Put Chrome OS or Linux Mint on an old PC

Windows 10 can be quite a heavy operating system for your old PC. That is why it may pay to look for a lighter variant, for example Chrome OS or Linux Mint. In this article we explain how to install one of the two operating systems.

Tip 01: Chromium OS

Maybe you know those cheap chromebooks from the store. The operating system Chrome OS is installed on these compact laptops, where the user environment mainly consists of web applications from Google. You can easily create something similar yourself, provided you have an 'old' laptop (or PC) at your disposal. A system with a reasonable processor and 2 GB of RAM is usually sufficient. Unfortunately, Google does not provide download links of Chrome OS. But since Google's operating system is based on the open source project Chromium OS, the two versions hardly differ from each other. Fortunately, Chromium OS is freely available, and that is why we are going to work with this operating system. However, the official website of Chromium OS does not have ready-made download links, so you are forced to pick the installation file from elsewhere.

With Chromium OS you basically make your own Chromebook

Tip 02: Download image

For the installation of Chromium OS you need a suitable installation file, or a so-called image. There are several websites where you can get Chromium OS, though some sources are polluted with annoying ads. We have good experiences with this site. When you surf here, you will see three web folders: daily, special and weekly. The advantage of the special folder is that these images are provided with various drivers, so that the operating system immediately accepts all the necessary hardware. Successively click on special and twice on the column lastmodified. You should now see the most recent images at the top. It is important that you know whether your old PC has a 32-bit or 64-bit architecture (see box 32 or 64 bit?). For a 32-bit PC, choose the file that starts with Cx86OS. If you have a 64-bit PC, download the image that starts with Cam64OS. Save the file to your hard drive.

32 or 64 bit?

Not sure whether your computer consists of a 32-bit or 64-bit architecture? You can easily find that out in Windows. Open it Control Panel and choose back at the top right To display up for the option Category. Through Systemandsecurity and System the most important details of your system appear. on the line Typesystem find the information you want.

Tip 03: Extract image

The image is packed in a 7z file. To extract this archive, you need a suitable program. For example, you use 7-Zip for this. Visit here to download this freeware and then run the installation. Extracting the just downloaded 7z file is easy. Right click on it and choose Z-Zip / Extract Files. below Unpacking to choose the desired location, for example the desktop. Confirm with OK. Afterwards, an img file of more than 8 GB is ready for you. This is the image of Chromium OS.

Tip 04: Win32 Disk Imager

The intention is that you will soon start up Chromium OS from a USB stick, after which you perform the installation on the intended PC or laptop. But before that happens, you first have to prepare the USB stick with the image of Chromium OS. Make sure that the storage medium has a capacity of at least 16 GB. Insert the memory stick into the computer and note that all saved data will be erased. For the preparation of the USB stick you use the program Win32 Disk Imager. Surf here and click on the green button Download to get this utility. After installation, select in the main window under ImageFile the Chromium OS img file. Check below Target device carefully that the drive letter of the USB stick is selected. Finally click on Write / yes and wait patiently.

CloudReady

In this article we are going to get started with images from the so-called ArnoldTheBats development team. Neverware is another provider of excellent installation files. Although this operating system is called CloudReady, the user environment consists of Chromium OS. Many drivers are already integrated, making CloudReady run flawlessly on most systems. Home users can download this operating system for free. On the Neverware website you will find a list of mainly laptops on which CloudReady works without any problems. Systems from Acer, Apple, Asus, HP and Toshiba are suitable, among others.

Tip 05: Load Chromium OS

It is now time to get started with your old laptop or PC, because you will start the Chromium OS installation wizard. Insert the USB stick into the housing and start the system. During the startup phase, press a hotkey to open the computer's system menu (bios). Often that is F2 or Delete. Navigate to the boot settings (boot menu) and choose the USB stick as the first boot drive. Then restart the machine, after which the Chromium logo appears after a while. After a few seconds, an English welcome window will appear.

Tip 06: Basic settings

Before you finally install Chromium OS, first change some basic settings. Click on the bottom left English (United States) and choose back Language in front of English. If desired, change the keyboard layout and confirm with OK. Through Accessibility change specific options if necessary. For example, you activate a large mouse pointer and switch on high contrast. If you use a system with a touch screen, the function On-Screen Keyboard might be an interesting option. Adjust some settings if necessary and click OK. Through To work you will arrive in the network settings. Do you want to register your computer on a WiFi network? Choose Add another WiFi network and fill in SSID enter the network name. If you don't know exactly, check your phone, for example, where you can also see the network data. Also indicate which security method you use for the wireless network and enter the password. Through Make a connection check the connection. Sometimes, for vague reasons, you can't connect. Then it is best to connect the machine to the network via an Ethernet cable.

Tip 07: Starting Chromium OS

With Chromium OS you will soon have access to all kinds of Google services. For that reason, it is smart to log in with a Google account. Enter the correct e-mail address on your old computer and choose Next one. Enter the corresponding password and open with Next one the Chromium OS user environment. Be aware that the operating system is not yet installed on the hard disk of the PC or laptop. You are now running Chromium OS in a live environment from the USB stick. click on Take a tour to show explanations about certain functions. For example, the Launcher is located at the bottom right. This opens web applications such as Chromium (browser), Google Docs (word processor) and Files (explorer). Most applications open as a separate tab in the browser. Do you want your own window for a specific web application? Right click on it and choose Open as window. Then launch this application. If you want to change settings, click on the digital clock at the bottom right and then on the gear.

You first run Chromium OS from a USB stick in the live environment

Tip 08: Perform installation

If you are happy with Chromium OS, you can install the operating system on a storage drive of your computer. An SSD works best for a lightning-fast system, although Chromium OS is also quite fast from a traditional disk. Keep in mind that Chromium OS overwrites the entire disk, because a dual boot system is unfortunately not possible. Now first call up the command window with the shortcut Ctrl+Alt+F2. type root and press Enter. Then type the command /usr/sbin/chromeos-install --dst /dev/sda, after which you confirm again with Enter. Type y and press Enter to finalize the installation. After some time, an English message will appear that you can remove the USB stick. Restart the computer and wait for Chromium OS to appear.

Update Chromium OS

Obviously, you want to use the latest version of Chromium OS. You do this by regularly manually searching for new updates. Open the browser Chromium and click on the top right Customize and manage Chromium (three dots icon). Through About Chromium OS check you with Check for updates whether you can update the operating system.

Tip 09: Linux Mint

Chromium OS is a pretty bare-bones operating system, especially suitable for people who mainly surf the web and retrieve emails through a web client. If you want to be able to do more on the computer and also install your own programs, you need a more complete operating system. Linux Mint is perfectly suited for older systems because of the low system requirements. Most computers with 2 GB of RAM can be used with Linux Mint without any problems. Even systems with 1 GB RAM are usually suitable, although the interface may be a bit slower. To download the installation file, surf here. As you can see, there are multiple versions of Linux Mint. Cinnamon and MATE are the best-known editions, so it doesn't really matter which one you choose. The steps in this article describe the Cinnamon installation procedure. Decide whether you want to install a 32bit or 64bit operating system and click on the corresponding link. Download locations from multiple countries appear on the screen. Click on a link and save the iso file.

Linux Mint is suitable for those who want to be able to install their own software on the computer

Mint over Windows 10

There are several reasons to choose Linux over Windows 10. Besides the fact that Mint offers a lighter alternative for your old PC, concerns about privacy play a less important role, unlike Windows. Although Windows 10 has put all privacy-related settings together quite clearly, Microsoft does want to know a lot about our computer use by default. In addition, each mandatory update may introduce a new privacy setting that is enabled by default. Microsoft has also been a bit energetic with the discontinuation of support for old hardware.

Tip 10: Live environment

The iso file you just downloaded is an image of Linux Mint. This will run the installation. The preparations for the installation are identical to those of the previously discussed Chromium OS (see tips 4 and 5). So you use Win32 Disk Imager to write the ISO image to a USB stick. Then you start the old computer from this USB stick. You first end up in an English-language live environment of Linux Mint. The user interface is a bit slow, but you can browse around here without having to install anything right away. At the bottom left you will find the menu where you can access various pre-installed applications.

Tip 11: Install Mint

If you decide to install Linux Mint, double-click within the live environment Install Linux Mint. The installation wizard will appear. Select Dutch and click Further. If you want to register the computer on a wireless network, choose the correct settings now. In the next step, the operating system asks if it has permission to install third-party software, such as video card drivers. Check this option so that Linux Mint recognizes the computer's hardware components. In the next step you indicate on which disk you want to install this Linux distribution. The default option is Erase disk and install Linux Mint selected. That's a good choice if you don't want to do anything else with the computer. If there is still an (old) version of Windows on it, you can also install Linux Mint as a second operating system. In that case, choose Install Linux Mint alongside Windows. In that case, during the boot process you choose which operating system you want to load. This is called a dual boot system. Make a choice and confirm with Install now / Continue. In the remaining steps, enter the correct time zone and keyboard layout. You also come up with a username and password. Choose Further to complete the installation. Finally click on Restart now.

Tip 12: First start

After your computer restarts, enter the password you just created. The user interface looks slightly different compared to the live environment. For example, the welcome screen gives you access to new functions and documentation, and the working language is now Dutch. On the desktop you will also find a personal folder where you can store documents. At the bottom right are several system icons where you can configure the network and time settings, among other things. Do you want to know if there are any updates? Go to Menu / Administration / Update Manager (Update Manager) and click OK, after which Linux Mint will look for updates. click on Installing Updated Packages and enter the password. Then choose Authenticate and your computer is completely up-to-date.

Tip 13: Program management

Linux Mint already has a lot of interesting programs of its own. For example, in the menu you will find VLC Media Player, GIMP, Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice. In short, you can already do basic tasks such as watching videos, editing photos, surfing, e-mailing and word processing. Are you curious about what else you can install under Linux Mint? Go to Menu / Administration / Program Manager. Here are all kinds of programs, divided into various categories. For example, you will find Skype (video calling), Steam (gaming) and Caliber (managing e-books). Do you want to install something? Click on the program name to open additional details. Then you give via to install the password. Confirm with Authenticate.

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