Help Request re kids distro


Hi Folks, i have finally convinced my 10 yr old to let me install linux on her laptop (an acer cloudbook) now that the windows is broken due to updates being out of date and too large to download.

I’ve been researching a suitable distro, i keep coming back to UM of course but would appreciate an opinion from those with a wider distro experience than me. What would be good for a 10 yr old, use is online, documents (browser and Libreoffice basically) and some games. Perhaps some photo management and editing too.

Thoughts from the collective?



if it is a weak device, I recommend you install Lubuntu

To determine the above, can you give more details of the specifications of the device?


Yes good call I should have. It is an Acer Aspire one, Celeron N3050 @ 1.6GHz processor with 2GB installed RAM and a 28GB internal disk (hynix HBG4e)

Requirement from 10yr is, must run netflix! :slight_smile:

Thoughts welcome


Definitely Lubuntu.

It is not strong enough to host Ubuntu Mate. Or, even if it is, as soon as you open one or two application and, especially, if you try and web browse with it, it will be very slow.

I have an Acer Aspire one and it still struggles on the web even with Lubuntu installed, to be honest.

One idea I am toying with is to install Android for x86. Apparently, it runs really well on otherwise weak hardware.


There is one final Linux-based solution. But, it is a bit of a roll-your-own solution.

Install Ubuntu server, Openbox window manager and Tint2 panel

It is a very minimal, but entirely usable GUI system and will run ok on pretty much anything. The web browsing will still not be brilliant. But, this setup will be as speedy as it gets in Linux


You can still buy laptops with similar specs to this. It is not some ancient piece of hardware. Any distro will run on it, but probably best to avoid gnome3 as that is the slowest. That also chalks off ubuntu (18.04/18.10) proper as that is now gnome 3 based. The suggestion to create a custom distro with openbox/tint2 is silly. Especially when the user is a 10 year old. Ubuntu mate with compiz effects turned to the max is what you want.


No it’s not silly. It’s not as simple to set up as a distro that can be installed out of the box to be sure. But, then, I already pointed that out.

So, whilst it is perfectly understandable why someone might not want to go to the trouble of setting up their system with openbox, to suggest such a setup is a “silly” thing to do with a weak machine is… well…



I would recommend MX Linux. It’s lightweight enough to use on your hardware leaving enough room for your daughter’s activities. Most importantly, it’s pretty much install and forget. They seem to be going for being user friendly, with suggestions from users implemented in a matter of days or even hours. Could ramble on but it’s the easiest to maintain distro i have used previously and it is lightweight. IMO Xfce is a bit more customizable whilst staying stable. Their tweak tool will help set up a suitable environment. I should stop here :blush:


The biggest memory hog on any system is the browser. So much so that any memory differences between distros becomes irrelevant. 2G is enough for any distro, especially when combined with swap or zram.

One of the biggest un-truths in Linux is that openbox is best for low end hardware. Lets compare the processor usage of openbox with something like compiz or kwin……run ‘top’ in a terminal and move the window about. Openbox will consume probably 50% or more or the CPU just moving a window, whereas compiz/kwin with transparency, shadows, wobbly windows all on will consume less than 20%.

You probably don’t move windows enough to worry about this, but you do actually notice a difference in browser use. Open firefox and scroll up and down pages. The scrolling is noticeably smoother in compiz/kwin than it is in openbox.

Openbox is for ancient hardware with no opengl support or where memory use is severely limited. To suggest its use for anything else is silly and counter productive.


Thanks for all the suggestions. My gut feel was to put a UM install and and see how it performs, if its poor the openbox suggestion may be one to look at. Thanks all.


If UM does not work adequately, I would recommend Lubuntu for two reasons:

  1. If Lubuntu works on the machine, it has more built in features than Openbox and so would be a superior option all other things being equal.

  2. Lubuntu actually uses Openbox window manager. This means, with a Lubuntu installation, you can elect to log into a Lubuntu session or an Openbox session. Thus, if Lubuntu is still struggling on the machine, all you need to do would be to log out, change the session to “Openbox” and log back in. You would, obviously, still need to install things like tint2 panel etc. But, help on that can be got from here if you needed it.

But, as you have said, you may as well try UM just in case it is okay.

Good luck with whatever you choose



Thanks all for the suggestions. Kind of “run home to mama” in the end as Ubuntu-Mate works really well on the laptop. She loves it. The hardest bit was the EFI configuration (needed to select the right Ubuntu file in the BIOS for EFI config) which took longest to figure out, but I got there in the end.

Perhaps a convert to UM, I hope to try to get her interested in more than being a user!


Brilliant Andy. Glad to hear you got UM working.