13 Best OS For Old Laptop - Revive Your Old Hardware!
If humans hate something more than work, it’s a change. And changes due to planned obsolescence are a thing that we must embrace.
Imagine spending the past few years of your life using a computer that is in perfect shape and working great just to get the news that it doesn’t have enough resources to keep up to date with the new operating systems.
Many users pass through this.
The obvious choice is looking for a new laptop or computer. But what if you could use OS that is light and work similarly – or even better – than your old software?
With this article, we’re going to make small reviews of alternative operating systems that you could install into the Solid State Drive – or USB pens – of your computer and run it like it was brand new all over again.
Table of Contents:
What Is a Lightweight Operating System?
A Lightweight operating system is an OS specially designed for low-end computers and old hardware.
When you have a PC or laptop that doesn’t comply with minimal hardware requirements, and you can’t use Windows 10 or 11, you can opt for this other OS to keep them running.
This software doesn’t have fancy attributes and features. They only keep the basic user needs like:
- Internet navigation.
- A text editor.
- Wifi or any sort of tool to connect remotely to your PC.
As such, this type of fast operating system will let you use older computers as servers or use them when you are starting a business. For example, you can build a customer database that will be locally stored.
These OS are also a good choice for embedded devices.
Identifying Short Resources From Your Laptop
There are several ways to know if your laptop or computer is running low on resources and can’t stand a new software update.
Some of these are:
1. Your computer is running slowly.
2. Your software crashes at least once a day.
3. The laptop suddenly freezes.
4. You open the task manager and the CPU or Memory columns are at 100%.
5. Your laptop was released five years ago.
As time goes on, technology improves and developers release better software versions with more requirements.
Changing Windows 11 For a Lightweight OS
Windows 11 is an operating system with high requirements compared to other software. So, if you installed it before on a computer presenting flaws like those mentioned above, you may need to change your OS to improve your computer’s performance.
Fortunately, there are O.S. that you can use for your generation CPU. Below you can find the top lightweight operating systems for old computers.
We are sure you’d be surprised, but Windows 10 is one of the best choices when you have a low-end computer but don’t want to downgrade a lot.
Since 2015 when it was released, this OS has created a safe laptop and desktop environment for all sorts of users, from experts to newbies.
Even when you don’t have the rounded corners and gaming integration with Xbox as Windows 11, you still have a lot of benefits like Windows Defender, the integration with Cortana, Edge, virtual desktops, and more. You also must consider the lower minimum requirements.
Of course, you will need a Microsoft Windows 10 CD key to unlock all the available features.
With barely 16 MB of space required, Tiny Core Linux is one of the most lightweight operating systems you can use for your laptop or desktop.
You can imagine that even the current stock Calculator from Windows 11 weighs more than this entire software.
That said, you get a small interface, only a few pre-installed apps, and fast booting speed. If you want your PC to fly like you’d have a GTX 3090 with 64 GB of RAM – but without hardware graphics and the possibility of gaming – this is for you.
You can still install programs according to your needs, but this light OS may give you a bit of a problem while doing so.
Lubuntu is a lightweight Linux distro considered one of the best Linux distros and a super fast OS. Compared to Xubuntu, this version doesn’t have an Xfce desktop environment. It’s perfect for those with low ram and a 32-bit CPU.
To improve your performance, this OS is developed using minimal desktop LXDE and only a few apps to get started.
You don’t need a lot of space; with over 700 MB of storage and at least 128 MB of RAM, it’s enough.
However, after trying it, we noticed that:
- You have a user interface similar to modern operating systems.
- You have LibreOffice available for work.
- It can consume over 500 MB of RAM.
- Some apps open slowly.
- It takes time to open a program for a benign lightweight distro.
- You can run Microsoft Windows programs.
- You may start it using a USB flash drive.
ArchBang Linux (Arch Linux)
Arch Linux is one of the lightweight Linux distros that works best for low-end computers. It’s independently developed, simple, minimalistic, and has a code elegance that only a Linux-based OS can provide.
Since this is a minimal base system, you can configure the software to have different desktop environments. Each one of them will have the apps you choose – for example, android apps and other programs for Windows users.
If you’re going to use a computer as a server, you can leave it without customization and only use the shell and the text editor.
To run this popular lightweight Linux distro, you will need at least 800 MB of local storage and 200 MB of RAM. It also works for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.
As a lightweight operating system, Linux Mint brings a more traditional user interface perfect for a desktop environment. It resembles a combination of Windows with Mac OS because it has both user-friendliness, a minimalistic interface, and is extremely fast.
Compared to the previous Linux distributions, this OS prioritizes customization, security, and flexibility. This is why once you install it, you’ll see a bunch of pre-installed apps. Because of this, the disk space and overall minimum system requirements are higher than other distros.
So, even as a free operating system, it’s not the lightest Linux distro.
The software is made by the community and as an open-source project, it supports comments and takes into count all that users say to improve this Linux OS.
Part of the reasons why this software is better than most Linux distros are:
- It has video editing and full multimedia support.
- It’s free for laptop and desktop users.
- It’s based on Debian and Ubuntu. This gives it over 30,000 packages and the possibility to include Microsoft programs that Windows users will love.
- Updated Linux kernel.
- No regressions, antivirus, or anti-spyware.
- Constant updates to improve system resources.
If you want to run this bad boy, you will need at least 2GB of RAM and 20 GB of local storage as hardware resources. You also may need a good processor for this modern OS.
Puppy Linux is the lightest lightweight Linux distribution so far. It’s so portable that you don’t even need space in your hard drive to use it. You can boot it using a live CD or a bootable USB stick.
This software works on desktop computers and laptops as a live operating system but is hosted on a USB drive. As such, you can back up data in this ultra-lightweight OS or run it as a server for your business.
With a size of over 100MB, you can even start an old PC and boot it in a matter of seconds. Just make sure you have over 300 MB of RAM.
Some of the predetermined apps Puppy Linux has included are:
- Text editors and other libre office apps.
- A web browser manager.
- Other web applications.
Elementary OS is an excellent operating system where you can use both pre-installed applications and proprietary software. Unlike Windows, this software is minimalist, beautifully designed, and lightweight.
You can use a version for both 32 or 64-bit architecture. Since it’s from the Linux family, it’s based on Ubuntu and the Pantheon desktop environment.
Now, software developers created a not-that-light software, so this OS works better with modern CPUs.
Some of the features of Elementary OS are:
- Better and minimalistic design similar to Mac OS.
- Different points of view, like multitasking view, mini-screen, and don’t disturb.
- You can determine how long you’ll use the computer and manage your applications.
- You can use external media.
- You don’t need any particular computer-related skills since it’s user-friendly.
- Available shortcuts. Perfect for old laptops that have aging hardware and can’t make their keyboards work properly.
Elementary OS also works on a brand-new machine. Thanks to its rock-solid performance, you have fully functional, fast, and light software.
Chromium OS is a lightweight operating system that uses Chromium technologies as the main source. It also has some Ubuntu-Linux features to create fast, simple, and secure software with great system memory management.
If you are one of those who spend hours on the internet, this software is a great option for you. Of course, it doesn’t replace Windows OS, but it’s a solution for old PCs that can’t work properly on recent OS.
Chromium OS has its command line interface – like any other Linux-based software.
You will need at least 4 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space if you want to run it properly. So, it’s not the best lightweight OS.
Zorin OS Lite
Zorin is a lightweight software with a complete desktop that resembles a combination of Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support), Mac OS, and Windows.
As you may imagine, the software developer included installation packages you can use to improve your experience – usually, only advanced users can use them.
If you – or your business – are running older laptops, you can replace Windows for Zorin using an ISO image in single flash memory.
Some of this software’s features are:
- Constant updates thanks to the community’s support.
- Supports Python 3 and Python 2 scripts.
- Comes with a pre-built package of icons.
The best part is that it only needs over 512 MB RAM, a single core CPU – great for an old machine – and 8GB of space in your regular HDD.
If you’ve ever wanted to have an Android-based operating system on your computer without emulators like Bluestacks, Phoenix OS is a great choice.
This Android OS is based on the x86 version, and you can use it for both laptops and desktops. Once installed, you’ll get a clean desktop environment and fully operational with predetermined Android apps like settings, camera, Wifi, file manager, etc.
The interface resembles an Android tablet where you can see the usual, including battery life and the Play Store.
Thanks to this OS, you can install games or apps and edit them with Root permissions.
To install and run this OS, you’ll need at least 2GB of RAM and about 1GB of space. We recommend you use a recent CPU with 32-bit or 64-bit compatibility.
Another lightweight OS with an Android base is Prime OS. This is an operating system developed especially for gaming. As a user, you’ll get a desktop package with a taskbar, an interesting black screen background, resizable windows, and a friendly interface.
Like Phoenix OS, you get access to the Google Play store – the main OS feature. It’s easy to install, with a multimedia experience and even a multi-instance key feature, so you can play with friends.
It’s software that you can use with older systems but not with older hardware. Especially since the minimum requirements are:
- 3GB of storage space.
- 2GB of RAM.
- A graphics card with at least 128 MB of VRAM.
- A Core 2 Duo CPU.
This software resembles the Remix OS. Unfortunately, it was discontinued.
Peppermint OS is software based on Debian/Devuan repositories and cloud computing technologies, which allows it to be extremely light and fast.
Developers ensured you could get an excellent experience using your computer. This software doesn’t include almost any pre-installed applications but lets you install everything you need.
It includes the lightweight X desktop environment and the Nemo file manager as default.
However, if you want to run this great OS, you will need:
- An x86 CPU.
- 1GB of RAM.
- 4GB of space in your hard disk.
So, even though it’s not as super lightweight as others, it still has benefits that even a full-featured OS would need.
From the lightweight distros that released Bodhi Linux, the new lightest software appears, Linux Lite.
This is a Linux version specially designed for all those computers that don’t have enough resources to run the latest Windows version but still have enough “juice” to function. With software, you can give a new life to your old PC and use it for basic needs.
It doesn't need a lot of CPU power or RAM but still can support a heavy load from other programs, such as games.
But, if you want to work, it still has LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird as a mail client, and other built-in applications like the VLC Media Player to read multimedia content. It’s ready to be used and doesn’t require installation if you have it on USB.
The minimum requirements for this software are:
- At least 1GB of RAM.
- A 1.5GHz CPU or more.
- Windows Manager: XFCE.
- Supports 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.
Best OS For Old Laptop - Summary
Choosing a lightweight operating system that performs better than your old computer can be difficult. Regular users look for great features, functionalities, intuitiveness, and more attributes those old systems – even an open source software – lack.
However, if what you’re looking for is finding a free, old lightweight system to put up to use your – even – older hardware, the software above is the best choice for you.
You have to consider that these OS have a learning curve since they are old and follow different criteria compared to Windows 11 or the macOS Ventura. So, if you want to try them, get ready for some not-that-user-friendly interfaces.
That’s why we recommend you try Windows 10 if you have the minimum MB of RAM required and the rest of the requirements. You may be surprised by how well this OS works with old computers.