I have tried Chrome OS Flex and my opinion of it has changed, but just barely

Chrome OS Flex

It has been some time since Google released chrome OS Flex. It is an operating system that promises to resurrect old computers, but I had already been doing that with Linux for more than 10 years. Taking into account that trying it is not so direct, I had not done it until recently, and if I decided it is because I have inherited a very old PC that, although not very well, works. Since it doesn't have anything important on the hard drive, I went for it.

When I inherited it, I had an attempt to install a Linux that they couldn't even tell me what it was. To avoid thinking too much, I installed Kubuntu, but only to check that it could be used. It's hard for him to move, but it moves. After reading several articles from authors who claim that chromeOS Flex is the best thing that has happened to their old computers, I wanted to try it more than anything to contradict them.

Installing chromeOS Flex

To install chromeOS Flex, it is possible to download an image, but I wanted to do it in the most official way possible. This requires installing the Chromebook Recovery Tool, an extension for Chromium-based browsers… that does not work on Linux. The first one on the forehead, but oh well. There's nothing a virtual machine won't fix. Using this tool is similar to using Raspberry Pi Imager, as it also allows you to download images before recording them.

With the USB created, I put it in that old rocker and started. Installation is basically an intuitive, one-way street. My only drawback here is that the installation process doesn't show anything more than a moving image, and I wasn't clear if it was working or not. But the installation was quick.

Once the operating system starts, we are faced with something very Google, with many of its applications installed by default. My biggest surprise was how light it works all. But stop counting. In my case, the PC has problems with virtualization, so I could not use the Linux subsystem. But the possibility exists, it must be said.

Really light

I think it is important to note that the computer I tested it on worked brilliantly with Kubuntu 23.10 and is reliable with Chrome OS Flex. This is what the authors will refer to when they claim that it can resurrect old computers, especially if what you need lives in the browser or in web applications.

The Linux container can install a version of the latest three Debian versions, and we already know that thanks to distro box we can install any program that exists on Linux.

No support for Android apps

The Android applications of the original chromeOS run in another type of subsystem, and for it to work you need to virtualize. Therefore, I couldn't have done it even if chromeOS Flex supported it. In fact, it is something I tried through FydeOS, which is chromiumOS with support for GApps (Google Apps).

The fact that it does not support Android applications leaves chromeOS Flex as an operating system with web-based applications to which Linux applications can be installed, but It is not a normal Linux.

Who is chromeOS Flex for?

With all of the above, you may be wondering if it is worth it and To whom this Google option, and there I have my doubts, but also other clear things:

  • Users whose computer has very limited resources. chromeOS Flex works on computers with 4GB of RAM and only 16GB of storage. As I already mentioned, the computer I tested it on did not run Kubuntu very well, and it did work well on chromeOS Flex.
  • People who always work with the browser.
  • Users who like the Google ecosystem.

Other options

There are many alternatives to chromeOS Flex, but fewer if what we want is something with the same nature. He FydeOS mentioned above is similar, and even better. It has an option to add support for GApps, and with this we can install almost any application from Google Play. In addition, it also supports the Linux container, so we would have almost everything.

Not everything, because it is not the same as other Linux distributions. If we want a traditional Linux, and we have an old computer, before trying chromeOS Flex I would install a light distro, preferably one with a window manager and without a desk to use. For example, Manjaro in its i3 community edition. The main reason is that it is a complete system and you don't have to configure much to customize it.

chromeOS Flex has come to surprise me, and that is why I have changed my opinion about it a little. The fluidity + interface is interesting, but I still stick with traditional distributions, or even with FydeOS before chromeOS Flex.


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