Looking for distro without graphical environment


New Member
I want to install a distribution without a graphical environment on my old Laptop. It's from 2005 and it uses an amd turion 64. So really not that great.
I think the WLAN-Card broke. So I only need Ethernet.
I basically only need Java, And the C languages and maybe a decent text editor (very simple Syntax highlighting?).

Thanks to any responses :D

Nelson Muntz

Active Member


Well-Known Member
A couple of other alternatives:
1. Debian via the minimal-net installer.
The base Debian install is pretty tiny with no GUI.
Just make sure you don't select a desktop environment towards the end of the installer and you'll end up with a system that boots to a login terminal.
From that base, you'll be able to install whatever extras you need.

2. Arch.
An Arch install can be as small, or as big as you like. Again - install the bare-bones without installing a desktop and it will boot to a login terminal. And again - it will serve as a base, upon which you can build.

The package management systems are different, Arch uses pacman, Debian uses the Debian packaging format.

But other than that - both are more or less equivalent in terms of functionality and the underlying system. And wrt memory and resource usage - the footprints of both are similar too.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Arch has a very involved installation process, requiring a lot of manual configuration.
Debian is easier to install, because it requires less manual configuration.

But because of how involved the installation process is - Arch can be finely tuned to the system it's running on, with minimal bloat.
Debian minimal is a little bit more bloated than Arch (not a lot), but you can quickly get a working system up and running with a sane set of automatically created defaults/configs.

Arch is a bleeding edge rolling distro, with newer packages containing the latest changes, but more risk of instability/breakage.
Debian is a rock-solid stable distro that comes at a cost of slightly older packages, (but important security updates are quickly backported).

etc. etc.

Personally, Debian, via the minimal net-install has always been my go-to distro when I need to get a minimal install done quickly!
And I'm not criticising Arch at all - It is a very solid system, if it is well managed by the person administering it.

Also - with no desktop, then Text editor-wise - you're going to be limited to terminal based editors.

For programming and advanced text editing features in the terminal, the best editors are vi/vim, nvim, or emacs. They are all notorious for having a bit of a learning curve. But they are well worth taking the time to learn to use.

Or, if you only want basic highlighting and editing capabilities( Or if you simply don't want to learn vim or emacs) you could just install and use nano.

There are a plenty of other editors that work in the terminal without a GUI, but the ones I've listed are probably the most popular ones.

Most distros have vi (which is actually vim-tiny) installed by default.
Debian-minimal and the base Arch install do.

Sometimes nano is also installed by default too, but for Debian minimal and probably Arch - you'd have to install it AFTER installing the base. So for an Arch install - you may well end up using vi several times before you can even install nano.
However - it's been a good few years since I did an Arch install - so they might have included nano in the base-install by now.... IDK?!

But those are two other options for a machine with low resources.


New Member
Thanks for the detailed answer.
I think I am going to use the Debian installation with emacs because I know them a bit better.

I have one more question:
Can I just plug the Ethernet cable in and then use the Internet or do I have to mount anything myself? (I guess pretty dumb question but I never use Ethernet on my machines)

Nelson Muntz

Active Member
Good Morning Lasnik,

Just plug in the Ethernet cable and boot in to Linux and you should be good to go.

Generally Linux has no issues with Ethernet connections.

You're not dumb you're just new to Linux that's all.

We are all new to Linux at one time. :)


Staff member
Gold Supporter
You have a 64bit computer. How much RAM have you got? What is the make and model of your laptop?

You should be OK with a GUI.


Gold Member
Gold Supporter
You can also choose to run debian-testing that way you will have newer package than when on debian-stable.