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The 7 Best Lightweight Operating Systems for Raspberry Pi

•, Christian Cawley

One of the trade-offs is that it doesn't have massive resources. Raspberry Pi OS is more compact than most distros with some features missing. It's lightweight, and for good reason: many features usually found in Linux desktops aren't required on a Raspberry Pi.

By keeping the operating system (OS) lightweight, processing power and RAM can be dedicated to whatever project you plan to run. To keep things more efficient, install one of these lightweight Raspberry Pi operating systems.

The most obvious choice for anyone looking for a lightweight Raspberry Pi distribution ("distro") is Raspberry Pi OS Lite.

Based on Debian Buster, Raspberry Pi OS is the new name for the Raspbian operating system. The Lite build is a minimal image without the X-server window manager, related components, and other modules.

There's also less software, fewer modules, and the operating system uses fewer system resources. The main result of this is that there is more RAM and processing power. While the full Raspberry Pi OS is a 5GB image, Raspbian Stretch Lite is just 1.8GB.

As a result, this "lite" distribution is "headless" (i.e. it has no desktop) and ideal for server use. You'll see some performance gains, particularly if you use the Pi as a file server or for any other headless task