Tested: What's the best lightweight Linux distro?

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lotuseclat79

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What's the best lightweight Linux distro?.

How we tested

The main idea of this test was to see how well these distros would run in a restrained environment. To this end, they were tested, where possible, on an ancient Compaq laptop with 256MB RAM, Vesa graphics, a 4GB hard drive and a 200MHz Pentium processor. For the sake of sanity, all distros were then also tested in a Qemu virtual environment with the same limitations, but this time using one half of a 3GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

There were no special tests other than to install these distros (which was testing enough) and attempts to do some normal desktop tasks.


Note: This article covers the following lightweight Linux distributions:
{Damn Small Linux, CrunchBang, Lubuntu, Puppy Linux, Slitaz, Tiny Core Linux, Unity Linux, VectorLinux}

The article's authors were looking for "a distro to work painlessly in a cramped hardware environment."

-- Tom
 

TerryNet

Terry
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The last two sentences of that should have been the first two:

If your target is a laptop, you might be in for all sorts of difficulties. Many laptop parts aren't what they seem to be, at least as far as kernel drivers go.
I don't pay much attention to anyone's declaration of "best" since that usually depends on a person's needs and preferences, but I do think the article is an excellent starting place for anybody beginning the quest for a Linux on a small machine.
 
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It is really very subjective as to what you want to use the system for, but as a vague help for reference, I have tried a number of linux distros on a range of low spec systems, and have found the following.

Pentium II 266, 64mb Ram - crunchbang worked pretty well, although took a long time to boot (never worked out why).

on the same machine, Xubuntu didn't work at all, neither did ubuntu, but debian 3 installed perfectly well, and running XFCE was usable for all but web browsing...


On a PIII 800 with 256Mb Ram, Xubuntu ran faultlessly, if a little slow at times. upping the ram to 512 meg and giving firefox a ram base partition for caching improved web browsing to the stage where it was pretty useable, making it my distro of choice for my redunant hardware.

For the sub PIII machines, DSL is an excellent distro, although unless you are slightly familiar with linux already it can be a little daunting.

However, it does go like something off the proverbial shovel, and is worth playing with.

Puppy also seems very good, but I'm yet to properly have a go with it. It would be nice to know if anyone is using puppy day-to-day.

I've used it for system recovery before, but never tried to live with it.
 
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I did have a play with that while ago, but it just frustrated me.

I used slackware a number of years ago (I was still in school at the time, so we're going back nearly 9 years now), and it was a nightmare, and started the dark period where I avoided any linux like the plague.

Although it is a useful system to have around, I have never encountered any situation where a slimmed down bootable debian install can't do exactly the same job with less fuss (although again, it's subjective. I have about 4 years of debian experience, compared to many years out of touch with slackware).

By the same token though, a friend of mine uses a slackware install on his laptop, which has been completely faultless for the past 3 years...

It just doesnt do it for me. Given the option between slackware and a similar system, I'd go with a full fledged UNIX (FreeBSD/DragonFly).

The build system is very similar, as is the toolset, and aside from the differences in the way inodes are constructed, there is very little else to set them apart.
 
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Well, Slackware is definitely not for everyone. Your Slack experiences sound a lot like my Gentoo experiences. That's one of the greatest things going with Linux... CHOICE! :)
 
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Puppy also seems very good, but I'm yet to properly have a go with it. It would be nice to know if anyone is using puppy day-to-day.
I use Puppy on an almost daily basis booting from live cd, i do have a persistent directory saved on one of my laptops that i use for wifi. I have burned many copies and given them to friends and family who are constantly clicking where they shouldnt and getting infected. With Puppy they can browse and cruise and check email fairly safely. The option in Puppy to burn the disk as a multisession disk is great, once you get your email setup, bookmarks, and other configuration setups done, you can save it back to the disk and next time you boot it up it`s ready to rock n roll. It is feature limited, but can be added to with the main limitation being how much ram you have unless you install to hd. It`s great for someone who just wants to surf and email, but has alot of useful tools too, and it`s fast
 
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