It’s heartbreaking to see a once-loved laptop (or desktop) computer steadily deteriorate as it becomes too old and exhausted to meet the demands of modern computing, but Google has now provided a choice for these ailing devices in the form of Chrome OS Flex.
Chrome OS Flex is the basic Chrome OS that runs on Chromebooks, but it may also be installed on non-Chromebook devices. The idea is that the lightweight operating system will not burden your old gadget as much as Windows or macOS. It’s really just a web browser, and your laptop or desktop has been given new life.
We should caution you that this project is still in its early stages: Google describes it as being in “early access” mode and “still unstable” at the moment. As a result, you should expect some strange behavior and bugs—for the time being, this is basically something to try on laptops that you’re going to get rid of anyhow.
You can, however, give it a shot. Google has a list of computer models that it intends to certify for Chrome OS Flex in the future. It has also listed some basic operating system requirements: A suitable Intel or AMD x86-64-bit device with at least 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage space, as well as the ability to boot from a USB drive.
You can try Chrome OS Flex if your Windows or macOS device fulfills those requirements. Before you attempt this, be sure you don’t need the laptop in its current state and that you’ve moved all vital data off of it.
Chrome OS Flex has the same constraints as Chrome OS—you won’t be able to run full desktop programs, for example, and the software will default to save files in the cloud. However, you may discover that it has everything you require, allowing you to continue utilizing your old hardware.
Create a Chrome OS Flex installation drive
Find an 8GB or larger USB device and copy all of the files you need onto it before beginning. Connect it to a Chromebook, Windows PC, or Mac (not necessarily the laptop on which you’re running Chrome OS Flex), and then go to the Chrome web store: Locate the Chromebook Recovery Utility, then select Add to Chrome and Add extension.
Once it is complete, run the utility: You should be able to find it by going to the Chrome toolbar and hitting the extensions icon. Work your way through the on-screen setup procedure, and when prompted to identify your Chromebook, select Select a model from a list. You want Google Chrome OS Flex as a manufacturer and Chrome OS Flex (Developer-Unstable) as a product.
You’ll also need to select the USB drive you want to use, after which the installation disk will be created. The software downloads and installs the necessary data on the USB drive, and you’ll get a notice when you may remove the device from its port. The next step is to install Chrome OS Flex on your old laptop.
Installing Chrome OS Flex
The most difficult element of installing Chrome OS Flex is figuring out how to get your computer to boot from the newly formed USB drive. On a Mac, hold down the Option key while your computer reboots; on Windows PCs, the key you need is usually F2, Esc, or Del (see the instruction manual or a fast Google search if you’re unsure).
When you select the USB drive as the boot device, you should see a screen that welcomes you to CloudReady—the technology used to deploy Chrome OS Flex. When you click Get started, you’ll be given two options: Allows you to sample Chrome OS Flex without erasing anything from your old PC. You can ensure that everything works properly in terms of the display and peripherals, but you won’t have access to all of the operating system’s functions (for example, automatic updates).
Pick Instead of, install CloudReady 2.0. Try it first, and Chrome OS Flex will completely install, erasing everything on the PC. When you get a notification indicating that the procedure is finished, remove the USB device, restart your computer, and you are ready to use Chrome OS Flex. To get started, you’ll be asked to sign in using your Google account, just like on a conventional Chromebook.