If you are looking for a stable and bare-bones Linux distro for older PCs, then wattOS would be a good choice.
Based on Debian 12 Bookworm, the latest version R13 of wattOS is now available to download and install. You can get it from here.
The installation process is quite simple with the Calamares installer kicking in as soon as you boot from the live environment and choose to install.
If you are familiar with Debian, then wattOS would feel no different. The installation is quite quick and requires minimal input from you besides the usual disk partitioning, time zone, keyboard layout selection, and creating a user.
Once the installation is complete, you can now log in and start using it.
It comes with LXDE as the default desktop environment.
During this review, only 430 MB of memory was used with no apps opened. Pretty low by most standards and great for running on older PCs.
As it is a minimal distro, it does not come with a lot of tools. So no multimedia players or office apps are installed by default, but you can install them using the GDebi installer or from the command line. The default browser that comes with wattOS is Firefox ESR.
The command line terminal is LXTerminal and you can use it to update packages, install them, and do all the things you can do in Debian or other distros. Besides the default Task Manager, htop too is installed by default which is nice.
PCManFM is the default file manager and is extremely quick to navigate.
Overall this is a pretty lightweight and minimalistic distro that doesn’t come with bells and whistles, but you can choose to add software if needed.
It is primarily geared towards older hardware and so you can breathe life into old PCs by installing wattOS.
Do try it out.