A few days ago, Google made its cloud-based operating system ChromeOS Flex publicly available. The system is intended to breathe new life into old devices as a self-made Chromebooks for free.
It doesn’t take much to power up an old Windows or Linux computer or even a Macbook with ChromeOS Flex. Here we have collected all the information you need to install this operating system and we’ll show you step by step how to set up your system with ChromeOS Flex.
Install ChromeOS Flex – Quick Start Guide
If you have already installed Windows by yourself or you are familiar with booting operating systems via USB stick, you can use the following brief instructions to get to your goal as quickly as possible. For everyone else, below we have a more detailed guide that will help you navigate around obstacles and soon own a Chromebook without any technical knowledge.
How to install Chrome OS Flex on a notebook
- Open the Chrome browser on a (separate) machine and add the Chromebook Recovery Program as an add-on.
- In the address bar, click Extensions, then click Chromebook Recovery Program .
- After the program has started, select Start now .
- In the Identify Chromebook window, select Choose a model from a list.
- Select Google ChromeOS Flex for Select manufacturer and Chrome OS Flex for Select product. Then press Next.
- For the desired storage medium, select your USB boot stick and then create the installation medium.
- When necessary, remove the USB stick from the separate computer and insert it into the notebook.
- Go to the BIOS or UEFI of your notebook and select the USB stick as boot media. Restart the computer. (We only use UEFI in this article for the sake of simplicity)
- Select the appropriate language and keyboard layout and either install ChromeOS Flex permanently or test the system first.
- After installation, remove the USB stick and reboot the system.
- Connect your Chromebook to a Wi-Fi network, choose between a productive or child account, and sign in with your Google account.
Install ChromeOS Flex – Step by step
If you have had little experience with setting up a new operating system, you will find detailed instructions for installing Chrome OS Flex here. We not only explain the exact procedure, but also inform you about some stumbling blocks that we encountered when setting up.
ChromeOS Flex: Is my device supported?
Google offers a list of certified devices that are officially supported by ChromeOS Flex. This list includes more than 100 devices from various manufacturers, including Acer, Apple, Dell, HP, Intel and Lenovo. If your device is listed there with the designation “Certified”, you don’t need to worry.
However, ChromeOS can also run on devices that are not listed. The minimum operating system requirements are:
- An Intel or AMD x86-64-bit compatible device
- at least 4 GB of RAM
- at least 16 GB memory
- a boot option via USB stick
- Administrator access to the BIOS/UEFI
- Processor (and graphics unit) that appeared after 2010
If your system meets these requirements, ChromeOS Flex should run without problems in most cases, even if it is not included in Google’s official certification list.
ChromeOS Flex: What do I need to install?
You need the following hardware for the installation: A notebook on which you install Chrome OS Flex, a USB stick with at least 8 GB memory size and, in the safest case, a separate system on which you prepare this bootable USB stick. In an emergency, you can also use the notebook to prepare the USB stick. Also, of course, it needs an internet connection to download the operating system.
We also recommend creating a backup, as installing Chrome OS Flex will erase any data that was previously on the notebook.
1. Prepare the USB stick
First you need to do is to get the operating system, in this case Google ChromeOS, onto the USB stick. From this you can later on install the system on our notebook.
To do this, you have to go to the Google Web Store, where the Chrome extension Chromebook Recovery Program is located. It is important that you open the page with the Chrome browser and not with Edge or Firefox.
On the store page you then press Add to install the add-on as part of the browser. The next step is in Chrome’s address bar. Here you click on Extensions or the puzzle symbol in the upper right corner. You then scroll down to Chromebook Recovery Program and open it with a left click.
At this point you should insert the USB stick on which you want to install the boot file into the computer. Then you press Start now in the recovery program.
Instead of identifying a Chromebook as requested, you should click the link labeled Select a model from a list. Then under Select manufacturer you have to select the option Google Chrome OS Flex. Under Select product choose Chrome OS Flex and then confirm with Next.
To select the appropriate boot medium, click on Select and then on our USB stick. Be careful not to accidentally select the wrong SSD or the wrong USB stick. After that you will get a summary of your selected options and then you create the boot file with Create now option.
After uploading, the program will inform you that you can now remove the USB stick.
2. Boot from the USB stick
Now it’s time to get Chrome OS Flex from the USB stick to the notebook. To do this, you have to insert the stick into the notebook. A potential source of error in old devices can be avoided here by selecting a USB 2.0 instead of a USB 3.0 slot.
Now you can boot your notebook as usual, but should go into the UEFI mode during the boot process. In most cases this can be done by pressing a function key such as [F8], [F10] or [F12]. Alternatively, you can also boot to UEFI by modifying Windows Settings.
In the UEFI you can now change the boot order of the system. We recommend selecting the medium from which the notebook should get its start-up data. The goal here is of course to boot from the newly created USB boot stick.
Depending on the manufacturer, you have to proceed somewhat differently in the UEFI. With most manufacturers, however, you will find a menu item called Boot or Boot order. Alternatively, we also recommend taking a look at the manual for the mainboard. In the boot order you should put the USB stick at the top and then save the changes.
Now restart the system. If everything went well, the Google ChromeOS logo will appear instead of the usual Windows, Mac, or Linux boot screen.
3. Installation and setup
During setup, Google ChromeOS Flex first asks you for your desired language and the appropriate keyboard layout. After you have selected it and clicked on Start now, you have to make a decision: Do you want to permanently install ChromeOS Flex as your notebook’s operating system or just start the system from the USB stick as a test without removing the old operating system.
With that major decision made, let’s install Chrome OS Flex. In the following we assume a permanent installation.
After the installation, the notebook shuts down. Now you need to remove the USB stick. Then you have to restart the system to make the final settings.
To do this, you must first connect to the Internet and accept the Google’s Terms of Service. You can also disable optional analytics data at this time.
You can then decide whether your notebook should become a fully functional Chromebook or whether it should be a children’s Chromebook with a limited scope.
To log in to your Chromebook, you now have to enter a valid Google address and password. Optionally, you can now restrict the sending of hardware data and connect to a nearby Android smartphone. After that, the system setup is complete.
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