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Turning An Old Laptop Into A Chromebook

Andy in Roxboro, North Carolina asked us about his old laptop

Old Laptop

Andy asked: “Question about recycling an old IBM ThinkPad by loading up Chrome OS or something similar onto it and if that’s an easy process.”


Andy, you can look into trying to get Chrome on your ThinkPad by going to The Chromium Project is an open source sibiling of Chrome OS that anybody can download for free. It doesn’t necessarily have every feature Chrome OS has because Google does require some specific hardware for some Chrome OS features, but it’s largely the similar.

Chromium will require hardware accelerated OpenGL, and it is optimized for SSDs so you may notice it runs a little slower on an HDD, but there’s a good chance you can make it work on an older ThinkPad.

As for how easy the installation is, well… it’s not too hard, but it’s a little more technical than a Windows installation. Chromium runs on Ubuntu, so the installation involves getting that first.

As for how easy the installation is, well… it’s not too hard

Ubuntu is a relatively simple to get on a computer, it’s done through a regular assistant like you’d use to install Windows.

Once that’s done, it gets a little less user friendly with commands that are really not radio friendly at all, like “cros_sdk — ./build_image –board=${BOARD}”

Luckily, there aren’t many of those, so you should be able to follow along with a guide they themselves provide and get through it.

One thing we should point out is that, as long as you’re going to be installing Ubuntu first, you might as well give it a try. Ubuntu is closer to Windows than ChromeOS is, and it is more powerful, you may like it!

One last comment: you said IBM Thinkpad, not Lenovo Thinkpad. Lenovo bought the Thinkpad line many years ago, so be prepared for your computer to be too old to meet the basic requirements.

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Written by Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline is the founder, Host & Executive Producer of "Into Tomorrow" in addition to being President of the Advanced Media Network".

Dave is also a trusted and familiar voice on many national commercials & narrations in addition to being an authority in consumer tech since 1994. He is also a former Police Officer and an FBI Certified Instructor.

Dave thrives on audience participation!

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