Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lightweight Linux Distros

Learning to use Linux is a leap towards becoming a good hacker. Linux unlike Windows is more secure and is a lot faster.

Linux has a lot of free distributions available. So once you decide to get your first taste of Linux, it is important to decide which Linux distro to use. If you're ready to completely convert to Linux and banish Windows from your PC forever, you should probably go for fully featured distros like Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu. But if you're a novice and you haven't got any experience of using Linux before, you should better turn towards one of the very lightweight Linux distros available.

I've tested many Linux distros on my machine and have managed to shortlist these five:

1>>Damn Small Linux
2>>Puppy
3>>Feather Linux
4>>XUbuntu

Damn Small Linux (http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/)

Damn Small Linux or DSL (some people find the word 'damn' offensive) is an extremely small distro which is also immensely popular because of its very small size. It can be run off a Live CD and can completely run in RAM without consuming a chunk of Hard Drive. You can also boot with a USB and use it. It can run extremely fast with RAM as little as 128 MB! And the good part is, if you start liking the Linux interface, you can transform it into Debian which is a fully featured OS.

DSL can be downloaded as a 50 mb file from its website. Although it is extremely small in size, it has a couple of disadvantages aswell. First of all, the installation is not very user friendly, and secondly it doesnot have a great driver library though the drivers can be downloaded and installed once you're on with it.

PuppyLinux (http://www.puppylinux.org//)

Another great lightweight Linux distro is PuppyLinux. It should run on any Pentium with at least 32 MB and boot under 60 seconds. It aims to be as easy to use as possible and assumes no technical expertise. PuppyLinux is a well featured distro which is very fast but also provides you with all the necessary tools to keep you moving. The installation is a piece of cake and the boot up is pretty fast too.


Feather Linux (http://featherlinux.berlios.de//)

It is a Linux distribution which runs completely off a CD. It takes up under 128Mb of space. It is based on Debian and includes software which most people use every day. Feather can be installed on a USB stick but as far as I know, it cannot be installed on a Hard drive.

Xubuntu (http://www.xubuntu.org//)

Xubuntu, or Jaunty Jackalope, is the little sister of the fully featured Linux OS, Ubuntu. It is the heaviest of all the distros listed here, but also the most well featured and best suited if you want to run Linux as the only OS on an old machine. The boot time and the installation is significantly greater than the rest of the distros here. But this is the OS which can best convince you to completely switch to Linux, at least on your Laptop.

Conclusion

From all of these, the one I like the most is Puppy for the ease of use and the briskness it provides to you. But after all, people are different, and you can't decide until you really get to experience stuff. So go ahead, play around. But be on the safe side!

Don't be afraid of the penguins, people! :-)

Happy Linuxing!

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