Google Chrome OS Flex - Make old Macs and PCs usable again

There are several ways to breathe new life into an old computer. Because even if the Apple Mac is no longer compatible with the latest macOS or the PC cannot run Windows 11, everyday and office tasks can still be carried out with it. In addition to installing Linux, for example with a Xtra PC alternative, there is now this for that Chrome OS Flex from Google. This is intended to get old MacBook, Mac mini and iMac models and PCs from a wide variety of manufacturers up and running again. The highlight of ChromeOS Flex: a "Cloud First" concept that outsources many tasks to the server.

With Google Chrome OS Flex you can e.g. B. get an old Apple MacBook running again (symbol image). Information about ChromeOS Flex can be found here, including the supported Mac models, details on installation and criticism of the system and marketing.

With Google Chrome OS Flex you can e.g. B. get an old Apple MacBook running again (symbol image). Information about ChromeOS Flex can be found here, including the supported Mac models, details on installation and criticism of the system and marketing.

ChromeOS Flex is designed to make old Mac and PC models faster

With the operating system, sometimes written as “Chrome OS Flex” and sometimes as “ChromeOS Flex”, Google promises that old hardware will run more smoothly again and that work on the compatible Mac and PC models will be faster than before. In addition to a stripped down ChromeOS (no AndroidApps, no virtual machines, no Trusted Platform Module, etc.), this is mainly due to the fact that certain processes are outsourced to the cloud. So since servers take over these computing processes, the CPU, GPU and RAM of the old computer are spared. As you can already guess, this has the disadvantage that you have to be permanently connected to the Internet to use the system fully.

This also applies if you want to continue using certain office programs. Because both the Office apps from Microsoft and the iWork apps from Apple do not run on ChromeOS or ChromeOS Flex. However, Word, Excel and Co. can be used online via office.com. Besides, you can Pages, Numbers and Co. via the iCloud website icloud.com. On the other hand, there is also locally executed application software, which can be selected via the taskbar, which is reminiscent of Windows. A first impression of the operating system released on July 15, 2022 in version 1 you can get it here.

Who is Chrome OS Flex made for?

The target groups to which Google markets the new and free operating system include not only private individuals, but also companies and educational institutions. On the website linked above, on which the system is advertised, there is also a quote that describes the use in a hotel. Overall, Google's Chrome OS Flex is aimed at everyone who cannot use their old hardware with current macOS or Windows versions, or only very slowly. The use of the slimmed-down Google system, which is equipped with online outsourcing, is also intended to prevent electronic waste, since disposal and a new purchase are delayed.

Short critical insert: data, customer loyalty and greenwashing

But you can also take a critical look at the offer. And I'll just do that now. Because outsourcing numerous tasks to servers naturally gives Google the opportunity to monitor the type and frequency of these tasks. This results in an overview of the behavior of the users. Due to the limited support of individual devices (see below) of only one or two years, ChromeOS Flex can also be seen as advertising for ChromeOS and Chromebooks. "Do you want to continue using the operating system you're used to after support has ended? Then buy a Chromebook!' you could put it in Google's mouth.

What also bothers me badly is this heavily feigned responsibility placed in the hands and minds of the users when it comes to avoiding electronic waste. There's no stopping Google or other manufacturers from coming up with modular calculators that are easy to repair and have parts that are recyclable, or at least better than current technology. Responsibility for environmental protection, mitigating the climate catastrophe and creating truly sustainable products now lies with companies, especially large tech companies. And Grandpa's efforts to digitally craft a fun invitation for the 75th birthday outsourced to the server, which now saves no electricity or bandwidth.

These Mac models are compatible with Chrome OS Flex

Well, if you're still interested in Chrome OS Flex for the Apple Mac, then hold on. Because a total of nine models are supported. On other models you have to try the whole thing at your own risk. The supported versions of Apple Mac mini, Apple iMac, Apple MacBook, Apple MacBook Air and Apple MacBook Pro do not receive support for very long and some of them may also have functional limitations. 

Mac model Note support end
iMac 11,2 (2010) Tested and certified 2024
iMac 12,1 (2011) Minor errors possible 2024
Mac Mini 7,1 (2014) Tested and certified 2026
MacBook 7,1 (2010) Minor errors possible 2023
MacBook Air 5,1 (2012) Tested and certified 2025
MacBook Air 6,1 (2013) Tested and certified but webcam not working 2026
MacBook Air 7,2 (2015) Tested and certified but webcam not working 2027
MacBook Pro 9,2 (2012) Tested and certified 2025
MacBook Pro 11,2 (2014) Tested and certified 2025

You can find the complete and up-to-date overview with this link. If Google certifies other Apple computers for the new system, they will appear there in the corresponding overview. In addition to the certified Apple computers, you will also find the supported PC models from these manufacturers and brands on the linked page: Acer, Advantech, AOPEN, ASUS, Dell, Elo, Fujitsu, HP, Intel, Justice, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft, Minisforum, Panasonic, Toshiba and Zotac. Here, some models are even supported until 2030. Then even former Windows users have to decide whether they want to get used to it again.

Create a ChromeOS Flex Boot Stick: This is how (complicated) it works!

Yes, but how can I install Google Chrome OS Flex on Mac? Well, that goes down an unnecessarily complicated path that could be a lot simpler. Forget everything you know about imagers as standalone programs (well, forget ANYmacOS). To create a ChromeOS Flex Boot Stick, you first need Chrome Browser:

  1. Installs and opens the Chrome browser
  2. In turn, install the Chromebook Recovery Utility extension
  3. Ensures via the settings that the plug-in is activated after installation
  4. Starts with a click on the icon of the extension
  5. Select the desired system and the inserted USB stick (at least 8 GB storage space required) and off you go

You can find the complete step-by-step guide with easy 17 steps with this link. This leads you to the installation guide of the system, in which the installation on the old computer and the first use is described. The whole thing is not yet available in German. Funny, considering that the system was in beta for such a long time and that Google has had its own online translation service since 2006. 

-

Did you like the article and did the instructions on the blog help you? Then I would be happy if you the blog via a Steady Membership or at Patreon would support.

6 comments

  1. Wolli says:

    You don't necessarily need *the* Google Chrome browser. With the chrome-based Vivaldi browser you can just as easily install the extension from the Chrome Web Store and create the Flex USB stick.

    But I will rather try to install a Linux on my mid 2009 MBP 8GB/SSD. Chromos is just too restrictive and doesn't even support my crate anymore - just like Crapple, who since OSX 10.9.5 have declared the super working device to be e-waste.

    • macmarine says:

      Is it safe with the e-waste? My old MBP early 2008 (6GB, SSD) can still handle MacOS El Capitan (10.11.6) without any tinkering. This doesn't get you very far, but it's still sufficient for simple tasks and at least a reasonably up-to-date Brave Browser is still running.

      Using the macOS High Sierra Patch Tool (http://dosdude1.com/highsierra/) could still be usable on the MBP 2009 as of 10.11.13/XNUMX/XNUMX.

      • macmarine says:

        Sorry, of course I meant MacOS 10.13.x - one problem with the patch is the version of the airport card in the MBP (query via system information/network/WLAN): you need a 0x14E4, 0x8D - unfortunately my 2008 MBP only has the 0x14E4, 0x8C . The Ethernet interface works in any case.

        • macmarine says:

          And another correction: I wanted to know now and brought the old MBP 4,1 (early 2008) to MacOS 10.13 with the High Sierra Patch Tool mentioned above. The latest version of the tool now also supports the older airport card, the touchpad, the iSight. Runs pretty fast.

          In order for the system update to work, SIP must first be deactivated!

          • Jen Kleinholz says:

            Very cool! Thanks for the tip! I don't have a Mac that's so old right now that I wanted to test it, but I'm sure there are a few people who would be happy about it!

      • Wolli says:

        @macmarine

        Does the dosdude still exist? Thanks for the tip!

        Already updated the early 2009 Mini (also upgraded) with one of his patchers years ago. It also worked well now, High Sierra 10.13.6 is now the current version and you can finally install the current Firefox (including plugins for your own non-Apple password manager).

        Most importantly, I was able to properly log into the Mac App Store again, because under 10.9.5 there was only one call coming from the US, with no input field for the code.

        However, I have to say that the current XFCE Manjaro runs much smoother from the SSD, *and* has my standard programs for cross-platform tinkering largely on board (AUR Repo). Java, adb tools, media library view, reasonable browsers from the factory. Just have to figure out how to switch the EFI bootloader back to "Linux first". The grub broke on the OSX update and it's tiring to keep thinking about pressing the right button.

Leave a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.