Do you have an old laptop or computer? Give it new life with Chrome OS Flex

Do you have an old laptop or computer?  Give it new life with Chrome OS Flex

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Do you have an old laptop or computer sitting in the corner of your desk, gathering dust and taking up space? Instead of saying you’ll find a use for it someday, take a few minutes out of your day to breathe new life into it by installing Google’s free operating system, Chrome OS Flex. Essentially, Chrome OS Flex turns any computer it’s installed on into a Chrome OS device, giving that stack of electronics a renewed purpose.

Below, I’ll walk you through the process of installing Chrome OS Flex, which is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. Currently, Chrome OS Flex is in Early Access, through the Google Developer Channel, so not all features will work, and not all laptops and configurations will be supported. So expect to encounter a few bugs or issues while using it while Google refines the final version.

System requirements to install Chrome OS Flex

There is a very long list of devices on Google’s Chrome OS Flex support page, each marked with different levels of support. I wouldn’t consider the list something that if your laptop or computer isn’t on the list, you can’t try Chrome OS Flex. In fact, I used a Huawei MateBook D – which isn’t listed at all – for this very article.

Google lists the minimum system requirements for a PC, Mac, or Linux computer to run Chrome OS Flex. Here it is, taken directly from a Google support page:

Minimum device requirements:

  • Architecture: Intel or AMD x86-64 bit compatible device
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Internal storage: 16 GB
  • Bootable from USB drive
  • BIOS: full administrator access. You will need to boot from the Chrome OS Flex USB installer and make some tweaks in the BIOS if you run into any issues.
  • Processor and Graphics: Components manufactured before 2010 may cause poor experience.
  • Note: Intel GMA 500, 600, 3600, and 3650 graphics hardware does not meet Chrome OS Flex performance standards.

As you can see, the requirements are minimal. Chrome OS Flex is designed to run on more or less any computer built after 2010.

Other requirements

In addition to a computer that meets the minimum requirements, you will need a computer with the Chrome browser and an 8 GB USB drive which you will use to flash the operating system to the old computer.

Create a Chrome OS Flex USB Installer


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

To install Chrome OS Flex on another computer, you must first create what is called a USB installer. The USB key contains all the files and data needed to install the operating system. Google has made it easy to create the installer using the Chromebook Recovery Utility extension. Yes, it is a Chrome browser extension. Awesome, huh?

You need to add the extension to your browser from the Chrome Web Store. here is a direct link to it.

Once added, open the extension, then follow the instructions in the window. The process involves formatting the USB drive you’re using (erasing everything currently on it, so make sure it doesn’t contain anything important). On the second screen, you are prompted to identify your Chromebook. Click on Select a model from a listfollowed by the Manufacturer drop-down menu, then find Flexible Google Chrome OS from the list and select it. Then click on choose a product and click on the only option, Chrome OS Flex (developer-unstable). Finally, click Continue.

From there, connect the USB drive to your computer, select it from the drop-down list, and click Continue followed by Create now. The extension will take a few minutes to download all the necessary files and then write them to the USB drive you are using.

Feel free to take a walk, grab a cup of coffee, or shop on Amazon while the extension does its thing. It took me less than 5 minutes, but that largely depends on the speed of your internet connection.

How to Install Chrome OS Flex on a PC, Mac, or Linux Computer


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Once the install drive is created, you’re ready to try or install Chrome OS Flex on your old computer.

With the old computer turned off, plug the USB install drive into it. Press the power button and then immediately start pressing the start key on your computer. If you don’t know what it is, Google has a list of common keys broken down by brand.

On a Mac, for example, you hold down the Option key. On a Dell, you press F12. If your computer is not listed, you may need to restart it several times and try different keys during startup. Alternatively, you can search for your laptop model as well as boot key to find it.

The process from this point will vary depending on the type of computer, but the essential steps require you to select the USB installation drive as the drive from which you wish to boot the computer, which in turn restarts the computer , launching the Chrome OS Flex installer. tool.

If you are having trouble with this step, I suggest you search for your specific computer model with “How to boot from USB” in the query.

Once you’ve booted from the USB install drive, you’ll be asked if you’d like to test out Chrome OS Flex before completely erasing the drive from your old computer. If this is the route you choose, the operating system will run on the USB stick.

Or, if you’ve already made up your mind, install Chrome OS Flex and follow the instructions. You’ll want to have your Wi-Fi info handy, and once that’s done you’ll need to sign in using a Google account – so make sure you have that info nearby too.

Once the installation is complete, your computer will restart and you will be greeted by the standard Chrome OS login page, where you can then sign in with your Google account and start using your old computer, with a brand new operating system. .