Chrome OS has been around for more than a decade and in that time hundreds of laptops (and a handful of desktops) have shipped with Google’s lightweight, secure, browser-based operating system. But up until recently if you’ve wanted to install Chrome OS on a computer you already had, then you needed to either rely on the open source Chromium OS or a third-party tool like CloudReady.

Google acquired the company behind CloudReady a few years ago though, and earlier this year the company released an early access preview of Chrome OS Flex as an official method for turning an old PC into a Chromebook. Now Chrome OS Flex is out of beta and ready for wider release.

Google

Officially, Google is targeting businesses and educational institutions by positioning Chrome OS Flex as a solution that will allow them to continue using older PC hardware that may no longer reliably run Windows or macOS. But anyone can create a bootable USB flash drive that will install Chrome OS Flex.

Over 400 computers are officially supported, and the software will most likely work on many other PCs as well. Minimum system requirements include an Intel or AMD 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and the ability to boot from a USB flash drive. Google notes that while you may be able to install Chrome OS Flex on even older computers, you may have a “poor experience” on systems with processors or graphics made before 2010.

Chrome OS Flex is free to use, but Enterprise and Education customers can pay Google for support and management services.

As for extended support though? That will vary by device. While some newer computers qualify to receive free Chrome OS updates through 2030, others may stop receiving feature and security updates as early as this year.

via Google

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  1. Funny how Google wants to support older PCs, just a month after they ended support for my 3 year old Samsung Chromebook 3. Google abandoned me! I am done using ChromeOS devices! Instead of buying a new limited lifespan Chromebook, I bought a brand new 2022 Windows 11 laptop that will be supported for many years to come.

  2. Google continue to screw up, Remix OS had the right idea and Google should just develope a simple open desktop Android. The simple icon driven interface and a supported Graphics , VPU interface for users not wishing to have to learn to be programmers just to get work done. Leave the coding to professional programmers.

    After all Linux already runs on most Intel, AMD. Just add more and more of Android into Linux and less Java.

  3. Meh. Linux runs on almost everything and doesn’t filter all you information through Google. I even installed a version of Linux on an old PowerPC Mac.

  4. You mentioned CloudReady as an alternative. It’s worth mentioning that ChromeOS Flex actually is what CloudReady became – Google acquired them a couple years ago.

    CloudReady’s older open-source version is still available on their site, but I imagine it will disappear at some point. Anyone interested would be smart to grab it before it gets buried. I just installed it on an old 2gb/32gb HP Stream 11 this week. It absolutely flies, even compared to a newer Lenovo N22 I had been using. The CloudReady team did a fantastic job… Flex should be a good option for devices that have aged out of their original OS.

  5. Huh, it has the same problem as ChromeOS does with a limited support period. So despite what I thought installing it on a custom firmware chromebook to extend the life of the chromebook probably isn’t even a great idea, not even for irony.
    I guess the real point was to turn more business computers into google-managed devices as competition against Azure AD.