A fresh install of Ubuntu comes with LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Transmission, Sudoku, Chess, and a slew of other applications preinstalled. Linux Mint includes most of Ubuntu's picks plus GIMP, Pigeon, VLC, and others. The self-purported "elementary" OS comes with midori, pantheon, maya, geary, totem, and noise.

I'm looking for a distribution that comes with only the barest essentials included out of the box (desktop environment, file manager, terminal) but is still relatively easy to use. I'm a fairly technically-savvy computer user who is generally adept at figuring out new software, but I recently tried to install Debian and found myself completely lost.

Note that this has nothing to do with conserving system resources such as hard drive space, and everything to do with personal preference. I like minimalism. I like to begin with a blank slate.

In line with this, I don't care how many system packages come preinstalled behind the scenes, provided that I won't ever have to see or interact with them in the desktop environment. If anything, having more invisible system packages is preferable if it makes the process of installing those applications I do want faster and easier.

Lastly, I'd prefer something based on Debian, since it seems to have a larger community to help solve any problems that arise.

What are my options?

  • Does "easy to use" translates into "no command line"? – Bregalad Aug 15 '16 at 18:11
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    Not necessarily, I'm comfortable enough with the command line on occasion. I mainly put "easy to use" in there because I had recently tried installing Debian, and felt totally lost/overwhelmed by the setup process in comparison to Ubuntu, Mint, Suse, etc. – Wowfunhappy Aug 15 '16 at 18:46
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    I'll then suggest Arch Linux. Installing it is basically typing about 6 command lines (a bit more if you want a working dual-boot), the instructions being on the ArchLinux wiki. The installation is extremely minimal, it just comes with a simple text mode linux with almost no software exept it's package manager. Then you can install whathever you need from there. It's not debian based, though, and it's very opinion dependent whether it is "easy to use". Especially without knowign what caused you hardship with Debian. – Bregalad Aug 15 '16 at 18:50
  • At what point did you get lost installing Debian? – user151841 Aug 15 '16 at 19:15
  • You could install Ubuntu server (easy and minimal) and then install unity. – NonlinearFruit Mar 16 '17 at 18:29

Xubuntu Core should fit your needs. It is "a slimmed down version of Xubuntu that doesn’t come with all the additional features of a full and modern desktop. We essentially only ship Xfce and the basic look and feel of Xubuntu, so there will be no office suite, media players, et cetera."

You can install it with your current Ubuntu installation through sudo apt-get install xubuntu-core^(yes, with the "^"), or use the recomended way, using the ubuntu mini iso


Tiny Core Linux.

It is a complete Linux distro (with GUI) of 16 MB, that boots very fast.

You can further choose which apps to add, persistently or for a session until reboot.

It has a very friendly community and a reactive forum. You only need a bit knowledge of Linux in order to fully enjoy this very original distro.


You could make your own OS, OPENSUSI https://susestudio.com It's really easy and free.


I highly recommend Lubuntu http://lubuntu.net/ It's lightweight great on old PCs based on Debain(it's based on Ubuntu which is based on Debian)

It's Ubuntu with all the LXDE Desktop

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    Lubuntu comes with tons of default apps though: Abiword, Transmission, Pidgeon, Firefox, etc. – Wowfunhappy Jun 15 '16 at 20:02
  • It's not as bad as Ubuntu with the Amazon malware – user23805 Jun 15 '16 at 21:52
  • @Lubuntu -- if you're otherwise happy with the distro, you could uninstall those apps. What exactly do you want to do with this system-- for example, you want a desktop, but no web browser? (Or you want a different, light-weight web browser?) – user151841 Aug 15 '16 at 19:16
  • @user151841: note the in the meantime Ubuntu has removed the Amazon lens spyware. – Dan Dascalescu Dec 23 '20 at 3:33

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