Computers & Electronics

Light Linux desktop for use inside VM on Windows 10

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  • Sep 9th, 2021 12:30 am
[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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Belle River

Light Linux desktop for use inside VM on Windows 10

I want to run a VM on Windows 10, with Hyper-V I guess but if Linux VMs work better another free VM software I will use it. All I will do inside this VM is some web browsing with a few dozen tabs open, and very light FTP usage.

Which Linux would work well inside a VM for this case with the lowest RAM usage?

For comparison I'm currently doing this with a 4GB Raspberry Pi 4 running Raspberry Pi OS, viewing/controlling over VNC. I think the RPi4 performance is sufficient but the VNC makes it a bit annoying.
17 replies
Sr. Member
Dec 6, 2020
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There won't be too much difference between different Linux distros or desktop environments, in large part because a few dozen browser tabs will use far more RAM than the OS will. The OS and desktop environment will use under a GB, but a few dozen tabs will take multiple GB easily.

That said, KDE does use a few hundred MB less than Gnome, so if you are very memory constrained, use Kubuntu or Opensuse Leap with KDE.

Expect to allocate at least 2.5GB, and preferably 4 GB, to the VM. The host will need at least 8 GB of physical RAM installed.
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Aug 2, 2004
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East Gwillimbury
Do you need to run Windows and Linux at the same time?

Would a live CD work for you? Do you need to save your browsing history? Bookmarks etc?
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Jun 8, 2005
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I've used VMWare Workstation player in the past, but Hyper-V should be fine. Might even be preferable if you want to do things like run nested docker containers in your VM.

On other devices, I've run Lubuntu as it's touted as more lightweight than your standard GNOME Ubuntu. Can't provide specific RAM requirements though.
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Apr 29, 2018
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I would go with Ubuntu. It is the most polished desktop distro. The other versions such as Lubuntu etc would error out with something or the other on my desktop.
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[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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Belle River
Gee wrote: Do you need to run Windows and Linux at the same time?

Would a live CD work for you? Do you need to save your browsing history? Bookmarks etc?
No, I keep my Windows PC on all the time, and I do keep stuff saved in the browser.
kramer1 wrote: I would go with Ubuntu. It is the most polished desktop distro. The other versions such as Lubuntu etc would error out with something or the other on my desktop.
Yes Ubuntu is probably the best desktop overall, I hoped there was something that might be use less RAM but someone pointed out it's the browser that will eat up RAM rather than the OS.


Which VM software is best to run Ubuntu on Windows?
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Mar 10, 2018
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does it matter?
Gee wrote: Do you need to run Windows and Linux at the same time?

Would a live CD work for you? Do you need to save your browsing history? Bookmarks etc?
agree. I run Damn Small Linux on old 1GB hp usb drive. on at least 12 year old Dell desktop. Windows 11 is so Damn slow on that but not Damn Small Linux. Works beautifully. But OP want both like with VM.
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Aug 2, 2004
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East Gwillimbury
hystavito wrote: Which VM software is best to run Ubuntu on Windows?
It doesn’t really matter, I would use VirtualBox, but you can use Windows Hyper V

I think you are better off getting a cheap computer / notebook to run Linux or better yet, get a home server and virtualized both Linux and Windows

Any reason why you can’t use your Windows desktop to browse? Are you concerned about security and want to do online banking on a Linux machine etc?
[OP]
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Dec 24, 2008
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Gee wrote: It doesn’t really matter, I would use VirtualBox, but you can use Windows Hyper V

I think you are better off getting a cheap computer / notebook to run Linux or better yet, get a home server and virtualized both Linux and Windows

Any reason why you can’t use your Windows desktop to browse? Are you concerned about security and want to do online banking on a Linux machine etc?
I already have extra devices around, the problem with a separate device is controlling it, shuffling keyboards/mice and monitor inputs. I have a multi device keyboard and mouse but already assigned to max devices. I used to use a 1440p DVI KVM until it died years ago, but now with a mix of different video inputs, DVI, HDMI, DP, it would probably just become a nightmare of adapters and problems. Eventually I settled on the RPi4 + VNC, it's always on but makes no noise and doesn't use much power, but now the laggy VNC is starting to get to me and I was looking for a new solution.

It's just stuff I wanna keep isolated, security but also just less chance of me or someone else accidentally messing it up, no Windows updates to get in the way it's just always good to go, and I already have many browsers and stuff running on my Windows PC. Also I have my flow down to how I like it and wanna keep it that way, simple and minimalized.
Sr. Member
May 21, 2008
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Ottawa
I have used LinuxLite and Peppermint OS as a VM in my work laptop. It's not a high end laptop so was looking for something low on resource and both of them worked well for me.
Sr. Member
Dec 6, 2020
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hystavito wrote: Which VM software is best to run Ubuntu on Windows?
I've found VMWare Player (free for personal use) to be the fastest virtualization tool on Windows. It's less flexible than Virtualbox, but the performance gain is significant.
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Dec 23, 2015
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I'm currently running Manjaro XFCE edition on one of my computers and it's pretty light weight. XFCE isn't as pretty as gnome or kde but it has all the basics.
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Oct 23, 2005
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I just downloaded Xubuntu on Virtualbox yesterday on my Windows 10 machine and it works great. 1024 MB of RAM and 10 GB of allocated virtual hard drive space.
[OP]
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yanksingh wrote: I have used LinuxLite and Peppermint OS as a VM in my work laptop. It's not a high end laptop so was looking for something low on resource and both of them worked well for me.
middleofnowhere wrote: I've found VMWare Player (free for personal use) to be the fastest virtualization tool on Windows. It's less flexible than Virtualbox, but the performance gain is significant.
I'm trying Peppermint OS in VMWare Player running 2GB of RAM. Peppermint is cool, I like that "web browser manager" idea, very simple and quick to install browsers. I'll bring in the tabs later and see how it does on 2GB.


input wrote: I just downloaded Xubuntu on Virtualbox yesterday on my Windows 10 machine and it works great. 1024 MB of RAM and 10 GB of allocated virtual hard drive space.
I didn't even think to try Xubuntu even though I use it for remote desktop on some servers. I thought about XFCE though. Did you use a ready made Xubuntu VM image like from OSBoxes or something?
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Feb 2, 2003
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I was going to also recommend Xubuntu or Lubuntu. Go with Xubuntu if you are already familiar with XFCE. Also get the LTS release to get fewer application updates and uninstall all apps you won't be using. You can install to the VM from an ISO.
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hystavito wrote: I didn't even think to try Xubuntu even though I use it for remote desktop on some servers. I thought about XFCE though. Did you use a ready made Xubuntu VM image like from OSBoxes or something?
I just downloaded the ISO from the Xubuntu website and ran the installation. Once the OS was installed, I installed the Virtualbox Guest Additions afterwards, to enable dynamic resolutions. It's very easy to do.
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Ubuntu works great with VMWare Workstation Pro.
Blanka
[OP]
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I further tested Peppermint OS with on VMWare Player with 2GB RAM and it worked fine so far. I'll try some other suggestions as well, like Xubuntu.

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