10 Best Lightweight OS for Old Laptop and Netbook

Lightweight OS

Do you have any old laptop that is running slow? Are you searching for a lightweight operating system for your netbook? Here is a free list of a lightweight OS that can operate without using much of your hardware resources.

Related: Top 7 Free Operating Systems For Your Laptop / Netbook

All these operating systems mentioned here are capable of running under 1GB RAM and low CPU speed. Most of these Operating System can be loaded to USB stick and run from it instead of installing on your hard disk.

Once you have a list of Operating System, then you can add extra protection for your computer and please select the best one from the list of free Light Weight Antivirus that can Save Computer Memory and CPU Power

We recommend to download and setup a bootable USB with the operating system you choose to test with your hardware. If you don’t want to spend money and looking for a free OS, please see Top 7 Free Operating Systems For Your Laptop / Netbook that can try on your PC.

lightweight os for laptop

That will help you to make sure all the hardware drivers are available for the operating system before you try this OS on your local hard disk.

Debian + PIXEL

Minimum Requirement: i386 architecture | 512MB of RAM.

The new lightweight OS from Raspberry Pi Foundation that to give new life to your old PC. This lightweight OS can run on x86-based MAC and Windows machines. PIXEL is a clean, modern user interface, packed with a bunch of programming tools and productivity software.

Pixel Raspberry OSThis lightweight OS is pre-installed Chromium web-browser with useful plugins, including Adobe Flash and instant access to thousands of free applications. The new software enables you to install a Raspberry Pi-like OS on your computer. It boots from a DVD, USB Thumb drive or inside a virtual environment.


Minimum Requirement: i486 Intel / AMD processors | 48 MB of RAM for text-mode |
256 MB of RAM for KDE desktop

Slax is a Live operating system based on Linux runs from an external media without any need for permanent installation. The entire Slax operating system resides in a single directory/Slax/ on your device, making it easier to organize with your other data.


Slax is available for 32bit and 64bit processor architectures. The 32bit version is designed to run on old computers (as old as Intel 486; that dates back to 1989). This lightweight operating system will run properly on brand new computers too. However, this OS is limited in the amount of RAM it can see 3GB of RAM.

The 64bit Slax version has no such limits, but will not run on computers older than a few years. If you plan to use Slax on a very old computer, or you seek for a system with maximum possible compatibility, then choose 32bit. If your intention is to use Slax on a brand new machine, you’ll better go for 64bit.

Damn Small Linux

Minimum Requirement: i486 Intel / AMD processors | 64 MB RAM

Damn Small Linux is a very versatile 50MB mini desktop oriented Lightweight Linux distribution. DSL has a nearly complete desktop and a small core of command line tools. All applications have been chosen for the best balance of functionality, size, and speed.


Damn Small can act as an SSH/FTP/HTTPD server right off of a live CD. DSL can boot from a business card CD as a live Linux distribution or a USB pen drive. It can run fully in RAM with as little as 128MB and light enough to power a 486DX with 16MB of Ram.


Minimum Requirement: Pentium II CPU | 128 MB RAM

NimbleX is a small but versatile lightweight OS which can boot from CD, flash memory (USB pens or Mp3 players) and even from the network. Because it runs entirely from a CD, USB or network, it doesn’t require installation.


In NimbleX you can browse the web with Firefox, chat with your friends using the Kopete multi-protocol IM application, download torrents with Transmission, use DC++, connect remotely to other computers and much more.

Arch Linux

Arch supports the i686 and x86_64 architecture | 256 MB RAM

Arch Linux is an independently developed, i686/x86-64 general purpose GNU/Linux distribution versatile enough to suit any role. Development focuses on simplicity, minimalism, and code elegance. This lightweight Linux OS is installed as a minimal base system, configured by the user upon which their own ideal environment is assembled by installing only what is required or desired for their unique purposes.

ArchLinuxGUI configuration utilities are not officially provided, and most system configurations are performed from the shell and a text editor. Based on a rolling-release model, Arch strives to stay bleeding edge, and typically offers the latest stable versions of most software.


Zorin OS Lite needs minimum 700 MHz Single Core | 8GB of Hard Drive space | 512 MB of system memory (RAM) | Graphics Card 640×480.
Zorin OS Ultimate needs minimum 1.5GHz Core | 10GB of Hard Drive space | 1.5G of system memory (RAM) | Graphics Card 800X600.

Zorin OS is a multi-functional operating system designed specifically for newcomers to Linux. It’s based on Ubuntu Linux so that you can rely on it for rock-solid performance, dependability, and support. Zorin OS features our uniqueLook Changer program that we have created exclusively for Zorin OS.

Zorin OSIt allows users to change the user interface at the touch of a button. Other unique programs include Background Plus, Web Browser Manager and more. It allows you to use Zorin OS along with your current operating system and run Microsoft Windows programs in Zorin OS with the help of WINE and PlayOnLinux.

Bonus List of Lightweight OS


GeeXboX is a free lightweight, and Open Source Media-Center purposed Linux distribution for embedded devices and desktop computers. GeeXboX is not an application, it’s a full-featured OS, that one can boot as a LiveCD, from a USB key, an SD/MMC card or install on its regular HDD.


GeeXboX provides you a ready-to-be-used, plug-and-play Media Center application that can play any multimedia content. It has been designed to be fully controllable through either keyboard, mouse or a remote controller and does not require any particular computer-related skills. It features the state of the art technologies as to provide you with the best multimedia experience to take the most out of your hardware


The Ubuntu Netbook Edition is great, but a lot of things don’t work out of the box. MP3s, for example, can’t be played until you install the codecs. EasyPeasy aims to be simple by offering proprietary applications and codecs out of the box.


EasyPeasy is designed for the cloud. It is configured with Wifi and wireless drivers that enable you to easily connect your netbook to the Internet and enjoy web applications straight from the desktop. EasyPeasy is optimized for low power consumption and was from the early start developed with better battery performance and mobility in mind.


It is a Linux-based lightweight operating system became the best replacement OS for old PC sitting in homes, schools, and universities. Designed around the Jolidrive HTML5 interface which designed for the cloud, but works great offline.


Jolicloud automatically updates your software, relies heavily on Chromium-based packages for running web-based applications with a curated list of 1,500 free apps.

Elementary OS

Elementary OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It makes use of a desktop with its shell named Pantheon and is deeply integrated with other elementary OS applications like Plank (a dock), Midori (the default web browser) and Scratch (a simple text editor).

The distribution initially started as a set of themes and applications designed for Ubuntu, which later turned into its own Linux distribution. Being Ubuntu-based, it is compatible with its repositories and packages and uses Ubuntu’s own software center to handle installation/removal of software.

If you want to get the list of a free operating system that you want to try for your laptop, please try Top 7 Free Operating Systems For Your Laptop / Netbook.

These lightweight oS are the best in from the available Linux distribution, and those are light, fast and stable, that can give life back to your old, low resource laptops.


  1. While downloading Zorin, I noticed that on their homepage the system requirements suggest 1.5 gigs of RAM – The article above states ” 215 MB of system memory “.. It looked great and I thought it would do, but yeah. Very informative article nonetheless 🙂

  2. really helpful, I want to replace my netbook os since my windows 8 was crash and can’t booting. I’d like to know if I boot from flashdisk is erase data in hard disk or not? thank you

    • No,if you boot from flash-disk the data on your hard-drive stays untouched. Most Linux distros that are booted from flash or CD don’t even mount the local hard-drive unless you specifically change the setting for it to do so.

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