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A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

Bring your old hardware back to life.
By Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer
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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.

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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).

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ChromeOS first boot

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

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Read the TOS

Terms of service agreement. 

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Welcome to ChromeOS

Here's the welcome screen.

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Pick the security profile

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

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Get onto your WiFi

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

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Sign into your Google account

Sign into your Google account here.

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Formatting and Installing

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

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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.

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Login to ChromeOS

ChromeOS login screen. So simple, so pretty.

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You can talk to your ChromeOS

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

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Sync all your Google account data

Sync all your Google stuff.

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Connect to your Android

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

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Here's your programs

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

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Gmail works great

Looks like all my Gmail is here.

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Pretty desktop

Not too shabby.

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Speedy WiFi

The WiFi is cooking with gas on this 2011 iMac.

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Settings galore

A look at the settings folder.

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Diagnostics

Running some diags on this old box.

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I like big screens and cannot lie

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

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Penguin mode

Developer mode unlocked, looking at the Linux processes.

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