Earlier this year, Google announced ChromeOS Flex, a version of ChromeOS that could be used on older Mac hardware to give it a second life. Now Google has released it to the general public, with well documented install guides to help you get it on that old MacBook you have stuck on a shelf somewhere in your office.
ChromeOS Flex is built on the same code as ChromeOS for Chromebooks, so it has the same look-and-feel of those devices when you use it on your old Mac hardware. It is certified to work with over 400 devices including any Mac released after 2010 with 16GB of free storage. Just like a stock-and-standard Chromebook, Flex has low hardware demands so your aged Mac will still have plenty of horsepower to run it.
That said, there are some differences between standard ChromeOS and Flex, mostly at a system level related to the hardware. Google has put together documentation that outlines what is not supported, mostly around some of the security features and biometric features of ChromeOS. Because the hardware is different for a Flex-running device, those features aren’t supported.
For individuals ChromeOS Flex is free. For schools and companies, there will be a fee to use the platform and it requires a CloudReady subscription. CloudReady is the company that Google bought in 2020 that allows old PCs to be converted to ChromeOS devices.
Installation of Flex is easy and is done via a USB drive. You can also install it and run it from the USB installer to verify that it works for you. For more help on the installation and configuration process, check out the ChromeOS Flex installation guide. There you will also find the list of devices which can run Flex.
The idea behind this new OS is brilliant as it aims to give a second life to old hardware and ultimately could delay the create of eWaste of these old machines for a few years. Hopefully, by that time, we will globally have a better solution on how to handle such waste.