There are a plethora of lean distributions that have been pruned and tuned for a particular reason – try these
trimmed distributions aren’t only designed for ageing hardware – we’ve already seen distributions that are built to perform blazingly fast on a modern computer. Similarly, there are several others that are built with a particular optimisation or application area in mind.
Optimised for USB
Porteus (http://porteus.org) is a portable distribution designed and optimised to run from removable media such as a USB flash drive, SD card or CD. If the medium is writable, it’ll save all changes inside a folder and load them on subsequent boots. The distribution is based on Slackware Linux using a modified version of the linux-live scripts that help cut down boot-up and shutdown times.
The latest release supports newer EFI machines and also includes the latest Intel firmware fix for the Spectre vulnerability. Instead of a single ISO, Porteus is available as seven separate ISO images, each with a different desktop – from the heavyweight KDE and Cinnamon to the lightweight LXDE and Openbox. Surprisingly, the ISO of most editions weigh in around 300MB each.
This is because the distribution exists in a compressed state on the storage media and the familiar Linux directory structure is created on the fly during boot. Another unique aspect of the distribution is its use of modules, which are pre-compiled packages that you activate and deactivate as per your requirements. When you fetch packages via Porteus’ package manager, you also get the option to convert them into modules. You can then activate the modules to use the app. If you move these app modules to a designated directory inside the removable storage, the app is available in subsequent boots as well.
Going without Systemd
Although a majority of distributions have shifted to the Systemd system and service manager, its opponents believe it adds a level of complexity that goes against the UNIX philosophy. Several distributions have weeded out Systemd and continue with the SysV init system.
antiX (https://antixlinux.com) is one such dissident. In addition to sticking to SysV, the distribution also prides itself on its Live USB skills. The distribution has a unique customisable boot loader that enables you to save custom boot entries. Also of note is the live-usb-maker tool that enable features such as persistence, live remaster and several others. antiX offers a choice of lightweight desktops and window managers and even offers a core edition that ships with just enough applications to help you build your desktop from scratch.
The full edition of antiX is one of the lightest distributions around thanks to its choice of IceWM together with the Rox file manager for the desktop along with a very well curated collection of apps. A handful of mainstream apps, such as Firefox and LibreOffice, are complemented by
lightweights such as GNOME media player, Claws email and Dillo web browser along with more esoteric but useful apps like the Droopy network file-sharing web server. The distribution also uses a handful of custom tools such as the package installer and the antiX control panel, which enables you to modify aspects of the distribution.
Several distributions have weeded out Systemd and continue with the SysV init system
Right Unlike the usual slew of lightweight distributions, AntiX is only lean in terms of its resource utilisation