Operating systems are like cars: you can get a power-hungry Humvee that guzzles gas, leaving you with a few miles to drive, or you can get a super-efficient smart car that barely sniffs gas and gives you hundreds of miles of range. You can also get a monster OS that devours all system resources (CPU and RAM) or you can choose one that barely sips resources. The only difference between cars and operating systems is that lightweight operating systems, unlike lightweight cars, can do all of the heavy lifting that a Humvee can do.
There is is a general perception that lightweight distros are meant for reviving old hardware or for running on really low-powered devices. However, lightweight distros are also ideal in situations where there is a very resource-intense workflow, like video or audio editing, and you want to get maximum performance out of your hardware.
Generally, you need a lightweight distro in any of these three cases:
- You have really old hardware and you want to get some use out of it.
- You have really underpowered hardware like Raspberry Pi or Pine 64.
- You have powerful hardware, but you want to keep system resources for your applications and not for the OS; use cases can be multimedia production systems or media center PCs.