Best Linux Distributions for Older Computers and Laptops

In fact, the reason we create this content is because we're not going to be able to create it. It was to make a pretty old laptop available again. This laptop, which came as a Windows installed at the time it was purchased, did not meet our expectations under today's conditions. With a new, fast, lightweight operating system, we take the laptop to its final speeds and today's conditions! In short, if you have an old laptop or computer, don't just throw it away, turn it into a device that will allow you to do your daily operations at top speed with a few simple operations. First of all, if you started using computers with Windows, and this will be your first Linux experience, we will be very happy and excited about it! With the sense of trust and freedom that comes with open source freedom, Linux operating systemswill be your first choice.

Physically Preparing

Although it is a title that we have added to be included in this article, before making the installations; Consider replacing the thermal paste of your device, cleaning the case. In this way, you can prevent unnecessary heating.

Preliminary

First we need a USB memory with a storage capacity of at least 8GB. We also need to be able to enter the BIOS settings of our device, which we will install the operating system. During the installation process, let's also make sure that your device has a power cord, interrupting operations can cause permanent damage.

Light Operating Systems

You may ask why we don't set up a Ubuntu or Debian distribution directly. The biggest reason for this is to meet the system requirements of our old computer in the most optimal way and to avoid unnecessary processing power. The "lightweight operating systems" that we will introduce here want as low RAM (Memory) and HDD (Storage) requirements as possible. Although our focus is on older computers, you can also use most of these lightweight Linux distributions on relatively new hardware. If you use your computer for intensive resource usage, such as video editing on Linux, this will give you better performance. This ranking is completely random, you can establish with peace of mind any one that best meets the system requirements and supports your device.

Slax

First of all, one of the most remarkable features of Slax distribution; it consumes approximately 128 MB of RAM at the time of waiting, i.e. when doing nothing, as well as daily use and RAM consumed when using an internet browser is around 512 MB. The image size of this distribution, which is quite light and useful, is only 300 MB. One of your reasons for choosing the interface and tools to be user-friendly and easily customizable. You can also make permanent changes directly to the image file, so you can upload images that look the same to any device. System Requirements

  • RAM: 128 MB (standby) / 512 MB (daily use)
  • CPU: i686 (32-Bit Processor) or 64-Bit
  • HDD / Storage: 2 GB

Slax

Ubuntu MATE

Ubuntu MATE is an impressive lightweight Linux distribution that runs quite fast on older computers. Mate has the desktop, so the user interface may look a little different at first, but it is quite easy to use. System Requirements

  • RAM: 1 GB
  • CPU: Pentium M 1.0 GHz or higher. Supports 32-Bit and 64-Bit.
  • HDD / Storage: 9 GB

Ubuntu MATE

Zorin OS Lite

Zorin OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. Xfce offers a light, high-performance experience for older PCs with a desktop environment. You can also try the regular Zorin OS to see if it fits your purpose if you have a good system (not too old). System Requirements

  • RAM: 512 MB
  • CPU: 700 MHz Single Core. Has 32-Bit or 64-Bit support
  • HDD / Storage: 8 GB

Zorin OS Lite

Xubuntu

Xubuntu is one of the official distributions of Ubuntu with its lightweight Xfce desktop. You will find it quite easy to use and you will also be able to install it on your old computers without any problems. System Requirements

  • RAM: 512 MB
  • CPU : Pentium Pro or AMD Athlon top. Supports 32-Bit and 64-Bit.

Xubuntu

Linux Mint Xfce

If you have a good hardware configuration (which meets the following minimum requirements), it would be an excellent choice to use the Linux Mint Xfce version. As a Ubuntu-based deployment, it also has the Xfce desktop, which makes older computers good enough. Considering that Linux Mint is one of the best Linux distributions, you can also try other versions available (such as Cinnamon). System Requirements

  • 1GB RAM (2GB recommended).
  • CPU: 32-Bit and 64-Bit support.
  • 15GB of storage (20GB recommended).

Linux Mint Xfce

Peppermint

peppermint is a cloud-oriented Linux distribution that doesn't require high-end hardware. It is Ubuntu-based and uses the LXDE desktop environment to give you a smoother experience. Originally created with the web-centric approach of netbooks in mind, Peppermint includes the ICE app to integrate any website or web application as a standalone desktop app. System Requirements

  • RAM: 1 GB of RAM (recommended 2 GB)
  • CPU: Intel x86-based processor or a 64-Bit processor
  • HDD / Storage: At least 4 GB of storage.

Peppermint

Lubuntu

Lubuntu is next in our list of the best lightweight Linux distributions. As its name suggests, it is a member of the Ubuntu family but uses the LXDE/LXQT desktop environment. In Ubuntu 18.10 and later, you will find LXQT as the default desktop environment and you can find LXDE by default in earlier versions. In fact, it is one of the official distributions of Ubuntu. In Lubuntu, fewer packages, mostly lightweight Linux applications, are preinstalled. The software and repository are the same, so you get all the software you use in Ubuntu from the same repository. However, it is worth choosing an application that does not always consume a lot of system resources. System Requirements

  • RAM: 1 GB RAM
  • CPU: A pentium 4 or AMD K8 processor. It has 32-Bit and 64-Bit support.

Lubuntu

Linux Lite

As the name suggests, Linux Lite is a lightweight Linux distribution that does not need high-end hardware to run. Even beginners can easily use it on older computers. Linux Lite is based on Ubuntu LTS (Long-Term Support) versions. Although it is a light distribution – it includes some basic tools. For example, you can find Firefox for web browsing, Thunderbird for emails, Dropbox for Cloud storage, VLC Media Player for Music, LibreOffice for office, Gimp for image editing, and Lite tweaks to change your desktop. (this may vary depending on the version you are using). Considering that it is based on Ubuntu, you will have plenty of support and resources online as you can follow Ubuntu trainings. System Requirements

  • RAM: 768 MB RAM (recommended 1 GB)
  • CPU: 1Ghz processor or higher. Supports 32-Bit and 64-Bit.
  • HDD / Storage: At least 8 GB of storage.

Linux Lite

LXLE

LXLE is actually an indicator of the Lubuntu LTS version. Now that Lubuntu comes with LXQT by default, LXLE is an excellent option for users who want to use the LXDE desktop environment. Although it is a lightweight Linux distribution, LXLE tries to provide an intuitive user interface and high performance. The system is set up to improve performance and comes with a wide range of lightweight applications installed by default. System Requirements

  • RAM: 512 MB (recommended 1 GB)
  • CPU: Pentium 3 or later has 32-Bit and 64-Bit support.
  • HDD / Storage: At least 8 GB of storage

LXLE

CrunchBang++

CrunchBang ++, CBPP or #! Also known as ++ or CrunchBang Plus Plus. Crunchbang ++ is a clone of the terminated Crunchbang Linux. CrunchBang ++ supports older computers and works without any problems. CrunchBang ++ is based on the Debian 10 with minimal design interface. At the time of writing this, some of the default applications in Crunchbang ++ include Geany IDE, Terminator terminal emulator, Thunar File Manager, Gimp for image editing, Viewnior viewer, VLC Media Player for music, Xfburn CD/DVD burning software, etc. It may not be the best for every user, but give it a try and see for yourself. System Requirements

  • RAM: 1 GB RAM
  • CPU: Pentium 4 or AMD K8 top. Supports 32-Bit or 64-Bit.

Crunchbang++

Bodhi Linux

Another lightweight Linux distribution – Bodhi Linux, which brings old PCs and laptops to life. Bodhi Linux is known for its minimal approach and low-quality hardware support. It does not contain many pre-installed things – therefore, you will notice that the ISO file size will be less than 1 GB. The presence of Moksh Desktop makes Bodhi Linux a good choice for legacy hardware configurations while providing a good user experience. System Requirements

  • RAM: 256 MB RAM
  • CPU: Supports 32-Bit and 64-Bit at 1.0 GHz or higher.
  • HDD / Storage: At least 5 GB of storage.

Bodhi Linux

antiX Linux

antiX is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Debian Linux. If you are looking for something that does not contain Systemd, this is a great option. antiX also uses the icewm window manager to run the system on subclass hardware. It does not have any preinstalled software, so the ISO file size is about 700 MB. If you have an active internet connection, you can download and install more software at any time later. System Requirements

  • RAM: 256 MB RAM
  • CPU: Supports 32-Bit and 64-Bit
  • HDD / Storage: At least 5 GB of storage

antiX Linux

SparkyLinux

SparkyLinux is another light distribution, but it also targets modern computers. Depending on what you need – you will find two varieties of SparkyLinux. One is based on Debian's stable version, the other is based on Debian's test branch. Thus, you can choose a version that you consider appropriate. In addition to variants, you will also find different ISO versions to download. For example, an LXQT desktop-based version, a GameOver version with preinstalled items, and so on. You can go to the download pages and click on "Stable" or "(Semi-) Rolling" to find all the listed versions. System Requirements

  • RAM: 512 MB
  • CPU: Pentium 4, or AMD Athlon. Supports 32-Bit and 64-Bit.
  • HDD: 2GB (CLI Version), 10GB (Home Version), 20GB (GameOver Version)

Sparky Linux

Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux can be booted live with CD/DVD/USB. Puppy Linux uses JWM and Openbox window managers by default, making it very easy on system resources. Puppy Linux is built to be fast, so it doesn't come with app packages. Still, they have some basic applications. In other words, if you really want to use an old computer, you can get things done. System Requirements

  • RAM: 256 MB
  • CPU: 600 Hz Processor or better. Supports 32-Bit and 64-Bit.

Puppy Linux

Tiny Core

Probably, technically, the lightest distribution. However, it is not a complete Linux distribution for the average desktop user. Tiny Core contains the basic core of an operating system that includes the kernel and the root file system. In other words, it forms the basis of a desktop operating system. If you are willing to use it only with a wired Internet connection, you can install it. However, you should not expect appropriate hardware support other than these. So, if you are someone who knows how to install or compile the necessary tools with Tiny Core Linux to provide a complete desktop experience, you can try this. System Requirements

  • RAM: 64 MB (128 MB recommended)
  • CPU: i486DX or later. Supports 32-Bit.

Tiny Core Linux

Establishment of the Operating System

To install an operating system on our old device, first of all, we need to write the image file of the operating system of our choice into a USB memory in bootable, that is, bootable. You can use Rufus or Belena Etcher for this process. In our previous articles, we have explained how to use these programs, but in this article we will recount and install on our device. In order; Preparation of USB Memory, Installation of the prepared USB stick into the USB port of the device, choosing the USB that we installed as a Boot device from the BIOS menu of the device, then installing the new operating system.

Preparation of USB Memory

Etcher, download the app and run the app. Click the Select image button and select your ISO file. Click the Select drive button and select your USB stick. Flash!/Print! button.

Entering the BIOS Menu

It is difficult to say a complete thing, since this option varies from model to model, you need to enter the BIOS and enter the boot menu. Or we can open the Boot penceri directly and select the USB memory on which we write the operating system. With this table, you can see the key combination that suits you;

brandBIOS Input KeyBoot Menu Key
AcerF2F12
ASUSF2 or DeleteEsc
CasperF2F12
ChiligreenF2
dellF2F12
EcsF2F7
ExperF1 or F2Esc or F2
FujitsuF2F12
GigabyteF12
GrundigF2F11
HpF10F9, F10 or Esc
Lenovo G560F2F12 or Nova Key
LgF10
MsiF2 or DeleteF11
MonsterF2F7
PegatronF11
PackardbellF2
SamsungF2F9, F10 or Esc
Sony VaioF2F11 or Assist key
ToshibaF2F12

Installation of the Operating System

We have chosen Linux Mint for installation, installation may be similar or different to other operating systems.

When you turn on your computer with a USB stick (or DVD), Linux Mint starts with a running session. In this way, a user named mint is logged on and the desktop with a setup shortcut is shown.

_images/cinnamon.png

Linux Mint running session

The working session is similar to the regular session (that is, the linux mint after it is permanently installed on the computer), but the following considerations are the exception:

  • The running media is slow (installed from a USB stick or DVD instead of an HDD or SDD).
  • Changes to the running session are not permanent. They are not written to USB memory (or DVDs) and do not affect system installations by the installation tool.
  • Some apps work differently (or not entirely) in a running session (Timeshift, Flatpak, Update Manager, Welcome Screen.. etc.)

clue

The user name for the running session is mint. If a password is asked, click enter/login button.

To permanently install Linux Mint on your computer:

  1. :guilabel:'Double-click Install Linux Mint/Install Linux Mint.
  2. Select your language.

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  1. Connect to the Internet.

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  1. If you are connected to the Internet, select the option to install multimedia codecs.

_images/installer-codecs.png

  1. Select the setup type.

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If you are going to use only Linux Mint on your computer, to delete all data on your hard drive, select Delete all disk and install Linux Mint.

warning

The Encrypt new Linux Mint installation for security refers to full disk snuppas. At this stage of setup, your keyboard layout has not yet been selected, so it is set to en_US (English). If you decide to use this option, consider it when entering a password. Note that this option may also cause problems with some NVIDIA drivers. If you are new to Linux, we recommend using home directory encryption instead (you can do this later in the installation).

If your computer has another operating system, the setup wizard shows you an option to install Linux Mint next to them. If you select this option, the setup wizard automatically resizes the existing operating system, saves space and installs theLinux Mint next to it. A boot menu is set so that you can choose between two operating systems each time you start your computer.

note

If you want to manage partitions or use a custom partition; Select something else.

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One partition is required to connect the Linux Mint root /directory.

Linux Mint operating system (without additional software and individual data) is approximately 15 GB. space occupies, so it is convenient to give this section a reasonable size (100 GB. or more).

The ext4 file system is recommended. This is the most popular Linux file system.

_images/installer-partition.png

Also create a swap/swap field section. This section is used for sleep mode and as a security buffer when your computer runs out of RAM. You can give this section a size equal to the amount of RAM on your computer.

  1. Choose your time zone

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  1. Choose your calisk layout

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  1. Enter user details

_images/installer-user.png

Part of your name may be your real name, but it doesn't have to be that way. This is only used in the local screen saver and home screen.

the user name is used for session entry, the computer name is the name of your computer on the network.

To avoid errors, you should only use lowercase letters, not punctuation or accent marks.

To protect your personal data from local attacks (in case people around you are prevented from accessing it or your computer is stolen), you can select Encrypt my home directory.

Choose a strong password.

  1. Enjoy the slideshow while linux mint is installed on your computer.

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When setup is finished, click the Restart Now button.

_images/installer-finished.png

It will ask you to remove your USB stick (or DVD) after the computer starts to shut down. During the restart, your computer will show you a boot menu or start your newly installed Linux Mint operating system.

EXTRA: Even Lighter Operating Systems

Since we continued to investigate even after the draft phase of the article was finished, we came across these operating systems. We have prepared a few even lighter operating systems for you compared to the above operating systems;

Damn Small Linux

Damn Small Linux (also known as DSL or DS Linux for short) is a mini Linux distribution specifically designed to work with mini CDs on low-capacity computers. Thanks to its low system requirements and small size(50 MB),it also works comfortably on older x86 computers. It can also be used by loading it onto a hard disk or USB memory. It can operate in more computer environments than most operating systems/Linux distributions today. The DSL is made from a 22MB Knoppix clone called the Model-K. Although it was originally developed by John Andrews, it is being developed by many today. Damn Small Linux

ArchBang

ArchBang Linux is a simple, lightweight, portable Linux distribution based on a minimal Arch Linux operating system with openbox window manager. ArchBang is especially ideal for efficient performance on older or low-quality hardware with limited resources. ArchBang's goal is to provide a simple out-of-the-box Arch-based Linux distribution with a preconfigured Openbox desktop package that adheres to Arch policies. ArchBang has also been proposed as a quick installation method for people who have experience installing Arch Linux but want to avoid the more demanding default installation when reinstalling Arch Linux on another computer. ArchBang

Elive

Elive Linux is one of the only Linux distros that uses the Debian base. Elive Linux, which came into our lives in 2006, receives three or four updates a year. Elive received two updates this year and received its last update on April 5. For the virtual machine . Since there are also molds with Vdmk extensions, you can easily test and use them on your device. Elive Linux, which supports 32- and 64-bit architectures, can predetermine most drivers with its automatic definition and determines the location and handles adjustments such as time and date itself. Multilingual support is also available. On the contrary, as in most Linux distributions, the Web browser in Elive comes with video audio player programs installed. The new version comes with elive-pm with a new tool provided for users to shut down, suspend, hibernate, or even lock the computer. In addition, our distribution uses the Enlightenment interface. Elive

Porteus

Porteus (formerly Slax Remix) is a portable operating system based on Slackware. It does not require installation and can be operated from fixed and removable media such as USB flash drives or CDs. Porteus is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. It also has a version called Kiosk. Porteus Kiosk is a special version of the Porteus operating system, [13] a minimalist Linux distribution for web terminals only with Firefox (or Google Chrome, Chromium or Opera set up on installation) as the only application. Porteus Kiosk provides users with a locked computing environment designed to be placed in schools, offices, public libraries, internet cafes or any workplace that manages to provide internet access to its customers. Tiny Core Linux

SliTaz

SliTaz GNU / Linux is a lightweight-based Linux distribution that is suitable for use on older hardware and as a Live CD or Live USB. SliTaz means "Simple, Lightweight, Incredible, Temporary Autonomous Zone" according to the boot screen. SliTaz uses the Openbox window manager. Additional packages are added using a program called "TazPanel". This is due to the special package format (tazpkg) used by SliTaz. However, by performing a conversion of these different packages, Debian can use packages from the more popular deployment. By default, SliTaz does not offer persistence , but can still be added if the user wants to. However, the choice of the file system / bootstrapper used with slitaz is important. Persistence can only be used with ext2 and ext3 file systems and syslinux or extlinux boot loader. SliTaz GNU /Linux is supported on all machines based on i486 or x86 Intel-compatible processors. The live CD has four SliTaz variants that require text mode with 192 MB of RAM for the Core system and 48 MB for the X Window System. SliTaz can run on 16 MB of RAM and some interchangeable memory. SliTaz can be booted from a Live CD, Live USB, floppy disk, or a local area network, or installed requiring approximately 80 MB of hard disk space. SliTaz