Turn an old PC or Mac into a 'Chromebook'

Got an old PC or Mac that's just doesn't have the horsepower anymore to pull its weight? Give it a new lease on life by transforming it into a 'Chromebook'.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Turn an old PC or Mac into a 'Chromebook'

Inject a new lease on life into an old PC or Mac by transforming it into a 'Chromebook' using Neverware's CloudReady operating system.

CloudReady is a modified version of Google's Chromium operating system, the lightweight, browser-based platform that's been developed by New York City startup Neverware. Neverware maintains a list of about 200 systems that are certified to work with CloudReady, but if your old system has the following hardware specs, then CloudReady might still work:

  • Minimum 1GB of RAM
  • Wi-Fi or Ethernet access
  • Access to the BIOS
  • 8GB of local storage

CloudReady also has the following chipset and graphics requirements outlined by Neverware:

  • Desktops & Laptops: Introduced on or after May 2007
  • Netbooks: Introduced on or after June 2009
  • NOTE: Netbooks with Intel GMA 500, 600, 3600, or 3650 graphics will have very poor performance despite meeting other technical requirements.

You will also need a USB flash drive with at least 8GB of storage on it to carry out the installation.

You can also dual-boot CloudReady and Windows, depending on the system you have. To do this you will need a system that supports UEFI, and for Windows (versions 7 to 10) to be running in UEFI mode for this to work.

Technically, a system running CloudReady isn't a Chromebook because that trademark belongs to Google, but in terms of how they work, a system running CloudReady looks and feels like a Chromebook.

I've been playing with CloudReady for a while now, and I have to say that I'm impressed. It's a fast and lightweight operating system that works well on old hardware. Yes, you need a connection to the internet to make the most of it, but that's getting to be less and less of a problem these days.

If you have an old Mac or PC that's gathering dust because it feels too sluggish, this may be just the ticket for you.

CloudReady is free for individual use, $50 per seat for schools, and an enterprise version is currently in beta. The installer is available for download here.

See also:

Build the ultimate $20,000 PC

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