Google Says These 400 Devices Can Be Turned Into Chromebooks
(Photo: Nathana Rebouças/Unsplash)Just because your nine-year-old MacBook can’t receive new OS updates doesn’t mean it’s no longer useful. You might be able to extend its life by installing ChromeOS Flex, Google’s lightweight Chromebook interface for non-native devices.
In a blog post published yesterday, Google announced that ChromeOS Flex has become publicly available. Google began the project in early 2021, when it recognized the need for a simple OS that could be installed on a wide range of hardware (i.e. Macs and non-Google PCs). ChromeOS Flex entered an early-access beta period last February; five months later, the OS is ready to hit more than 400 devices for free.
Google summarizes ChromeOS Flex as a “cloud-first, easy-to-manage, and fast operating system for PCs and Macs.” It’s free from bloatware—a major factor in keeping the OS nimble—and is designed to boot up quickly. It can also be downloaded onto a USB drive and quickly installed onto compromised devices, which is apparently what saved Nordic Choice Hotels and its 2,000 computers following a ransomware attack.
ChromeOS Flex also allegedly consumes 19 percent less power than other major interfaces, which leads into another major goal the tech giant has for its novel OS: sustainability. Google claims Nordic Choice Hotels will “save up to 1.5 million kilos of CO2 over the next eight years—the equivalent of what 2,000 acres of mature forest would save” by switching to the OS. Most importantly, ChromeOS Flex was devised with the goal of saving outdated hardware from landfills by introducing an agile OS capable of taking on enterprise operations. While an older desktop or laptop might be bogged down by its native OS, a lightweight option like ChromeOS Flex could extend the device’s life, thus reducing e-waste (and strain on the device owner’s budget).
To help device owners figure out whether ChromeOS Flex is a good option for them, Google put together a list of hundreds of compatible (and not-so-compatible) devices. Acer, HP, LG, and Toshiba devices tend to work just fine with ChromeOS Flex installed, while a couple Dell and Apple devices are prone to minor hiccups. Devices that don’t appear on Google’s list can still technically receive ChromeOS Flex, as long as they meet the minimum requirements, but certain vital features—like the device’s touchpad, keyboard, USB ports, and audio/video outputs—might not be guaranteed to work.