Linux Distro Review: wattOS for Older PCs

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. 

wattOS live environment

wattOS installation

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.

wattOS installation complete

Once the installation is complete, you can now log in and start using it.

default login screen in wattOS

It comes with LXDE as the default desktop environment.

LXDE is the default environment in wattOS

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.

Task Manager in wattOS

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

GDebi package installer

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.

update packages and install new ones from the command line in wattOS

LXTerminal is the default terminal in wattOS

PCManFM is the default file manager and is extremely quick to navigate. 

PCManFM is the default file manager in wattOS

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. 

shutdown screen in wattOS

It is primarily geared towards older hardware and so you can breathe life into old PCs by installing wattOS.

Do try it out.

  1. Bob says:

    Installed as a dual boot. Boot quick but no support for my wifi dongle. No drivers,. Searching for uninstall options, no success. Will just delete partition. Not recommended for newbie. If newbie installs over old OS and has a problem with internet you are in trouble.

  2. William Snyder says:

    Installed on an old HP/Compaq DC5700 with 4 gigs of ram, stock GPU, 80 GB Hard Drive, and a Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz. Shocked how well WattOS runs. I have tried other distros like Bohdi, Q4OS, Zorin, and Lubuntu on my DC5700 and none ran as fast and was easy to set up the way I want it as WattOS. Currently running the Brave browser with 6 extensions installed and 11 tabs open. Can switch between tabs with hardly any lag and watch YouTube in 720p with no stutter. Recommend to anyone looking to keep an old desktop in service

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