When I learned Arch is stopping support for 32 bit I started to research my options for my old slow netbook. I tried several and only three were fast enough for that really really slow computer:
Void, installation was OK, but when it went something wrong second time I couldn’t find solution for the fix. Forum wasn’t that good, not that active, my suggestions ignored, (like lets have designated forum category for Beginners and few other things, member Handy from here was not nicely treated). I liked speed, I liked how you install the packages, I liked simple init system, I didn’t like forum, support, help, not many packages available, unless you can package them yourself - my conclusion, it was not beginner friendly. Or put it another way, I’m too beginner for Void. I just felt too helpless.
Puppy - first, there are so many versions it takes some serious studying to figure out, which are current, which outdated, I never quite figure out which is which. I could never join their forum I don’t know why, never got confirmation email, tried to reach to them over reddit, nothing, so i could not clarify few questions I had. Some old Puppy (and probably quite outdated) works well and snappy on that slow computer but newer Puppy version are too slow or some even don’t run on 32 bit, so i finally gave up on Pups as well.
AntiX - I finally found what i was looking for! It is just as fast as old puppy or Void, also no systemd (a plus I always wanted something without systemd), very active and friendly forum, just like Manjaro’s (well, I’m using MX forum where are also AntiX developers and users). At first glance I didn’t like it, old funny and outdated looking file manager, but just right click on desktop and (on the fly) switch to something with “space” in it’s name and it is (for me) much better. It is Debian based, so stable, but with a kick! AntiX (and sisterly MX) do have software more or less updated, if not, package you are looking for, you can ask in forum to get it updated), they are porting in newer versions, so you get stability of Debian with newer packages, speedy and without systemd. Quite the combination.
As a beginner I had a problem, WiFi didn’t work out of the box on AntiX like MX did and I wasn’t sure what I did to get it to work, there are three different ways how to get it running, and I didn’t bother too figure out at first (Linux beginner) so i was intimidated and worried, how I will be able to do it again if needed, but it is quite simple once I decided to search for answer.
Later @jonathon started to support 32 bit, but I wanted something “for grandma” and I really don’t feel comfortable putting Manjaro on some relative’s computers.
I found Linux MX perfect for this. (same as AntiX, same base, no systemd, Debian based, newer ported packages, stable, very fast, good looking and good on slower computers.) That little slow netbook was too slow for MX so I put AntiX on it, but for relatives and other older computers I’m using MX. Since I’m putting MX on other’s (windows refugees) computers I of course need to know it better so i have one dedicated computer just for MX. (before I used Mint for relatives, but now a days is just too slow for older computers)
After using MX for a while I really really like it. A lot! I found few packages I could not get properly run on Manjaro that I got running on MX. Or packages that are only available in AUR, which I’m lately trying to avoid. MX has some really cool tools that are at disposal for beginners like me. So I’m glad I have two systems, based on two different main linux versions (Arch and Debian) and that way I feel I have all bases covered.
So back to your question, try MX first, looks better, comes with simpler (for beginner) Xfce and see if it runs well on your computer. If not, then try AntiX, (it only uses around 80MB memory for me) switch to Space something (3 options) and watch video or two from this guy:
Most videos are good for MX or AntiX, learn, how to use Live USB, how to use persistence, how to do remaster, how to do snapshoot.
For example, (speaking for MX here) set it up how you like it, install your software… then create your own ISO by simple running ‘snapshoot’ tool. You can use this ISO for three different things, first it is a backup of your system, second, you can use this iso to install exact copy of your system on another computer with all your data, software installed and so on… And third, you can use this same iso to install on someone else’s computer system that you have, with software installed that you have, but without your data. So, to sum it up, it is a backup, new install for you (exact copy with personal data), and new install for others, but without your data. And beginner friendly. That’s one of the tools available for this system. And there are others…
When I compared AntiX to Void, there is no comparison looking from beginner view point. I since deleted all my notes I had for Void, reading through forum, how to fix this and that, I’m not going back, if computer is really slow and 32 bit, then AntiX, otherwise if is faster 32 bit or newer and for others then MX. For me, Manjaro & MX, and AntiX for that really slow netbook.
Of course I didn’t (and newer will) look at some other light versions, such as Gentoo. I’m too old for learning new tricks, i want to use computer not tinker with it. Tinkering days are gone…