50+ Best Lightweight Linux Distros for 2020

Bonus Lightweight Linux Distros List


This is our bonus list. If you stumbled upon this without checking our main list, go check it out now and come back here later.

We’ll keep it brief and straight to the point.

DistroMinimum RAM (MB)Minimum CPUMinimum Disk Space (MB)GUIRelease cycleNotes
BasicLinux3Intel 386 or compatible2.8XStandardCan run on a floppy drive! Although, it hasn't been updated in a long time.
Damn Small Linux16Intel i486 or compatible50FluxBox, JWMStandardHasn't been updated in a long time.
VectorLinux - Light Edition256PAE capable CPU5000FluxBox, JWMStandardOlder releases are more lightweight.
LinuxBBQ256An Intel Celeron CPU300076 WMs to choose from!Standard"Bake your own Linux distro". For advanced users only.
Trusted End Node Security (TENS)1000 (it runs in RAM, including filesystem)Any x86 processorRuns in RAM. Any live CD/USB will do.iceWMStandardIssued and maintained by the United States Department of Defense
MX Linux512A modern i486 Intel or AMD processor 5000XfceCyclical RollingVenture between antiX and MEPIS
Nanolinux64Intel i486 or compatible14SLWMStandardIt runs in RAM, so after booting, you can remove the live CD/USB and still use the distro.
Salix OS90 (Fluxbox)Intel i486 or compatible700MATE, KDE, Xfce, Fluxbox, OpenboxStandardBased on Slackware. Great for desktop use. Comes with Xfce out of the box, but other WMs are available in the repositories, including Fluxbox.
ConnochaetOS128An i686 processor, which is a Pentium Pro or above3000IceWMStandardBased on Slackware and Salix OS. Uses only free software.
TurnKey GNU/Linux256Any CPU that supports NXMixed, depending on what appliance you useServer (web) GUI.StandardUsed for servers and web hosting. Can be installed on a desktop PC too.
Zenwalk128A Pentium II class processor2000XfceHybridBased on Slackware. Lightweight and great for desktop use.
Calculate Linux256i686 or newer (Intel Pentium Pro and higher, AMD Athlon and above)5000Xfce, KDE, Cinnamon, MATE and LXQt (beta)StandardA complete set of applications you need.
Emmabuntüs512Intel or AMD (from 1.4 GHz)20000XfceLTS onlyYou can install it without an internet connection since all packages are pre-installed and updated.
GALPon MiniNo128500Mhz processor2500LXDEStandardBrings back your 12+ year old PC back to life.
GoboLinux32 (text mode), 128 (graphics mode)i686-class systems: Intel Core family, Pentium II/III/4, Intel Celeron, AMD Duron, AMD Athlon/XP/MP

Recent release requires a 64bit processor (at least Core2)
1000AwesomeStandardUses a different filesystem. Created in 2002
ToriOS256 Intel Celeron, ATOM, Pentium M or P44000JWMLTS onlyWorks out of the box with all free software.
MenuetOS24Pentium 901.44CustomStandardWritten in assembly. Can be run on a floppy drive.
KolibriOS8a Pentium compatible processor (486/386 will not work!) 1.44CustomStandardBased on MenuetOS (forked).
LinuxConsole128Any PAE compliant CPU1000LXDEStandardLightweight distro for kids.
Parabola256Any i686 compatible CPU800+AnyRollingBased on Arch Linux. Uses free software only. For advanced users only.
Absolute Linux64Intel i486 or compatible700IceWM, ROXStandardBased on Slackware. All the apps you need are pre-installed
ReactOS96Pentium or later and compatibles500CustomStandardNot based on Linux, but still a free Unix OS. Great alternative to Windows.
HD ScaniaMixedMixedMixedMixedMixedHas various lightweight distros to choose from. All from the same developer(s).


This is The End.

And that’s all, folks! Thank you for taking the time to check our distro lists. Now, go buy yourself an USB flash drive and install some of these distros! If you liked the lists, share it wherever. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions.

This post was last modified on January 1, 2020 2:43 pm

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View Comments (53)

  • I know you've probably got 100 comment like this, but I think OBRevenge would have been a great distro to add to this list.
    OBRevenge is developed by Jody James who has also released KRevenge and Mate Revenge. OBRevenge uses Arch Linux as a base and is unique in the way that Jody uses the Openbox WM with an option of panels from XFCE, Mate and LXDE. You can also use the wisker menu out of the box. He also includes a couple handfuls of apps created in house to handle graphics drivers, GRUB, Codecs, panel switching, etc.. He takes Arch and Openbox and makes it super easy to install and use.
    It is very very fast and easy to customize. Definitely worth checking out.
    Jody is also easy to get in touch with on G+ and addresses any bugs or issues very quickly. He has also helped out with the ArchLabs distro project. (which is another great light weight distro)

  • A couple of honorable mentions:

    • Fedora - The minimal spin
    • Gentoo - for advanced users only
  • I noticed your article and checked if ArchLabs was inside the list.

    It was not never our goal to be the best lightweight linux distro (and it is still not) but we are getting that response from the community. Openbox is ofcourse quite lightweight. In the next release we added i3wm, a tiling manager, that consumes almost no MB.

    Would appreciate it if you gave ArchLabs a trial run. This Friday 7/4/2017 we will release R2-D2, our latest release, where in retrospect 'theming' is THE topic.

    • Looks great! Does it come with Openbox out of the box? What are the minimum system requirements for the whole distro?

      We'll definitely try it out.

      • It has openbox and i3 both very low in cpu and ram usage.
        Have fun.
        Min system requirements will be like Arch Linux.

  • I recently was given an Asus Eee PC/Netbook and tried ot install different small/light distros on it and the only one that worked is Refracta.

    Based on Debian so not very much to learn about.

    • We should definitely include Devuan and Refracta in our list.

      Some of the testing we did was on an Asus Eee PC. All distros in our list work perfectly fine on the Eee PC, until you open up some modern website with hundreds of resources, which is totally expected.

  • I noticed that in the chart it lists Debian as having KDE as the desktop. In the screenshot, it appears to show Debian with GNOME 3. Of course, you can choose between several different desktops when installing Debian, of which GNOME 3 is the heaviest and KDE is closer to the heaviest than the lightest.

    A distribution that is not included which I thought was worth a mention is Salix. Salix Fluxbox is very lightweight, but even Salix Xfce is lighter than a number of the ones included. The repositories for Salix are not extensive, but they have the basics covered. I run it on an old Pentium 4 Thinkpad from around 2003 (or perhaps 2002) with 1GB of RAM.

  • I've been using MX-16 on very old hardware with great success! Aperantly it's a "cousin" of Antix.

  • This erik dubois appears everywhere and offers that archlabs.Erik there take care of archlabs and do not fit into everything. And archlabs need to be cleverly explained, and not enough and not everybody is like you!

  • ~~ I cant have scanned every thing available, but so far as I can tell, most Linux Distro reviews are purty lightweight in themselves.
    I'd like to see a review come out that tells me if I can customize the clock -- can I change the colors of the foreground and background. And does the distro have two panels -- top and bottom, and are they customizable in size, icon placement. Can I really change the desktop names on the work spaces? Can I "easily" install SoftMaker-SoftText apps ? Is there decent Bible software available -- again easily? What sort of icon does the internet connection have -- do I have to guess what that thing in the upper panel is, or is it obv.s ?
    Again -- maybe I've missed something over the years, but if so --
    point the way, hey ?!
    thanks
    kenn

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