Probably everyone has come across when you have an old or slow computer that needs to be used somehow, for example, for browsing or watching movies. In this case, lightweight Linux distros come to the rescue, which will allow you to use the old computer for its intended purpose.
In this article, we'll go into detail about each of the distributions we've chosen and why it's right for you.
The Best Linux distros for Browsing Only:
- Chromium OS
- Clear Linux
- Zorin OS Lite
- Manjaro Xfce
- Linux Mint
Now let's take a closer look at each of distros.
Chromium OS is an open source operating system based on the Gentoo distribution. Its main feature is that everything here is designed to work on the Internet, and only in the browser, and this is what we need.
Chromium OS starts quickly enough, doesn't consume a lot of resources, and also supports full integration with a Google account. Once installed, you can automatically sync your settings, history, programs, plugins, and extensions from your browser to Chromium OS.
Chromium OS has a built-in photo editor, music player, video player, email client, calendar, and it's also possible to work with documents offline.
If I were looking for a Linux distribution for my old PC, just for browsing, I would definitely choose Chromium OS.
The Lubuntu distribution, as you might guess from the name, is based on Ubuntu. However, not the heavy GNOME is used as a desktop environment, but rather light LXQt.
This desktop environment is based on the Qt libraries, and despite being very lightweight, everything looks quite nice. Although when compared with GNOME, the interface looks like something from the 00s.
But if you are not picky about how the interface looks, then feel free to try this distro.
The Clear Linux distribution was developed by Intel and is highly optimized to run on Intel's processors. During the build of the distribution, compilation flags, patches, and other methods were used to increase the performance of the distribution on Intel hardware.
Clear Linux comes with everything you need out of the box to start using it. Therefore, if you have an Intel processor, then I definitely recommend this distro for the test.
Zorin OS Lite
Zorin OS is a beginner's operating system based on Ubuntu and redesigned to look as similar to Windows as possible. As for the Lite version of Zorin OS, this version has an XFCE desktop environment designed for use on older computers.
Zorin OS has a pre-installed browser, LibreOffice office suite, Rhythmbox player, GIMP graphics editor and more.
Xubuntu is another distribution based on Ubuntu. It uses the Snap package manager and has access to components from Debian. According to the developers, Xubuntu offers users the perfect balance between performance and functionality.
Xubuntu in its basic form is ready to do any job. It is suitable for both a weak home computer or a laptop used to access the Internet, and a high-performance laptop used for work or gaming.
Instead of a GNOME-based desktop environment, the Xubuntu developers have opted for the fast XFCE. It is easier to learn for a beginner and easily adaptable to the needs of a particular user.
Manjaro Linux positions itself as a complete home operating system that can be a worthy replacement for Windows. One of the editions of Manjaro uses the XFCE shell, which consumes quite a few resources and is in many ways similar to the previously described Xubuntu.
Manjaro is a good option for those who are really looking for an alternative to existing operating systems and don't want the limitations that novice Linux users usually have to deal with.
Linux Mint fully works immediately after installation and includes all the necessary software: drivers, codecs, applications... Everything you need. And by default, there is even more useful software here than in Windows. This distribution is available with the following lightweight desktop environments: MATE, Xfce, and LDME. All three consume a small amount of resources, but offer a nice interface and an impressive feature set.
Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, so it supports all packages available in the Debian repository. This makes it quite easy to learn the system and install new applications.
Peppermint is a fast, optimized and reliable operating system based on Ubuntu LTS. It's updated less frequently than other distributions, so it doesn't pose any compatibility issues.
Peppermint developers use a specific combination of desktop environment and other desktop components. Xfwm4 is used for windows, the bottom panel is taken from Xfce, and the main desktop environment is LXDE with Qt support. Sounds scary and unstable? I want to tell you that as a result we have a fairly functional and at the same time undemanding distro.If you have a more or less modern laptop or computer, then there is no need to use lightweight Linux distributions. After all, it's important that the operating system looks nice and functional, even if we use it only for browsing or working with documents.
Let's take a look at a few more distributions that are great for web use:
Elementary OS is an Ubuntu based distribution. Initially, Elementary OS was supposed to be a lightweight version of Ubuntu for older computers, but over time it has turned into a rather demanding, but at the same time functional OS.
Elementary developers were inspired by Apple products and created many interface elements like in macOS. It turned out beautiful, functional and comfortable.
Despite the presence of built-in software, Elementary has a very convenient application store, which is somewhat similar to the App Store.
JingOS is a Linux distribution with an iPad-like interface. This system is great for touch screen devices, but also works great on regular PCs. It is perfectly adapted to gesture control and visually resembles iOS.
The system includes a large set of built-in applications specifically designed for both finger and mouse control. This applies to the calendar, file manager, calculator and other things used in everyday life.
Pop!_OS is developed by System76. The system is based on Ubuntu and uses Gnome as its desktop environment. Pop!_OS comes with a small set of user software. There is a Firefox browser, an email client, a video player, the Pop Shop app store, the LibreOffice office suite, and so on.
For owners of computers with an Nvidia graphics card, it's possible to download a version with a proprietary driver already installed. Those who have ever configured a driver manually will understand that this is a huge plus when choosing a distribution.
To summarize, out of all the distributions presented, I have chosen three that are great for home use and browsing:
- Chromium OS is the best distro if all you need is a browser.
- Zorin OS Lite is a lightweight distro that can be used for any task that Linux can do.
- Pop!_OS is a good looking distro for the modern PC.