What is the most lightweight operating system to bring back life to a stone-age PC?

Serge Garcia March 4, 2013
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I’ve been looking around the basement for a while, and found an old Desktop PC. At first I thought I could do something with it, but it seems it has ancient hardware and there seems little I can do to restore life to it. It currently has a 440Mhz Intel Celeron Processor, and has a 198 megabyte RAM card. I turned it on, and somebody messed with it so it had 330 megabytes RAM somehow, think it has something to do with increasing paging file size, but anyways.

What is the best operating system out there with the lowest system requirements? It has currently windows XP consuming 113mb when idle. Is there anything out there that either consumes well under 100mb on idle, or has great memory administration? Keep in mind it has an Intel Celeron processor, and a 198mb RAM.

Ive heard about Ubuntu, and Chrome OS but I have no technical knowledge to know if it Ubuntu, Chrome OS or anything else will truly revive this old PC and make it useful again. Any ideas?

  1. Deimarr C
    March 17, 2013 at 5:40 am

    I personally recommend Ubuntu. It's fairly lightweight.

  2. dragonmouth
    March 10, 2013 at 12:57 am

    Get a 256 MB or 512 MB stick of memory and plug it in.

    Install Damn Small Linux or Puppy Linux. Either one will be less demanding of system resources than any version of Windows.

  3. Réy Aétar
    March 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    you cant do much with that
    except browsing and playing media neither any Linux destroy can help so better stick to xp and get a browser and do what you can
    a good modern destroy has requirement higher than xp

  4. Francisco de Gusmao
    March 9, 2013 at 2:16 am

    with those specs I can only remember damn small linux. It uses very little hdd space, ram and processor! you should try it. but be warned, it is not very good looking!

  5. EL
    March 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    You would probably need a light version of Linux.

  6. Lazy Pebble
    March 5, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    i wud suggest .. to try Linux..
    there is a light version of Linux Ox available free online..
    you can try installing that on to ur computer..
    as it does not eat up much of the resources..at the same time providing all the basic functionality...

  7. Alan Wade
    March 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Here is the top 5 lightweight Linux distros for the older computer:

    Should be something in there for you.

  8. Dave Bakker
    March 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I have old machines at work that once I retire, I will install a version of ubuntu on it. It is amazing how these machines come back to life while runing Linux.

  9. Justin Pot
    March 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Damn Small is a great recommendation, but I've also had great luck using Puppy Linux on older machines. It's more user friendly than Damn Small but still quite lightweight. Runs from CD – wasn't sure if this computer had a drive or not so that might be a problem.


    Try it out, see what you think. Oh, and I don't think Ubuntu will run well on your setup, and I doubt Chrome OS has the drivers you need.

    • Serge Garcia
      March 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      I was really looking forward to installing ubuntu, but Ive got a lot of mixed views of people saying Ubuntu is great, runs on anything, etc. And other people telling me that it wont run it well...So where lies the truth? Should I go Ubuntu, DSL or Puppy Linux?

    • Justin Pot
      March 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Recent versions of Ubuntu will not run well – if at all – given those specifications. There are lightweight versions of Ubuntu that might work, but the main branch of Ubuntu has requirements higher than you've got here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/SystemRequirements

      Give it a shot, but I think Puppy or DSL would run better. If you'd really like an Ubuntu varient, I recommend Lubuntu: http://lubuntu.net/

  10. salim benhouhou
    March 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I believe that Ubuntu is the best choice for your PC .

  11. Imesh Chandrasiri
    March 5, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Linux is the best to power up an old pc and bring it in to the new world. :)

  12. Harish Jonnalagadda
    March 5, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I would also suggest linux, and you can also try running Chromium on it.

  13. Silhoutte james
    March 5, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Go for Windows xp, the most lightest OS for PC

  14. Switchblade Rebirth
    March 5, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Damn Small Linux IMO.

  15. Junil Maharjan
    March 5, 2013 at 6:09 am

    linux based os like puppy linux or damn small linux

  16. Rajaa Chowdhury
    March 5, 2013 at 2:52 am

    Try Bodhi Linux or JoliCloud OS

  17. Oron Joffe
    March 5, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Many other Linux distros will work but your bottleneck in fact is the memory rather than processor speed. Ubuntu requires far more memory than you have, as would many of the other major distributions. I'm guessing it's 256MB, of which some is used for the graphics card, so first of all, have a look in the BIOS and see if you can reduce the amount used up by the graphics card (may be called "video aperture") to 8MB.
    So, what you need is a "lightweight" version of Linux. Damn Small Linux will run just fine, and Puppy Linux will also run but may struggle this amount of memory. Other distros to try are Peppermint OS Two and Lubuntu, which is a lightweight version of Ubuntu, and Bodhi Linux, which is a beautiful distro. Enjoy!

    • Serge Garcia
      March 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      Great answer! Thank you!

  18. Julie Berry
    March 4, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    There is a light version of Windows XP SP3 that you can download here: http://wehaslinks.com/windows/11364. However, Ubuntu (Linux) is really not difficult to learn as it used to be. You can also use it from a USB, if you really need to preserve your resources. You can download Ubuntu here: http://www.ubuntu.com/download.

  19. Aska Nag
    March 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    I advise you to pay attention to these distributions. The complex there is nothing.
    Best regards!

  20. Max
    March 4, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    If you do not have much technical knowledge, I'm afraid you may not get far with a really simple linux distro, unless you use a friendlier kind like ubuntu which however may be more processor hungry.

    However, if you are ok with just a terminal or a really, really stripped down GUI and know your unix commands, try RedHat or something that a google search may show. I think ubuntu would be pretty easy to install.

  21. ha14
    March 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    perhaps it is time to start learning linux on this computer
    Damn Small Linux

    Windows XP USB Ready Boost
    use usb key as cache, usb key acts as extra memory, try with 1GB

    • Serge Garcia
      March 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Wow...I completely forgot about Windows Ready Boost....Thanks for the head's up

    • Hovsep Avedissian
      March 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      faster USB better will be for Windows Ready Boost but as always there are limits on Windows Ready Boost effects.

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