After some initial experiments with Zenwalk, I have tried 3 more lightweight Linux distros, with the aim of finding something that will run well on an older PC with only 256MB of RAM, but provide a user friendly interface and be capable of performing day to day office tasks.
Here is my very superficial review, please don’t take it too seriously.
Puppy Linux is the smallest of the three and the ISO file is only 131MB. It is optimized for running from CD or USB. Although it tries to be user friendly it is some way behind the other two for non-technical users. There are lots of strange application names and icons in the menus, so for now I’m putting that aside.
lubuntu is a project that is intended to lead to an official derivative of the Ubuntu operating system that is “lighter, less resource hungry and more energy-efficient”, using the LXDE desktop environment. I installed this to hard disk using an Oracle VirtualBox Virtual Machine.
On booting it consumed only 56MB of RAM so there was plenty left over for running applications.
It uses chromium as the default browser, and this doesn’t have Adobe Flash installed.
Peppermint OS has the goal of providing a fast, web-centric operating system that’s easy to learn and effective when put in use. The default desktop interface is LXDE. I’ve also run this as a virtual machine.
On booting, it consumed 86MB of RAM, a little higher than lubuntu but still very reasonable.
Firefox is the default browser and Adobe Flash is also installed.
There is an update manager that lets you know when package updates are available and a very nice software installer for locating and installing additional applications.
I’ll post them here after I’ve spent some more time investigating…
In conclusion Peppermint OS looks like the best option for my requirements at the moment, but it is only through day-to-day use that I’ll uncover any issues.