(If you have not done so, you can read the dailies from day one HERE)

Tonight the second of our Reader Voted Lightweight Distros. Linux Mint XFCE, the second Mint to grace this series.

I couldn’t wait to check out this one. Linux mint has again become a favorite of ours, and the XFCE version of it promised to deliver.

Did it?


As you have guessed from the name, we are dealing with an XFCE based distro here. We have used Linux Mint XFCE and Xubuntu for a few days now and between us we feel it is the perfect blend of power and light weight.

The guys at Linux Mint always throw a lot in the trunk when they pack you a distro.

All the codecs and flash are installed, carefully chosen extra packages and even custom built Mint utilities round of a distro resplendent with a green theme that you will either like or dislike.

I really feel that the choice in this series will come down to Linux Mint XCFE and Linux Mint LXDE.

Elzje and I will not make a decision between the distros until we have finished with PCLOS LXDE tomorrow.

Performance wise it cannot be faulted, it lives in 260MB RAM depending on what is running and it doesn’t have any irritating processes in the background that punishes your CPU.

Some packages choices are a bit weird – Emerald Theme Manager <== REALLY?! Not on a lightweight distro…

One thing sometimes overlooked is the extra repositories that is added by default – you can add a lot of extra packages right from the package manager with Linux mint, even stuff that is not available in other repos.

Mint has surpassed PCLOS in my opinion with the range of packages available and what you can do with the distro.


I really liked Xubuntu. It felt familiar and easy to use, and I was certain that it would be a strong choice in the end. Linux Mint XFCE just adds that something that completes the experience for me.

I like the theme, I like the layout, I like that I can be confident that I will be able to watch youtube and play music and play a DVD for the kids without having to call Quintin to walk me through doing something weird on the command line while he is sitting at work. (Stuff like that has happened before, I once walked Elzje through doing a TCPDUMP and NMAP and HOST lookup to try and figure out something that was bothering me at work and I could not SSH into the house PC to do a test on a server from a different network. She performed everything I asked admirably – Q)

The life of a computer nerd’s wife. (Geek – Q)

All in all this one is a keeper, in my opinion.

Questions and Answers

  1. Is it reasonably quick?
    Yes. Slightly slower than the LXDE distros, as was Xubuntu, but fast enough for all but the slowest hardware.
  2. Can you use the Internet with ease?
    Definitely. Linux Mint takes care of the sometimes painful task of installing Flash and codecs that still needs some command line hacking with the $buntus.
  3. Can You Edit Documents and Spreadsheets?
    Openoffice is Included, so you can do any office job you want.
  4. How easy is e-mail use?
    Thunderbird is included. This means your mail and RSS needs are taken care off.
  5. Are Codecs available for all the common formats?
    Yes. Already installed. I rarely need to add anything to Linux Mint in this department.
  6. How hard is it to join networks?
    Very easy. For those with older or weird Wifi hardware a wireless drivers utility is included that utilised NDiswrapper.
  7. Is it a swap-in for a higher end distro?
    Yes. It complements Linux Mint (gnome edition) nicely. You can partner the two up on your laptop and netbook, as long as you keep your /home directory synced between the two you should be fine.

Note – Linux desperately needs a utility that can take care of that for users…


We are nearing the end of this series. I am surprised to find so many good things to say about all the lightweight distros we tried so far. Linux Mint XFCE is a definite option if you are looking for a lightweight yet powerful distro.

As a for instance, while writing this I popped a flashdrive into the laptop and am listening to some Dead Prez (Hip Hop from Let’s Get Free) and I have yet to install ANYTHING on this box.


Want to try it? You can get the ISO for the version we tried on the DOWNLOAD PAGE. (the link to the download page of the 32bit version, the 64bit version is there somewhere too – let me know if you cannot find it…)

Tomorrow – PCLOS LXDE

(PCLOS LXDE is now done and available to read HERE.)

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