Decision time.

We have taken much longer than the original envisioned seven days. In this entry we decide on the best distro in each of the following categories: Grandma Distro, Elzje’s Favorite, Quintins Favorite, Best Utility Distro/Best USB Boot Disk, Best Ultra lightweight Distro.

Let’s Dive in:

Best Grandma Distro

This one was hard to decide. My mom has exacting requirements:

  1. Easy To use.
  2. No fiddly looking for stuff.
  3. Hard to break.
  4. Does what she wants.

Most Linux Distros are relatively easy to use. Some, like Puppy, are a bit harder to use – but they try.

PCLOS might not be THAT much easier to use than say Xubuntu, but it has some things going for it that makes it the winner here – the control center, most things pre-installed, and the separate root account. This takes care of the “Hard to break” requirement. More than once I arrived at my moms computer to find both panels gone, or the clock gone, or something strange going on.

Lately it (by “it” I am referring to Ubuntu – before I installed Xubuntu) refused to log in until you have entered the password six times.

I have high hopes that PCLOS LXDE will perform well on her computer, be easy to use, and also keep me sane.

Elzje – I was surprised that Quintin chose PCLOS LXDE after having such high praise for Linux Mint LXDE. I understand his need to keep the PC working, often his weekend is ruined by my mother in law not being able to log in or doing something else because she inadvertently broke it after not reading a warning and typing in her password at the prompt. I will be interested to see where this goes.

Winner PCLOS. (Read that entry HERE.)

Elzje’s Favorite


Linux Mint XFCE is my favorite. Just now I counted, and in the course of one day I can be using four different distros (that is if Quintin fixes my laptop again.) Right now it is Ubuntu downstairs, Xubuntu on Grandma’s computer and Mint KDE on his laptop. That excludes the lightweight distros I discover installed for me in the morning – he then says “try it and tell me what you think.” He is lucky to have me, what other wife would put up to this?

(I took this opportunity to point out that some husbands fiddle with their wives cars over the weekend… – Q)

Anyhow, I decided on Mint XFCE because it is familiar, fast and fulfills all my needs. XFCE just adds that little extra power that LXDE lacks, and is everything Xubuntu should be. I also like that it has access to a wide range of programs, so Quintin can add utilities to the computer that he can use in a bind as well.


Mint XFCE. If there were to be an overall winner to this series Mint XFCE would be a very strong contender. I am happy with Elzje’s choice since it will afford me the ability to make the computer downstairs in the study suite both my needs and hers. A well rounded lightweight distro by any standard.

Winner Mint XFCE (Read the entry HERE)

Quintins Favorite

Mint XFCE again. Right now I have it as my bootable flash OS in a live session. Not much to add here, it is my favourite all round lightweight distro, and also a great choice for the professional who has limited resources available to him.

If needed, Mint XFCE can be used on ALL your computers and laptops to ensure a similar working architecture across your entire IT life, from your office desktop to your travel netbook you can have the same environment.

A great OS not only limited to the lightweight scenario.

Best Utility Distro/Best USB Boot Disk

Without a doubt this one goes to Puppy 5.10.

Puppy affords so many install options and powerful utilities that it is a must have for any IT professional. You can even install it in your Windows C drive without needing to format or partition your drive. It makes a boot utility USB with ease, and now has access to the entire Ubuntu Lucid repositories for added BANG.

Additionally you can safe your session to memory when you shutdown – a win all round.

A better system rescue option is the Ultimate Boot CD, but it’s application is different than Puppies – it includes more system rescue specific tools like Harddrive Diagnostics Tools. Together the two will make a welcome addition to any IT professionals toolkit.

Elzje – Incidentally Puppy is my second choice for Elzje’s favorite. It may seem a bit daunting at first, but I liked it enough to consider using it on a permanent basis. Mint XFCE just edges it on familiarity and also it feels more desktop ready than Puppy does. Puppy is more a working OS than a user OS.

Read the Puppy 5.10 entry HERE

Best Ultra lightweight Distro

To be fair we really only tested one ultralight distro – Slitaz Cooking. Interestingly Puppy is almost as light on resources, but packs a lot more punch.

Slitaz gets the nod though, even when compared to other ultralights like Damn Small Linux. It fits in a 30meg installer, and is really light on the computer when installed and running.

Add to that the range of packages available and you have a real pocket-rocket distro. Looking for something different? Give Slitaz a try. It is possibly the lightest weight distro that can be used for real world applications with any form of certainty.

It is also possible the most limited distro we looked at in stock form, nice thing is that the repos are rather complete, so you can expand it where needed.

Not for newbies though.

Read the entry on Slitaz HERE


There you have it then. TEN distros later, and two weeks instead of seven days, but we are happy with our efforts.

We hope this series have given you some insights into the lightweight cousins to the mainline distros out there. Right now we are looking for another seven days series to do for September, suggestions via the comments are welcome.

Quintin thinks it might be a good idea to go without a Cellphone for seven days – his work requires him to have one on him in case a server borks and he is not at the office, he will keep one for emergencies only.

Do you think that is a worthwhile 7day series?

Which Of Our Featured Lightweight Distros is Your Favourite?

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  4. Lightweight Distro Roundup: Day 4 – Sabayon Five-Oh LXDE
  5. Lightweight Distro Roundup: Day 2 Linux Mint LXDE