HomeTechnologyGoogle’s free Chrome OS Flex may breathe new life into outdated PCs...

Google’s free Chrome OS Flex may breathe new life into outdated PCs and Macs



On Tuesday, the corporate introduced its plans to launch Chrome OS Flex, a totally free offshoot of the Chrome OS working system you’ll typically discover on cheap laptops and all-in-one computer systems. The distinction? As a substitute of counting on new {hardware}, Chrome OS Flex is designed to run on PCs and Macs as outdated as about 13 years. Which means a few of the computer systems gathering mud round the home will be pressed into service as Net searching machines, this time with up-to-date safety and a few contemporary options.

Google says Chrome OS Flex is technically meant for “companies and colleges,” however common people will be capable to obtain it themselves. And with just a bit fiddling, it ought to be straightforward sufficient to get the software program working on decade-old machines — assuming they nonetheless activate, that’s. However must you make the leap and set up these things?

In time, maybe. Chrome OS Flex is out there now as “early entry” software program, which implies it in all probability gained’t be as steady because the full-blown launch coming in a couple of months. Nonetheless, the software program could also be simply what some folks have to get their getting older PCs working reliably once more. Right here’s what you need to learn about how Chrome OS Flex works.

In all probability, until you got it nicely earlier than 2010. In case your pc has at the very least 4 gigabytes of RAM and a tough drive with at the very least 16 GB of space for storing, your new working system will in all probability run simply advantageous.

That stated, the software program will (clearly) run higher on some machines than others, and Google has tried to maintain issues easy by placing collectively a listing of machines which were “licensed” to work with Chrome OS Flex. Don’t fear in case your outdated pc’s particular mannequin title doesn’t seem there, although — most Home windows machines and Intel Macs from the final ten years ought to be capable to run the software program.

“The staff has undoubtedly gotten some very obscure and outdated gadgets working,” stated Peter Du, communications supervisor for Google’s Chrome OS, in an e-mail.

Past that, some apparent caveats apply. The pc nonetheless has to activate and be in respectable working situation — Google can’t magically unbreak bodily issues.

Google says the method is fairly simple however we’ll have to check that declare for ourselves — the corporate’s setup information will get fairly concerned. You’re meant to obtain the software program onto a USB stick, which you then plug into the outdated pc in query. When you’ve set that pc to search for USB drives first when turning on, it ought to load the software program from the USB stick and allow you to take Chrome OS Flex for a check drive earlier than committing to something.

In the event you determine to make the swap to Chrome OS Flex everlasting, you’ll use the identical USB stick to put in that software program over no matter else could already be on that tough drive. It is a everlasting change, so this now could be the time to again up all of your vital information and media out of your machine if you happen to haven’t already.

In contrast to your typical Home windows or Mac pc, a machine working Chrome OS Flex is especially meant for getting folks up and working in a Net browser. That sounds fairly restricted — and it may be — however that also means you’ll be able to stream music, binge movies, edit photographs and get some writing carried out.

If poking round on the Web is one thing you or your loved ones spends quite a lot of time doing, an additional pc working this software program may turn out to be useful. A number of makes use of come to thoughts: Possibly it turns into a devoted machine for the children, which you’ll be able to remotely handle with Google’s Household Hyperlink app. A Chrome OS Flex pc would additionally make for a terrific “visitor” machine for individuals who cease by and have to do one thing on-line their telephones can’t handle. (I preserve well-loved laptop computer in my front room for simply this motive.)

Since that is Google software program we’re speaking about, it additionally comes with a handful of familiar-sounding options, like help for Google Assistant and the power to hook up with your Android cellphone to get incoming notifications in your pc display screen. That stated, not all of those new options will work on each outdated pc, so it’s value preserving your expectations in verify.

By far, the most important disadvantage is software program help. There mainly isn’t any.

Until the corporate behind your favourite software program has a model that works inside a Net browser, you’re in all probability out of luck. And whereas fashionable Chromebooks have the power to obtain and set up Android apps from Google’s Play Retailer, you’ll be able to’t try this on an outdated pc working Chrome OS Flex. (If you understand your manner round providers like Citrix Workspace, you can use software program inside digital variations of Home windows inside Chrome, however that will get difficult quick.)

There are additionally some issues Chrome OS was by no means actually designed to do, like play music or films off CDs or DVDs. (Sure, meaning the CD or DVD drive that got here constructed into your pc gained’t work anymore.) The identical is true for fingerprint scanners, face recognition cameras and styluses that your pc could have been meant to work with. Google’s software program merely doesn’t know what to do with them.

If Google’s software program doesn’t look like a great match to you, there are many different issues for which to make use of your outdated computer systems.

Flip it right into a server: Bought a group of house films and, ahem, legitimately obtained digital movies? If they’ll match in your outdated pc’s arduous drive, set up an app referred to as Plex and use that machine because the cornerstone of your individual private Netflix.

Recycle it: In case your pc isn’t tremendous outdated, it is perhaps a worthwhile donation to another person who may use it. Punch your Zip code into Digitunity’s search device — it’ll present you close by nonprofits on the lookout for the tech you not want.

Promote it: Consider it or not, there’s no scarcity of individuals keen to purchase outdated computer systems from providers like eBay and Fb Market. A few of them want additional components. Others are on the lookout for period-specific machines to play older video games. Both manner, there’s a fairly good likelihood somebody on the market will discover as a lot worth in your outdated tech as you used to.

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