The Simplest, Easiest PC Linux Ever


You've probably heard of the Raspberry Pi. It's a fully-fledged computer, the size of a deck of cards, that costs $35 and runs Linux. It was originally hoped that a few thousand people would be interested in buying one, yet a few months ago the figure hit an astonishing 10 million. The latest model really is powerful enough to use for almost all your non-gaming requirements, including web browsing and word processing. Just add a keyboard, screen and mouse and you're ready to go.

PIXEL Linux OSBack in December, the people behind Raspberry Pi made available a version of their Linux distribution that runs on standard PCs. So if you want the simplicity and speed of an OS that's designed for a tiny computer, perhaps to use for someone who's overwhelmed by the complexity of Windows, now you have it.

The OS is called PIXEL, and it's a free download from The download runs to 1.3 GB, though, so make sure you have enough time and bandwidth to get it. PIXEL is free. You'll need to burn it to a USB stick or DVD disc, and then boot your PC from it.

You can't install it permanently on your hard drive - you have to boot from the USB each time. So it's quite safe to try out on your main PC. And because it only saves files to its own drive, you'll need to use a USB stick rather than a DVD disc if you want to save anything, otherwise your work will be lost when you shut down the machine.

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I think any recommendation about Linux, should always discuss the hardware support for that Linux version
An internet connection, and setting up printing capacity to a specific printer, are required, before handing the computer to a new user

If users wish to connect to the internet, are there likely to be issues with Raspberry Pi ?
?modem compatibility
?is wifi supported 'out of the box'

If they do wish to print, is this possible ?
Will the recommended Linux version allow people to print, use their existing printer ?
A quick internet search suggests that for you to use a printer with Raspberry Pi, there is a fair amount of technical expertise required in the initial setup

These seem like small issues, but for the vast majority of computer novices, hardware issues are paramount
New users invariably will want to print within a few months of using their computer

I agree. My experience is that for a third party you ALWAYS need to consider that people mostly want a low price, preferably free solution for their needs.

I have found that Linux Lite ( is by far one of the easiest to use lightweight versions out there. It is (yet another) Ubuntu based distro and thus everything for Debian/Ubuntu will work. It comes in 32- and 64-bit versions and trying it as a live demo from a USB stick is recommended and does not require any changes to the main disk drive of the machine.

So far the "weakest" old computer I have revived with LL was an older laptop with a Pentium dual core 1.8 Ghz processor. I might get an old laptop with an AMD TF-20 1.6Ghz cpu (single core!); that machine came with Windows 7 and is excruciatingly slow, even with all malware removed. I wonder how it will do with LL.

One thing that I almost always do with weaker, old machines: I give them a new SSD drive. The prices of 100 to 120 GB drives have come down to around $50 to $60 and I sometimes buy two or three to always have at least one in reserve.

And naturally I don't expect LL or anything else to do well in 1GB; 2GB is my minimum and 4GB is quite generous.

Brother printers usually have decent Linus support from the manufacturer, just download the Debian package(s).

My experience with Linux Mint, Ubuntu and others are that these distros usually are too heavy even for an older dual core machine around or under 2 Ghz.

As usual you mileage will vary.

I have been using some HP printers on Linux systems and they generally work well with HP Linux Imaging and Printing Drivers (HPLIP).

Here's a list of printer drivers for Linux which is useful for Linux users, not all printers are supported though.

Me too. I have a HP Deskjet 1516 and have no problems using it across a wide range of distros. MC - Site Manager.

Thats great guys.

The article was about setting up a new linux distro set for someone else (a novice computer user)
"to use for someone who's overwhelmed by the complexity of Windows"

You guys are computer users, not novice users, and set up a Linux distro that connected to your specific printer

My point remains, be sure that if you are giving a Linux system to someone else, that you ensure that recipient has a compatible printer, and you will often need to set up the OS with the relevant Linux printer configuration

Whilst this is true to an extent, most people are capable of finding out how to do something the same as they had to learn Facebook, Twitter and how to setup a smart TV and Android apps for themselves. At least with Linux they don't need to spend half their life configuring a firewall and antivirus software. I've watched novice users attempting this and mostly the end result is less protection than they had with their default Windows install. Some Linux distributions do not come with hplip installed by default but this is easy enough to find using the package manager and the process thereafter is easier than with Windows. The configuration after install might need some research for anyone not able to work this out for themselves, but pretty much every distro forum or wiki gives this information in an easy to understand format. MC - Site Manager.

Thank you, Rob, for another helpful update.

I recently purchased an new which is still sitting in its packing box:

- Intel NUC6i5SYH (Swift Canyon)
- 6th Generation (Skylake) Intel Core i5-6260U Processor (4MB Cache, up to 2.90GHz)
- Kingston Technology HyperX Impact 16GB RAM DDR4 2133 HX421S13IBK2/16
- Samsung 850 EVO - 500GB - M.2 SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-N5E500BW)
- Windows 10 Home 64

At age 63, I can only imagine this will be my final computer purchase.

For work, I use specialized Windows SEO / Metrics software... which has dissuaded me from seriously considering any Linux distro.

At this point, the only Microsoft product I still use is Windows.

Considering the above, could Linux prove a viable option for a Windows business-concentric such as mine?

Thank you much in advance for any innovative and detailed ideas and responses. ;)

~ Alan

Assistance with this is beyond the remit of the comments sections so you will need to use the forum. Suffice to say the OS featured here is not suitable for what you want but the specs of your machine will run about 100 others that are. :) If Linux alternatives for the specialist software you use are not available, you can always install a copy of Windows as a guest in a VirtualBox Linux host. This is how I work and have done for several years. MC - Site Manager.

This might make sense for someone with a strong Linux preference... but does not yet carry sway for me to make the Linux transition. Thank you. ~ Alan

If there are other distributions that are way better than this one, Please let is old fogies (one "g") know what they are...

I'm a retired vacuum tube engineer, been using Linux for about 6 years now.. There's over a hundred distros of Linux, so finding the best one for you could take a while. Just start with an easy one. Mint, Ubuntu MATE, ZorinOS, Elementary, Solus are my top recommendations. If you have an older PC (ten years), Lubuntu. Go to and hit the search button up top, and put "beginners" or "old computers" in the search box. See what you like.

As for Pixel, well, that's OK for a Raspberry Pi. And maybe for a machine you use to program the Pi. But you can't install it on a hard disk? I'd rather use Puppy, which gives you that option.

Good text, thank you.

I've used different versions of Linux for several years now. What I have been doing is taking friends discarded and "out-of-date" lap-tops and making them perfectly usable again. Then I give the lap-top (with new life and vigor) to "old foggies" who haven't even got an email address. Linux is just super for this use.
This version would seem perfect for many an old, easily obtained, and really cheap lap-top, netbook, tablet or even old Kindle - which are almost given away on ebay.
I do agree that the various distros of Linux can and are confusing.

Oh, I don't know, it might be useful for dummies like me, who are intimidated by all those "so many distributions" of Linux. A nice, calm, distro would be a good introduction into the mystic world of Linux. We weren't all born knowing all this, unlike some lucky folks. I am grateful for the heads-up -- and for all the good work done by they often unappreciated Gizmo elves. Thanks!

There are so many distributions that are way better than this one. I don't know why anyone would bother unless they were teaching kids to use a Pi and were short on them.

Willrun4fun, what would be your choice of distribution for use on an old, underpowered PC? I've not used Linux before, but I'm ready to give it a try to make some currently unusable hardware useful again.

I suggest you have a browse here. There is a lot of information about all types of distros including those designed to run on legacy hardware and the second thread contains screenshots of what they look like although to get the latest details I suggest you start the last page and work back. MC - Site Manager.