Whether you want to take more control of your devices, support open source software or simply travel on the road less traveled, with the next list of free operating systems we will show you the way.
Our list includes some independent external systems, operating systems built from scratch, which serve mainly to demonstrate how difficult it is to create an operating system that works without a large number of brains working on it.
If you buy one of those laptops without a preloaded operating system, there is no need to pay a large sum to buy an operating system or resort to hacking. There are a few operating systems that are totally free (and without any commitment).
We do not recommend that you install most of these on your real PC. If you want to play with them, you can install a virtual machine program such as VirtualBox or VMware Player and play with them.
Most operating systems for Linux PCs seem to be based on it, so it’s worth starting with Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is an operating system created by a worldwide team of expert developers. This fast operating system contains all the applications you need: a web browser, office suite, multimedia applications, instant messaging and much more.
Ubuntu is an open source alternative for Windows and Office that can speed up your PC.
This operating system that is commonly used in old laptops was not designed from scratch. Ubuntu is the distribution of Linux based on the Debian architecture.
This ideal OS for an old laptop comes with most of the integrated Ubuntu applications (Firefox, Open Office, F-Spot, LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Transmission, etc.).
The GUI is tailored to take advantage of the limited function of old-fashioned laptop screens. The Ubuntu platform comes in two forms: LTS (long-term support) and not LTS. The versions are marked as 16.04, the nomenclature is made with respect to the year (16) and the month (04) of the release.
Most notably, the versions will no longer come with the Unity-based desktop, since the most recent versions will return to the GNOME-based desktop. Also, as Ubuntu has been the most popular Linux distribution, it has excellent hardware compatibility and users do not need to install additional drivers. The software can be downloaded from the Ubuntu Software Center.
This is one of the most common free operating systems and can be a good alternative option to windows 7 or windows 10.
More information: Ubuntu
2. Chrome OS
In a way, this is another obvious option. Chrome OS, from Google, is available in a number of low-cost laptops and some high-end laptops, known as Chromebooks.
It is also available for free download, often to install on old hardware, because it is a free operating system that is very light and could easily be a good alternative for windows.
Comparatively lightweight and with a focus on cloud computing, Chrome OS is ideal for web browsing, social networking and word processing. It is less impressive in media reproduction, and media editing and games are beyond their capabilities.
If Linux is not your cup of tea but you are looking for something that is familiar to you, Chrome OS is a good free alternative to Windows.
More information: Chrome OS
3. Linux lite
Linux Lite, as its name suggests, was introduced for systems with very low-end hardware.
This Linux Lite is a very light and simple operating system that can be especially beneficial to users who have limited knowledge of the Linux operating system as a whole.
This operating system is a correct combination of programs, tools, desktop and functionality.
The Linux Lite Netbook is based on the Ubuntu distribution and has a simple interface. As such, it is quite stable and has an update support for up to five years. The Linux distribution is fully functional immediately after installation, and users do not need to worry about driver problems. When it comes to the best lightweight operating systems, Linux Lite is above all.
Download link: https://www.linuxliteos.com/download.php
Kubuntu is an official derivative of the Ubuntu operating system that uses the graphical environment of KDE instead of GNOME.
This netbook operating system is part of the Ubuntu project and uses the same underlying system. It is possible to run both the KDE desktop (Kubuntu-desktop) and the Gnome desktop (Ubuntu-desktop) interchangeably on the same machine.
The Kubuntu desktop supports full customization. Originally designed to facilitate the transition to users of other operating systems (such as Microsoft Windows) by allowing a similar desktop design, and KDE 4 Plasma Desktop incorporates widgets-based modularity that allows the user to integrate functions identical to all other operating systems.
A new functionality that is not found in other operating system desktops is also being created. The 3-D effects are available in the standard KDE4 installation.
Download link: https://kubuntu.org/
Fedora is the second most popular and widely used Linux-based operating system since the beginning of 2010, after Ubuntu. Fedora is a general-purpose operating system based on RPM built on the Linux kernel, developed by the Fedora project supported by the community and sponsored by Red Hat.
One of the main objectives of Fedora is not only to contain software distributed under a free and open source license, but also to be at the forefront of these technologies.
Fedora developers prefer to make changes upstream instead of applying specific fixes for Fedora, which ensures that their updates are available for all GNU / Linux distributions.
The best lite Linux operating system has a default GNOME desktop that you can change to your liking. The latest Fedora projects include Fedora Spins through which you can customize and implement variations in the desktop environment of the operating system and the UI. It uses the RPM package management system.
Fedora has a comparatively short life cycle: the X version is maintained until a month after the X + 2 release. With six months between releases, the maintenance period is approximately 13 months for each release.
Fedora had reasonably good support for PowerPC when it used that processor architecture. Fedora comes with the default DNF package manager or the GNOME software to install software repositories.
Download link: https://getfedora.org/
EasyPeasy is an excellent fast operating system for laptops, but many things do not work as the “box” says.
MP3s, for example, can not be played until you install the codecs. EasyPeasy aims to be simple by offering proprietary applications and ready-to-use codecs. You’ll be happy to find your favorites, including Skype and Picasa included by default.
Installing EasyPeasy is quite simple. See downloads and installation instructions at easypeasy.com
Download link: http://www.geteasypeasy.com/get-easypeasy/
SkyOS was quite prominent in OSNews between 2003 and 2008, it was coded almost entirely by the Austrian Robert Szeleney in his spare time.
He achieved a relatively usable state at the desk, especially considering it was a one-man project – it was a hobby project for Szeleney.
SkyOS originally started as a simple boot manager, but eventually expanded into a full operating system.
In the first few days, until version 4.x, SkyOS was available for free, but it was not open source. After that, Szeleney began charging a small fee for accessing the beta version of SkyOS 5, which some considered controversial.
The launch cycle of SkyOS 5.0 began with its first alpha version in December 2003, and ended with the release of beta 6947 in August 2008, a final version that never materialized.
The project seemed to fade away, but Szeleney experimented with the use of third-party cores, such as a BSD kernel or a Linux kernel. That was the last we heard from him, and earlier this year, the website was removed.
8. Linux Mint
Linux Mint provides a modern, powerful and elegant operating system for PC and laptop.
Mint works very well, with full multimedia support and easy to use. This fast operation is based on the Ubuntu distribution and is currently the most popular operating system among experts and beginners.
Based on Debian and Ubuntu, Mint provides around 30,000 packages and one of the best software administrators with a unique update manager and the strength of its Linux architecture. The updates are slower than Ubuntu, but for those who want better performance and a very good visual aesthetic, this would surely be the best option.
Download link: https://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
9. LXLE OS linux
“Revive your old PC!” Is the main motto of LXLE OS and we can see why. This is the most efficient Linux operating system in resources you can find.
It offers a lot of features and functionalities that can help you to carry out your work without interruptions. The LXLE operating system is based on the Ubuntu LTS distribution, so stability and security are very consistent.
Using an optimized LXDE interface, the best lightweight operating system offers the best possible performance and memory management information. Startup takes less than 1 minute, become a fast user with the fastest operating system for laptop! If you want your old device to work like new, LXLE OS is surely the way to go.
Download link: http://www.lxle.net/download/
Xubuntu is an open source operating system based on Unix that runs on the XFCE desktop environment, instead of the Ubuntu Unity environment.
While the interface is relatively dismantled, it remains a full-featured operating system that competes well with others.
This operating system is ideal for reusing that old Windows XP machine.
Pro: Xubuntu offers an integrated composer and fast integrations of GNOME applications.
With: User forums have commented on the slow development speed.
Download link: https://xubuntu.org/download/
Substitute for the now discontinued BeOS project, Haiku is free and open source and was first launched in 2001.
Since then, the operating system has been in almost continuous development and now has the ability to run the multipurpose VLC media player, as well as a couple of versions of Quake.
The WebPositive browser supports HTML5, and most BeOS applications can run on Haiku.
However, the operating system is in a strange place, something like between alpha and beta, and this makes it perhaps the least attractive alternative on this list. However, if you were a fan of BeOS a long time ago and are looking for a Windows escape, it is definitely worth checking out Haiku.
Download link: https://www.haiku-os.org/
Launched in January 1998 and created by Jim Hall, FreeDOS is a free open source operating system for DOS processors.
The configuration should be easy with the files loaded from a USB or a disk drive. It allows you to view and edit the FreeDOS source codes with their programs distributed under the General Public License (GNU).
Like MacOS and Windows, FreeDOS allows you to share files from any device and Linux location. According to their site, FreeDOS should run on a standard PC but suggests an Intel 386 or newer processor for better performance.
Main features: 7ZIP file, FAT32 file support, FDAV (antivirus), HTML viewer, built-in media player and ARACHNE graphic web browser and email client.
Pro: Supports many Windows applications.
With: There are not many updates.
Download link: http://www.freedos.org/download/
13. True OS
Often mentioned in the same basket as Linux, you could forgive yourself for thinking that FreeBSD is just another Linux distribution.
While sharing the roots of Unix-like Linux, FreeBSD is the open source version of Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD).
While it may be considered a relative of Linux, its code can be found in many places, such as Apple’s MacOS and Sony’s PlayStation 4 operating system.
In general, FreeBSD is a reliable operating system for servers and desktop computers alike. While it does not come with a default desktop environment, there is support for the GNOME, KDE and Xfce desktops. FreeBSD is of particular interest to those with security and privacy issues, offering improvements developed by the TrustedBSD project, which is supported by McAfee, DARPA, Google, the University of Cambridge Computer Lab, Apple and many more.
Download link: https://www.freebsd.org/en/where.html
15. Manjaro Linux
Manjaro Linux is based on the very popular Arch distribution, which is the access system for Linux experts.
But the distribution of Arch is very difficult for beginners and presents an abrupt learning curve for beginner users who are just entering the world of Linux. This is where Manjaro Linux comes in.
Manjaro Linux focuses on the user’s perception and ease of use.
The best lightweight Linux operating system presents fast, stable and powerful functionality with state-of-the-art software. The simplified approach to Arch distribution means that even beginners can take full advantage of Arch’s repository power and architecture.
The hardware of the system is analyzed automatically and the necessary drivers have been downloaded accordingly. Having a dedicated software and easy installation means that this operating system Lite is essential.
Download link: https://manjaro.org/get-manjaro/
Originally launched in 1996 as a Windows 95 cloning project, the official website states that “the ultimate goal of ReactOS is to allow you to remove Windows and install ReactbOS without the end user noticing the change”.
In summary, the goal is that you should be able to continue using your PC as you did before.
However, ReactOS has been in the alpha stage for quite some time. While some applications such as Adobe Reader will run on ReactOS, many will not.
One day, ReactOS could be a perfect and free alternative to Windows, but until then it will be available for evaluation.
Download link: https://www.reactos.org/download
17. Mandriva linux
Mandriva Linux (formerly Mandrakelinux or Mandrake Linux) is a distribution of Linux in French, distributed by Mandriva (previously Mandrakesoft). Mandriva OS uses the RPM package manager.
The product life of Mandriva Linux versions is 18 months for basic updates (Linux, system software, etc.) and 12 months for desktop updates (window managers, desktop environments, web browsers, etc.).
Server products receive full updates for at least 24 months after they are released.
Download link: https://kubuntu.org/
18. Crunchbang / Cruncheee
This is not exactly a netbook operating system by nature, but it can be a very good one.
Crunchbang is based on Ubuntu but focuses on “speed, style and content” according to its website.
Based on the lightweight open case window manager, Crunchbang is certainly fast and could work well on your netbook. I recommend testing this if traditional netbook operating systems do not work for you.
It is worth noting that in 2008, a group of EEE enthusiasts created a customized Crunchbang for EEE users: CrunchEEE. Take a look at Cruncheee, but keep in mind that it is more than a year late.
Download link: https://www.bunsenlabs.org/installation.html
Designed and optimized for desktop PC and built using parts of the GNU and Linux project, Syllable is another free Windows alternative.
Designed for home and small office users, Syllable branches off from AtheOS and ships with a native WebKit-based browser, which promises sleek, modern browsing, an email client, a media player and even a development environment for The programing.
Several open source tools are available for Syllable, including Apache, the Vim text editor and Python scripting. Syllable also has a server version, which is based on the Linux kernel.
Suitable for regular users of desktop computers, amateurs and developers, the development of Syllable has a holistic view of the current state of the computer industry. As such, it will run on a 32-bit PC with 32 MB of RAM. Very few operating systems will run on such an old PC!
Download link: https://sourceforge.net/projects/syllable/
20. Solus OS
Solus is an open source, desktop operating system, based on Linux. Having been released in 2012, Solus is a relatively new operating system, with almost 6,000 members registered in the SolusOS forums currently.
In August 2017, Solus released its latest software update ‘Solus 3’, which is based on the latest version of Kernel and should have improvements in its native Opus encoder, new multimedia filters.
Main features: LibreOffice Suite, Firefox, PlayOnLinux, Budgie desktop environment, Thunderbird, XChat, OpenShot Video Editor, Transmission and VLC.
Pros: Java and Flash add-ons are pre-installed, as are all other applications listed in the key features, so use is made almost immediately after installation.
Cons: This operating system is quite new, so some bug fixes will still be needed.
Download link: https://solus-project.com/download/
Valve’s SteamOS is currently in beta. Technically, Steam OS is just a Linux distribution and includes much of the standard Linux software.
However, SteamOS is positioning itself as a new operating system for PC games. The old Linux desktop is there below, but the computer starts with a Steam interface designed for living rooms.
In 2015, you can buy PCs that come with SteamOS pre-installed, known as Steam Machines. Valve will help you install SteamOS on any PC that you like.
Download link: https://store.steampowered.com/steamos/download
OS / 2 was an operating system originally created by Microsoft and IBM. IBM continued with the development after Microsoft left it and OS / 2 competed with MS-DOS and the original versions of Windows.
Microsoft eventually won, but there are still old ATMs, PCs and other systems that use OS / 2. IBM once marketed this operating system as OS / 2 Warp, so you can find it with that name.
IBM no longer develops OS / 2, but a company called Serenity Systems has the rights to continue distributing it. They call their eComStation operating system. It is based on IBM OS / 2 and adds applications, drivers and other additional improvements.
This is the only operating system paid on this list, apart from Mac OS X. You can still download a free demo CD to verify it.
ChaletOS is a free and open source Linux distribution based on Xubuntu. It is built with a design similar to Windows, which shows a simple and intuitive desktop interface.
It is a good alternative for Windows users who want to try a Linux distribution, offering the Xfce desktop environment with the opportunity to customize the desktop.
ChaletOS includes several pre-installed applications and is a good option for older PCs that may not have enough memory. The latest version, released in April 2016, is what gives users the opportunity to modernize old desktop servers.
Download link: https://sites.google.com/site/chaletoslinux/download
This is a free open source operating system similar to Unix, which is derived from the Debian Project launched in 1993 by Ian Murdock.
It is one of the first operating systems based on the Linux kernel and FreeBSD. The stable version 1.1, launched in June 1996, is known as the most popular edition for PC and network servers.
Debian provides access to online repositories of more than 51,000 packages, all of which include free software. It is fully developed and distributed following the principles of the GNU Project.
Download link: https://www.debian.org/CD/http-ftp/
OpenSUSE is a Linux-based project that includes a server environment and a range of other open source software tools aimed primarily at developers and system administrators.
openSUSE Leap 15.0 is the current version, while Tumbleweed is a release version that is updated regularly with new versions. Other tools associated with openSUSE include YaST, Open Build Service, openQA and Snapper.
Download link: https://software.opensuse.org/distributions/testing
What is an operating system and how to choose the best one?
The operating systems are computer programs. An operating system is the first piece of software that the computer executes when you turn on the machine.
The operating system loads into memory and begins to manage the resources available on the computer. Then it provides those resources to other applications that the user wants to run. Typical services provided by an operating system include:
A task scheduler: the task scheduler can assign the execution of the CPU to a series of different tasks. Some of these tasks are the different applications that the user is running and others are tasks of the operating system.
The task scheduler is the part of the operating system that allows you to print a document from your word processor in a window while you are downloading a file in another window and recalculating a spreadsheet in a third window.
A memory manager: the memory manager controls the system RAM and usually creates a larger virtual memory space by using a file on the hard disk.
A disk manager: the disk administrator creates and maintains the directories and files on the disk. When you request a file, the disk administrator brings it from the disk.
A network administrator: the network administrator controls all the data that moves between the computer and the network.
Other I / O service administrator: the operating system manages the keyboard, the mouse, the video screen, the printers, etc.
Security Administrator: the operating system maintains the security of the information in the files of the computer and controls who can access the computer.
An operating system usually also provides the default user interface for the system. The standard “appearance” of Windows includes the Start button, the taskbar, etc.
The Mac operating system provides a completely different appearance for Macintosh computers.
Linux is both a “phenomenon” and an operating system. To understand why Linux has become so popular, it’s helpful to know a little about its history.
The first version of UNIX was originally developed several decades ago and was used primarily as a research operating system in universities.
High-powered desktop workstations from companies like Sun proliferated in the 1980s and all were based on UNIX.
Several companies entered the field of workstations to compete against Sun: HP, IBM, Silicon Graphics, Apollo, etc. Unfortunately, each one had its own version of UNIX and this made it difficult to sell software.
Windows NT was Microsoft’s response to this market. NT provides the same type of functions as UNIX operating systems: security, support for multiple CPUs, large-scale memory and disk management, etc.
The entry of Microsoft into the arena of the high-end workstation created a strange dynamic. Operating systems owned by separate companies and the lack of a central authority in the UNIX world weaken UNIX, but many people have personal problems with Microsoft. Linux entered this strange landscape and attracted a lot of attention.
The Linux kernel, created by Linus Torvalds, was made available to the world free of charge. Torvalds invited others to add to the kernel as long as they kept their contributions free.
Thousands of programmers began working to improve Linux, and the operating system grew rapidly. Because it is free and runs on PC platforms, it gained a considerable audience among hardware developers very quickly. Linux has dedicated followers and attracts different types of people:
- People who already know UNIX and want to run it on PC type hardware.
- People who want to experiment with the principles of the operating system.
- People who need or want great control over their operating system
- People who have personal problems with Microsoft.
In general, Linux is more difficult to manage than something like Windows, but it offers more flexibility and configuration options.
What is the best operating system for you?
There are many options to choose from when deciding on an operating system. At the end of the day, everything comes down to what your needs are.
When putting together an office system or a corporate server, you probably do not opt for Mac OS. If you are looking for a home server for personal use, there are a couple of different options to choose from. Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and OpenSuse are excellent options.
When it comes to an operating system for your company, Microsoft Windows Server, Ubuntu Server, CentOS Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server are all fantastic options to consider. Microsoft Small Business Server is an excellent option for smaller companies with less than 75 users.
For medium-sized companies, due to their scalability, Ubuntu servers: the Ubuntu operating system and the Ubuntu server are excellent.
For large companies, because most people are familiar with the system, the Windows 10 operating system is still an excellent choice.