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How I revived three ancient computers with ChromeOS Flex


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While this is a longer read the guy writing it is a top tech expert on Linux who writes on a Mac about reviving old Windows (and Apple) computers as long as they are 64 bit Intel processors. Apple switched to Intel in 2005 but whether 32 bit or 64 bit I haven't a clue. They are switching away and to their own processors again just now, so all those old Apple systems are going to be pretty much boat anchors and cheap soon. As well all the folks clinging to Windows & or even 10 will have to change in 2025 when 10 is no longer supported.

He says it is "The Linux desktop that will transform the industry is ChromeOS. " Have we heard that before? Many times except this one seems to really be capable and secure, and most importantly  - simple for non Techies.

Linux heads really need to read this one as it can revive old Apple Intel systems to run Flex as well!

Excerpt:

"Open Source pundits have been proclaiming the year of the Linux Desktop for a long time, but it never arrived. While Linux has conquered the cloud, high-performance computing, the IoT, and the smartphone industry, Linux desktops have never caught on. Why is that?

Motivation and technical skills needed to transition to Linux? Have to learn something new? If the old OS worked fine, why switch? And if you need a tech guru to help you install the darned thing, why go through all that trouble?

I think the calculus may have changed, but not with the Linux distros we're all familiar with. The Linux that will transform the industry is ChromeOS.

ChromeOS just works

Let's face it, ChromeOS is super easy to use, people already know how to use that web browser, and the laptops that ship with it are inexpensive, in the $200-$400 range. For your typical end-user, it does the job -- for people who don't need Microsoft 365 and Windows or a Mac, are okay with Google Workspace, and primarily use web-based apps. That's probably 90% of the user population, right there. 

Also: 5 reasons Chromebooks are the perfect laptop (for most users)

They don't want to worry about patches or being a systems admin; they just want their darned websites to work. They want them to be responsive; they want to be able to watch their videos, do their video calls, access their documents and data, and social networks.

And ChromeOS is secure. Very secure -- it isn't vulnerable to many exploits plaguing legacy Windows and Mac systems. 

But there is one huge reason why I think ChromeOS will be big: many old PCs are sitting out in the wild that cannot go to current versions of Windows 10, Windows 11, or even current MacOS. And there is fundamentally nothing wrong with these PCs, but they are just too old to be supported by their original manufacturers. 

So they are not only security risks. In many cases, the older software running on these isn't fully conforming with modern security standards and runs out-of-date browsers and other crusty stuff.

But you know what? Many of these boxes are also just sitting on shelves collecting dust where they could live productive lives again.

You can now revive those old machines with Google's new ChromeOS Flex software. In fact, that's how I just spent my last weekend.

Putting old PCs and Macs back to work 

I was intrigued with the idea that I could take a bunch of computers I had just sitting in my closet and have them do something useful again. First, I burned the ChromeOS Recovery Media using a USB flash drive (an 8GB one will do fine). That took about 10 minutes.

My first candidate was an eleven-year-old 15.6" Dell Inspiron 15R-5521 laptop (that shipped originally with Windows 😎 with an Intel i7 and 16GB RAM. It was my wife's old machine, which was always a clunky and buggy system on Windows; we hated it.

I popped in the USB, interrupted the EFI boot process, chose the ChromeOS Flex drive as its boot source, and the old, and crusty thing booted right into its installer wizard. After confirming to wipe the system and install ChromeOS, within about 10 minutes, the device rebooted and came up with the new OS.

I had access to my Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices, the sound and webcam worked, and I had all my sites working. Even Zoom. And it runs crazy fast.

Frankly, there is no way this thing should work as well as it does on this old piece of crap. But it does.

Okay, maybe this Dell was a little too beefy; I know some open source developers that still use things this crusty for certain stuff, there's no reason Linux shouldn't work. How about… my mother-in-law's 2011 iMac? That software couldn't possibly run on this thing, it's way too old, and old Macs are weird. 

It only has 4GB RAM and an i5-2500S processor. It was considered outdated in 2013. Still a 64-bit chip (one of the few prerequisites that ChromeOS Flex has) but ancient by current standards. It certainly can't run a current MacOS, the RAM is anemic.

I shoved the USB Recovery Media into the back of the Mac, booted up with the Option key held down, selected the EFI boot media, and… it came to life. 

As with the old Dell, it formatted the hard drive, and before I knew it, I was cooking with Chrome gas and logged into my personal and work Google accounts. The Wi-Fi is working fine; my Bluetooth peripherals are connected (even the Apple ones, like the Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard), and also the Google Assistant responds to voice commands.

There's 4GB of RAM on this old piece of junk. It works fine. It's crazy. My mother-in-law is going to love it.

I had another computer, a 2011 Mac Mini with an Intel i5 and 8GB of RAM. The same deal; it's too crusty for current MacOS versions -- I popped the USB in, booted up with the Option key, formatted the disk, and presto, I now have a fully functional Chrome computer hooked up to my TV. With an Apple wireless mouse and keyboard connected via Bluetooth.

Got some kids that need a spare computer? Don't buy them a new one; grab the old laptop off the shelf and Chrome it. Got an elderly family member that needs something simple, and their old PC is giving them fits, and you're the poor soul that has to support them every time they click on some junk that dumps malware or some clickjacking extension on their box? Chrome it. 

Are you a school system that needs safe computers in a student lab? Need a kiosk computer for your business that doesn't store local data? Chrome the old ones or get someone to donate you some candidates.

Chrome your old piece of junk. Chrome everything, Chrome it all."

Source:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-chromeos-flex-stable-release-breathes-new-life-to-enterprise-laptops/?ftag=TRE-03-10aaa6b&bhid={%24external_id}&mid={%24MESSAGE_ID}&cid={%24contact_id}

Edited by RV_

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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From another Linux Guru more info:

Excerpt:

"You can't run ChromeOS Flex on really old computers. Google provides a list of approved 400 machines. The rule of thumb for what can and can't run ChromeOS Flex is it must have at least: 

 
  • Architecture: Intel or AMD x86-64-bit compatible device
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Internal storage: 16 GB
  • Bootable from a USB drive
  • BIOS: Full administrator access. You'll need to boot from the Chrome OS Flex USB installer and make some adjustments in the BIOS if you run into issues.
  • Processor and graphics: Components made before 2010 might cause poor experience.
  • Note: Intel GMA 500, 600, 3600, and 3650 graphics hardware do not meet Chrome OS Flex performance standards.
old-laptops.jpg
 
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Why do this? Well, besides letting you get years more work out of your old hardware, Google claims ChromeOS Flex gives you:

  • Proactive security: ChromeOS Flex provides much-needed protection from threats such as ransomware, malware, and employee error. 
  • Easy deployment and management: ChromeOS Flex can rapidly deploy via USB or your company network. With Chrome Enterprise Upgrade, you can manage apps and policies from anywhere, even the beach.
  • Fast, modern work experiences: Devices don't slow down. Background updates reduce device downtime and improve productivity.

Google also asserts that ChromeOS Flex is good not just for you and your business but for the planet as well. How? By using less power. On average, 19% less energy than other devices. Using ChromeOS Flex also helps by cutting back on the 40 million tons of e-waste generated yearly. What does that mean in real-life terms? Today, we're throwing away 800 laptops per second. Considering the expense of new PCs and Macs, that's an insane waste of hardware."

Source:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-chromeos-flex-stable-release-breathes-new-life-to-enterprise-laptops/?ftag=TRE-03-10aaa6b&bhid={%24external_id}&mid={%24MESSAGE_ID}&cid={%24contact_id}

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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