Linux Lite 3.4 review - what is the best Linux Distro for me?

4 minute read

Svetlozar recently asked which distro he could use for his old PC and I recommended Linux Lite 3.4 because it’s designed for low spec computers and it’s strength is how easy and user friendly it is.

Linux is fast and reliable but can sometimes be hard to get used to, especially for beginners. This distro covers both areas by being very lightweight and as well as being ready to use after install with minimal configuration; this is what the developers of LInux Lite have to say:

“Linux Lite is fully functional out of the box…we take the hassle out of trying to find the right software from the start”.

Installing Linux Lite 3.4

This distro is based on Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS which means it’s supported for 5 years and the install process is very similar to Ubuntu. You can download the 32bit version or the 64bit version (recommended) and create a live linux USB drive.

Distro Linux Lite 3.4
Minimum Requirements 700MHz CPU, 512MB RAM, 4.5GB Disk Space
Default Desktop XFCE 4.12
Download variants 32bit and 64bit available
Download Size 986MB

I found the whole install process simple and straightforward and I could easily imagine a complete beginner being able to follow along and complete a successful installation. I installed this installation on my review machine.

Post install

After a reboot, I was presented with the log in screen which was very quick to boot (about 10 secs). Impressed with it’s speed, my expectations for this distro were starting to grow.

On a side note I really think the feather logo looks dated and for a distro that started in 2003 a better logo is long overdue.

It’s a small thing but seeing a welcome screen on first boot bodes well because it shows that the developers are putting users first. The welcome screen is a guide on important post install tasks and links to support and documentation.

Some old school Linux users/developers may hate the idea of wizards and user interfaces for simple tasks but I think all Linux users need to realise that this is a desktop distro not a server distro. Helping users out with simple things using UIs means they have more time to just start using their new OS and gives them the level of polish and user experience that we are all used to in commercial products.

Ease of Use

Linux Lite focuses on it’s two goals of being fast and working out of the box really well. As mentioned already, boot time was fast and navigating the XFCE 4.12 desktop environment was quick and intuitive.

All my hardware was recognised and proprietary drivers were also available to use without having to hunt them down elsewhere.

The available software in the Lite Software app is plentiful including non free software like Skype and Dropbox. Having apps packaged and configured ready to be used without any head scratching and cursing means another thumbs up for this distro’s user friendly credentials.

Their are lots of variations on software management apps out there, with some emulating the Apple store and others being terminal only. The Lite Software app is one that just wants to make life easy and the simplicity of it is appealing but more experienced users will miss features that apps like Gnome Software have.

A special mention on Support

Linux distros have come a long way since the 1990’s and in 2017, easy to follow documentation should be the cornerstone of any self respecting distro. So it’s no surprise that Linux Lite provides great documentation on it’s website that’s a great balance of substance versus information overload.

The information is categorised well and the information is straight to the point with enough info that newbies will be able to understand the content well. As I point out in the video above, the list of free software as it corresponds to popular commercial software is a very useful resource for users coming from Windows and Mac OS.

The developers behind this distro have again maintained their promise of a user centric desktop OS.

So is Linux Lite 3.4 any good?

In one word, yes. Linux Lite easily fulfils it’s aim of being for the user and being lightweight enough for even older hardware. My Intel NUC with it’s Pentium processor works more like it’s got a i3 or i5 processor!

The default install only used about 4GB of disk space and the iso download size it just under 1GB. There’s plenty of software pre installed that should meet most users requirements and being based on Ubuntu LTS this distro is solid and has access to a wealth of software from the Ubuntu repositories.

The XFCE desktop environment is slowly becoming my favorite for low spec hardware and Linux Lite makes use of it well in it’s distro. There’s some Lite apps specially designed for this distro which makes customisations, notifications and software management easy for users of all levels.

With great support and documentation along with all of these other features, Linux Lite is a distro I would recommend for older or low spec hardware. It’s for users who what a Linux distro that works with minimal effort but has enough features to be used as a daily driver.