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6 Excellent Lightweight Linux Distros for

6 Excellent Lightweight Linux Distros for x86 and ARM


Friday, 18 July 2014 06:00

Carla Schroder

Exclusive

Presenting a nice assortment of lightweight yet fully-functional Linux distros for all occasions. All of these are
full distros that do not depend on cloud services; four for x86 and two, count 'em, two for ARM hardware.

Elementary OS
Elementary OS is a beautiful, fast, lightweight Linux for 32- and 64-bit x86. It is built on an Ubuntu core, and
Elementary's desktop environment, Pantheon, started out with some stripped-down GNOME 2 elements. But
it is more than an Ubuntu respin or GNOME fork-- a lot of custom development goes into Elementary OS,
including apps and its development toolkit.

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Figure 1: Elementary OS.

A significant aspect of Elementary OS is the inclusion of accessibility features for hearing, sight, and motorimpaired users. The state of accessibility technologies in Linux is far behind where they should be, so it's
encouraging to see a distro building them into its core system. Elementary OS has a bit of a Mac-like feel
with a sleek, elegant appearance, subtle highlighting cues, minimal clicks to get from one place to another,
and lots of useful super key shortcuts. I expect that even inexperienced Linux users could start using
Elementary OS and be productive with just a little bit of poking around.
There is currently $5,755 of cash bounties available for bug-fixing some applications and base libraries. If
you can't code, putting a few bucks in the bounty kitty is a great way to support Elementary OS.

30 Linux Kernel Developer Workspaces in 30 Weeks: Steve


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Tweets about "@linuxfoundation OR @lf_training OR #linux"

LXLE
LXLE takes Lubuntu LTS (long-term support), customizes the LXDE desktop, adds proprietary codecs and
drivers and a thoughtful selection of default applications, and advertises it as a drop-in replacement for
Windows. Me, I think anything is a good replacement for Windows, including an Etch-a-Sketch. But LXLE
(Lubuntu eXtra Life Extension) really is an excellent choice for users who want to swap Linux for Windows.

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Figure 2: LXLE has the best wallpapers.

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LXLE is not amazing new revolutionary technology, but rather an excellently-crafted and refined
enhancement of Lubuntu 12.04 and 14.04. The last 5 percent is the hardest, and LXLE goes all the way and
finishes that last 5 percent. Installation is fast and simple, and it boots up very quickly. LXLE has five
desktop looks to choose from: Unity, Windows XP, GNOME 2, Mac OS X and Netbook. Its most fun feature
for me is the 100+ included beautiful wallpapers, and the Random Wallpaper button to cycle them

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automatically. Windows refugees, or any casual user, will find their way around easily. It also includes the
full capabilities of Linux for power users. That is why I love Linux: we can have it all. (32- and 64-bit x86)

Arch Linux ARM


Arch Linux is the choice of fine nerds everywhere who want a simple
yet versatile, up-to-date, lightweight rolling distribution. Arch calls
itself simple because it comes with a minimum of bells and whistles,
and is for users who want maximum control of their systems with no
Figure 3: Arch Linux logo.

backtalk from "helpful" utilities.

Arch supports x86, and also has an excellent ARM port. ARM devices are everywhere thanks to singleboard computers like Raspberry Pi, Beagleboard, and Arduino, smartphones, tablets, and netbooks like
the Samsung Chromebook. Arch is extremely customizable, so you can pare it down to fit even the smallest
SBC and make it into a router, a special-purpose server, or even a tiny but useful portable desktop
computer. Just like x86 Arch, ARM Arch is well-documented and has active community support.

Point Linux
Point Linux is a baby, barely a year old. It is based on Debian 7 and the MATE desktop, which was originally
forked from GNOME 2. So it has a traditional system menu and panels-- nice and clean, and everything
easy to find with no dancing icons, no hidden things that appear only when you luck out and hover your
cursor over the exactly correct spot, and virtual desktops that stay put. It runs well on old feeble hardware,
and comes with a good basic selection of applications. Point Linux is based in Russia, and has good
comprehensive localization. If you miss the Ubuntu of old, when it had the best GNOME 2 implementation of
any distro, then you might like Point Linux. (32- and 64-bit x86)

Figure 4: Point Linux.

Porteus
Porteus was originally named Slax Remix. Porteus is a combination of "portability" and "Proteus", the god of
the sea who could change his form. This is a reference to Porteus' flexibility; it weighs in at less than 300MB,
and is optimized to run from a USB stick, CD, Compact Flash, or hard disk. It's a great way to get a prefab
version of Slackware all ready to go to work.

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Figure 5: Porteus.

You get a choice of five, count 'em, five desktop environments: KDE4, Razor, LXDE, MATE, or Xfce. Porteus
includes a package manager, so you can install and remove packages to your heart's content. In my unhumble opinion it is the best portable Linux.

Fedora ARM
Fedora's ARM port has finally been promoted to primary architecture status, as of the Fedora 20 release in
December 2013. This is a significant step because it now gets equal priority with the x86 releases, and no
packages are pushed into repositories if they fail to build. In typical Fedora fashion, ARM support is broad
and pushes into the bleeding edge with support for 64-bit ARM, all the popular ARM SBCs, and a nice
selection of unofficial remixes for unsupported devices including the Samsung Chromebook. Which I keep
mentioning because it looks like a perfect travel notebook once you clear the Google gunk off and install a
good proper Linux on it. Visit the Fedora ARM wiki page to learn everything.

Figure 6: Fedora's Unity desktop.

Carla Schroder

Comments

simon :

19 Jul

wow your selection sucks...

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