With each passing year, technology advances and becomes better. High-spec computers are now ubiquitous and relatively affordable.
Most current computers come with a minimum of 8GB RAM in order to accommodate the memory-hungry applications that we all use (for example, the Chrome browser consumes hundreds of Megabytes of RAM).
However, many people still have in their possession older computer systems (laptops, desktops) from the previous decade.
These systems were usually equipped with 2 to 4 GB of RAM. In case your primary use of such a computer is to run light applications, you can install an Operating System (OS) with low-RAM requirements and utilize such low-spec system in the home.
To take full advantage of your system with limited RAM, you need to install an Operating System that can run on 2GB or 3GB RAM while leaving enough RAM to run your applications.
Herein we will delve into the best Operating Systems to install on your older laptop or desktop computer with just 2GB or 3GB RAM.
1. Windows 10
Although the feature-filled Windows 10 might seem to use more memory resources than the previous generation of Windows operating systems, the reality is that Windows 10 uses about the same memory as Windows 8.
However, typical applications in use today, including browsers, are utilizing more resources than in the past, hence the need for larger RAM.
At the time of launching, system requirements for Windows 10 were 1GB RAM for both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 10 OS.
However, with the release of the Anniversary Update, system requirements were revised upwards for 64-bit operating systems, requiring users to have at least 2GB in RAM storage.
Windows 10 System Requirements
- Processor: 1 gigahertz or faster System on a Chip or processor
- RAM Storage: 1 GB for 32-bit OS or 2 GB 64-bit OS
- Disk Space Storage: 16 GB for 32-bit OS or 32 GB for 64-bit OS
- Display 800X600
- Graphics card DirectX9 or later
Although Windows 10 can be installed on a system with 2GB or 3GB RAM, keep in mind that the computer will be very slow as it will use a lot of the Swap space.
The developers of Lubuntu have made the system not only lightweight but also efficient in resource utilization.
Every aspect of this lightweight LXQt desktop environment-based operating system has been optimized for energy-efficiency and speed.
As such, the operating system has low hardware requirements without compromising the functionality of the computer.
Right from the genesis of Lubuntu, the focus had been to give under-speced computers the performance of top-spec computers.
The minimum system requirements for an early version of the OS (Lubuntu 10.10) were 256 MB RAM for slow speeds and a Pentium II or Celeron system.
However, with improved technology and increased access to larger RAM storage capacity, the minimum system requirements were revised upwards.
While there are numerous versions of Lubuntu to choose from, the latest version – Lubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla – requires users to have a minimum of 1024MiB of RAM Storage. This means you can install and use even the newest version of Lubuntu on a computer with 2GB or 3GB RAM.
Linux Mint designers and developers set out to create a modern operating system that is elegant and easy to use, and powerful without being resource-intensive, including the RAM. And in many regards, they did meet their objectives.
This operating system has gain popularity for ticking all the right boxes. It is simple and works straight out of the box.
Crucially it is one of the easiest operating systems to use. The Ubuntu and Debian-based operating system is reliable and safe to use.
Finally, this OS is community-driven, which ensures users have ample support, and the development and addition of new features is an on-going process.
System requirements for Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon are:
- RAM: 1 GB RAM (or 2 GB for a comfier user experience)
- Disk Space: 15 GB of disk space (20 GB or more is recommended)
- Resolution: 1024X768 resolution
With this minimum system requirement, your computer with 2 GB or 3 GB RAM will work perfectly.
Kubuntu is an official Ubuntu flavor. The operating system was designed to use KDE Plasma Display in place of GNOME desktop environment, as is the case with Ubuntu.
With thousands of productivity, entertainment, and sharing software, Kubuntu is a good alternative for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It is built using the Qt toolkit, making it fast and aesthetically pleasing.
The minimum system requirements include:
- Processor: Pentium 233 MHz processors (recommended minimum is Pentium 300 MHz processor)
- Disk Space: 4 GB hard disk space (recommended minimum is 8 GB of hard disk space)
- RAM: 128 MB of RAM (recommended minimum is 256 MB of Ram )
- Display: Video card that supports 640 X 480 resolution
Based on the minimum system requirements, a computer with 2 to 3 gigabytes of RAM will run Kubuntu with no issues.
Puppy Linux is a unique version of Linux developed and optimized for home-based usage. The OS has a storied history spanning from 2003.
While lightweight and small in size (it takes up to 300 MB), the operating system features a wide range of ready-to-use applications. It is also easy-to-use, fast, and reliable.
There are hundreds of derivatives, also known as “puplets,” all of which are unique and meet different needs. This means it is very easy to find a Puppy Linux OS that meets your individual needs.
Minimum system requirements for Puppy Linux OS:
- Processor: Pentium 900 MHz
- RAM: 300 MB
- Disk Space: Storage is optional. You can run the OS from a DVD drive
- DVD-ROM: should be 20X or better, or USB
As you can appreciate, this OS has minimum system requirements and can run on a computer with 2GB RAM.
Xubuntu is an operating system designed and optimized for efficient operations, a smooth and stable experience. It has Xfce – a configurable desktop environment – that combines elegance with functionality.
To run the 64-bit Xubuntu, the minimum system requirements are:
- Processor: AMD or Intel 64-bit processor
- RAM: 512 MB
- Disk space: 8 GB
You can also run the OS from a DVD or USB, although you will get a slower experience. If you are looking for a smooth experience, especially when running multiple applications, your computer should have at least 2GB and a 1.5GHz Dual-Core processor or better. The disk space should be at least 20 GB.
All of the above are Linux based system in addition to Windows 10. Next, we will discuss some Android OS which can run on x86 computers as well.
Android-x86 is an operating system based on the Android Open Source Project. The latest version is Android-x86 9.0, based on Android 9.0 Pie.
The OS is designed to run on x86 CPU architecture devices, including personal computers. The OS can function on devices powered by x86 AMD and Intel processors.
Minimum system requirements for Android-x86 include:
- Processor: X86 32-bit processor
- RAM space: 1.2 GB
- Disk space: 3 GB
OpenThos is an open-source operating system based on Android-x86. This operating system is developed by a team of developers with a Chinese background.
As such, it features enhanced security (including full disk encryption and end-to-end data encryption) based on Chinese standards and strong algorithms.
It also has a wide variety of applications while still being lightweight and easy on computer resources.
Minimum system requirements are:
- Processor: 3GHz Intel or AMD processor
- RAM space: 2GB
- Disk space: 4 GB
Phoenix OS is a lightweight operating system you can use to run your Android apps. While you do not have access to Google Play, you can still use popular Android apps by downloading their APK from APK hosting site.
In many regards, this OS is a free alternative to the Chromium OS developed by Google. Chromium OS is unavailable for independent downloads and runs on chromebooks.
Minimum system requirements include:
- Processor: An AMD or Intel Dual-Core CPU that has SSE4.2 instruction set support
- RAM Storage: 2 GB DDR3 or DDR4
- Disk space: 2GB
- Display: 1GB VRM AMD/ NVidia desktop GPU
However, the recommended system requirements include Intel AMD or Intel Quad Core CPU (that has SSE4.2 instruction set support), 4GD RAM, 20GB hard disk space, and an NVidia/AMD GPU with 2GB VRAM.
Bliss OS is another Android-based operating system. However, it has expanded device support, features, and optimization that make the OS suitable for desktop environments.
The regularly updated security options and features also make this OS safe and secure to use. For the user interface, users can choose between a Tablet UI and a desktop UI.
Bliss system requirements are:
- Processor: x86 processor
- RAM space: 512 MB
- Disk memory: 2 GB memory. Bliss OS file size is 1 GB.
- NVidia GeForce 6100
A device with a 2 GB or 3 GB RAM space will run Bliss OS smoothly and comfortably.