9 Lightweight Linux Distributions for Beginners (2024)

Looking for lightweight Linux Distributions that play smoothly on old PC or laptop with low end specs? Here are some of them for you!

Advanced users can always install and set up a lightweight desktop environment manually on top of current OS. However, for beginners and those who don’t want to take time customizing the desktop, then a ready to use distribution is a better choice.

In Linux world, XFCE, MATE, LXQt/LXDE are commonly used desktop environments for lightweight distributions, though there are also many others for choice. And, here are 9 of them for beginners.

NOTE: All the Linux Distributions below run very smooth on my laptop with Intel i5-8350U (tested with 2 cores), 2 GiB RAM, and NVMe SSD. If your computer have HDD hard disk, 4 GiB RAM is recommended for faster app loading.

1. Linux Lite

Linux Lite is one of my top favorite Linux Distribution, based on Ubuntu LTS, but No Snap and No Flatpak out-of-the-box.

The distribution aims to appeal to Linux beginners and Windows users, and features a customized XFCE Desktop environment with modern look and feel.

It includes some handy tools, such as a beautiful desktop widget to monitor CPU/Memory usage, a welcome dialog with quick access to driver, system restore, light/dark settings, as well as get support and contribute to the developer team.

The built-in Software App allows to easily install/uninstall popular app (e.g., Spotify, TeamViewer, Zoom, and more) with few mouse clicks. And, there’s a “Light Tweak” tool to do common tasks, such as clear memory, install/remove Kernels, boot repair, save battery life with TLP, without struggling with Linux command or config files.

It so far supports only 64-bit AMD and Intel PC and laptop, and minimum computer requirements include 1Ghz CPU, 768MB RAM (though 1GB recommended), 8GB disk space.

2. Ubuntu MATE

Ubuntu MATE is Ubuntu + MATE Desktop, a continuation of the classic GNOME 2 Desktop Environment.

As an official Ubuntu flavor, it uses same themes, fonts, and many same apps (e.g., Software & Updater, Additional Driver, Shotwell, Startup Applications, and so forth) to Ubuntu, along with its own set of core apps. Users of GNOME (default desktop in Ubuntu/Fedora) may be familiar with the Distro!

And, it’s supported by the biggest Linux community, including askubuntu.com, ubuntuforums.org. It has the most online tutorials, and software sources (e.g., launchpad.net for Ubuntu PPAs).

However, for those who don’t like the SNAP, the flavor follows Ubuntu policy that includes Firefox, Thunderbird, Software App (App Center), Chromium etc as Snap packages run in sandbox environment.

Ubuntu MATE is a bit less lightweight. It requires a 64-bit AMD/Intel CPU, with 1 GB RAM (4 GB recommended), though both 32-bit and 64-bit Raspberry Pi (B modules) family are supported.

3. XUbuntu

XUbuntu is Ubuntu + XFCE Desktop, a lightweight GTK+3 based desktop environment.

Like Ubuntu MATE, it’s an official flavor supported by Ubuntu community, while also including Firefox, Thunderbird, App Center, Chromium etc as Snap package.

It’s a bit more lightweight that MATE, but the default desktop appearance looks a little bit old aged, IMO. It uses less GNOME stuff and different themes to Ubuntu, which probably why it’s lighter.

For Ubuntu base, I will choose Ubuntu MATE for better look and feel, though XUbuntu may have better performance and lower memory usage on old machines.

4. Linux Mint

Linux Mint is a top popular Linux Distribution based on Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support release).

It features Cinnamon Desktop edition for modern PC/laptop, though also supports MATE and XFCE editions for old computers.

The distribution features an elegant and reliable desktop appearance for users switching from Windows. It includes some handy tools, such as Timeshift for creating system restore point, hypnotix IPTV player, warpinator for local network file sharing, sticky notes app, and webapp-manager to turn websites into local apps.

Linux Mint blocks Snap package, but supports Flatpak (both run in sandbox) out-of-the-box.

It only supports 64-bit AMD/Intel CPUs, and requires 2GB RAM and 20GB Disk according to its faq page.

5. Manjaro (XFCE edition)

Manjaro is a popular Linux Distribution based on Arch Linux.

It’s a rolling Linux system. Just install it on your computer, then it’s always being the latest by installing updates. You never need to re-install unless it’s broken.

It includes a “Manjaro Settings Manager” utility allows to easily install latest Linux Kernel for new hardware support and updated drivers. And, it supports installing latest packages through AUR, Flatpak, Snap all in one with Pamac package manager.

Manjaro supports both AMD/Intel CPUs and ARM devices. It’s available to download via the link button below:

6. Bodhi Linux

Bodhi Linux is a Ubuntu based Linux Distribution that uses Moksha (based on Enlightenment) as its desktop environment.

It’s very lightweight that use only around 250MiB memory in my case for basic use, while most others introduced in this post consume around 700MiB. However, the UI looks a bit simple and crude, and not so friendly for users new to Linux.

Bodhi Linux so far supports both 32-bit (without PAE capability) and 64-bit X86 CPUs, and requires at least 512MB RAM, 5GB hard disk space, and a 500MHz processor.

7. Lubuntu

LUbuntu is Ubuntu + LXQt, a lightweight Qt-based Desktop Environment.

Like Ubuntu MATE and XUbuntu, LUbuntu is an official flavor that includes all the benefits, but also disadvantages (e.g., Snap for some people) from Ubuntu.

It uses Qt toolkit for rendering the desktop interface and core app windows, which is however a bit less popular that GTK based desktop environments (e.g., GNOME, MATE, and XFCE).

Like XUbuntu, LUbuntu so far does NOT provide a page for system requirements. According to my test, it needs at least 768MB RAM, 64-bit AMD/Intel CPU, and 8GB Disk space.

8. Debian (MATE, XFCE, LXQt)

Debian XFCE edition

Debian is the second most popular Linux Distribution in 2023 (according to Google Trends Scores), that Ubuntu is based on.

It’s known to be secure and extremely stable, but less beginner friendly than Ubuntu.

There’s no graphical app to install drivers, no update manager to install updates, and less third-party software sources. However, if you know some command line skills, then it’s a great alternative to Ubuntu for daily use.

For modern 64-bit AMD/Intel CPUs, Debian provides easy to install live CD images (including XFCE, MATE, LXQt editions) via the link below:

For choice, go to this page for other downloads, which however not friendly for beginners.

9. Fedora Spins

Fedora is the upstream Linux Distribution for RHEL and CentOS Stream.

It has close relationship to GNOME, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and Flatpak. And it uses .rpm as native package format while supporting Flatpak out-of-the-box.

Fedora acts like a test-bed for RHEL, though it’s working good for daily personal use. It uses GNOME as default desktop, and, supports other desktop environments, including MATE, XFCE, LXQt, through Fedora Spins. But, quite a lot of things are different to Debian/Ubuntu, due to different package manager and policy.


In this post, I’ve showed you 11 Linux Distributions that’s lightweight for old computers and friendly for beginners, including Linux Lite, Ubuntu MATE, XUbuntu, Linux Mint, Bodhi Linux, Manjaro, LUbuntu, Debian, and Fedora.

Personally I prefer Linux Lite, Ubuntu MATE, and Manjaro. Feel free to leave comment below if you know more about the lightweight Linux for beginners.

Enable this blog? Please spread the world :)

9 Lightweight Linux Distributions for Beginners (2024)


Which Linux distribution is best for beginners? ›

Linux Mint and Ubuntu Server are renowned for their intuitive and user-friendly interfaces, making them ideal for beginners. Seek out distributions that provide a well-organized desktop environment and efficient tools to streamline tasks, ultimately enhancing overall user satisfaction.

What is the most lightweight user-friendly Linux Distro? ›

  • Linux Lite. ...
  • Lubuntu. ...
  • LXLE. ...
  • Porteus. ...
  • Puppy Linux. Best lightweight Linux distro with an impressive range of apps. ...
  • SliTaz. Best lightweight Linux distro for installing from within Windows. ...
  • Tiny Core Linux. Best lightweight Linux distro that's one of the smallest. ...
  • Q4OS. Best lightweight Linux distro for KDE users.
Apr 10, 2024

Which Linux distro is best for everyday use? ›

Ubuntu distribution is considered as the complete or integrated OS. It's simple and smooth. Therefore… It's the best distro for those who prefer to use such a perfect OS that can be used in almost everything.

Which Linux is most user-friendly? ›

1. Ubuntu. Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distros out there, and it is ideal for beginners who are new to Linux. It has a user-friendly interface and a large community of users who are always ready to help you.

Which Linux version is lightest? ›

Best lightweight Linux distribution
  • MX Linux.
  • Linux Mint.
  • Zorin OS.
  • Peppermint OS.
  • antiX.
  • Puppy Linux.
  • Debian.
  • GalliumOS.
Mar 3, 2024

Which Linux uses the least RAM? ›

DistributionMinimum system requirementsImage size
Linux LiteCPU: Intel/AMD 64bit RAM: 768 MB (2020) disk: 8 GB955 MB
LubuntuNo minimum system requirements provided.916 MB
LXLERAM: 1 GB (2022) CPU: 64-bit (2022)1300 MB
NanolinuxRAM: 64 MB (2017) CPU: 48619 MB
30 more rows

Is Mint lighter than Ubuntu? ›

Linux Mint, particularly with the Cinnamon desktop, is optimized for performance and tends to use fewer resources than Ubuntu with GNOME. This can lead to a responsive experience on various hardware, especially for systems with more modest specifications.

What is the lightest version of Ubuntu? ›

Some examples of light - weight versions of Ubuntu include Lubuntu , Xubuntu , and Ubuntu MATE . These versions are designed to be more efficient and use fewer system resources than the standard Ubuntu distribution .

Which Linux distro is closest to Windows? ›

Linuxfx comes as close to Windows as anything we tried. Even the "Control Panel" and "Device Manager" mimics Windows. Other apps you might need, including Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, and Skype, are supported. Another feature for anyone new to installing in Linux is the ability to double-click EXE and MSI files.

Is Debian or Ubuntu better? ›

Q#1 What Is Better Debian Or Ubuntu? Individuals who value convenience and cutting-edge features prefer Ubuntu, while power users who value stability and open-source ideals prefer Debian. Both are versatile and suitable for a variety of applications.

How to choose a Linux distribution? ›

Selecting the right Linux distribution can seem daunting due to the plethora of options available. However, by considering factors such as ease of use, system resources, hardware compatibility, and community support, users can narrow down their choices to find the distro that best fits their needs.

Which Linux distribution is widely used? ›

1. Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a popular Linux distribution known for its user-friendly interface and extensive software library. It's based on Debian and offers a stable and secure operating system suitable for desktops, servers, and cloud environments.

Which Linux OS is easy to install? ›

If you're new to Linux, you may want to start with Ubuntu. This is one of the most common starting places for Linux users due to the level of support and ease of use. Ubuntu offers a desktop-version and a server-version depending on how you plan to use it.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Twana Towne Ret

Last Updated:

Views: 5313

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Twana Towne Ret

Birthday: 1994-03-19

Address: Apt. 990 97439 Corwin Motorway, Port Eliseoburgh, NM 99144-2618

Phone: +5958753152963

Job: National Specialist

Hobby: Kayaking, Photography, Skydiving, Embroidery, Leather crafting, Orienteering, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Twana Towne Ret, I am a famous, talented, joyous, perfect, powerful, inquisitive, lovely person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.