Best lightweight Distro for Older 32 Bit system

I have an old Dell Optiplex 780 desktop 32 Bit system with 8GB Ram, 2 TB HD.
I am wondering what would be the best lightweight distro to try.
I have tried Mint 20 & Zorin 16, but they both run super slow in response time.

I know there is a Zorin OS Lite and a Mint LMDE version.
I just would like as modern of a UI as possible that is not laggy.

Any thoughts appreciated.

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If you haven’t already, check out for a comprehensive list of Linux distributions. If it doesn’t say “x86_64” or “64-bit” then it should work on a 32-bit system. But double check that before you decide to install it. There are not many 32-bit distros, but they do exist.

Edit: Just found this article that covers 32-bit distros: Top 14 Linux Distros That Will Support 32 Bit Systems


There’s always Linux Mint 19.3 XFCE.
You can pick it up directly from this link: :slight_smile:

Downloading that right now to try on the dual processor G5. It has Mate’ on it but I can’t seem to get enough space on the filesystem partition to accept updates. Other than that it runs great! Let’s see how this works on it. Thanks for the link.

Well, it didn’t work. Message said something about a mismatch. I’m thinking my old DP G5 is 64 bit. Going after that this morning.

Hey @GrillerMiller!
I’ve been a bit short on time lately, so my brain got a bit foggy. I apologize for it.
The G5 processor is RISC architecture (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) as opposed to the 32-bit and 64-bit main processor lines, who are CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing). Hence your CPU is also called PowerPC - which in your case, is PPC64.

Very few Linux distributions have support for this type of CPU, but I did a deep search on it and there is a major one who still has support. It’s the Debian one, the mother distro on which Ubuntu is based on.

It could be a bit more challenging, but it has a current Kernel and a huge repository of applications. Therefore you can bring your system up to date. Plus, it supports the DEB packages that are most common out there. Though you will have to make sure that their versions are for PPC64 (in case you’re trying to download from websites).

You can find the Debian installer ISO here:

It’s a 2021 version. However, make sure that your G5 Mac is connected to the Internet via an Ethernet cable, as this type of ISO will download the components as it goes. You will be able to select the desktop environment you need during the installation process.

I’m not sure if the G5s allow USB booting, but I believe they support CD/DVD boot. :slight_smile:

I hope this will help you.

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Good morning Vasileios,
Thanks so much for the reply. I can imaging all the running with the new platform evolving. All I can say is thank you and Jeff, and Will, and ok, there are so many responsible for all our learning. We seem to be able to help each other somewhat now…a short month later. I’m doing on the average of 5 distros a day. Right now there are 5 computers turned on and running and I’m setting up to try another shot at the 2003 Gateway Laptop again. Mind you I have a lot of failures, but I have plenty of successes. I just have to do it while the wife’s at work!
I spent most of the day yesterday trying different distros on the old ppc. So far the only thing it will boot from on USB is either Mac or Ubuntu Mate PPC. I can get Mate on it very easily but have not been able to do updates. It gives errors no matter how I install. Ive even tried the “something else” install a few times to setup larger partitions manually on the 500Gb ssd. Those attempts all failed. The standard install leaves the “filesystem” partition too small for updates. I’ve attempted to enlarge it using Gparted but still no luck. It’s running right now with a fresh install of 10.5 but that’s as far as it goes with Mac. It’s a great old machine. I hope to set it up as a file server. I dug out an old Drobo 2nd gen, found some old dusty spinning platters and got it running in both Windows and Mac. I’ve found Linux code but it’s pretty old. My mission…until I learn better…is to “massage” the old scripts for the utility so it works with my dinosaur. At the moment, the old Mac is copying a few hundred gigabytes from an external 4Tb sata drive to an external 500Gb ssd so I can add that 4Tb to the Drobo.
Well, that was fun.
Have a great Friday!

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Thank you so much for your kind words @GrillerMiller!
You are very correct. We basically want everyone to become able to face the challenges ahead and spread the good word to help free people from Big Tech!
As for your PPC, I take it you didn’t have much luck with Debian? It can be a bit tougher to set up, but once you have it, it’s as rock-solid as it can get once you have it. :slight_smile: