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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
After graduating from high school, Johannes completed an apprenticeship as a business assistant specializing in foreign languages. But then he decided to research and write, which resulted in his independence. For several years he has been working for Sir Apfelot, among others. His articles include product introductions, news, manuals, video games, consoles, and more. He follows Apple keynotes live via stream.