I will not present any detailed review of the distributions as I intend to present them later one by one in more depth. During the next few months I will install them on one of my computers. I have already during the last seven years used most them for at least some time as my main desktop system. It will be interesting to see how they have developed in the last years.
First four miniature distributions:
- Damn Small Linux, a.k.a DSL is a popular extremely small distro. It is a 50 MB live CD, but it can also be installed on the hard drive. DSL can be run completely in RAM, and it can install more programs from an online repository. DSL recommends a P200 and 64 MB.
- Puppy Linux is another installable live CD. It should run on any Pentium with at least 32 MB and boot under 60 seconds. It aims to be as easy to use as possible and assumes no technical expertise.
- Feather Linux is a Linux distribution which runs completely off a CD. It takes up under 128Mb of space. It is just like DSL a Knoppix remaster (based on Debian), includes software which most people use every day. Feather can be installed on a USB stick, but AFAIK not on a hard drive.
- DeLi is a Linux Distribution for old computers, from 486 to Pentium III or so. It's focused on desktop usage and it includes email clients, graphical web browser, an office programs with word processor and spreadsheet, and so on. A full install, including XOrg and development tools, needs only 750 MB of harddisk space.
The next four could be called mid-sized distributions:
- Vector Linux. Vector Linux Standard GOLD is the freely downloadable distribution, which includes applications for every task. It is based on Slackware and specifically designed for use on older computers with slower processors and less RAM. It can be run effectively on a Pentium 200 with 128MB of RAM and 3GB of hard drive space. The forthcoming VL Light will take only 350 MB in full install and needs only 64 MB RAM to run.
- Zenwalk is another distribution based on Slackware. It is designed to be fast and simple, with no redundant applications. It is optimized for i686, but is still compatible with i486. Zenwalk requires for comfortable use a Pentium III class processor, 128 MB RAM and 2Gb free disk space.
- Antix is a lightweight, installable live-cd remaster of Mepis. It should run on most computers as long as you have a P266 with 64MB. antiX-M7 will not run on older processors such as Pentium I, AMD K5, and AMD K6 as it uses an i686 kernel.
- PClos TinyME is a lightweight remaster of PCLinuxOS. It includes Abiword, Opera web browser, Audacious for playing music, Sylpheed email client and other famous programs. TinyME requires a Pentium processor and at least 64 MB RAM. Screen resolution 800×600 is recommended.
And finally two full-size distros which lend themselves especially well to custom lightweight installs:
These two classics should not need any introduction. These ten distros are of course not the only possibilites for installing Linux on an low end computer, but to make a list of ten I had to leave something out. Did I forget to mention Your favourite lightweight distribution?