How to Convert Your Old Computer into a Chromebook: All Steps!

A service called CloudReady can bring old computers back to life with Google’s Chrome operating system … but be careful, read our article before rushing!

The well-named CloudReady

If you’re not a geek or do not spend your time reading all the technology news, chances are you do not know about CloudReady.

It lets you convert old computers into cloud-eccentric systems like Chromebooks.

Plus, it’s completely free for users, thanks to the company named Neverware.

And you know what ? It is rather a good idea! In short, Neverware takes Google’s Chromium OS (the open-source code that is the basis for all Chrome OS devices), and makes it something you can easily install and run on an old computer.

At this point, the old computer does not technically become a Chromebook, since it is an official device of Google, but it looks like it strongly, whether in the form or in its functions.

See below in image, the homepage on the desktop is very similar to that of a Chromebook.

Chromebook.

But beware, there are several things to know before converting your old PC.

What Neverware does

First and foremost, it’s important to know which company it is when it comes to Neverware.

The main focus of the company is placed on the education market, but also on that of the company to a lesser extent.

The company charges per-device licensing fees, and allows schools to provide support and network management for laptops, much like Google does with the Chromebooks for Work program , but with old hardware instead.

Neverware guarantees the specific hardware involved, to make sure everything is working well, and the company provides assistance as needed.

This is clearly the way Neverware works, which allows him to make money. But the company also offers a free solution for individual users who are at home, so that they derive an advantage from its software.

At this time, users do not have a management console or support available, but they have access to all the useful tools to turn their old PC into a device that looks like a Chromebook.

Users even have the option of installing the Chrome operating system, while keeping their old operating system and existing data (dual-boot mode), and choosing which OS they want each time they turn on their computer.

However, the dual-boot mode will not necessarily work on all laptops, since its configuration is a little more complex than that of Chrome … but it is to try.

How CloudReady differs from Chrome OS

Just as it is the case with Android, Google creates and maintains an open-source version of the Chrome operating system, and then adds services and options to create a final product.

CloudReady only has access to open-source code, without services and options. What this means is that some parts of the traditional Chrome OS experience are not present in the software that CloudReady makes available on your computer.

Is it serious ? Not necessarily, but it may be necessary to take them into account. Here are the main areas in which CloudReady differs from Chrome OS.

Compatibility with the media

Maybe you remember it or not, but Netflix has not always been a good gaming partner with Chrome OS.

Why ? Because Netflix support on a device is not instantaneous or automatic. Google must make arrangements to make its hardware and software compatible with Netflix requirements.

A computer converted to CloudReady unfortunately does not have the same compatibility … so no Netflix on old computers, unless “hack” stuff  !

To do this, first install Widevine and allow “Proprietary Media Components”, which will run Hulu or Amazon Prime videos, for example. Then, follow these steps:

1. Install CloudReady or update it.

2. Log in.

3. Go to the “Settings” menu and find “Widevine” and “Proprietary Media Components”.

4. Click “Install” on both and wait until the installation is confirmed.

5. If that fails, reboot and try again (make sure you are connected to the network). When confirmed, the button will change to “Check for Updates”.

6. Restart your CloudReady machine (a notification will suggest you do it).

7. Log in again.

CloudReady demonstrates some limitations with support for media file formats, especially MPEG videos encrypted with H.264 format, as well as MP3 or MP4 audio files. The odd thing is that these files work perfectly with the free version of CloudReady software, but not for users who have paid for the software in the educational and business areas.

Options and features related to Google services

With Chrome’s CloudReady version, you will not have access to the following things:

  • the ability to use the “Share” command when viewing Google Drive files within the file application itself. The option is present, but you will receive an error message if you try to use it.
  • The ability to use location-based services to locate your location, just as you would get a route with Google Maps.
  • The ability to use the Chrome translation option (this is the option to translate a page written in a foreign language into your native language). There too, you will see the option but can not use it.
  • The ability to use screen sharing and elaborate Hangouts features.
  • The ability to install and use some Android apps, as you could with a “normal” Chrome OS.
  • A native Flash-playing plugin: CloudReady offers to install a separate Flash player, the first time you log in, which has exactly the same functionality.

A simple process

One of the major features of Chrome OS is the so-called “powerwash”, which means completely clean and reset your system in just a few clicks.

You can not do the same thing with CloudReady. If you ever want to reboot your computer, you will need to reinstall the operating system from the beginning, the same way you installed it the first time.

Solid security

One of the reasons why Chrome OS is secure is the fact that the software is based on a special hardware, as well as a connected configuration, which means that the operating system can not be modified by third-party sources.

Chromebooks have what is known as a “Trusted Platform Module”, which comes with a “Verified Boot” system. Both ensure your computer has Google software every time you turn it on.

Due to these special features, CloudReady can not align with this topic. However, the company does encrypted data and suggests that you implement your own security mechanisms locally.

Device-specific singularities

It must be said that old Windows or Mac computers were not designed to run the Chrome operating system. Therefore, things will not always work as you wish or as you expect.

Wi-Fi sometimes works oddly, even if you are next to your router. But it works well using your phone as a “hotspot” or with an Ethernet connection.

OS updates

Updates are a major and central feature of Chrome OS. Just like the fact that they are frequent, automatic and generally invisible to users.

As soon as a new update is available for Google, Chromebooks will download it discreetly and apply it the next time the system reboots. It’s that simple !

So the good news here is that Neverware has worked hard to implement the same system with its CloudReady software. The updates come from Neverware and not from Google. But the updates are still frequent and automatic, as is the case with the software of Chrome OS.

However, wait before you rejoice! CloudReady software is usually 2 or 3 times behind Chrome OS. Indeed, the company needs time to process and develop each new version.

The installation process

Here’s why CloudReady is really a good option to turn your old computer.

First, it’s easy. Just install the software from the Neverware siteand follow the instructions to create what is called a “USB installer”. For that, you will need a USB Drive of 8 or 16GB.

Once the “USB installer” is ready, you connect it to your computer and follow the Neverware guide. The entire installation process takes about 20 minutes. Once done, the computer will shut down.

The next time you turn it on, you’ll see a screen and desktop similar to Chrome OS.

Remember that Neverware does not provide support for the free version of its software. If you have problems, you will have to adjust them yourself.

FYI, here is the list of computers that do not work with CloudReady  :

  • Lenovo Thinkpad T43
  • Lenovo G50-45
  • Asus Book Flip TP200SA
  • Asus EeeBook X205TA
  • Asus EeePC 1000HD
  • Asus EEPC 1225C
  • Asus Transformer Book T200TA
  • Asus Transformer Book T100TAF
  • Asus VivoStick PC
  • Dell Latitude D600
  • Dell Latitude D531
  • Dell Latitude D610
  • Acer Aspire One D270
  • HP dx5150 Desktop
  • Gateway GM 5410E
  • Gateway 507GR
  • Toshiba Satellite P205D

So, if your old computer is not in this list, it should work. Neverware still suggests having a computer no older than 2007, with at least 1GB of RAM and at least 8GB of storage, and of course a connection to Wi-Fi and / or Ethernet.

In short

CloudReady is really a cool and interesting concept. It really makes sense in schools or businesses, where budgets are limited and where old computers are legion.

Everyone wins: no need to spend a huge budget buying new computers, while having a pleasant user experience with Chrome OS.

But do not think that old computers turn into real Chrome OS devices, because as we have above, there are differences.

CloudReady is not Chrome OS and does not pretend elsewhere. Try before judging, just to see, and you may be pleasantly surprised!

Wait … it’s not over!

Chromebooks are a fantastic alternative to Windows computers for several reasons: they are cheaper and more secure and offer longer standby times.

On the other hand, one of the areas where they are a little behind is their accounting with products and services.

Of course, Chrome OS is an operating system still young, so it is normal that there are bugs.

With the CrossOver beta app , you can now access some of the missing Chrome OS programs.

The CrossOver app

The CrossOver app for Chromebooks lets you run Windows programs on Chromebooks without any offset in a separate window.

This application is based on the Wine software program , which currently supports more than 13’000 applications (all the same!), Including for example Microsoft Office and Steam.

Then yes ! This means that you can access compatible games from your Steam library on your Chromebook!

CodeWeavers developers provided access to Windows programs for Linux about 20 years ago. Then they made it possible for MacOS. And now, it’s Chromebooks!

To enjoy it, just download the beta app (from a Chromebook) through the Google Play Store, but be careful that the CrossOver app is only compatible with Chromebooks running at least on Android 5.0 Lollipop, which use an x86 processor.

For now, the CrossOver app is free, but you will have to pay for this service when it is officially released, and we do not know the official price yet. The prices for Mac and Linux are around $ 60, with a free year of support, so it should also turn in those waters for Chromebooks. Hurry up to try it!

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