I started to look for a replacement for my DietPi (I’m using it as my everyday OS). It’s installed as a VM on the Proxmox server. It’s fast, it’s nice, it reliable, but I want to change something 🙂
Also, one of the reasons why I selected DietPi was the Home Assistant core. Or I should say – the way it’s installed. And how most of the software is managed in DietPi. It uses DietPi-Software, which allows you to quickly and easily install popular software “ready to run” and this software is already optimized for your system. Only the software you need is installed.
What is DietPi? DietPi is an extremely lightweight Debian OS, highly optimized for minimal CPU and RAM resource usage, ensuring your SBC always runs at its maximum potential. It has a lots of different flavours, so you may install it on Raspberry Pi, Odroid, Pine64, Radxa, Allo, NanoPi, OrangePi, but also on standard PC and as a VM (I’m sure I didn’t mention all of them, but those I remember :P)
I was really happy with my DietPi setup, but in the last few days I broke it, and (my fault) the last backup was from the beginning of October. And because I made a lot of changes last month I had a lot of work to redo. So I decided I may start from scratch on a new OS.
Because I didn’t want to use too many resources from my proxmox server, I decided to check what other lightweight distros are on the market. I know most of them, but I was curious about what changed in the last few years.
Zorin OS Lite
I started with Zorin Lite. It’s ubuntu based distro which is using highly modified XFCE. System requirements are quite low, as you can see below:
Zorin OS Core and Education editions – Designed for modern computers.
- CPU: 1 GHz Dual Core – Intel/AMD 64-bit processor
- RAM: 2 GB
- Storage: 10 GB (Core), 24 GB (Education), or 40 GB (Pro)
- Display: 1024 × 768 resolution
Zorin OS Lite and Education Lite editions – Designed for old and low-spec computers.
- CPU: 1 GHz Single Core – Intel/AMD 64-bit processor
- RAM: 1 GB
- Storage: 10 GB (Lite), 24 GB (Education Lite), or 40 GB (Pro Lite)
- Display: 800 × 600 resolution
It looks really good, but I gave my VM four i5 threads (2 cores) and 6GB RAM and it wasn’t as fast and responsive as I expected.
Lubuntu – a project that is an official derivative of the Ubuntu operating system. Using the LXQT desktop environment is lighter, less resource-intensive, and more power-efficient. The LXQT desktop uses the Openbox window manager, has low hardware requirements, and is designed for netbooks, mobile devices, and older computers. Lubuntu is offered in many ISOs for several computers, like standard PC, laptops, Raspberry Pi, etc.
Lubuntu now ships the most advanced desktop interface, using Qt technologies for rendering the widgets and the entire ecosystem (from the installer to the smallest parts).
The winning combination of Arc theme and the Papirus icons makes the new Lubuntu desktop easier to read and less cluttered. The symbolic icons and glyphs, now easier to recognise, added to sharp edges and vibrant colours, add visual dynamics without overwhelming the overall design.
Combined with the new compositing effects, the apps, panels and widgets of your new desktop will look modern, while being fast, simple and affordable for almost every machine.
Lubuntu is compatible with the majority of existing file formats, such as images, songs, films, spreadsheets, text documents, internet radio stations, and much more.
Everything works out of the box. But if you need more (usually proprietary) codecs for exotic file formats, you can always install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package and enjoy all that content.
For the not-technical users, this will be a big plus. After installation, you have a fully functional system with all the needed software. I gave this VM the same resources as for Zorin and it’s much faster and more responsive. Maybe it’s not that pretty, but for me performance is more important than look.
I love systems based on deb files (like Debian or Ubuntu), but I don’t look for a complete solution. I wanted to have something simple, just a core system, where I could add what I needed.
And at the end, I finished with the distro based on arch Linux, not on Debian 🙂 – Archbang.
ArchBang is a live distribution built on top of Arch Linux.
The system uses the lightweight Openbox window manager and is a rolling release distribution, just like its prototype. This means that it does not require reinstallation to a newer version – you just need to perform regular updates to all packages. ArchBang Live can be transferred to a computer’s hard drive or flash drive. It is available for 32- and 64-bit architectures.
Starting with the 20170917 version, ArchBang is based on Artix and uses OpenRC instead of Systemd.
The goal of ArchBang is to provide a simple, Arch-based Linux distribution with a pre-configured Openbox desktop package that follows Arch principles. ArchBang has also been recommended as a quick installation method for people who have experience installing Arch Linux but want to avoid the more demanding default Arch Linux installation when reinstalling on another computer.
Is this the end?
To be honoest? I’m not sure. I still want to check how EndeavourOS is looking right now (it’s another arch based distro). But most probably I will stay with Archbang, as I know this system, and I like it.
Right now I’m thinking, if I want to install anything natively in OS, or maybe I will use only apps from snap or flatpack?