What is the fastest Linux Distro of 2012?

what is the fastest linux distro of 2012

List of the fastest Linux distros of 2012 (Picture from TuxRadar.com)


July 30th, 2012: There are many Linux distributions to choose from that vary greatly in look, speed, and functionality.  The Windows Manager is what controls the GUI and appearance of your Linux distro, and is responsible for the majority of speed on your Linux OS (Operating System).

The following is a list of the fastest Linux Distros of 2012. The list is based on boot-time speed, how light it is on system resources, and the load time for applications.  We also kept into consideration functionality and performance.

1. Xubuntu

Our top choice because Xubuntu is feature rich and lightening fast. It has an excellent reputation, easy to install, and has a very large following of users.  Out of all the different Ubuntu distributions, Xubuntu is optimized for older hardware, and was created to be as lightweight as possible.  Xubuntu uses GTK whenever possible for optimal speed.  Xubuntu also has a huge community for support, and is based on and very similar to the regular Ubuntu desktop edition.

2. Ubuntu/Xubuntu with IceWM

IceWM is a very minimalistic windows manager that is lightening fast.  Regular Ubuntu or Xubuntu running IceWM will be extremely fast, lightweight, and low on system resources.  The downside of IceWM is that it’s very limited in functionality and would not be an ideal choice for beginners new to Linux.  Some knowledge of how to use the command line/terminal is necessary, and IceWM requires some tweaking and configuring to get the menus and icons setup properly.

If speed is your primary concern, and you aren’t afraid of using the command line, IceWM can be an ideal choice. To install IceWm in Ubuntu or Xubuntu, open the terminal and type:  sudo apt-get install icewm

3. Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux is very fast, and is the fastest Linux distro when running Live from a CD, DVD, or USB.   Like most Linux distros you can use Puppy Linux with no installation, and without using a hard drive by loading it live which runs from the RAM and CD, DVD, or USB you are booting with.  Puppy is lacking in some functionality that the Ubuntu based distros come with out of the box.

For instance Puppy can mount and read hard drives that are using NTFS, but can not save data to the drive.  I mainly suggest Puppy to users that are looking for a fast Linux experience without needing to install.  It can also be a good choice for older hardware, but I recommend Xubuntu over puppy for users that are looking for long-term users that are wanting to install Linux.

4. Lubuntu

Lubuntu is very low on system resources, but is about the same speed as Xubuntu.  Lubuntu uses the LXDE Windows Manager which is gaining a lot of popularity and might be preferred to XFCE (what Xubuntu uses by default) or IceWM.

5. Arch Linux

Arch is quick, and feature rich, but is geared more towards the advanced Linux user. If speed is a concern and you are an experienced Linux user, I highly suggest you check out Arch Linux if you haven’t already. Arch Linux does require some knowledge of using the command line, and some experience with bash scripting may not be necessary but would be an advantage if using Arch.

You should now have a better understanding of which Linux distro is the fastest for 2012.  Whether you have a very old computer and need a free and lightweight alternative to Microsoft Windows, or maybe you just prefer an operating system that is as fast and lightweight as possible, Linux with a minimalistic GUI is the best option for most users.



Article written by Eugene Computer Geeks, offering computer repair in Eugene, Oregon.

Please comment if you have any suggestions or critiques for this article.

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2 Responses to “What is the fastest Linux Distro of 2012?”

  1. Tom J Says:

    Yes, I agree that you can customize any Linux distro by changing the windows manager. Thank you for taking the time to write this article. I learned about IceWM, and Lubuntu. Currently I have Xubuntu and overall have been very happy with it. I give you two thumbs up for suggesting people use Xubuntu. By the way I don’t understand why Puppy Linux is so popular still.

  2. Tim Says:

    Thank you for the article.
    I’m always experimenting. I’m going to give Xubuntu a try.
    I’ve been very impressed with MacPup, which can run completely on RAM. It’s my daily operating system.

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