As computer hardware ages, performance tends to degrade on modern operating systems and on heavier applications. An old laptop or desktop computer might struggle to run a modern OS after three to five years.
It doesn’t help that software and application requirements continue to increase over time. Therefore, older systems tend to encounter performance issues sooner than later.
Most people buy another desktop or laptop when such situations arise, but that’s not necessary.
An individual should instead consider installing a lighter operating system which does not consume much hardware resources.
Dozens of operating systems exist in today’s world. Fortunately, many operating systems are optimized for all types of hardware, whether modern or aging.
You can easily revive an old laptop or PC by utilizing a light OS. Since so many options are available, you’ll want to consider the following list before getting started.
Below, we have compiled a list of the best OS that can be used on an old laptop or PC computer, so let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Ubuntu remains one of the most popular versions of Linux today. This open source OS features common user interface elements of Windows and macOS.
Therefore, most users will feel at home with Ubuntu without experiencing a steep learning curve.
Popular web browsers like Chrome and Firefox are compatible with Ubuntu. Libre Office replaces Microsoft Office for productivity.
Users will notice immediate differences between Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux. Nonetheless, navigating the OS should feel familiar and straightforward.
Minimum hardware requirements include a 2.0 Ghz processor with at least two cores, 4GB of RAM, and 25GB of storage space.
Ubuntu is a lightweight OS that doesn’t stray far from what users are familiar with. It is also excellent as a server OS in addition to Desktop OS.
As suggested by its name, Elementary OS focuses on keeping everything simple. The operating system resembles macOS in many ways, which will please many users.
A minor learning curve is present in Elementary OS, but that’s impossible to avoid.
Currently, Elementary OS comes with a simple web browser and email client among several other default apps. There’s a familiar dock system at the bottom of the screen, too.
An AppCenter allows users to download free and paid open source apps designed for Elementary OS.
To install the operating system, users will need a dual-core 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM. A solid-state drive with 15GB of free space and a separate USB flash drive with 2GB of space are required, too.
Manjaro provides users with excellent performance and full customization. Although the OS is based on Arch Linux, Windows users should feel at home here.
Various software solutions allow Manjaro users to run Windows applications and software. Manjaro is quite flexible and doesn’t require a user to sacrifice features or comforts.
A 2 Ghz processor with 2GB of RAM and 30GB of storage space are required for Manjaro.
From there, the OS is installed and ready to use out of the box. Regular updates and a committed development team make the OS worth downloading and relying on for daily use.
Linux Mint features a traditional user interface reminiscent of Windows or macOS. Unlike those OS options, this particular solution is designed to be more lightweight and user friendly.
Linux Mint remains highly customizable while prioritizing security and flexibility. A strong set of applications are installed by default here. Plus, many Windows applications can be integrated, too.
Although open source software is prioritized, proprietary software can be utilized as well.
System requirements include 2GB of RAM and 15GB of storage space. A somewhat recent processor is recommended for the best experience with Linux Mint.
Developers specifically designed LXLE to run on older hardware. This intention is explained by the distribution’s minimum recommend specifications.
For LXLE, users need a modern-ish processor with 512MB of RAM and 8GB of storage space. The developers recommend 1GB of RAM for a proper web browsing experience.
LXLE features a similar design to the Windows desktop experience. Despite that fact, the distribution focuses on being lightweight with regular updates.
A strong community invests in LXLE, which is based on Ubuntu and Lubuntu. Most users won’t encounter much of a learning curve here, and they’ll find the OS quite simple to use.
Xubuntu’s developers strive for an elegant and easy-to-use operating system. They’ve accomplished that and then some with this distribution.
By default, a variety of applications are included in Xubuntu. This includes everything from office productivity tools to a web browser and mail client. The desktop can be customized in a variety of ways.
Xubuntu is designed to run on both modern hardware released within the past few years but also on older laptops or PC computers.
Minimum specifications include a somewhat modern CPU, 512MB of RAM, and 5GB of storage space.
In most cases, users should be able to do everything they need with Xubuntu’s core applications. Additional software and applications can be installed, though.
7) Windows 10
Surprisingly enough, Windows 10 features reasonable minimum system specifications.
Users need a 1 Ghz processor, 2GB of RAM, and 20GB of storage space. These specifications fall in line with larger Linux distributions, Windows 10 features the classic Start menu and desktop environment used by millions of people. Everyone knows the general look and feel of Windows 10 OS.
Windows 10 runs well on older laptops and desktop PCs to the surprise of many. Users can download the most popular programs and apps through Windows with ease.
Storage space may become a concern on older hardware. Regardless, Windows 10 has proven itself more than capable on all types of hardware.
Linux Lite helps users transition from Windows to Linux. Also, the operating system runs quite well on most hardware and on very low RAM.
A 1Ghz processor with 768MB of RAM and 8GB of storage make the distribution run. In Linux Lite, users receive access to common Windows software like Firefox and even Spotify.
A variety of Windows and Linux features are baked into Linux Lite to make the transition easier for users.
The distribution is powerful enough on all hardware types to feel fast and lightweight. After installing Linux Lite, users can focus on completing their tasks of choice on an excellent operating system.
Perhaps no operating system is more unique than Puppy Linux in certain ways. For starters, the operating system boots from a CD-ROM or USB flash drive.
An individual doesn’t have to install the distribution like a traditional OS. They start up the CD or flash drive, and the OS loads in seconds.
Almost any processor and 300MB of RAM will power Puppy Linux. No hard drive is required as everything runs from the CD or flash drive. It is maybe the only OS with such low RAM requirements.
From there, Puppy Linux launches a traditional Windows-like desktop environment with pre-installed productivity applications. Everything works on barebones hardware, and everything works quite well.
Lubuntu is best described as lightweight in performance and simple in design. Users encounter a basic desktop environment with a variety of pre-installed applications.
In this distribution, everything is designed to run on minimal hardware and utilize minimal resources.
A Celeron or Pentium processor paired with 128MB of RAM and 2GB of storage space can power Lubuntu.
Despite being lightweight, Lubuntu features the ability to customize the desktop and run various applications.
Most people won’t realize their using such weak hardware to run Lubuntu. They’ll instead feel like their older hardware packs a punch once again.
Prime OS attempts to fuse desktop PC computers or laptops with the Android operating system.
For the most part, the fusion works quite well from day to day. Users receive a traditional desktop experience with a taskbar, resizable windows, and more.
They’re then given access to millions of Android apps and games, including Google Play Services.
A measly 2GB of RAM and 3GB of storage space are required for Prime OS. Even basic processors from a few years ago allow this OS to function as intended.
For that reason, an individual interested in Android features on a desktop shouldn’t hesitate to download this solution.
Of course, Android OS is designed to run on smartphones and tablets. Android-x86, on the other hand, is designed to put Android OS on laptop or desktop PC hardware.
The OS is compatible with both Intel and AMD processors rather than ARM processors. A small development team built certain features of the OS from scratch to enable proper functioning.
Android-x86 succeeds at putting Android OS on a desktop environment. Even Google Play Services are available in this distribution.
A 32-bit processor and 1.2GB of RAM with 3GB of storage space are required here.
Users can install 32-bit or 64-bit Slax with an x86 processor and 512MB of RAM. However, the 32-bit version will actually run on hardware from 1995, which is astounding.
Slax prioritizes customization above all else, and the OS relies on modules to function. Every app or feature within Slax is contained within its own module.
Each module is completely self-contained, so users retain full control over the operating system.
Slax comes with a few built-in modules by default, including a web browser and text editor. Without a doubt, this unique structure makes Slax both powerful and highly compatible with all types of hardware.
Q4OS offers Plasma and Trinity desktop variations with minimal system requirements.
Plasma installation is available with a 1 Ghz CPU with 1GB of RAM and 5GB of storage space.
On the other hand, Trinity requires a 300 Mhz CPU, 128MB of RAM, and 3GB of storage space. Most operating systems won’t even boot on such hardware, so that feat alone is commendable.
In Q4OS, users receive a powerful and nimble operating system. Q4OS receives regular updates and security patches.
It’s possible to dual boot with Windows 10. On top of that, users can dual boot Trinity and Plasma desktop environments at the same time. A variety of installable apps are available through Q4OS as well.
Peppermint OS requires minimal hardware in order to run well. This includes an x86 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 4GB of storage space.
In fact, the operating system even works with 32-bit systems. Developers behind Peppermint OS wanted to create a fast and lightweight Linux distribution that runs on everything.
A focus on web applications and cloud computing helps make this happen.
A variety of security features are baked into the operating system by default. If a user relies on a web browser for most tasks, they’ll feel at home with Peppermint OS.
Fortunately, the OS is ready to go out of the box once installed. Even aged hardware should feel like a brand new machine with Peppermint OS.