Are you still using a Core i3 system with less than 8GB RAM? Or maybe you want to save precious storage from the likes of Windows and its large and heavy updates? Or maybe you just need an open-source operating system and have some peace of mind.
With resource-hungry operating systems like Windows 10 and 11 and MacOS being available only on Apple Mac systems, it is not a bad thing to look for lightweight OSs that do the job while needing only around a GB of RAM and a couple of hundred MBs of storage.
So, in this article, we will look into some of the best operating systems that are meant for low-end PCs.
1. Linux Lite
If you have a system that lags even opening the least intense application, Linux Lite can provide you with a near-perfect choice.
Linux Lite looks and feels familiar if you are coming from a Windows system. It does not look like a Linux system that much either. It is the best of both worlds.
It is based on the Ubuntu distro’s Long-Term Support(LTS) version. Ubuntu, in and of itself, is a lightweight distro of Linux, with various software like LibreOffice, GIMP, Thunderbird, etc.
The distro only needs around 800 MB of RAM to run. Linux Lite uses the Xfce desktop environment, and since Xfce is very efficient and less resource-intensive, it is very light and fast.
Here’s another Linux distro that is lightweight, snappy, and for lower-end systems. It is based on the Ubuntu distro and is a light version of vanilla Ubuntu.
Since it uses LXQt desktop environment, it is very quick to run and uses very less resources. The only trade-off for that is the fewer features.
As it is a light Ubuntu distro, it gets many of the apps that are available on Ubuntu. You can also get more apps from the Discovery Software Center.
Lubuntu only needs less than a GB of RAM to run and can be run from a USB device.
Yet another lightweight operating system, that is a part of the Ubuntu family.
It is similar to Linux Lite as it also uses the Xfce desktop environment. Hence the ‘X’ in front of the Ubuntu. It has a wide array of applications meant for low-end systems and uses fewer resources too.
Xubuntu is meant for the daily basic user who needs to access their mail, access office applications, and view media.
It is also a plug-and-play OS that can run from a USB stick. It uses around a GB of RAM if used to its maximum.
4. Puppy Linux
This is also a Linux distro that will make your low-end devices get back up and running.
Puppy Linux is another lightweight Linux distro. It can work on less than a GB of RAM. It can even run directly on the RAM, without being installed on the external storage.
But even when it is installed, it mainly runs on RAM. Hence, this OS is super fast and snappy.
The OS is meant for light and basic users only, as power users will find it harder to utilize it for their needs.
5. Zorin OS
How would you like the ease of Windows with the looks of a Mac? Well, this build of the Ubuntu distro aims to be the transition point. It looks like both the OSs, so users familiar with Windows as well as MacOS can use this distro with ease.
Zorin OS uses GNOME 3 and Xfce 4 desktop environments to get the best of both worlds. The best part is that you can use Zorin OS alongside the OS you currently use and it will not cause heavy load on your system.
The latest version of Zorin OS allows you to install Windows apps as well.
The OS is pretty lightweight and just needs less than a GB of RAM to run.
This is a Linux distro based on Debian but was formerly an Ubuntu distro. It uses the Xfce environment.
It comes with the basic apps and is a great way to spruce up your old system. It only needs a GB of RAM, and you will get long-term support.
antiX is also based on Debian and is easy to install. It would need around half a GB of RAM to run and can run live from bootable storage as well.
It is also a lightweight Linux distro aimed at the low-end systems. It uses the Fluxbox and IceWM desktop environments. It also can boot into BIOS and UEFI.
8. Bodhi Linux
Ok, this is this is the last Linux distro in this list, I swear.
Bodhi Linux is a light, fast, and simple Linux distro that is based on Ubuntu. Its user interface is a fork called Moksha, which uses Enlightenment DR-17.
It is really fast and looks great. It is a breath of fresh air when compared to other OSs. It still gets updates and can run on just 128 MB RAM at the low end.
This is an open-source way to use an OS that almost looks like Windows. You can run various apps and install drivers that are meant for Windows.
However, since Windows has such a large ecosystem, ReactOS is not completely compatible with every program available. It also has NTFS support, so you can use the storage on this OS much like on Windows.
This is also a lightweight and fast way to replace Windows on a low-end PC.
10. Chrome OS Flex
The Chromebook, offered by Google, uses Chrome OS. This operating system is a mix between Google Chrome on a desktop system and an Android device. However, the issue was that Chrome OS was released exclusively for Chromebooks.
So, due to popular demand, Google brought a lightweight version of the Chrome OS for the masses. It is a modified version of the Google CloudReady feature. You get to use Google Assistant on your PC! How cool is that?
There are a few downsides, such as you can’t install apps through APK like you can on ChromeOS. So you have to stick to web apps, which is a shame.
This OS is good for those who are not power users and just want some casual usage.
These were a few of the lightweight OSs that can give your old system a new wind, while not being resource-hungry monsters. As we saw, most of the OSs in this list are Linux distros since Linux is one of the most lightweight and normal-sized OSs available. And they’re free as well.