How does GNU Guix's resource usage compare to lightweight linux distros (Puppy, AntiX, Q4OS, Linux Lite, Mabox, and Arch) when using EXWM?

I am looking for a lightweight Linux distribution for development purposes on older hardware and considering GNU Guix (yes, I like lisp, functional programming, and reproducibility :D). My requirements are a system that is resource-efficient both in terms of memory and CPU usage.

I’m planning to use EXWM (Emacs Window Manager) as my desktop environment, and here is my emacs config file, which is relatively modest.

Could someone with experience in using GNU Guix, especially with EXWM, provide insights into its resource usage compared to other lightweight distributions like Puppy Linux, AntiX, Q4OS, Linux Lite, Mabox Linux, and Arch Linux?

I am interested in metrics such as average RAM usage after boot, CPU load during typical development tasks, and responsiveness of the system.

Any comparative insights or pointing towards benchmarks would be greatly appreciated.

Asked By: Pedro Delfino


I tested the RAM usage, storage usage, number of processes and number of installed packages running on Arch Linux, antiX 23 Core and GNU Guix. The installation will be minimal with no GUI. I choose not to test with the Emacs GUI, as it should take the same amount of resource no matter the distro. The test are done in VMware. The VM have 4 cores and 8GB of RAM and no swap.


I used free -h and neofetch to test.
I don’t understand why they have different total amount of RAM. But the man page says this:

total  Total usable memory (MemTotal and SwapTotal in
       /proc/meminfo). This includes the physical and swap memory
       minus a few reserved bits and kernel binary code.
Distro free -h Neofetch
antiX Free: 7.5Gi (7824320) available out of 7.7Gi (8093684) 338MiB/7903MiB
Arch Free: 7.3Gi (7703480) available out of 7.7Gi (8098904) 403MiB/7909MiB
Guix Free: 7.4Gi (7729400) available out of 7.7Gi (8116600) 385MiB/7926MiB

Number of processes

I used top to test.

Distro Process count
antiX 143
Arch 136 ~ 134
Guix 145


I used df -BM and df to test.

Distro used on /
antiX 1972M (2018368)
Arch 2045M (2093852)
Guix 1514M (1550264)

Numbers of packages

Using neofetch. Installed doing wget
This data is not a way to compare how much software is installed on each distro, as each distro packages software differently.

Distro Package count (packaging system)
antiX 503 (dpkg)
Arch 168 (pacman)
Guix 49 (guix-system)

As I was doing the testing, I realized Arch Linux was missing wget, less and man, unlike the others. So I don’t know if this is a fair test. You should set up your system for your liking on all 3 OS and then do the comparison again. Or just use Guix because the difference is not big enough to matter, and you like Lisp and immutable systems.

Answered By: mutageneral