Get the most out of low-end hardware in Linux Lite

Linux Lite is a distro perfect for bringing some extra life to ancient hardware although that’s not its sole purpose of existence. It has been put together to make new users feel comfortable in Linux, especially those coming from Windows. It is snappy, light on resources and if you’re looking for ways to squeeze out even more out of it, here are few tips that could help your low-end PC or laptop feel even faster and more responsive.


A fresh Linux Lite 3.4 64Bit installation uses between 350-450 MB RAM which is outright awesome considering that your PC will be featuring a full desktop environment. It is impossible to site the exact amount of RAM used on every installation since it varies depending on the hardware configuration, loaded drivers and so on, but generally that’s a pretty accurate estimation.


Get the most out of low-end hardware in Linux Lite

Linux Lite’s low resources usage is the result of tailored optimizations put together to make it such. Once installed, there are additional “tweaks” we can implement to further improve its performance in low-end hardware; yeah, really!

Let’s start off with zRAM Lite Tweak… zram is a Linux kernel feature that provides a form of virtual memory compression. zram increases performance by avoiding paging to disk and using a compressed block device in RAM instead, inside which paging takes place until it is necessary to use the swap space on a hard disk drive. zram allows Linux to make a better use of RAM when swapping/paging is required, especially on older computers with less RAM installed. PCs with 1-2GB RAM will benefit the most by enabling zRAM; just use it!

Open Menu => System => Lite Tweaks, scroll down the list and enable zRAM:




The service daemon will activate instantly upon install. You can verify this by typing in a Terminal:

~$ cat /proc/swaps

You’ll see at least one /dev/zram# entry. There will be one for each processor core in your system.



Next, there is Preload Lite Tweak… preload is a readahead daemon (a service) that monitors and keeps a history of the user’s most frequently used applications and the files that those applications load on execution. Then based on that data, it guesses what applications the user will likely use in the near future and (partially) loads them from the hard drive to the system page cache (before they’re requested). In short, once preload is installed, after creating its database to better estimate its predictions, your frequently used applications will launch faster.

Keep in mind though, preload is not a “set and go” daemon. You won’t immediately notice applications launching faster and as mentioned before, for speeding up apps start-up times, preload needs to build its database by monitoring the runtime of applications (ignoring anything that runs under 20 seconds) and its memory usage, thus calculating the importance of an application.

Open Menu => System => Lite Tweaks, scroll down the list and enable Preload:




Once installed, restart your computer.

Finally, there is ulatency which is not a Lite Tweak (at least not for now)… Ulatency is a daemon that controls how the Linux kernel will spend it’s resources on the running processes. It uses dynamic cgroups to give the kernel hints and limitations on processes. Processes that have graphical user interfaces and need to be responsive – such as desktop environments – will receive a higher priority than processes that don’t need quite that much attention so to speak.

ulatencyd service can cause problems with Suspend/Shutting down some PCs. If you experience shutdown problems, uninstall ulatencyd!

To install ulatency, from Terminal:

~$ sudo apt-get update
~$ sudo apt-get install ulatencyd ulatency

Once installed, start the daemon and verify it is working:

~$ systemctl start ulatencyd
~$ ulatency tree

Finally, to start ulatency automatically after each reboot, enable it in systemd:

~$ sudo systemctl enable ulatencyd.service


And there you have it… a kernel feature that provides a form of virtual memory compression, a way to optimize the page cache for your most commonly used applications and a daemon that controls running processes priority.


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One thought on “Get the most out of low-end hardware in Linux Lite

  1. Linux Lite is awesome on modest hardware. If it weren’t for systemd and all the really scary stuff I’ve read about it’s security issues and tentacles intruding into everything, I would use Linux Lite (with your Updater and MintStick) on all of my machines!

    I would love to see an article from you about systemd and maybe some suggestions on mitigating it’s vulnerabilities and security holes!

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