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Seven Linux distributions to make your 32-bit computer work

Ubuntu Linux left support for 32-bit machines behind in June 2019, a decision that dragged dozens of distributions based on it (such as Linux Mint, Elementary OS, Zorin OS or KDE Neon) to do the same. Other distributions, like Arch Linux or Fedora, have made the same decision.

The problem is that tech companies consider obsolete to 32-bit computers compared to 64-bit computers, and they also estimate that their decreasing use does not justify the effort involved keep two branches of the same distribution.

But this position, understandable when we talk about Windows or Mac, seems incomprehensible to many Linux users, who they have always been able to rely on this operating system to 'resurrect' their old computers.

Fortunately, there are still many distributions committed to 32-bit hardware that we can keep turning to if we need to get it working.

Is my operating system 32 or 64 bit? How can I find out and what are the differences?


Debian is known to be Ubuntu's 'mother distribution' and to maintain, contrary to the latter, its commitment to working on a wide range of hardware platforms.

And that includes 32-bit Intel for now: its latest stable version (Debian 10 'Buster') offers support for this hardware until 2024.

What to say about Debian? Is about one of the most versatile Liux distributions, and a classic for free software veterans.



In 2015, a deep controversy rocked the Debian community: the change from the traditional 'Init' startup system to the new 'Systemd', which many accused of being insecure and violating the Unix design philosophy.

That's why two years later Devuan (pronounced 'Dev One') was featured, a fork of Debian attached to the 'Init', and that otherwise does not offer major changes from Debian.



Slax is a distribution currently based on Debian (before that it was in Slackware, hence its name), and that is intended to be run from removable drives, from DVDs to USB disks.

The latter makes it a highly recommended option for operating old equipment only for specific tasks.

To run its Fluxbox desktop environment it only requires an i686 processor (the first dates from 1995) and 128 MB of RAM (512 if we are going to use the web browser).


Emmabuntus 3

Emmabuntüs is another distribution whose name also reveals that it has changed from the base distribution: born in 2012 on the basis of Ubuntu, it became dependent on Xubuntu first and Debian later.

Emmabuntüs does not require internet to complete its installation, because all required packages are included within your ISO. That also makes it easy to use as a 'Live' distribution.

This distribution was born within the Emmaus communities, to facilitate the Reconditioning of obsolete IT equipment in the framework of cooperation and development initiatives.

How to install Linux on your old computer to give it a second life



Q4OS is a lightweight distribution based on Debian and that, like Zoris OS, is specifically focused on attracting Windows users to the Linux world.

To do this, it uses its own desktop environment, Trinity Desktop Environment, a fork of KDE that mimics both the Windows XP and Windows 7 interface.

The minimum requirements for this distribution consist of a computer with at least 128 MB of RAM and a 300 MHz Pentium CPU, with a minimum storage space of 3 GB.

Void linux

Void linux

Void Linux is a rolling-release, stable and lightweight distribution, for 'old school' users, also created by a Spanish programmer.

Unlike the previous one, its nods to the 'windowseros' are non-existent (in any case, it seems more aimed at users of BSD systems).

We can download Void Linux ISOs without desktop environment, or with pre-installed environments such as Cinnamon, XFCE, LXDE, LXqt or Enlightenment.

The 'minimum equipment' of this distribution would be a Pentium 4 with 700 MB of disk space and only 96 MB of RAM.



Gentoo is a distribution without binaries, whose differential fact lies precisely in compile the software packages on the user's computer, which optimizes it to run on your hardware.

15 years ago it was one of the favorite options for advanced Linux users looking for new challenges ... a 'niche' now covered by Arch Linux. But of course, Arch does not have support for 32 bits.