Best distributions for off-line use

Internet is the the “Alpha and Omega” of our daily experience with computers, dominating, enriching and engulfing everything we do. This is the case with almost everyone around the world, but somewhere out there, there are computers that are not connected to the internet for some reason that we will not analyse in this article. What would be the ideal GNU/Linux distribution for such systems? Are there any linux distributions that can cover almost every need of an off-line user? Yes there are!

Linux Mint 12 LXDE

Linux Mint is generally great for off-line systems because it offers a complete out of the box experience including media codecs, support for DVD playback, Java and generally everything a simple off-line user will need for daily off-line tasks. I choose the lighter sister of Lisa because it is even simpler, cleaner and very faster so it is suitable for a low specs computer dedicated to off-line usage. One more reason to choose Linux Mint is the hardware support you will get from an Ubuntu based distribution.

Linux Mint


Sabayon 8

Sabayon is a great GNU/Linux distribution that also follows the “works out of the box” philosophy. You will get all the codecs you need, and even drivers for your graphics card. As this distribution is based on Gentoo it is pretty fast and with the admission that you’ll never update it, it will remain pretty stable.

Sabayon Linux


Zenwalk Linux 7.0

Zenwalk Linux is a slim, fast and stable Slackware based distribution. The reason I consider Zenwalk to be a fantastic choice for off-line computers is the inclusion of development libraries that render you able to compile everything you need from non-internet sources i.e. a cd-rom, or a usb flash drive. Of course Zenwalk includes every media codec you’ll need covering the multimedia playback needs of an off-line user.

Zenwalk Linux


Vector Linux 7.0

Vector Linux is the best choice one can do for an off-line computer. Like with Zenwalk, Vector Linux offers all the development libraries needed to compile what you need, and it covers even more dependencies (that would simply ruin the day of an off-line user). Apart from this and the media codecs that are available, Vector Linux also provides a unique out of the box ability to be used as a server, offering a complete set of tools for this purpose. What makes things perfect is the fact that Vector Linux is maybe the fastest distribution you ever tried, making it suitable for older systems, and it really is one of the most stable.

Vector Linux

  • rishi dev

    your choices are wrong.
    ultimate edition/opensuse12.1/Mandriva 2011 powerpack…..dual and quad core chips along with amd netbooks
    crunchbang…if u are using a pentium 3 and atom netbooks
    puppy linux…..if u are using a pentium 2 and atom too.

  • Usman

    I think offline user with rolling release distro will difficult to install/maintain software.

    I am ex- offline user. And i enjoy ubuntu based distribution as an offline user, because their community “unofficially” support offline user.

    1. I can buy/copy DVD Repository from another user. They have big community, and i can find DVD Repository seller in my town.

    2. They have software like Keryx ,

    3. They have website that help offline user : apt-web , ,and the old support offline user to download newest
    application with dependencies (but the new getdeb is for online user)
    Maybe you think apt-web and not help much, but that website (plus apt-get trick) help me so much when i first time in Linux and know nothing.

    4. apt-get is offline-user friendly, something like –print-uris is really help.
    I can “fake” apt-get update with just download Packages.bz2 , Packages.gz ,and Release from internet cafe. This trick really help me at that time to know what & where to download applications and dependency.

    5. and my first linux distro is free cd from shipit ubuntu (now not available).

    Thats my story, i’m not speak english, so sorry for my bad grammar.

  • Bill_Toulas

    OpenSuse is a great choice because of the DVD that includes almost everything you’ll want to have except for media codecs. The “official” way to add media codecs to OpenSuse is using a repository so…bad for offline users. Mandriva 2011 powerpack is out-of-date and costs 59 usd…

  • Jsdfhisdfh

    You know, Debian offers a bunch of DVDs around 40GB, I think. If I intend to  use Linux offline I’d grab these. Another posibiliy would be to set up a local local Repository of your favorite Distro. To do serious Work, I’d rather use a Windows Version that doesn’t require a online authentification because let’s face it… Linux sucks offline.

  • Jeff Hoogland

    You should be sure to check out the Bodhi Linux App Center. After piece of software there is offered with a 100% offline compatible installer in the form of a single download.

  • Bob_Robert

     I came here to say that just Debian DVD#1 has more than most people ever need.

  • Peter

    You forget about Slackware Linux.

  • Grant Wagner

    I’m a mostly offline user, only taking my laptop to my office very occasionally. I found Linux mint to be a great distribution, but some tricks.

    First, not everything I want is in the default repositories. It’s better than straight Ubuntu, including Medibuntu by default, but not perfect. I usually add Ubuntu hams, XBMC PPA, doomsday PPA, and the GetDeb repositories to round things out a bit better. Second, the jockey-gtk tool (“Additional Drivers”) seems to use its own online sources, so at least one pass with the network is required to have a fully functional machine most of the time. Finally, a handful of packages actually a thin scripts to download online installers, such as flash-nonfree and mscorefonts. I grab these while I’m online as well.

    Now that the basics are there, however. I use apt-mirror to create a local copy of every package in those repositories on my local machine. In terms of networking, it can take a while, downloading more than 60GB. But on most machines that isn’t a lot of drive space, and once completely downloaded, it can be synced at any time only downloading the new files. It works on any Debian based distro, and allows me to be mostly off line.

  • rishidev

    you are right.
    from a full featured perspective there isnt anything out there.
    The only 2 os’es that ive used that are rigid and stable with all features and codecs:

    ultimate edition 2.9/3.01/3.2. 
    crunchbang linux(debian)…writing this from a craptastic aspire one n450 atom hyperthreaded cpu. Anything else will render it useless.

    These 2 can do anything (including the expensive mandriva) …..make large capacity usb transfers and run on a multiboot hardware raid setup. The other os that i mentioned in the post above are not stable.

    Mandriva 2011 pwp is darn good ………ofcourse as an offline user it’d make sense whether you would pay for what you want….and does play all the esoteric video and audio formats. From a linux perspective it is not out of date. You’d anyway have to have an internet connection for your video drivers if anyone’s using an pci-e card.

    Today im a serious ex-offline user.
    other oses that ive used and tested are glitch and bug laden.

    there are a few others…………linux mint kde is good but not good enough to be a primary os like the ones ive mentioned above…. 

    Vector and Zenwalk are wise choices amongst the many.

    Sabayon 8 kde is definitely not a good stable choice. has wireless problems if u are using anything that isnt from a big brand.. the internal wireless gives me crappy problems whereas an external usb wireless dongle works like a charm. There are crashes sometimes. Another major problem is if you got an internet  connection and want a program from the repo …..its nothing less than 800 –900 MBytes !!!! at minimum.

  • Fredrik Andersson

    Sayabon is awesome, never used it as a “offline” dist but as single Os on lappie and desktop.

    Great with the power of Gentoo but a bit more newbie friendlyness