/>
X

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

Bring your old hardware back to life.
img-9792-2
1 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

A weekend with ChromeOS Flex

I spent the weekend installing Google's ChromeOS Flex on a few different old computers. It was so easy to install and the results were so impressive, that I wanted to share them with you.

img-0187
2 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Booting with the Recovery Media on PCs and Macs

To run Chrome OS Flex, you'll need to download the installer media using a web browser from Google's Chrome OS Recovery Media Creator site. While many old computers will work, they need a bare minimum of 64-bit x86 CPU and 4GB of RAM.

You'll need a USB thumb drive with at least an 8GB capacity. On a PC, when it starts up, you'll want to interrupt the EFI boot loader (watch the prompts as it comes up) and choose the USB as your boot source. On a Mac, you'll want to boot up with the Option key held down and select the EFI media (in this picture, it is to the right).

img-0076
3 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

ChromeOS first boot

It might take a few minutes to boot up on your machine as it detects all the hardware.

img-9802
4 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Read the TOS

Terms of service agreement. 

img-9797
5 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Welcome to ChromeOS

Here's the welcome screen.

img-9803
6 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Pick the security profile

You can choose if this machine is for an adult, or a child, for more restrictive security management.

img-9800
7 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Get onto your WiFi

Pick your Wifi, it's all about the Cloud with Google.

img-9806
8 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Sign into your Google account

Sign into your Google account here.

img-9781
9 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Formatting and Installing

It takes a few minutes for the installer to format the hard drive and copy all the files.

img-9790
10 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

All done

After a few minutes, it will install all the software and you'll be able to boot up without the USB thumb drive.

img-0111
11 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Login to ChromeOS

ChromeOS login screen. So simple, so pretty.

img-9812
12 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

You can talk to your ChromeOS

If your machine has a built-in microphone, it can be used for Google Assistant.

img-9809
13 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Sync all your Google account data

Sync all your Google stuff.

img-9815
14 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Connect to your Android

You can also connect to your Android phone to receive SMS and unlock ChromeOS.

img-9818
15 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Here's your programs

Here's the program dock from which you launch all your stuff.

img-9816
16 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Gmail works great

Looks like all my Gmail is here.

img-0124
17 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Pretty desktop

Not too shabby.

img-0097
18 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Speedy WiFi

The WiFi is cooking with gas on this 2011 iMac.

img-0100
19 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Settings galore

A look at the settings folder.

img-0108
20 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Diagnostics

Running some diags on this old box.

img-0197
21 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

I like big screens and cannot lie

Booting up my 2011 Mac Mini on an 85" Samsung TV.

img-9821
22 of 22 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Penguin mode

Developer mode unlocked, looking at the Linux processes.

Related Galleries

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex
img-9792-2

Related Galleries

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

22 Photos
Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup
shutterstock-1024665187.jpg

Related Galleries

Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

8 Photos
Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'
Full of promises!

Related Galleries

Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'

8 Photos
Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup
Asian woman working at a desk in front of a computer and calculator

Related Galleries

Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup

8 Photos
Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup
Person seated at a booth in a cafe looks at their phone and laptop.

Related Galleries

Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup

10 Photos
Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida
ca3b4019-26c5-4ce0-a844-5aac39e2c34b.jpg

Related Galleries

Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida

16 Photos
Incipio, Kate Spade, and Coach cases for Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: hands-on
s22-ultra-incipio-coach-cases-2.jpg

Related Galleries

Incipio, Kate Spade, and Coach cases for Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: hands-on

15 Photos