One of my favorite old computers is a Dell Inspiron One 2320. This All-In-One PC with 2.4GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core i5 Processor, 6GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT525M, and 320GB HDD is a great machine… for 2012. Ten years later? Not much.
But this one-off Windows 7 PC still has a 23-inch high-resolution display. What it can’t do is run Windows 10 well, and let’s not even talk about Windows 11. I can run Linux on it, but I already have a lot of Linux computers, so I tried something different: I decided to install Google Chrome OS Flex on him.
I left Windows 7 on this machine, which is a custom accounting system. I disconnected it from the Internet, because running Windows 7 on a computer connected to the Internet is just a request to hack. Like most old Windows PCs, it’s slowed down to the point where it’s basically useless. Just turning it on will take – I’m not kidding – three minutes.
But Chrome OS Flex, which is essentially Linux, can run on low-powered computers. How low can it go? According to Google, Minimum requirements for Chrome OS Flex be:
- Intel or AMD x86-64-bit compatible device (will not work with 32-bit processors)
- 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 BIOS tweaks if you run into problems)
It boils down to the fact that if you have a computer built in 2010 or later, it should work. It may work with older components if you’re feeling adventurous. However, if you’re running a box with Intel GMA 500, 600, 3600, or 3650 graphics hardware, you’re asking for a problem.
If you want to be reasonably sure that it will work on your old computer, you can check to see if it is on the list. List of approved Google Chrome OS Flex Forms. Inspiron One 2320? Nope, I was taking the life of my computer in my hands. I’m fine with that.
Before you follow in my paths, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, moving your PC from Windows, macOS, or whatever to Chrome OS Flex is a one-way trip. Everything — the apps, your parent photos, your QuickBooks files — on your old drive will evaporate. If you want to keep anything, back up your important files to another computer, cloud storageor a Network Attached Storage (NAS). Otherwise, above all bye.
After backing up my files to a file QNAP TS-253D-4G 2 Bay NASMy next step was to create a Chrome OS Flex USB installation drive. With most Linux distributions, you can create and use a bootable CD or DVD. For one-time Chrome OS Flex installations, you must use a USB drive.
The drive size must be at least 8 GB; Chrome OS Flex isn’t small. You also shouldn’t try this with a Sandisk USB drive, as these drives don’t always work for some reason. I used a file PNY 32 GB Supplement 3 to cut. Since these only support USB 2.0, they’re not ideal for newer devices (for these, I’ll be using a PNY 32 GB Turbo Attache 3, which supports the faster USB 3 standard). Since the old box only had USB 2.0 ports, cheaper, slower USB drives would do just fine.
One of the reasons I use large USB drives is that I wanted to test my device before I committed to installing Chrome OS Flex on it. How? Google allows you to Run Chrome OS Flex from a USB drive.
It works just like a full install. But instead of using a hard drive or solid state drive (SSD), it boots from the USB drive itself, while still using your computer’s processor, memory, network connection, and all that jazz. By doing this, you can be sure that the new operating system will work on your computer without any risk of losing your current setup. The only real difference is that it will not be as fast as the installed version because you are using USB drives.
To create a USB installation drive, you do not need a third-party USB burner software. Alternatively, you can use any Chrome OS device, Windows or Mac with the current version of the Chrome browser. Unfortunately, you cannot do this on a Linux computer.
On any other computer, just open the Chrome web browser and add a file Chromebook Recovery Utility Extension By clicking on the extension link. Thats all about it.
Once this is done, make sure that your USB flash drive is ready to go. Keep in mind that by making it an install drive, you will delete everything on it.
Then follow these steps:
- Start the Chrome Recovery Utility extension.
- Click Get started.
- Click to select a model from the list.
- Select the manufacturer, search for Google Chrome OS Flex and click on it.
- Select a product, find and click Chrome OS Flex.
- Select the pen drive from the dropdown list – make sure the correct drive is chosen.
- Click Continue, followed by Create Now.
This is simple enough.
It will take a few minutes to download Chrome OS Flex, depending on your internet speed. On my machine with a 1Gbps (Gbps) fiber connection, it took less than 10 minutes. The entire installation drive creation process took 15 minutes.
Then I went to my old Dell machine and plugged in the USB drive and turned it on. Next, I pressed the boot selection key.
You probably don’t know what this is for your chest; Most people don’t have to bother with it. This key enables you to select an alternate way to start your computer. You usually always use the main drive of your computer. Here, though, you’ll want to choose a USB drive. On my Dell machine, this is the F12 key. For other computers, check Google’s listing for general computer keys.
Then, as I mentioned above, I suggest you try it out first to make sure Chrome OS Flex works for you. If it does, restart your device, choose to install Chrome OS Flex, and you’re on your way.
Not for you? Simply eject the USB drive, reboot your device, and use the alternate boot key to return to the main drive. You will be back where you started.
On my old machine, it took about 15 minutes from choosing to install it to turning it on.
If you want more than Chrome OS Flex, you can install Linux on it as well. You are using exactly the same method you are using Install Linux on Chromebook (This is optional; you don’t have to do this). However, you cannot install Android or a dual-boot operating system, such as Windows, on the new Chrome OS Flex.
You’ve gone from having a completely broken computer to having a handy Chrome OS Flex. In fact, it has become my virtual video conferencing workstation. If you also have an old hardware that needs a new lease for life, I can’t recommend Chrome OS Flex highly enough. It’s easy to install and can make old computers useful again.