Looking for DE that works i386 32bit pcs


I am looking for DE environments that will work with older pcs most likely i386 32 bit machines. If anybody can list them so that I can try them out. Also generic terminal entries on installing and uninstalling them.


This a list of distributions for old computers. Look up what DEs they install and you have your list. Furthermore, you can look up how to manually install each DE and your entire request is solved.


Hello Akito

Thank you so much for you’re quick reply much appreciated I will look into it to find out which suits.


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Linux Mint still offers Cinnamon, Mate, and Xfce in 32 bit mode. I believe Xfce has the smallest footprint at about 465 MB of ram usage and needing only about 10 GB of disk space to install.


I personally would go for Linux mint 32 bit mate version as it tends to work on older machines straight out of the box (download)

Failing that lubuntu offer a small footprint lightweight version but no longer in 32 bit mode
So it may involve a older version

Sadly older 32 bit versions are getting harder to get hold off and everyone is moving away from supporting this platform. Guess there comes a time when this has to happen but a waste of older technology that is now destined for the scrap heap, something we see often in technology.


I’m not sure if this combo will work for you, but I’d definitely try Debian 8 +LXDE with the non-PAE kernel. That worked me the best among distros I tried on an ancient old laptop with 512MB RAM.

The whole thing booted around 30 seconds, and ran acceptable overall, except browsing.
Browsing the current WEB is simply unbearable on such an old computer…

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There is an OS that specializes on that:


in my opinion BodhiLinux is worth trying out:

System Requirements

Wikis > System Requirements


  • 500mhz processor
  • 256MB of RAM
  • 5GB of drive space


  • 1.0ghz processor
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 10GB of drive space

Standard Release: Download | Torrent | Md5

Hwe Release: Download | Torrent | Md5

AppPack Release: Download | Torrent | Md5

Legacy Release: Download | Torrent | Md5 # that´s for 32-bit systems

I´ve been using Bodhi as a VM with quemu/kvm for quite a while now and it runs smoothly (even with just 1 GB of virtual RAM assigned to it).
DE ist moksha , a fork of enlightenment.

Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hello Paul,

Thank you so much for your suggestion, I will look into. I am eager to learn and find out different distros. Just to let you know that I have already Lubuntu 18.04LTS with LXE DE. Unfortunately I will not be able to upgrade to 20.04LTS cause I have an older machine i386 with 32 bit I tried it on my laptop and it crashed luckily I found a USB stick with Xubuntu 14.04LTS which I was able to download and install and eventually it was upgraded to 18.04LTS I am wondering if Xubuntu will detect that I have an old version and will upgrade.

Thanks again

The difficulty you will have is the 32 bit every time not much you can do about that to keep a older box running

Lubuntu is ok but can be limiting on applications you can install easily as there is no real software centre unlike mint where you can get more toys to play with if learning is the idea

Yes you can do it but needs more work

So pleased someone wants to use a 32 bit machine as a learning tool and experience different Linux versions

But not from 20.04 editions.

That’s true, but Linux Mint is a Long term support release (LTS) and supported until April 2023.
That’s still almost 3 years off.

Dear Ludwig,

I would strongly recommend you investigate MX Linux. It is one of the best, if not the very best, Linux distributions out there which does support 32-bit computers. It fully supports those computers and even comes complete with its own “owner’s manual.”

It is based on antiX but it is superior in every way.

I wish you the best of luck.


You may also want to look into any of the “Puppy” Linux’s; there are MANY. I’d like to suggest BionicPup.

After finding elementary os “Hera” 64 bit less than satisfactory on an Atom Powered Netbook (Samsung N150, dual core Atom, 2 GB RAM 64 GB SSD) - I’ve decided I might go Ubuntu 16.04 i386/i686, and lookup / follow up getting pantheon to work…

As an indication - elementary os “Hera” is quite snappy on a quad core 4 GB RAM Raspberry Pi 4, but it’s a slug on an Atom powered Netbook (actually just freezes sometimes)…