It’s alive!


My not terribly ancient desktop computer got so slow I stopped using it. I’ve been using my laptop but missed my big monitor and mechanical keyboard.

While I was pondering what to do next, I heard Google is releasing a light-weight operating system, Chrome OS Flex, which can be installed on older Windows and Mac laptops and desktops and convert them into Chromebooks.

Who would want a Chromebook, I thought? Someone who’s current computer is all but useless, for one.

What do I have to lose?

I watched a couple of videos, and within minutes, my old desktop had been reincarnated. And works great. Incredibly fast and fun to use.

If you’ve got a closet full of old machines gathering dust, you might want to do the same thing.

A few points:

  • Chrome OS Flex is still in early development. It is the “dev” version, so many features don’t work yet and/or are buggy.
  • It works on most Windows and Macs with an Intel or fairly recent AMD processor. It doesn’t work on every machine.
  • The OS allows you to install Linux, but it’s not smooth sailing, at least not yet. Install it if you know what you’re doing; if you’re like me, you might want to wait until the full release.
  • You can’t access The Play Store. Hopefully, that will change.
  • You can (and I did) boot the OS from a pen drive, to try it out before you install it.
  • If you install it, it will wipe out your hard drive, so back up everything first. (NB: if you have multiple hard drives on the same machine, it will wipe these, too.)

Without Linux and Android apps, Chrome OS is very limited. You can run web apps and extensions and not much more. That’s fine for many use cases, since most people use a computer for email, watching videos, and other basic functions.

For the rest of us, with apps we depend on that won’t run on a Chromebook, there is a decent workaround.

As soon as I got the machine up and running, I installed the Google Remote Desktop extension, allowing me to run those apps remotely on my laptop.

Anyway, if this sounds like something you’d like to try, YouTube is your friend.

Let me know how it goes.