When looking for a Linux distro that might be suitable for use on older hardware, it might seem prudent to select a “lightweight” version; however, it turns out that not all distros so described are particularly lightweight – at least in terms of the file size that has to be downloaded.
One source of information on distros for older hardware is DistroWatch.com. Go to “Search”, and under “Search by Distribution Criteria (Simple Search Form)” select Distribution Category = Old Computers, and press the “Submit Query” button.
The listing of suggested distros does not include the (ISO) file download size; however, for the top-ten listings, these are as shown in the following table:
As can be seen, most of these distros have ISO file sizes of 600-700 Mb. These will require some time to download and will essentially fill an entire CD-ROM. One distro, weighing in at more than 1 GB, will require a DVD. In fact, only four of the ten have file sizes below 200 MB, and some of the smaller distros are so-called “core” versions, requiring additional downloading of applicaton software to make them really useful.
So, it would appear that some of these “lightweights” might well belong to another weight category – while others may prove to be a little too light for general purpose usage?