LXLE: A Linux distro to give new life to old hardware

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I’ll bet that somewhere, perhaps at home and most likely at work, you’ve got some old hardware lying around. What to do with it? It still works but what’s it running? Windows XP? Vista? Windows 7 Starter or Home Basic?

Yep, you’re stuck on some old version of Windows but moving that machine up to a newer version of Windows could be tricky ‘cause one or more of those old graphics cards and printer drivers have probably have fallen out of the update cycle. 

Even if those subsystems are still available, you’ll still have a problem as the newer OSs’ are pretty much guaranteed to suck the life out of old processors with the result that performance and therefore usability will be marginal at best.

So, what to do? Before you start looking for a deal on a new machine and an e-waste disposal site, consider moving to Linux and, most specifically, consider migrating to LXLE, the LXDE eXtra Luxury Edition (though some people also claim it stands for Lubuntu Extra Life Extension).

Based on Lubuntu and using the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) graphical user interface, LXLE is small, fast, and

… designed to be a drop-in and go OS, primarily for aging computers. Its intention is to be able to install it on any computer and be relatively done after install. At times removing unwanted programs or features is easier than configuring for a day. Our distro follows the same LTS schedule as Ubuntu. In short, LXLE is an eclectic respin* of Lubuntu with its own user support.

lxle 01

While the good people behind LXLE tout the distribution as a replacement for old versions of  Windows, the reality is that non-Linux users are going to have to learn a few new concepts. That said, with other distros, one of the pain points would be maintaining the system which would usually involve updating the package list, then updating the packages, then deleting unwanted files, and … it’s all a tedious and rather techie process. 

LXLE has included a package, uCareSystem Core, that takes a lot of the pain out of keeping everything up to date and “cruft free”. To be honest, uCareSystem could be better integrated by, for example, having a GUI entry to launch it (you currently have to invoke it from a terminal session) as well as being run automatically on a schedule. Even so, including uCareSystem is a step in the right direction.     

The latest release of LXLE, version 16.04, is a 1.29GB download. I first installed it in a Virtual Machine under Parallels 12 with Parallel Tools and then on an old laptop and wow! LXLE really is fast. You can also find both 32- and 64-bit LXLE 14.04 and 32-bit LXLE 12.04 virtual machines for both VirtualBox and VMware on OSboxes.org (none of the VMs come with the guest additions installed and also note that contrary to what OSboxes says, the usernames for the VMs are “osboxes.org” not “osboxes”).

So, if you’re looking for a lightweight Linux-based operating system to extend the life of old hardware or you want bring old equipment back from retirement or want a low overhead, high performance i386 platform, check out LXLE.

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* “Respin,” a remastered version of a major Linux distro tailored for a specific purpose or group.