppy may be insanely fast, and perfect for that 1995 computer collecting dust, that’s about all it is. Earning it the #5 spot on this list.

4. Xubuntu

Many of you are familiar with Ubuntu, an operating system that some consider to be the best in the world at the moment, or at least the most marketable. Boasting an impressive array of features and compatible software, Ubuntu is perfect for that new computer you bought last year. However, for those of you unable to handle the heavy RAM usage found in Canonical’s distro, there’s Xubuntu. A lighter-weight version of Ubuntu made by the same company.

Utilizing the XFCE desktop, Xubuntu retains the compatibility and stability found in its heavier father while providing users with a much faster experience. It’s also not too hard on the eyes.¬†With an overhead taskbar very similar to Gnome alongside a dock that Mac fans everywhere will appreciate, Xubuntu proves that a distro doesn’t have to be ugly just because it’s fast (taking notes, Puppy?). So, for those of you out there with an older computer that you’d love to breathe new life into, try Xubuntu, it just might be what you’re looking for.

3. Linux Lite

If you’re both new to Linux and using old hardware, Linux Lite is for you. Containing a taskbar familiar to Windows XP users everywhere, Linux Lite takes speed and combines it with simplicity in perfect fashion. An example of this is their renaming of all major softwares. Rather than having their original, technical names, such as gedit and Rhythm Box, Lite follows a more straight-forward approach for those of you who haven’t used Linux previously; choosing-instead to name them Text Editor and Music Player, so you’re left with little guess-work in choosing the program that best suits your current needs.