I have refurbished computers for our local Buy Nothing community over the last several years and have settled on the following distros:
- for really old PCs with 1GB or less of RAM, I install Q4OS that is based on Debian. It runs quite well (at least as well as Windows), has a good package manager and has a number of good looking themes.
- for 32 bit machines with at least 1.5GB of RAM, I use Zorin 15 Ultimate Lite or Education Lite depending on the user's needs
- for 64 bit machines with at least 2GB of RAM, I have adopted Zorin 16 Pro although I sometimes use Zorin 16 Core on machines with limited disk space.
While obviously faster CPUs and more RAM is better, I find that even the minimum spec machines are useful for web browsing and office work. In fact I just installed Zorin 16 Core on an Acer ES1-111 with 2GB of RAM and a 32GB MMC that previously had Win 7 installed, and it runs quite well with 20GB of free disk space. Now I know that for some of you these specs may look ridiculously under powered, but for people that can't afford a computer, they work well, and keep yet another computer from landfill for at least a few more years.
I am quite surprised how responsive the Gnome based 16 Pro distro is on older machines and I am looking forward to a further responsive performance improvement with the XFCE Lite versions when they are released.
I used to use Linux Mint and while it is great, I find Zorin looks better and like Mint, just works!
A big Thank You to the Zorin Developers for a job well done!