Recommended lightweight apps

The advantages of lightweight applications are discussed on the home page. Linux has a myriad of powerful command line applications (such as rsync, mplayer, ffmpeg and remind) which, for their functionality, are as lightweight as you will ever find. Many of these applications also have graphical front ends - for example, rsync has Grsync - to make the application more user-friendly. This page simply recommends some additional lightweight applications of which you may be less aware. Many recommended applications which run on Linux are already listed under Recommended portable apps. Check the availability of the applications in your Linux distribution's software repositories; software packages should be available for most of them.


DeaDBeeF DeaDBeeF is an audio player for Linux, Android and other Unix-like systems. Has minimal dependencies, takes little memory, and uses its own extensive plugin system to handle a wide range of audio files and playlists. Has tabbed display of playlists and edits tags too. Optional GTK2 and GTK3 versions.
Goggles Music Manager Goggles Music Manager is a music collection manager and player that uses an SQLite database to automatically categorize music by genre, artist, album, and song. It is incredibly fast and lean with a very clean interface. Can play radio streams too.

File management

PCManFM PCManFM is a fast and clean tabbed file manager with optional dual-pane mode and directory tree or places side pane. It offers full GVfs support to access remote filesystems, mounts devices and supports the Desktop file specification extension for customizing the files context menu. The GTK2 version is the most full-featured, but development is now focused on a QT version.
SpaceFM SpaceFM is a multi-panel tabbed file manager with its own built-in virtual filesystem, integration with Bash, and various plugins. Its unique Design Mode allows you to customize menu and toolbar items, icons and shortcut keys. Another notable feature is its integration with udevil, a udev-based device manager by the same author, which can be used in a wide variety of ways to mount and unmount devices as a user. Comes in GTK2 and GTK3 versions.
Worker Worker is a dual-pane tabbed file manager for the X Window System, requiring only the X11 libraries. Although its operation is less graphical than equivalent GTK or Qt programs, it gains by being very fast and its functions can be customized to a high degree. Also supports various archive file formats, accesses ftp sites, un/mounts devices and defines its own sophisticated file associations.


Geany Geany is a text editor plus a basic integrated development environment (IDE). It is small and fast with few dependencies. Features include: syntax highlighting, code folding, auto-closing of tags, support for many filetypes, plugins, etc. There is also Geany Portable for Windows though it is rather large.
Dmenu Dmenu is a generic 'dynamic menu' program for the X Window System, reading and writing standard input and output, and locating items by substring search. Incredibly light, fast and deceptively simple but highly efficient with a multitude of uses. Supports horizontal and vertical menus, with patched versions also offering menu positioning and sizing, and mouse support.


Dunst Dunst is a minimalistic ("dmenu-ish") notification daemon for Linux, designed especially for use with light systems built around a window manager rather than a full desktop environment. Highly configurable, allowing customization of parameters such as screen position, colours, timeouts, and message format.

Original scripts

The scripts described below were developed in-house and are particularly aimed at the Arch Linux distribution, but should be readily adaptable to others. The scripts are open source software and are licensed primarily through the Mozilla Public License 2.0 (MPL2). Note that the Arch User Repository is abbreviated to AUR.


Runa is a fast and light application launcher, written in Bash. It runs a desktop application and optionally opens file and url objects. Objects may be opened with the default (preferred) application, a specific application, an application selected from a menu of all applications, a menu of categorized applications, a menu of applications associated by mimetype, according to the standards, or a list or directory of applications. Multiple applications can be selected. Runa can be used as a standalone general-purpose program launcher or integrated into the context menus of a file manager. It can also replace the more limited standard 'xdg-open' command. Favourite applications can also be configured. Runa's menus are driven by the dmenu program. Once installed, execute the command 'man runa' and see the README file for more information. There are many configuration options.


Version: 5.4.0
18 October 2017

Download source or AUR package


Whippet is a Bash script which opens files and URLs with applications associated by name and/or mimetype. Applications and associations may be customized within an SQLite database, and may be weighted according to the importance you assign to them. If you prefer, Whippet can alternatively use the standard mimetype associations. Whippet is able to serve as an 'xdg-open' replacement for those who wish to have total control over which applications are associated with which types of files. Aimed at more experienced users, but ideal for integrating with light desktop environments and extensible file managers. Can also be configured as a general-purpose program launcher. Whippet uses dmenu to manage its menus, and you will need a program such as DB Browser for SQLite for managing the SQLite database. Once installed, execute the command 'man whippet' and see the README file for more information.

Please note: Whippet was formerly known as Ease


Version: 2.2.8
4 June 2016

Download source or AUR package


SuperMenu is a dynamic and extendible menu-driven program launcher, written as a Bash script and utilizing the highly versatile Suckless dmenu program. Your configuration and choice of programs will determine any further dependencies.

SuperMenu has two configuration files, one user-specific and the other system-wide. The configuration files initialize useful $variables, define the content of the menu which will be displayed, and resolve keyphrases to commands which will be executed. By defining appropriate dialog commands, SuperMenu can also prompt you before launching the desired program. What you can launch is limited only by your own ingenuity with Bash and dmenu. The simplest way of running SuperMenu is to assign keyboard shortcuts to execute supermenu (ordinary users) or supermenu -x (expert users). See supermenu -h for further information and command line options.


Version: 8.21
30 August 2015

Download source or AUR package

Arch Linux packages

Packaged in-house and maintained in the Arch User Repository (AUR):

cdck-bin: Command-line tool for verifying the quality of a written CD or DVD.

dmenu-xyw-mouse-msel: Dynamic X menu - with x, y, width, line height, mouse, and multiselect support.

portabase-bin: Manages one-table database files (binary from Debian package).

runa: Fast and light desktop application launcher.

supermenu: A dynamic and extendible menu-driven program launcher, using dmenu.

treeline-unstable: Tree outliner and PIM which stores any kind of information within a tree structure; unstable development snapshot.

trowser: A browser for large line-oriented text files, implemented in Tcl/Tk.

vuescan-bin: A powerful proprietary scanning tool developed by Hamrick Software.

whippet: A launcher and xdg-open replacement for control freaks, utilizing dmenu. Opens file and URL objects with applications associated by name and/or mimetype. Applications and associations may be customized using an SQLite database.


Check the software packages used by lighter Linux distributions such as antiX, Puppy Linux, and SliTaz for further ideas about lightweight applications. Software for Linux with a focus on simplicity, clarity, and frugality. Read their philosophy.

Bash Hackers Wiki: Full of Bash scripting tips, hints and tutorials.

Handy self-made command line utilities: Huge forum thread with many utilities and scripting ideas, many useful not just for Arch Linux.

Arch Linux: A simple, lightweight and highly flexible Linux distribution with a 'rolling release'. For more experienced users of Linux, though the Beginners' Guide and ArchWiki are excellent.