If you have followed the latest versions of Linux distributions, you should have noticed that 32-bit support is disabled on most popular Linux distributions. Arch Linux, Ubuntu, Fedora have all given up their support for this old architecture.
But what if you have old equipment with you that still needs to be revived, or you want to use it for something? Don’t worry, there are several other options for your 32-bit system.
In this article, I have tried to collect some of the best Linux distributions that will continue to support the 32-bit platform in the coming years.
Best Linux distributions that still support 32-bit
This list is slightly different from our previous Linux distribution list for older laptops. Even 64-bit computers can be considered old if they are put on the market before 2010. That’s why there are, among other things, suggestions for distributions that only support 64-bit.
The information given here is correct to the best of my knowledge and belief, but if you find anything else, please let me know in the comments section.
Before you continue, you’ll probably know whether you have a 32- or 64-bit computer.
Debian is a great choice for 32-bit systems because they always support it in their latest stable release. At the time of this writing, the latest stable release of Debian 10 buster is 32-bit and will be supported until 2024.
If you’re new to Debian, it’s worth mentioning that you can get reliable documentation on everything on their official wiki. So we shouldn’t start.
You can view the available installation programs for the installation. However, before proceeding, in addition to the installation instructions, I recommend that you consult the list of things to consider before installing Debian.
If you just want to charge the device quickly for temporary use, Slax is an impressive option.
It is based on Debian, but the goal is to be portable and fast, designed to work with USB devices or DVDs. You can download a free 32-bit ISO file from their website or purchase a rewritable DVD/encoded tag with pre-installed Slax.
Of course, it will not replace the traditional desktop operating system. But, yeah, you get 32-bit support based on Debian.
Another impressive distribution based on Debian. AntiX is commonly known as a systemless distribution that focuses on performance while being easy to install.
It is ideal for almost all older 32-bit systems. To give you an idea, it only requires 256 MB of RAM and at least 2.7 GB of disk space. The installation is not only easy but also convenient for both beginners and advanced users.
You should get the latest version based on the latest stable branch of Debian available.
openSUSE is an independent Linux distribution that also supports 32-bit systems. Although the latest regular version (Leap) does not offer 32-bit images, the rental version (Tumbleweed) does offer 32-bit images.
It would be a completely different experience if you were a newcomer. However, I suggest you think about why you should use openSUSE.
It is mainly intended for developers and system administrators, but you can also use it as a normal desktop user. Note that openSUSE is not designed to run on older hardware – so you will need at least 2 GB of RAM, more than 40 GB of disk space, and a dual-core processor.
Emmabuntus is an interesting distribution aimed at extending the lifespan of waste reduction devices with 32-bit support. As a group, they also provide schools with computers and digital technologies.
It offers two different versions, one for Ubuntu and one for Debian. If you need longer 32-bit support, you can upgrade to a version of Debian. It may not be the best option, but with a set of pre-installed software that makes it easy to learn Linux and 32-bit support, it is a sensible option if you want to help your business.
NixOS is another independent Linux distribution that supports 32-bit systems. The goal is to provide a reliable system in which packages are isolated from each other.
It may not target normal users directly, but it is a KDE-based distribution with a unique approach to package management. On the official website, you can find out more about its characteristics.
If you are an experienced Linux user and are looking for a 32-bit Linux distribution, Gentoo Linux should be an excellent choice.
You can easily configure, compile, and install the kernel via the Gentoo Linux package manager if you wish. Not only is it configurable, which is very popular, but you can also run it on older devices without any problems.
Even if you’re not an experienced user and want to try it, just read the installation instructions and you’ll have an adventure.
Devon is another unsystematic distribution. Technically, it’s a split from Debian, but without a system and promoting the initiative.
It may not be a very popular Linux distribution for the average user, but if you want a distribution without system errors and 32-bit support, Devuan should be a good option.
9. Virgin Linux
Void Linux is an interesting distribution developed by volunteers themselves. It must be a general operating system and at the same time provide a stable and scalable release cycle. It works as a web-based system, not a system, and allows you to work in multiple desktop environments.
With only 96 MB RAM, in combination with the Pentium 4 (or equivalent) chip, it has extremely impressive minimum specifications. Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go!
Q4OS is another Debian-based distribution that focuses on delivering a minimal and fast desktop. It is also one of the best lightweight Linux distributions on our list. It has a Trinity desktop for the 32-bit version and support for KDE plasma in the 64-bit version.
Just like Void Linux, Q4OS runs with at least 128 MB RAM and a 300 MHz processor with 3 GB memory. That should be more than enough for any antique equipment. Well, I’d say you should definitely try it!
For more information, you can also read our Q4OS-overview.
11: MX Linux
If you have a somewhat decent configuration (not exactly old, but old), MX Linux will be my personal recommendation for 32-bit systems. It is also one of the best Linux distributions for any type of user.
Overall, MX Linux is a fantastic lightweight and customizable Debian-based distribution. You can choose KDE, XFCE, or Fluxbox (your own desktop environment for legacy hardware). You can learn more on their official website and try it out.
Funtoo is a Linux distribution based on Gentoo. The goal is to give you the best performance with Gentoo Linux, as well as a few additional packages to complete the user experience. It is also interesting to note that the development is actually led by Gentoo Linux creator Danielle Robbins.
If you are new to Linux, you will obviously not have the best experience here. But it supports 32-bit systems and works well on many older Intel/AMD chipsets. To find out more about them, visit their official website and see if you want to try them out.
I have concentrated the list on Debian-based distributions and some independent distributions. However, if you don’t mind long-term support and just want to get a 32-bit supported image, you can also try any distribution based on Ubuntu 18.04 (or any other official version).
At the time of writing this article, they only have a few months of software support left. That’s why I avoided making it a fundamental option. However, if you like distributions based on Ubuntu 18.04 or one of the flavors, options such as LXLE, Linux Lite, Zorin Lite 15, and other official flavors are available.
Despite the fact that the majority of modern Ubuntu-based desktop operating systems have refused to support 32-bit. You still have a lot of options.
What do you want in your 32-bit system? Share your thoughts with me in the following remarks.
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