Ask LH: Should I Install Chrome OS On My Old PCs?

Ask LH: Should I Install Chrome OS On My Old PCs?

Dear Lifehacker. I have a few older PC’s lying around the house and was wondering, given that they are older PCs, if setting them up with Chrome OS would be a good option to give them a new lease of life? What would you suggest as the best way to set up a Chrome PC for home use? Thanks, Chrome On The Range

Dear COTR,

Building your own Chromebook is definitely one way of getting more life out of an older PC. One important point to note: the full commercial version of Chrome OS isn’t available for general download — it’s only made available to manufacturers. Instead, you’ll need to use the open source Chromium OS project, upon which Chrome OS is based.

Assuming you don’t want to compile your own source code, by far the easiest way to try out Chromium is to take advantage of Hexxeh’s builds, which include versions you can download to a USB stick. Testing those builds is a very easy process, and will let you know if Chromium OS is a viable option for your hardware.


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


  • Short answer is no..
    The hardware support is very limited and the performance isn’t blazing.
    Better to install a lightweight Linux that has more features, similar performance and far better hardware support.

  • +1 on a no for Chrome OS – I’ve tried it and it’s terrible.

    Ubuntu linux (or Linux Mint) would be far better choices, is just as easy to use, can still run chrome, etc.

    Oh and – brace yourself now – Windows 8.1 is another alternative. You only need a 1Ghz processor and 2Gb of RAM to run it comfortably, although 4Gb is better.

    4Gb of RAM is to Windows 8.1 what 6 or 8Gb of RAM is to Windows 7.

    If we are talking *really* old PCs though, rocking 1Gb of RAM (or less) then any linux that runs lxde or xfce – the 2 most popular are Lubuntu and Xubuntu – will run just fine.

    If your a real uber geek you would install OpenSUSE or Fedora – not as much software is available as a fancy click-and-install download, so it’s mainly uber geeks and IT engineers who like to spend quality time with the command line who like these distros,

  • Ubuntu is probably overkill for an older laptop or desktop. Unity is a resource hog.

    I’ve had great success with Xubuntu as @jjcoolaus suggests on an old laptop with a Celeron 2GHZ and 1.5GB RAM. Lubuntu is a bit more limited but runs even faster.

    • I’ll second Xubuntu. My main box at home is a 10 year old Dell that I transitioned from XP to Xubuntu back in August. Running much more smoothly now. Plus, now it only takes 2mins to start up, rather than the 10mins that XP was taking!

  • As a Ubuntu enthusiast, for old laptops, I actually install Crunchbang ( I have it running on 10 year old laptops, and for any casual user looking for web access (including Google Drive type apps) it works great, is reliable, and is simple to use, even for people more used to Windows.

  • I’m one to lean more towards the Linux Mint OS when running old hardware. Blazes on an old Asus Netbook 901 of mine with just 1ghz of ram.
    Ideally I prefer the original Joli OS, works fantastic on old hardware and was purpose built to do so with an emphasis on cloud based storage. I say ‘original’ as it’s current iteration JoliCloud isn’t what it used to be, and is now more of a web based app service. If you can get your hands on Joli OS though I’d recommend giving it a burl.

  • I dont think Hexxeh is keeping up with it anymore – his latest vanilla builds (on his site) are a year and a half old now.

  • We have a student lab with four Windows 7 computers that only access the internet. I was hoping to install Chrome OS on them but in reading the information above, maybe there are better alternatives. All we need is a browser. Thoughts?

  • … or download the latest preview from Microsoft and upgrade even your oldest hardware to the blazingly fast Windows 10. Win 10 will resurrects any old pc and give it new life … plus maximum hardware support! And MS has promised that it will continue to upgrade with each release straight through till final release later this summer all for free.

    • Win 10 will not have the drivers for my WiFi-card nor support for my screen 1024×768. So Win 10 is not a viable option.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!