Lightweight distros for old computers

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supertuxkart
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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby supertuxkart » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:58 am

Well as i promised after some tests, i'm here.
The migration from Mint Mate 13 to Mint Mate 17.3 has been successfull on the old desktop PIV 2.0 Ghz as i knew, ( after recovering a "new" video card from the junk ), except for :
You must have at least 1,5-2 GB RAM, if you want to be little bit fast or the CPU will be going to swap everytime.
Possibly, maybe fixing the swappiness if it go better.
You can't open more than a couple of heavy programs. ( as you install new programs or update the system and you want to listen music, the songs repeatly stuck ).
The browser ( Chromium & FF ) needs at least 20 seconds to reach the first empty page, so i suggest to install a lightweight browser, Dillo open very quickly.
As well you have to wait long time ( 1-2 minutes ) if you want to open a page with heavy elements.
Anyway i prefer a slow Mint than a faster distro i don't like.

For Mint Mate 18 32bit is another story, due by kernel
It's slow as well and the kernel 4.4.0-xx.xx got some troubles with the old hardware, got IPV 6 bug and in a notebook does not recognize if the battery is plugged in or if it is empty, the mouse pointer stops if you leave it alone for a couple of seconds and you have to push the central button to restart many times. The Mint Mate 18 32bit kernel has the same behaviour in other distros as Ubuntu Mate 16.04.2.

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Pjotr
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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby Pjotr » Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:45 am

supertuxkart wrote:i suggest to install a lightweight browser, Dillo open very quickly.

Thanks for reminding me about Dillo! I had quite forgotten about that nice little web browser, after playing with it almost 10 years ago. Good to see that it still exists. :)

For the sake of security I advise to run it with Firejail, though:

Code: Select all

sudo apt-get install firejail

Code: Select all

firejail dillo

Even though its attack vector is small, I'm not sure it's as secure as Firefox, Chrome and Chromium.
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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby Moem » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:04 pm

I have a 2004 laptop here that was once my dad's XP machine. It sports 0,7 GB of RAM and cannot handle more. He gave it to me for parts or experimenting; since the hardware is pretty nice (large screen, solid and nice-looking case), I decided to use it as a challenge for me as a beginning Linux user. Could I turn this thing, that took 15 minutes to boot into XP, into something usable? I tried installing lots of different distros. Some observations:

- LinuxLite is really nice, and pretty Mint-like. Version 2.6 runs okay on this machine; unfortunately the new 3.2 won't install.
- Lubuntu looks nice too, runs well enough, seems pretty newbie-friendly, but the only browser that does not crash more or less immediately is Dillo. And that's a rather unappealing option as the only working browser (no Java, no Javascript).
- MX16 looks so much slicker than AntiX did and installs smoothly on this 'pavement brick'. Out of the box it's loaded with decent software and Firefox is stable and loads the Ikea homepage (my usual test page) without a hitch. It's not as beginner friendly as Mint or even LinuxLite but it looks like this is the right OS for this machine. If you aren't too terminal-fobic this is a fine choice.
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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby Flemur » Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:05 pm

I can make a Mint install as "light" as any other linux distro, or at least any other distro with a desktop.
"fluxbox" on top of Xfce uses less memory and runs faster than lxde. (fluxbox is also lighter than 'awesome' or 'blackbox'). Xfce doesn't start, but you can use the components (thunar).

As for the 32 bit restriction, maybe you could DL the source and compile everything that's 64-bit only ...?
Mint 18.3 Xfce/fluxbox/pulse-less
Xubuntu 17.10/fluxbox/pulse-less
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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby xfrank » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:07 am

LM13 is (was?) a wonderful OS, I will miss it when I'll decide to change it in my PC at the University. Probably not in April, but soon or later...

Searching for a suitable replacement, I've found this distro/DE performance survey:

https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments ... n_updated/

According to this list, the leanest distro/DE is pure Debian 9 Xfce. I will try it or a slightly tweaked Debian stable derivative, Point Linux (Xfce or Mate).
Last edited by xenopeek on Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: moved here as the topic to discuss other distros
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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby Pjotr » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:17 am

xfrank wrote:the leanest distro/DE is pure Debian 9 Xfce. I will try it or a slightly tweaked Debian stable derivative, Point Linux (Xfce or Mate).

I advise to select an OS that's based on Ubuntu 16.04. High quality, LTS, tuned for ease of use. :)
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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby supertuxkart » Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:06 pm

Pjotr wrote:
supertuxkart wrote:i suggest to install a lightweight browser, Dillo open very quickly.

Thanks for reminding me about Dillo! I had quite forgotten about that nice little web browser, after playing with it almost 10 years ago. Good to see that it still exists. :)

For the sake of security I advise to run it with Firejail, though:

Code: Select all

sudo apt-get install firejail

Code: Select all

firejail dillo

Even though its attack vector is small, I'm not sure it's as secure as Firefox, Chrome and Chromium.


Thanks for the suggestion.

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby lmintnewb2 » Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:56 pm

I <heart> Linux Mint. Is clearly great gnu/linux.

But wouldn't bother trimming it out if the absolute goal was lightweight. Use the right tool for x-job. Well LM 17.2-xfce is pretty dang lightweight and Lmde2 can certainly be too. Recently installed the cinnamon version, after some tweakage at boot idles @285mbs now but climbs quickly during normal use.

Some ootb lightweight gnu/nix options which come to mind, definitely Anti-X, Bunsenlabs Linux (present release, Hydrogen), Arch can be super light and the big daddy and my personal preference, minimal Debian netinstall. Someone can just install whichever window-manager or say xfce4 and have ultralight Nix.

2 cents.

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby ColdBoot » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:23 am

I'd recommend BunsenLabs because there is still a x86 release and is of fairly small resource footprint(of course, reliable Debian base is a plus). As for the question of browsing, Qupzilla was great little browser last time I tried it, both in terms of page rendering and the ability to play videos. However, I quite agree with the statement that without 2GB of RAM you won't get far on the old junk these days.
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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby lmintnewb2 » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:50 am

^Jmo think it depends on x-nixers tweakage abilities. Fairly confident could make Lmde-cinnamon run great on a 1gb-ram pc. Not as light as some of the many good options for dated hardware but can be tweaked to work just fine on such too. Without losing much in the way of functionality.

+1 Bunsenlabs, Hydrogen was using 200mbs-mem at boot/idle and with some tweakage don't doubt could be reduced to 120-150mbs.

Edit: Browsers link to an old thread where I compared resource usage in a bunch of browsers on gnu/nix.

Been my experience the so called "minimal" browsers for Nix are no lighter, than the real ones. In fact many use more resources, are a pita to config, buggy and lacking many features a real browser provides ootb.

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby ColdBoot » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:00 am

^Yes, if browsing is one of the intended uses, it's virtually impossible on such old hardware as modern browsers are anything but light.
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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby lmintnewb2 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:09 pm

^Didn't say that, again esp if someone learns to tweak the software they use(browser and os), it's no problem to browse on low end systems. But was trying to say from more than a tad of 1st hand experience the "minimal" browsers don't live up to the name and you may as well use FF instead.

The system I was using in that thread was a 512mb P4(single-core) Dell desktop system, I could open 40+ tabs in Firefox on it before it'd even start touching swap(had lowered swappiness to 10.)

Learning gnu/nix tweakage goes a long way, high or low spec hardware but esp on low-spec. Plus obviously as people here are saying and the topic of the thread, definitely helps to choose the right distro for the usecase too.

Just 2 cents. :)

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby xfrank » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:59 pm

I've finally tried Bunsenlabs Linux (Debian stable + openbox) and indeed is lightning fast on old/weak hardware. Also is very polished and beautiful. But I feel a bit lost in openbox, there is some learning curve here. Surely as DE openbox is very lightweight.
Linux everywhere. Active Distros in my many computers: LM17.3 (Cinnamon, Xfce); LM18.1 (Cinnamon,Xfce); LMDE 2 (Mate), MXLinux (Xfce), Debian 9 (Xfce).

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby xfrank » Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:05 pm

Pjotr wrote:
xfrank wrote:the leanest distro/DE is pure Debian 9 Xfce. I will try it or a slightly tweaked Debian stable derivative, Point Linux (Xfce or Mate).

I advise to select an OS that's based on Ubuntu 16.04. High quality, LTS, tuned for ease of use. :)


I know Pjotr, an Ubuntu base adds several improvements, but also some more "weight" to the system. And if the hardware is really old or weak (atoms, 1GB or less Ram), even this difference could be critical.
Linux everywhere. Active Distros in my many computers: LM17.3 (Cinnamon, Xfce); LM18.1 (Cinnamon,Xfce); LMDE 2 (Mate), MXLinux (Xfce), Debian 9 (Xfce).

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby linux-dummie » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:47 pm

xfrank wrote:I've finally tried Bunsenlabs Linux (Debian stable + openbox) and indeed is lightning fast on old/weak hardware. Also is very polished and beautiful. But I feel a bit lost in openbox, there is some learning curve here. Surely as DE openbox is very lightweight.


I LOVE openbox. It fits the simplicity of my brain very well! Haven't tried Bunsen yet, though I used crunchbang for years. I run openbox on my Mint and MX16 installs, and though they don't always work perfectly I have no desire to go back to the full-featured DE's (Mate, KDE, etc). Nothing wrong with them, they work tremendously well, but they're just not for me. Keep it simple, silly (KISS), is my temperament. I also love Fluxbox (an older relative of ob), so have stuck with the 'boxes through the years.
Wish there was a Mint native 'box distro around. That would be cooler than cool!

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby xfrank » Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:52 am

linux-dummie wrote:
xfrank wrote:I've finally tried Bunsenlabs Linux (Debian stable + openbox) and indeed is lightning fast on old/weak hardware. Also is very polished and beautiful. But I feel a bit lost in openbox, there is some learning curve here. Surely as DE openbox is very lightweight.


I LOVE openbox. It fits the simplicity of my brain very well! Haven't tried Bunsen yet, though I used crunchbang for years. I run openbox on my Mint and MX16 installs, and though they don't always work perfectly I have no desire to go back to the full-featured DE's (Mate, KDE, etc). Nothing wrong with them, they work tremendously well, but they're just not for me. Keep it simple, silly (KISS), is my temperament. I also love Fluxbox (an older relative of ob), so have stuck with the 'boxes through the years.
Wish there was a Mint native 'box distro around. That would be cooler than cool!


I like it too, specially the minimalist elegant implementation in Busenlabs Linux (it's like a "Zen" environment). Also is amazingly frugal on hardware: just 106 MB at idle (32 bit version). I never saw a "beautiful" DE/WM with this kind of performance (Fluxbox, IceWm and so on... are not pleasant/beautiful environments, maybe useful but not beautiful). But for most of us, accustomed to a more "rich" and easy GUI environment like Xfce, there is a learning curve. For example, adding shortcuts to Tint2, searching for files, customize Openbox, and so on...
And yet, Openbox is very suitable for low powered / old machines with less than 2GB RAM; I guess Debian + Openbox can work flawlessly with 500MB RAM.
Linux everywhere. Active Distros in my many computers: LM17.3 (Cinnamon, Xfce); LM18.1 (Cinnamon,Xfce); LMDE 2 (Mate), MXLinux (Xfce), Debian 9 (Xfce).

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby xfrank » Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:03 pm

I've just tried in my "testing" machine (an old Atom with 2GB RAM) MX-16. Beautiful and fast. It's a Debian + Xfce distro with a "Mint" spirit (easy to use, ready out of the box, complemented with several handy tools, etc.). Very pleasant and lightweight. Only 230 MB RAM usage at idle (32 bit version), and quite snappy. Obviously is more weighted than Bunsenlabs (106 MB RAM at idle), and use slightly more resources than Peppermint (180 MB RAM at idle), but a bit less than LM18.1 Xfce (250MB RAM at idle). My measurements are all on 32 bit versions, on the same machine, and after some light tweaking (disabling daemons, adding noatime to fstab, and so on...).
Linux everywhere. Active Distros in my many computers: LM17.3 (Cinnamon, Xfce); LM18.1 (Cinnamon,Xfce); LMDE 2 (Mate), MXLinux (Xfce), Debian 9 (Xfce).

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby lmintnewb2 » Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:35 pm

^Thanks for sharing the Bunsenlabs memory stats for 32bit. Should've been more clear on the ones I mentioned above. Was a 64bit, live usb session. Likely/hopefully a tad lighter if had been bare-metal and obviously had it been a 32bit version too.

Also as you said applying some simple tweakage definitely helps as well. Only wanted to give BL Hydrogen a test drive for old times sake and yep, looks like classic #! and could be really nice on low or high-spec imo.

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby now3by » Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:42 pm

Anybody tested q4os ?
http://www.q4os.org/index.html

edit:
in VM
x64 LiveCD report 188Mb RAM use.
Linux...

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Re: Lightweight distros for old computers

Postby lugligino » Tue Apr 11, 2017 4:31 am

Maya has been a big distro for my old Latitude D600 and I appreciated it so much.
I did the transition to Lubuntu 14.04 LTS ast month because I had more problems on my laptop with LM 18.1.
In every case Lubuntu 14.04 is not so responsive like Maya.
Last edited by xenopeek on Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: moved here as it is about other distros
Lubuntu 16.04.1 on a Dell Latitude D600 notebook, Pentium M 1.4 GHz, 1GB RAM.


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