The 9 Best Linux Distributions That Can Run Entirely on RAM

What to do with your old computers and desktops? The hardware, especially the processor, gets outdated as new technologies arrive in the tech world. It might be a good hardware configuration but that won’t be enough for the operating system to support various softwares and utilities. What to do in such a situation? 

Well, running the operating system solely using RAM is the choice you are left with. You can turn onto some linux distributions that can run entirely on RAM. These distributions are generally classified as lightweight distributions and require very minimal system configurations. Perfect for old hardware, drivers, and requires less storage space and RAM! A great benefit here is that operating systems run faster on RAM rather than using a HDD. It is a good way to make your old computers work like new ones. But what are the best linux distributions that you can run on RAM? Let’s dive in to find out!

Alpine Linux

Alpine Linux pretty much runs on any RAM slot as the size is just around 130 MB. The linux distribution was released by the open community developers and is security oriented. It was originally designed for routers and servers to provide enhanced security. However the basic functionalities offered in the operating system later makes it perfect for older machines.

Minimum System Requirements

  • Memory: 256 MB RAM

Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux can be easily booted live using an USB drive, SD card, or CD/DVD. The Openbox window and JDM makes it super efficient on very low-end devices. As the focus by developers was to be fast, not many applications are pre-installed in the distribution. You can find the basic utilities and applications making it a good pick for your old computers.

Minimum System Requirements

  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Processor: 600 Hz CPU

Tiny Core

The most lightweight distribution out there. Many might argue that it is not a proper Linux distribution because of some missing functionalities. However it includes the Kernel and the root filesystem. The operating system will work but won’t properly support the hardware. You can set up and compile tools to get started with the system. Obviously, connect it with the Internet to download some stuff. 

Minimum System Requirements

  • Memory: 64 MB RAM (128 MB recommended)
  • Processor: i486DX

Porteus

A comprehensive linux distribution that was especially designed to run on portable devices. It is surely one of the best options when it comes to running the operating system entirely on RAM. There are various options, a good interface, and a super fast speed. Support for various languages are available along with both 32 and 64 bit versions in different desktop options. There are multiple software choices available as well that the user can choose from while installing the distribution.

Minimum System Requirements

  • Memory: 36 MB RAM (to boot in CLI mode)

Knoppix

A Debian based operating system that is among the very first Linux distributions developed to run on RAM. It was initially launched in 2000 and has developed a lot since then. It can be run directly on the system from USB drive or SD card. Out of the box, it has over 2500 applications that can be separately installed according to the preferences of the users. The visuals and graphics are good and might cause problems in old computers.

Minimum System Requirements

  • Memory: 32 MB text, 512 MB LXDE (1 GB recommended)
  • Processor: i486DX

Tails

Another Debian based, security-focused linux distribution that is aimed at anonymity and privacy. Basically, for the users who want to work online anonymously without leaving any trace, this is the perfect linux distribution for them. All the Internet requests go through the Tor secured network and non-anonymous requests are rejected.

Minimum System Requirements

  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Processor: 64-bit x86–64 compatible processor

SliTaz

A community based, super lightweight linux distribution that requires just 24 MB RAM. Yes, we can’t believe it but it’s true as the CLI mode can run smoothly. The OS can be easily run on a live USB and will work superbly on old computers. You can also mount this OS alongside Windows if you just want to try it. Basic applications and utilities are available along with a software loader package through which users can add supported utilities quickly.

Minimum System Requirements

  • Memory: 24 MB RAM

AntiX Linux

A versatile linux distribution that is built directly on Debian. The distribution is comparatively more stable from other lightweight distributions and offers a lot of softwares and apt-get package, that enables the users to easily access and install applications from the command line. There are multiple versions available for this linux distribution and users can decide which apps to install or include on their system. It is perfect for old computers and can be run live using an USB or SD Card.

Minimum System Requirements

  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Processor: Intel/AMD x86

Damn Small Linux

Commonly goes by the name DSL, this linux distribution was designed to run graphical applications on old hardware computers. Users can launch this 50 MB operating system on any CD or USB drive. There are many applications like text editor, multimedia applications, file manager, browser, etc. that makes it a good choice for systems with really less RAM. For a smooth and more advanced working, a minimum of 1 GB RAM is recommended.

Minimum System Requirements

  • Memory: 8 MB RAM
  • Processor: i486DX

These are some of the best lightweight linux distributions that can run entirely on RAM. However, we are mentioning it crystal clear that DO NOT EXPECT MUCH FROM THESE OPERATING SYSTEMS. The interface of some might impress you, but it mostly seems outdated or boring. Also, try installing or running these distributions on recommended RAM for a better user-experience. To burn these operating systems image files to SD cards or USB drives, you can download the image files and can use an image writing tool like Etcher to get the job done quickly and safely. So, what’s going to be your pick?

Download Etcher from here

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