Showing posts with label Elementary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elementary. Show all posts

Monday, March 1, 2021

The best lightweight Linux distributions of 2021

Looking for a lightweight Linux distribution to install on that old PC? Check our top picks for 2021
Photo by Naman Porwal on Unsplash

On a previous post we discussed the best Linux distributions for new users in 2021. While those distributions are fantastic, they demand moderately powerful hardware and a decent amount of storage. Today, let's discuss the best lightweight Linux distributions in 2021.

What's a lightweight Linux distribution?

As you probably expect, a lightweight Linux distribution is a distribution that does not require super-recent hardware and, as much as possible is friendly on storage and energy consumption.

What should you expect from these distributions

All of the presented distributions were chosen not only because they're stable and secure but because they're easy-to-use, powerful (with no compromises) and require modest hardware requirements. As a bonus, running on single board computers and IoT would be a plus.

So let's get started and review what are the best most recommended lightweight Linux distributions in 2021.

Ubuntu MATE

Ubuntu MATE is a lightweight and simplified Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It's stable, easy-to-use and comes with the lightweight (and familiar) MATE desktop environment. It is ideal for those who want the most out of their computers and prefer a traditional. Another advantage is that it requires modest hardware requirements, running on modern workstations, to single board computers and IoT. Ubuntu MATE makes modern computers fast and old computers awesome again 😊.

Ubuntu MATE's default desktop

elementary OS

We ❤ elementary OS and pretty much anyone in the community. elementary (lowercase e please) was select as one of our best distros in 2021 an still shows up in this list. It's installation is super quick and its Pantheon desktop environment certainly offers a very polished experience while still being lightweight! Being also based on Ubuntu makes it a solid choice for your old PC.

The beautiful elementary OS desktop


Solus is another of the fast and lightweight Linux distros that we love. Built by community by passionate developers, the Solus OS is a beautiful, lightweight, innovative and rolling-release operating system that everyone should try at least once. Sure, it's not backed up by the likes of Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company but is built on strong (and innovative) technologies. Definitely worth trying out.

Source: Solus Project 

Fedora XFCE

Fedora XFCE is another of our favorite lightweight distros of 2021. Built by the an awesome of independent and (RH)-dependent Fedora developers, Fedora XFCE is definitely a distro for those working (or willing to) in the Enterprise Linux space since it shares roots with RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and many of its forks (including CentOS, Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux). And as happens with every Fedora spin, you'll get as vanilla as possible from XFCE's original experience

Source: Fedora Project

Manjaro XFCE

If  you're looking for a little more action than why not try Manjaro XFCE? Running the XFCE desktop environment, the same desktop environment as the Fedora spin listed in this article, Manjaro is based on the venerable Arch Linux but presents a less steep learning curve and counts with a thriving and ever-growing community. Manjaro XFCE presents a very polished and fast experience that would suit well to new and experienced Linux users on modern and old hardware.

Manjaro's beautiful XFCE desktop environment


On this article we presented the lightweight Linux distributions in 2021. Lightweight Linux distros usually run super-well on old PCs or Macs guaranteeing you some good years of use still. Another idea would be spinning them up in less resourceful virtual machines so you can practice your Linux skills. More on that later.

See Also

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Installing elementary OS in a Virtual Machine

elementary OS is one of the best Linux distributions for new users. Learn on this tutorial how to install it on a Virtual Machine to test it
Pantheon - elementary's beautiful desktop

Before switching to Linux permanently, it's recommended to test it on a virtual machine so that you can feel the experience before making permanent changes on your system. On this tutorial, we will continue revisiting the best distributions for beginners in 2021 and install elementary OS on VirtualBox in Windows 10.

This process should be pretty similar to accomplish in either VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation player.

Downloading elementary OS

Head to elementary OS home page an grab the ISO. It's a little tricky to download the version for free as you have to set the price to zero. Once you set it, click on the download button:

Downloading elementary OS

For this tutorial we'll use elementary 5.1 but feel free a newer release if one is available. The file should be around 2 Gb in size so go grab a coffee while it downloads. If you need help, check their installation guide for more information.

An ISO is simply an image of the installer containing all the files needed to boot and install that distribution in your system.

Installing elementary OS

With the ISO downloaded, let's start the process. Open VirtualBox:

VirtualBox's main screen

Click New and choose the memory size (4Gb or more is recommended):

Create a Virtual Hard Disk by selecting Create a virtual hard disk now:

Choose VDI (VirtualBox's default format):

Set it to Dynamically Allocated (slower) if you don't have much disk space or Fixed Size (faster) if you do:

Specify the size. We recommend setting it to 20 Gb:

Review and Create:

After clicking Create, you should see a summary of your new VM. Click Start to start the installation.

Booting the VM

Okay, so it's now time to boot (load) our VM so we can install it in the virtual hard drive. As soon as you press Start, VirtualBox will ask you for an ISO to boot. Click on the orange folder icon > Add and specify the one you downloaded previously. Then select it and click Start again:

As soon as the ISO boots, you should see this prompt. Choose Try or install elementary OS:

Installing elementary

Once the boot completes, you're greeted with the installer. Choose your language and to install, click Install elementary to proceed with the installation:

Choosing the Keyboard

On the next screen, choose your keyboard and click Continue:

Apps and Updates

Next, specify what to install and if updates should be installed. Choose what works best for you:

Installation Type and Media

Choose what to install. For VMs, Erase disk and install elementary should be good enough since it's a new VM. Don't worry, it won't affect your real system:

Choose a Time Zone

Click Install Now > Confirm the changes. Next, select your time zone:

Setting Host, User and Password information

On the next screen enter your name, username (how you will login as), password and host (how your machine is identified):

Finishing the Installation

Once the all the settings were satisfied, the actual installation begins. Give it 10 minutes or so:

Once you see this message, click Restart Now:

First Login

Once the VM restarts, you should see this boot screen:

Taking to this beautiful login screen:

Entering your password takes you to this beautiful welcome screen:

Default Desktop

After finishing the initial welcome screen this is how your new elementary OS system should look like:

Pantheon - elementary's beautiful desktop

Next Steps

There you are! Feel free to have fun with your new elementary OS VM! We will cover some more interesting topics in the future but we recommend that you play with it in the meanwhile.


On this tutorial we learned how to install elementary OS in a VirtualBox virtual machine (VM). Installing Linux on a VM is the first step you need to explore Linux in its multiple variations. The next step is obviously, replacing your Windows or Mac. But take your time!

See Also

Monday, February 8, 2021

Getting started with Linux on Virtual Machines

Learn how to get started with Virtual Machines on Linux so you can test any Linux distribution on your computer without risking to lose your files 
Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

On a previous post we reviewed the best Linux distributions for new users in 2021. We also discussed that, before switching permanently to Linux, it would be good to try out some of those distributions. Today, let's learn a little more about virtual machines (VMs) and how to install them on Windows and Macs.

About Virtual Machines

More a less 20 years ago the tech industry saw a big growth in processing power, memory, storage and a significant decrease in hardware prices. Engineers realized that their applications weren't utilizing the resources effectively so they developed tools such as Virtual machines (VMs) and hypervisors to run multiple operating systems in parallel on the same server.

Source: Resellers Panel


Among the advantages of running VMs is the fact that you can better utilize idle resources of the host (compute, network, storage, etc), isolation, sandboxing, allowing to test different operating system, etc.

Host x Guest

The physical hardware running the VM is generally referred to as the 'host' and the emulated VM is generally referred to as the 'guest'. A host can emulate several guests, each of which can emulate different operating systems and hardware platforms.


A hypervisor is computer software, firmware or hardware that provides the guest operating system with a virtual operating platform and manages their execution. Hardware virtualization started circa 2005 on the x86 architecture with Intel VT-x (code-named Vanderpool) and AMD-V (code-named Pacifica).

Full Virtualization

Multiple technologies are available for full virtualization using software, including  Parallels Workstation, Parallels Desktop for Mac, VirtualBox, Oracle VM, Hyper-V, VMware Workstation and VMware ESXi.

Hardware-assisted Virtualization

In hardware-assisted virtualization, the hardware provides architectural support that facilitates building a virtual machine monitor and allows guest OSes to be run in isolation. The most popular technologies are KVM, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, Hyper-V, Xen, Parallels Desktop for Mac, Oracle VM Server, VirtualBox and Parallels Workstation.

Graphics Virtualization

Graphics virtualization is not part of the x86 architecture. Intel Graphics Virtualization Technology (GVT) provides graphics virtualization as part of more recent Gen graphics architectures.

Operating-system-level virtualization (Containers)

Another important thing to note is that VMs are substantially different from operating-system-level virtualization. On the latter, all instances (usually called containers) share a single kernel, though the guest operating systems can differ in user space, such as different Linux distributions with the same kernel.

We will discuss containers at length in future posts, keep tuned

Most Popular Solutions

The two most popular (and free) virtual machines applications in use today are Oracle VirtualBox and VMWare Workstation Player. Windows 10 users can also use Hyper-V and on Macs, Parallels is also very popular (albeit expensive) solution. Let's see how to get started with them.

Installing Oracle VirtualBox

Installing Oracle VirtualBox should be straightforward for both Windows and Mac users. The first thing to do is to downloaded the latest installer from VirtualBox's website and install it on your machine.  After installed, it should look like this:

Oracle VirtualBox after installed

To learn to install VirtualBox on your Windows box following a detailed tutorial, check this video.

Installing VMWare Workstation Player

VMWare Workstation Player is also a pretty popular virtualization tool and fortunately, its installation is also straight forward. Download the installer and run to install on your machine. After installed, it should look like this:

For more information on how to install VMWare Workstation Player following a detailed tutorial, check this video.

Installing Hyper-V (Windows 10 Pro only)

Those using Windows 10 Pro (or better) can also use Microsoft's in-house virtualization tool, Hyper-V. We've been testing Hyper-V and it's decent enough for the most use cases so, feel free to try it out too if you like. Installing Hyper-V on Windows is done by: 

  1. Right clicking on the Windows button and selecting Apps and Features.
  2. Selecting Programs and Features on the right under related settings.
  3. Selecting Turn Windows Features on or off.
  4. Selecting Hyper-V and clicking OK.

For more information on Hyper-V support on Windows, check this page.

Installing Parallels on Macs

Apart from VMWare Workstation Player and Oracle VirtualBox, Mac users can also create virtual machines using Parallels. Please note that Parallels is not free as the alternatives above but, since it's a popular solution, it's worth mentioning.

To learn how to install Parallels on your Mac, check this video.


On this article we learned about virtual machines and how to get started with the most popular options. We hope you are now excited to install one the virtualization tools above and start testing some of the best Linux distributions of the year.

Keep tuned, in future posts we will cover how to setup Ubuntu, Fedora, Elementary OS and Pop!_OS in virtual machines. Good luck!

See Also

Monday, February 1, 2021

The best Linux distributions for beginners in 2021

Looking for the best Linux distributions for beginners in 2021? Check our top 5 picks
Photo by XPS on Unsplash

Once you understand the benefits of Linux and decide it to try it out, the next point in your open-source journey is to choose a Linux distribution that best suits your needs. Since there are so many variables in this equation, we prepared a list of the best Linux distributions for beginners to try in 2021.

How we got to this list

But before, let us explain how we got to this list. Since new Linux users have different needs than say, advanced users and developers, here are we we consider the most important for new users:

  1. Installation - how simple it is to install a distro
  2. Features - Which features are included by default
  3. User Friendliness - how friendly is the distro for new users
  4. Customization - how customizable is the distribution
  5. Software - how extensive and up-to-date its software is
  6. Community - how easy will it be to get help from the community

So let's get to work.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is one of the most popular distributions among new Linux users. It may be due to its similarity to Windows, it may be due to its solid foundations, Mint is still one of our favorite choices when it comes to newcomers.


Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8.5/10 8/10 9/10 8/10 8/10 8.5/10 8.33


Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution and is based on the venerable Debian operating system. Ubuntu is also pretty popular on the server, cloud and containers and is usually a distribution that works well for everyone. Ubuntu gets a non-LTS version every 6 months and an LTS every two years.

A brand new Ubuntu desktop

Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 9/10 8.17


Fedora is a cutting-edge Linux distribution, base for the enterprise distributions such as CentOS Stream, Rocky Linux, Cloud Linux and RHEL and incubator of new technologies in Linux and Open-Source. Fedora is a very solid distribution that works well for everyone (including Linux's creator himself). Together with Ubuntu, Fedora can increase your employability due to its roots in enterprise software. Fedora also counts with a very friendly community (albeit smaller than Ubuntu) ships more up-to-date software than all of the other distributions in this list and gets a new release every 6 months.


Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 8.5/10 8.5/10 8.17


Pop!_OS is the newest distribution on this list (and the weirdest name). Based on Ubuntu and shipped by default on System76 hardware, PopOS is seeing a spike in its user based due to its polishedness, segmentation and default customizations.

Source: System76

Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 8/10 8.5/10 8/10 8/10 7/10 7.92

Elementary OS

Elementary OS is a beautiful and powerful Linux distribution that focus on speed, privacy and is a replacement for Windows and macOS. As Mint and Pop!_OS, Elementary is also based on Ubuntu and is a popular choice among macOS users due to its similarities with that system.


Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 7/10 9/10 7/10 8/10 7/10 7.66

Final Thoughts

As you can see, it's a very tight race. On a quick glance, you may question how these distributions differ from each other. And it's a valid question. There's indeed a lot of equivalence between these systems as they are based on the same open-source software.

However, under the hood, there are lots of moving parts which, for new users shouldn't be relevant for now. Choosing a Linux distribution is a continuous process. Most of us, tried, 3, 5 or even 10 different distributions until we settled on something we like. Take your time!


In the end, choosing your distro will come down to preference. So take your time, read about each distribution, test them in virtual machines before installing on your system. And remember, Linux is about choice. You will always be able to reinstall and test as many times as you want. Most people, never settle down on the first one. Good luck!

See Also

Monday, October 12, 2020

Why is Linux free?

Linux is secure, fast, reliable and.. free? If that seems too good to be true you need to know more about Linux.
Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

On previous posts, we discussed why use Linux and one of our most compelling arguments to use Linux is that Linux is free. But since Linux is so secure, fast, reliable, how can it be free? Let's understand what that means and how it happens.

A little history

Avoiding jumping too much back in history, it's important to understand the contribution model in which Linux was built. Once upon a time, there was a developer named Linus Torvalds who wanted to build a kernel to run a free Unix clone at home. He named the project Linux (Linux + Unix) and sent a message to the world looking for volunteers.

That project attracted so much attention that soon, hundreds of other developers joined that cause forming a big network of contributors. Linux, the kernel was the missing piece to produce a completely free operating system as most of the tools were already built on the GNU operating system.

The first distributions

With all the pieces to build a free and open-source operating system available, developers started creating the first Linux distributions. Some of them you may have heard of: Debian, Red Hat and Slackware, the most popular ones.

What about now?

The fact that Linux runs everywhere and that thousands of successful products are built on top of it, is the biggest motivator to use it. It's estimated that today the Linux kernel be worth $5 billion dollars. Given its licensing model, companies building new products today (for example, Tesla, Google or even Microsoft) can leverage Linux and more quickly reach the market saving them literally millions of dollars.

Today, Linux's development is supervised by Linus and sponsored by the Linux Foundation which employs Linus, Greg Kroah-Hartman (and others) to coordinate and foster the development of Linux around the world.

But this model does not only apply to Linux itself. The GNU project and thousands of other larger and smaller projects are being developed every single day by anonymous contributors worldwide following the same methodology.

But why is Linux is free?

Because the Linux kernel, the GNU operating system and all other tools needed to create a free operating system are available as open-source software respecting the premises of the free-software movement fostered by the GNU foundation, it's guaranteed that, as long as there are volunteers to build the distributions, you'll have a free/open-source operating system to run wherever you want.

And this is exactly what happens.

Linux Distributions

Today we have two different lines of Linux distributions being built and available for free: community-based distributions and enterprise-sponsored distributions. Let's review them.

Community-based distributions

Community-based distributions are Linux systems built by volunteers and living of donations. The most popular these days are:

Commercially-sponsored distributions

For brevity, let's define as commercially-sponsored, those distributions that receive grants from commercial companies to support the development and maintenance of those systems. Note that there's nothing wrong with this category since most of the distributions run completely independently from their commercial institution. The most popular are:

But one could charge for it, couldn't they?

The short answer is a definitely yes! And indeed some companies charge for it one way or another. And how do they make money? Well, read the next section to understand.

How companies make money with Linux

Differently from this blog, Linux is not all about charity. There's lots of money being made on it today. Essentially, companies can use Linux in virtually any line of business. Just to illustrate some:

  • support
  • training
  • certification
  • licenses
  • building products around it
  • cloud services
  • storage solutions
  • networking solutions
  • ads
  • social networks
  • cars
  • TVs
  • Watches
  • and more, much more! 😊


On this post we reviewed briefly how Linux was created and how it's license model guarantees that it will remain free for future generations. We also touched briefly on how companies leverage Linux to get faster to the market and to make money. Regardless of who builds your favorite distro, all of us benefit from this massive chain of anonymous contributions.

Hope it helps!

See Also

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Hello World

Hello world, hello from Linux4Us.
Photo by Ian Parker on Unsplash

Writing a simple Hello World program is the traditional way to learn a new programming language. It consists essentially in writing as little code as possible to print the "Hello World" sentence on the screen. In its simplicity lies its beauty: teaching a new programmer how to get the minimum in place to start interacting with the computer.

Because this is a website, we'll skip the traditional C-based hello world program this time and use JavaScript, the programming language of the web. A typical hello world written in JavaScript is as simple as:

console.log("Hello World")

As strange as a hello world for a new website may seem, the core principle is the same: show (well, tell in our case) to the world that we're here, alive and ready for the challenge of teaching Linux for an even wider audience!

About this site

Our team has been discussing for some time how to approach building yet another website about Linux. Since we finally managed to gather the necessary resources (ant time!) to build this website and have lots of ideas for awesome and compelling posts, we decided to go forward and build yet another website about Linux (yawal). Yay!


But why YAWAL (yet another website about Linux)? Despite growth, we think Linux could and should reach even wider audiences. Due to its open nature, diversity, inclusiveness, security, cost and affordability, we want it to be accessible from everyone's digital device.

Plus, we love Linux so much so why not!? 😊

Who are us?

Our team is a community of dedicated open-source volunteers who use, write about and ❤ Linux. We plan to cover the most diverse topics ranging from very simple tutorials to as complex as it may be necessary to teach users how to use, learn and build awesome tools on/with Linux.

What are we planning for this site?

As previously stated, we're planning to share, foster, teach and reach as many people as possible. We'd like to help Linux (and its derivative operating systems such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch Linux, Mint, Manjaro, Elementary OS, etc), its ecosystem and related communities to reach even newer audiences.

How will we achieve this?

First, let's be honest: we don't can't know if we'll ever achieve this! Our success will be directly related to how much engagement we get from the public. The good news is that we don't have any grand ambitions. And since we love contributing to Linux, open-source and education in general, we believe there are big reasons to try!

Our Commitment to Open-Source

We also want to make public our commitment to open-source: we will donate half of our profits to serious open source communities around the world to help and support the growth of Linux. Read more on the about us page to learn more.

How can you help

Interested in helping? Check the how anyone can help. We'll resort from the help of the community (sharing posts, giving feedback, sponsorship this site, etc) so we can grow and reach even wider audiences.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading thus far! We'll do our best to foster, divulge and teach about Linux because we love it as much as you do and we want it to be available to everyone out that who has a digital device in their hands.

All the best,
The Linux4us team

Featured Article

Free Software, Open-Source, Libre, FOSS and FLOSS: what are the differences?

Are these just different names for the same thing? Or there are differences? Photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash We have been discussing...

Popular this Week