Linux on Chrome OS Flex

Jarret B

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The newer Google Chrome OS Flex gives the user the ability to use Debian 11 (Bullseye).

The Chrome OS Flex Operating System does not need to be installed on a Chromebook, but can be installed on a wide variety of systems if compatible.

Flex Requirements

The Flex OS requires a system with at least 4 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage space and be bootable from a USB drive.

If you have a system that meets these requirements, or better than these, then try Chrome OS Flex.

If you have ever wanted to see what a Chromebook is like, then this will give you that chance of paying for a Chromebook.

NOTE: You have a choice to try or install Chrome OS Flex.

Downloading Flex

Getting a bootable installation USB flash drive is probably the most complicated part. This process requires the use of a Windows system (you should be able to use Windows from a VirtualBox system, you’ll need to have access to a USB flash drive). The process to do this is not supported by Google to perform on a Linux system, that is why a Windows system is required for this portion.

I set up Windows 11 VirtualBox Machine and added a USB flash drive as a USB device within VirtualBox. The USB Flash drive will be formatted, so do not use a drive that has data on it you want to keep.

NOTE: If you have a Windows system, perform the same steps, but don’t worry about VirtualBox.

Install Google Chrome from the web at ‘https://www.google.com/chrome’.

After Chrome is installed, open a page to ‘https://chrome.google.com/webstore/’. In the search box, type in ‘Chromebook Recovery Utility’. When the search has completed, click on the ‘Chromebook Recovery Utility’ and select ‘Add to Chrome’. An option should appear to allow you to ‘Add Extension’.

A small puzzle piece icon should appear on the top right of Chrome. Click on it and choose ‘Chromebook Recovery Utility’.

When the Extension starts, click on ‘Get Started’.

On the next screen, click on ‘Select a model from a list’.

For the ‘Manufacturer’, locate ‘Google Chrome OS Flex’. Select the same for the ‘Product’. Click ‘Continue’.

The next screen allows you to select the flash drive on which to place the installation files. Make sure you choose the correct media. Click ‘Continue’.

You will be shown that you are creating Recover Media on the drive you previously specified on the next screen. Click ‘Create Now’ when you are ready to start. A progress bar should appear to download the files. It will then verify the download, then unpack the files, and finally write the files to the USB drive. Each stage will start the progress bar over at 0%.

Once the copy is completed, you will be informed that the copy is completed and you can then select ‘Done’.

Install Flex

Place the USB flash drive in the system onto which you want to install Flex. Boot the system, being sure to boot from the USB drive.

After a bit, you should see a chrome logo and the words ‘chromeOS Flex’. The screen should change and show the language, which you can change, and an option for changing ‘Accessibility’ options. Once you have made any changes, click on ‘Get Started’.

You will then be prompted if you want to activate ChromeVox. The option is a screen reader. Either click on ‘Yes, activate ChromeVox’ or ‘No, continue without ChromeVox’.

The next screen will let you choose whether to install or try Chrome OS Flex. Make your choice and click on ‘Next’.

If you choose to install the OS, the next screen will inform you that you are going to install Chrome OS Flex and you must click on ‘Install Chrome OS Flex’.

A small window will pop up to inform you that the hard disk will be erased and all data on it will be lost. Click on ‘Install’ to continue or ‘Cancel’ to stop.

The installation will proceed until it completes. Once completed, it will inform you that the system will shut down in one minute. Remove the USB installation media. If you leave the system and come back after a bit, it should be powered off. Once you power the system on, you should then run Chrome OS Flex.

Once you power on the system, it should load and start the setup process. The first screen you see is identical to first screen when installing. Choose ‘Get Started’ to begin configuration.

Next, you’ll be shown the Google terms of service. You must agree with these to continue.

On the next screen, you can specify if the OS is for you or a child. If you specify a child, then you can set rules for the system. Make a choice and click on ‘Next’.

Now, you’ll be prompted to enter your Google Account E-Mail or Phone Number. Click ‘Next’. You’ll then be prompted for your password. The system should then require you to proceed with a 2-step verification process. Use your designated device to verify the login on a new device.

The next option is to sync your new device with the settings you have previously set on other Google devices. Click ‘Accept and continue’.

The next setting is for Google Data Collection about the device. Check or uncheck the option as you see fit and click on ‘Accept and continue’.

You should be all set, so click on ‘Get Started’ to finish the configuration and begin using Chrome OS Flex.

Enabling Linux

Close any windows that open up. Move the moue cursor to the bottom of the screen. A section should move up with options to choose. At the top of the section is an up arrow. Click on the up arrow to move the section to full screen.

Scroll the icons on the screen, if needed, to find an icon labeled ‘Linux apps’.

The only icon in the ‘Linux apps’ folder is ‘Terminal’. Choose ‘Terminal’ so it opens.

The new window that appears is shown in Figure 1. The item labeled as ‘Set Up’ should be clicked. This will allow you to enable Developer options in Flex.

Figure 01.JPG

FIGURE 1

Now, a Settings window opens as shown in Figure 2. The top line allows you to turn on the Linux Developer Environment. Click on ‘Turn on’.

Figure 02.JPG

FIGURE 2

The system should now go through the setup of the Linux Developer Environment. It will require 450 MB of data to download and install. Click ‘Next’ to start.

The next screen will allow you to specify an username as well as set a disk size for the Linux Environment on the disk. The default is 10 GB. Make your preferred settings and click on ‘Install’. The download and installation of the Linux environment should then occur.

Once the setup is completed, you should then have Debian Bullseye. The Terminal should be ready, so perform the following:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade -y


The Linux environment should be upgraded and ready for use.

You can install applications which will appear in the ‘Linux apps’ folder.

Conclusion

Chrome OS Flex gives you the option of having a device like a Chromebook, without an actual Chromebook.

You can run Linux on it and some applications.

Since most schools have been using Chromebooks for their students, Chrome OS is becoming popular. I must say that most colleges are still requiring Windows systems, but that may change since most high school students are more familiar with Chromebooks.

If you have a young one around, it may be good to be a little familiar with Chrome OS in some version.
 


Brickwizard

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Welcome to the forums,
If you have a Win 10 machine then depending on the full spec you can install one of a number of full 64 bit linux distributions
 

RackoWacko

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Welcome to the forums,
If you have a Win 10 machine then depending on the full spec you can install one of a number of full 64 bit linux distributions
Thank you for that reminder Brickwizard. I will go that route on my old hp win 10 machines after trying a wifi dongle that supports the right linux kernel.
 


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