Really glad to hear that NomadBSD worked for you on that old crusty laptop. I was not so lucky as I elaborated above. I was always fascinated by the idea running an OS off of an USB thumb drive since I heard about NomadBSD so I gave it a try.
If I look back at the relatively short time now I used NomadBSD on and off the macOS-like design of the Openbox WM had its charming appeal to say the least and OS was loaded with programs, most of them I did not need for my daily tasks which everyone else in the tech scene would consider those programs installed by NomadBSD as bloatware but like everyone else here in the forum I thought it would be better to keep the programs because for one for compatibility and OS integrety reasons and for two I thought some programs might become in handy in the future, so yeah… I kept them on the USB stick, later on the microSD card inside the USB adapter. What I am sure about is I will give NomadBSD a second chance in the future but for now I keep everything as is.
Have not extensively tried GhostBSD yet, athough I played with it in a live environment once or twice but if I recall it right, the reason I did not opt for the Ghost was the fact that the internal WiFi/Bluetooth card in my main laptop was not detected by GhostBSD as I really wanted to replace my Linux Mint installation with GhostBSD on that laptop and because that laptop is my daily driver I wanted everything to “just work” out of the box. That did not work so I stayed on Linux Mint at least for that time being. Now I am on LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) on my daily one for various reasons but I will not go into detail here why I switched over from LM main edition to LMDE.
Regarding OpenBSD, you should definetely give it a try for its simplicity, minimalism and poweruser-friendliness alone. The iso is around 700-750 MB large, so no bloat there, just the essentials to get you started, which makes a perfect fit for a portable install on a USB flash drive, by the way; the text based install is super easy, you hit most of the time because of the sane defaults and after the installation you reboot into your new system with everything preconfigured, hell, it comes with Xorg and 3 window managers even to choose from, it comes with many old UNIX games and lovely artwork, wallpapers and songs created by the OpenBSD dev team, apart from the OpenBSD kernel, coreutils, binutils, the LLVM compiler suite and the phenomenal, super high-quality offline manual pages as well as the many in-house made programs, some of which made it into FreeBSD and even Linux, like sudo or its replacement doas(2) or tmux(4), sndio(4), OpenSSH, LibreSSL, httpd, mandoc and many more. The standard window manager that OpenBSD boots into after first boot is fvwm(v2) but good old Xorg’s twm and also cwm (the calm window manager, an evilwm clone) are also installed by default and are super easily customizable to your hearts’ content. The default shell on OpenBSD is OpenBSD’s own edition of (pd)ksh and just like on GNU/Linux, /bin/sh is a symlink/an alias for /bin/ksh… To keep it short, OpenBSD feels like Linux the way it should be designed from the very start. As you might have guessed, I fell in love with OpenBSD and I hope you will, too.