Make a Chromebook out of an old Mac or PC

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Photo: Konstantin Savusia (Shutterstock) – Replace the operating system on your sluggish and rusty machine with Google’s Chrome OS Flex! Installing a Chrome operating system on your old computer might bring it back to life before you dump it in the trash. There is a new version of Chrome OS, called Chrome OS Flex, available for download from Google now. If your older Mac or PC is having difficulties accepting upgrades to its original operating system, Chrome OS Flex may be the right replacement for it.

Flex is aimed to upgrade aging computers by putting a lighter, cloud-focused operating system on top of the hardware. Even though it doesn’t contain all of Chrome’s capabilities, Google says that it will make your Mac or PC look and feel like a Chromebook running Chrome OS.

For those who want a “fast, contemporary work experience from anywhere,” Google thinks Chrome OS Flex is the answer. It promises to boot quicker, access VDI and online applications rapidly, and keep your device from slowing down over time. Furthermore, it’s completely free.

It’s not a new hack to convert to Chrome OS, since CloudReady was released in 2015, but Flex OS offers additional flexibility by enabling dual-booting, which lets users swap between operating systems with a simple restart.

In early access mode, you may encounter errors or instability while using Chrome OS Flex. Before you install it, be aware of these potential issues. This isn’t a complete Chrome OS experience, since several functionalities are depending on the hardware you’re using, and Google Play and Android applications aren’t supported at all. (Google has a summary of the changes between Chrome and Chrome OS Flex if you’d want to see them in action.)

On a laptop or a desktop computer, how to set up Google OS Flex

Photo: Stephen Johnson
  • Purchase an 8GB or bigger USB flash disk.
  • Become a member.
  • To create a Chrome OS Flex USB boot stick, follow the provided instructions.
  • Restart your computer with the Chrome OS Flex USB drive plugged into the USB port.
  • It’s time to enjoy your Chromebook.

When I installed it, it was as simple as the instructions said it would be. My 12-year-old iMac is now an iChromeFlexMac, as seen by the following picture (or something.)