These days, virtual machines are increasingly common. It’s really useful to launch a different operating system for specific tasks. Virtual machines can be used for development, entertainment, and anything else that we don’t want to conduct on our primary operating system.
Although every Linux distribution can be installed in a virtual machine such as VirtualBox or VMware, not every Linux distribution will run adequately due to the way virtual machines work (use system resources exactly like any other software).
That is why I will compile a list of the best Linux distributions for virtual machines. These Linux distributions come with enough pre-installed applications to execute day-to-day chores while without consuming too many resources, allowing the system to run smoothly at all times.
What is a Virtual Machine?
A virtual machine, for those who are unfamiliar, is a virtual operating system that is installed on top of the actual operating system using software such as VirtualBox and VMware. The main operating system on which the operating system is installed is referred to as the host operating system, and the virtual operating system is referred to as the guest operating system.
Unlike Docker containers, a virtual machine has its own kernel. During the virtual machine creation process, system resources must be assigned to the virtual machine.
This was a brief overview of the virtual machine; for more information, please see the comprehensive article.
Without further ado, let us get started.
Top 5 Linux Distributions For Virtual Machines
antiX is a lightweight, systemd-free, fully functional Linux distro. AntiX, which is based on Debian Stable, is intended to be installed and run on old PCs. AntiX can run smoothly on systems with as little as 256MB of RAM.
At the time of writing, antiX-21 “Grup Yorum” was the most recent release from antiX. It is available in four flavours: full, base, core, and net distro for 32-bit and 64-bit computers.
While full and base versions include a selection of daily-use utilities, core and net editions allow users to build their own distribution by installing and configuring everything themselves. Once the customization is complete, users can use remaster tools to build an iso of their installed antiX.
Whatever version you choose, antiX can be readily installed in a virtual machine and runs smoothly with as little as 256MB of RAM.
MX Linux is by far my favourite Linux distro to install on a virtual computer. I’ve been using it for years since it’s far smoother than the others and has rock solid steadiness.
MX Linux has integrated AntiX, which is meant to function on older PCs. It comes in three flavours: Xfce, KDE, and Fluxbox. Each flavour comes with a nice range of MX tools that make maintaining the distro even easier. MX Linux will appeal to both novice and advanced Linux users.
- Modern i686 Intel or AMD processor
- 1 GB RAM
- 6 GB free hard drive
- 4 GB USB (for live USB if installing as host)
- Modern i686 Intel or AMD processor
- 2 GB RAM
- 20 GB free hard drive
- 3D-capable video card
- Soundblaster, AC97, or HDA-compatible sound card
Download MX Linux
EndeavourOS, which was released following the demise of Antergos, aims to be a user-friendly Arch-based distro. While the distro includes various tools to assist newcomers in learning Arch, it is also one of the best performing Linux distributions I’ve ever used.
EndeavourOS has an excellent community support. If you encounter an error, help is only a comment away. With EndeavourOS, you’re in good hands because Arch is already intended to run well on practically all sorts of hardware.
EndeavourOS is available as an offline and online installer. You may quickly set it up with the Xfce desktop environment using the offline installation. Xfce is best suited to older hardware and virtual machines. The online installer includes a wide range of desktop environments such as Mate, Cinnamon, LXQT, and LXDE, as well as window managers such as Openbox, Sway edition, Worm edition, BSPWM, and others.
Any of the following desktop environments or window managers are simple to install and configure. You can use any of the aforementioned environments, and I’m certain it will perform admirably in a virtual machine.
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And who can afford to overlook Manjaro when it comes to a fast operating system? Manjaro Linux, unlike EndeavourOS, is an established player in the market. It is also based on Arch Linux.
Manjaro Linux is extremely stable. Manjaro has several desktop environments, but its flagship distro is Manjaro Linux Xfce. If you have never used it, I strongly advise you to do so and witness for yourself how stable and performant it is, even in virtual machines.
Download Manjaro Linux
Typically, Linux is criticized for its unappealing user interface. I doubt they’ve seen Zorin OS. Zorin OS is one of the most visually appealing Linux distributions. It comes with a heavily customized Xfce (Zorin OS Lite) and Gnome (Zorin OS Core) desktop environment that looks like Windows and Mac. Its theming makes it simple for Windows and Mac users to transition to Linux.
It is incredibly light due to the use of Xfce. It comes in three flavours: Zorin OS pro, Core, and Lite. Users pay $39 for the Pro edition, which includes more customising options and apps.
Core and Lite are both free, however they are missing a few customization features and apps. The light version is intended for PCs as old as 15 years. I ran Zorin OS light on a 12-year-old laptop that would not even boot into Windows 8 or Windows 10. Both the Zorin OS core and lite can be run comfortably in virtual machines for improved performance.
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The list is not yet complete. I’m sure there are other Linux distributions that work exceptionally well in virtual machines. I’m open to suggestions for how to improve this list. Please let me know what distributions you believe should be added to the list, and I will consider adding them.
Zorin is Gnome based bud, hence the attractive look.
Nautilus file manager, customised Arc Menu (Gnome extension), among many others. Is a nice looking distro, but definitely a bit more resource heavy than the other xfce distros you’ve listed.
Zorin OS Core uses Gnome but Zorin OS Lite uses Xfce. I have mentioned it in the zorin os section.
Thanks for the comment!