Bodhi Linux Is Beautiful & Works On Very Old Computers [Linux]

Justin Pot 17-08-2011

linux for old computersTry a lightweight, beautiful Linux distro that works on very old hardware. Bodhi Linux can run on processors with only 300 mhz so imagine how well it will work on your machine. With the Enlightenment desktop environment, Bodhi looks great and runs light. With the Ubuntu repositories, Bodhi has access to a plethora of quality free software. With a little work, it can become your perfect desktop.


You’ll need to install your favorite software of course, and you might want to spend some time tweaking things. In many ways Bodhi reminds me of time spent tweaking early versions of Ubuntu to make everything work just right. We’ve shown you visually pleasing Linux distributions that use Enlightenment 3 Visually-Pleasing Linux Distributions That Use Enlightenment Read More , and those are worth checking out. Bodhi Linux is different because it’s up to date, completely free to use and compatible with the Ubuntu repositories.

Choose Your Look

Bodhi, it seems, is committed to choice above all. The distribution boots quickly, and the first thing it presents you with is a decision. With various desktop modes to choose from and a few themes to check out as well, you’ll be wanting to explore a little:

linux for old computers

Pick a profile based on your needs and you’ll quickly see the main desktop for Bodhi. Here’s how it looked based on my decisions:

linux for old slow computer


This familiar (read: Windows-like) layout is unique in the world of Enlightenment-based distros, but don’t worry, you can customize the desktop quite a bit if this isn’t your style.

Use Your Desktop

So how does one use this thing? You’ll be wanting to pull up the menu to launch applications. You can do this by clicking anywhere on the desktop or by clicking the button.

linux for old slow computer

Yep, it’s a start button. The menu, to begin with, is sparse, but you can explore the distribution by customizing the look and feel. Much of the fun of older Linux distributions was experimenting with the look and feel in order to get everything set up exactly the way you wanted it. Bodhi recaptured this spirit for me; you should explore it yourself.


Installing Software

Like I said earlier: there’s not a lot of software installed by default. That’s intentional, and is related to the previously mentioned commitment to choice. To quote Bodhi’s about page:

At Bodhi Linux, we believe in User Choice, so we don’t give you three pre-installed mail clients to choose from. It does not mean that there is every browser possible at the click of a button. What it does mean is that we have our own repositories and these are accessible via the apt-get command line, GUI package manager or better still our online software store ( see “Add Software” in menu above!). Out of the box we give you the tools to access the resources you need to be able to build your system.

So choice means the freedom to install whatever software you like, and there is quite a bit of freedom there to be sure. A handy website gives you quick access to many familiar programs:

linux for old slow computer

The site makes use of aptURL to provide single-click installs, but offline installation packs are also available if you prefer.


Want more control than a website with download links can give you? Don’t worry, all the standard Ubuntu package management tools Your Guide to Ubuntu Repositories and Package Management Read More are here for you to use. Synaptic, for example:

linux for old computers

You’ll find apt-get works from the command line as well, so there’s another choice for you.


What really impressive about this distribution is how fast it runs. This is Ubuntu stripped down without any sacrifice in terms of look and feel. Here are the minimal hardware specs:

  • 300mhz i386 Processor.
  • 128MB of RAM.
  • 1.5GB HD space

If a computer is still running today it almost certainly meets those criteria, so there’s no harm in giving Bodhi a chance. Download it now.

What do you think of Bodhi? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, along with any Enlightenment tweaks you can offer.

Related topics: Linux Distro, Recycling.

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  1. Pizamoto
    October 30, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Ultimate Edition "Lite" works very well on my Toshiba Tablet PC...1.53 mHz and 1 GB ram. NO HARD DRIVE, just an 8 GB SD card! Woo-Hoo!

  2. Gibi
    October 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    nice distro only problem is that it doesn`t run on really old computer like my old  hp zv 5ooo

    • jhpot
      October 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      Sometimes there are limits to using aging computers, sadly. Do you have any operating system working on that HP?

  3. ericssonfan
    October 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Can't believe no one mentions XPUD which is the best and prettiest linux I have ever seen. Unbelievably small, but it gives everything that's really necessary.

  4. Tavee2000
    September 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Beautiful OS and plenty of reasons to like, but in the end, (after trying it twice) but finally gave up on it. For me, the Nvidia (jockey) video driver support is not working and that was a final straw.

  5. Tim Shannon, ND
    September 11, 2011 at 1:39 am

    As a long time crunchbanger, I decided to give this a spin for fun. I tried an earlier bodhi and had some hardware issues off the bat - was too impatient to play with it.Then I tried this version of Bodhi (1.2), and I have to say, it is very comparable to crunchbang in system resources used, yet it's quite a bit flashier. It's also clear a lot of care has been put into it's aesthetic - nicely done. A distro that is light on resources and elegant at the same time is NOT so common. It's also very fast and responsive. I've not tried it as a production machine, so I can't personally attest to it's reliability/stability, but at first glance, it looks impressive. I think the people working on this distro are doing good things and I commend them. Peace P.S. As to the criticisms about the distro there are TONS of distro's. You can call them re-spins, or whatever. But if more than a handful of people find them useful - than that is the best that can be expected. Bodhi has a place - because people are using it and enjoying it. The beauty of Linux is it's versatility. There is no "right" Linux, only a community of creative free spirited people experimenting with computing. Bodhi is very much an expression of creativity and integrity - my 2 cents.

  6. Gibiadr
    September 1, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Bodhi Linux is awesome fast and good looking runs on my very old laptop and i really like the Enlightenment desktop

  7. Praveen Ponneri
    August 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Hi guys.
    My cosuin has an old intel dot station PC. Looks more like a mac with all hardware embedded in the monitor body. I have tried at least  a dozen 'so called' lightweight linux distros. None worked. Either stalls during install or during reboot. Does any one know a good linux that will really run ! I am very disappointed, so sceptical to try bodhi lnux too. But any help will be appreciated from any corner.

    • Tina
      August 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm


      this sounds like a question you should ask at MakeUseOf Answers

  8. DarkDuck
    August 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    From my perspective, Bodhi is just a waste... Honestly...
    Stripped down system which you basically need to build yourself brick-by-brick.
    And based on Ubuntu...
    If you want to be a builder, look at distros without *buntu underneath, starting from LFS.
    What's the point to announce that system works on 300Mhz / 128RAM. How much will require Firefox 6 or latest LibreOffice? What will you do on 300Mhz with naked system?

    • Eio
      August 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm

      Are you suggesting LFS instead of Bodhi?  Are you aware that LFS is about building an o/s "brick-by-brick? Do you really mean that adding applications in Bodhi (or any other distro) is as difficult as building and o/s "brick-by-brick"? You may not like Ubuntu but your misleading and untrue comment is a shame, coming from a person who is running a blog about Linux/OSS. 

  9. Peyman
    August 19, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Tried Bodhi and like it very much. I wish they could build a cycling version based on Debian; same way Linux Mint is building rolling LXDE.

  10. Walternative
    August 18, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I've read elsewhere Ubuntu is supporting just i586 and upwards. Does Bodhi expects to rely on Debian to keep supporting i386?

    IOW, is supporting old hardware a main trait or are future Bodhi versions dump such support?

  11. jhpot
    August 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    It's the best for working on computers that old, in my experience. If you have a better recommendation please make it. 

  12. Guess
    August 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Bodhi --- Still not available in 64bit.

  13. Jsp722
    August 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Bloatware is the best bet for cobwebs and dust.

  14. Michael
    August 18, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Which is best if your lappie has limited resources - LXDE or Enlightenment?

    • JeffHoogland
      August 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm

      They use almost the same resource wise. E just looks nicer :)

  15. ercan
    August 18, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    LMDE XFCE = LinuxMintDebianEdition XFCE

  16. Boka Microphone
    August 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Great! I will try install it on my anciaent 1996 IBM

  17. r b
    August 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Actually, Ubuntu Tweak can`t be used, not sure why.

    • jhpot
      August 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Probably because most of what Ubuntu Tweak tweaks doesn't exist on this desktop. Explore the options included, though; they should give you control over every aspect of the desktop.

  18. Rudi Pittman
    August 18, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Curse you I must update my old laptop cause this distro looks really nice.

    • Aibek
      August 18, 2011 at 7:55 am

      great. let us know how you find it :)

      • Rudi Pittman
        August 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm

        Very impressed with everything working on my quirky Inspiron 4000 (custom xorg for full resolution and use of docking station...ndiswrapper for wireless plus minor tweaks such as disabling the touchpoint via xinput to stop the touchpad "drift" issue) and it's working very well...I chose to load some larger apps to see how the system handled it and it's working at least as good as the fedora lxde I was using while looking MUCH better.  They've made a convert. The forum people were also very willing to help.

        • Aibek
          August 20, 2011 at 10:38 am

          glad to heat it worked well for you ). thanks for sharing your feedback here.

    • jhpot
      August 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      Mwhahaha...that was my evil plan all along!

  19. Rodwwarren
    August 17, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Having used linux a few times , Ubuntu 10 was the last full install with a glimpse into Backtrack, I think I will be downloading it and give it a try. Does it also have problems with wireless networking?
     Keep up the good work. Regards Rod

    • jhpot
      August 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm

      It works with wireless anywhere Ubuntu does; it's based on the same set of drivers. Good luck!

    • DarkDuck
      August 19, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      Bodhi is based on LTS. If 10.04 does not support your hardware, you're in risky situation with Bodhi too.When I was trying it, Ubuntu 10.04 did not support my wireless. But Bodhi did support Broadcom 4311.So, there is a better chance that Bodi supports hardware, but again, you're in risk zone.

  20. Yellow
    August 17, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Damn small linux should

  21. Styles373
    August 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm

     Just want i needed. A lightweight destro + customise desktop + no crapware = Awesome
    I'm going try out on one of my old laptops and see how it runs.
    Thank Makeusof for the posting  

    • jhpot
      August 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      I'm glad you like it!

  22. Chase Vandiver
    August 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Are there any distros that work on 115 MHz processors?

    • jhpot
      August 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      As was said: Damn Small is probably your best bet. 

    • alanmoore
      August 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Depending on your RAM, tinycore or slitaz *might* work.

  23. Anonymous
    August 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    What's the different here between all these "stripped down" distros like Lubuntu, Bodhi and Puppy? Other then the the window managers and programs that come preinstalled. I'm new to linux and trying to figgure out how it all works.

    • jhpot
      August 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm

      Some - like Lubuntu and Bodhi - are based on Ubuntu, and as such give you access to their repos. Others, like Puppy, are more independent and have their own way of doing things. 

      Another different is the desktop environment they use, as well as the software that comes with. 

      • Sonny Bass
        August 17, 2011 at 11:30 pm

        Some versions of Puppy (Lupu for example) are built using Ubuntu. The Ubuntu repositories are easily added. Whether built on Ubuntu, Debian, Slackware, etc most can use the underlying distro's main repo.

        • Sonny Bass
          August 18, 2011 at 9:48 pm

          I also wanted to mention that the newest release in the Lupu family, Luci 5.2.8 "Two-Headed Dog",  has updated firmware and drivers. It will "work out of the box" on most of the newest laptops. Many of the bigger distros don't have firmware or drivers for my laptop,at least not without some hunting and tweaking.