Wednesday, February 27, 2019

New Life for an Old Laptop | Powered by Neverware's CloudReady

Over the weekend I was cleaning our second bedroom and saw the stack of old laptops I've got stashed away. As I was pondering what I could do with them, it hit me: could I turn one or more of them into Chromebooks? I love the zero setup, Just Works nature of my Chromebook and wondered if the same software could be installed on ancient hardware.

A quick Google Search and YouTube video gave me my answer: Yes!

The magic is provided by Neverware's CloudReady. I downloaded their installer and used it to turn a 16GB USB Thumbdrive I had lying around into a Chrome OS installer.

On the hardware side, I found a Lenovo B575 laptop with an index card taped to it that read Slow, but works. The hardest part of the setup was digging through my pile of AC adapters to find the right one.

The setup process was effortless. Sure, downloading the installer took time, and so did the process of copying Chrome OS to the hard drive. So don't attempt to do this process in a hurry. But the result is as promised: I've turned an ancient 'slow, but works' laptop into a totally usable Chromebook.

After logging in I found my desktop setup carried over from my store bought Chromebook, down to the same background and 'shelf' orientation. I popped over to YouTube and was able to blast some tunes. Heck, I'm composing this blog post on the new laptop. Amazing.

There's no comparison between the slick new hardware of my ASUS Chromebook and this old Lenovo. Boot-up, for example, is speedy on my new box and takes its own sweet time on the Lenovo. But the keyboard is actually pretty solid on the Lenovo, the screen size acceptable and most importantly, it all just works.

Below are some pics of the setup experience, but the bottom line is this: if you've got an old laptop lying around give Neverware's CloudReady a chance. If your experience is anything like mine, you'll be glad you did.

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