Chrome if you want to
July 22, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to retire a laptop computer from daily active service; thinking about going Chrome or pseudo-Chrome.

Currently running Windows XP Home Edition SP3, bought about 10 years ago from Dell as a mid-range laptop (a Latitude? I use it, I don't look at it). It's got an 80GB hard drive and 2gb of RAM, runs very hot (I keep it raised on a lap desk with a fan pointed on it when in use). Has a busted wireless card (I dropped it many moons ago) but I have a PC-Card wireless card in it or can hardware wire it to an Airport.

Is it vaguely feasible to somehow turn it into a Chrome-like laptop for the kids? I could try to nuke XP and reinstall it fresh (I've gotten the data I need from it), and then set up each kid with a Google Account for writing and mailing (have a domain and GA already).

Is this technically possible? Or heck, even download Chrome as an OS to put on the machine? Because of the hot issues (I'm also going to try running it plugged in with no battery) and funky noises it makes (and its hard life) I'd rather try to not have the kids rely on it for (much) data storage.

The kids are elementary school aged, pretty good about saving things where we tell them to; if we leave it as an XP machine I might put a couple of USB drives in there and tell them each to put their stuff on those little sticks.
posted by tilde to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It probably runs hot because it is very dirty inside. Cleaning it -which will likely include a partial disassembly - would be my first step.
posted by magullo at 8:19 AM on July 22, 2013

I have chromebook and I mostly like it. My biggest annoyance is that the Chrome OS does not run Java. So if you have java-like things you would like to use, then don't pick Chrome.
posted by aetg at 9:22 AM on July 22, 2013

Or heck, even download Chrome as an OS to put on the machine?

Not Chrome OS, but Chromium OS, the open source version without Google's proprietary additions. The release is source-only, and you're meant to build it yourself, but there are a couple of daily build repositories (example) with installables, including ones that you can try out on VirtualBox or VMWare to see whether it's a good fit.

The heat issues may just be from the processor -- mobile CPUs have become a lot more efficient in recent years, and ones built in the early 2000s seem to be the worst offenders -- but I'll second magullo in suggesting that you give the internals a bit of a dusting.
posted by holgate at 11:14 AM on July 22, 2013

Response by poster: Looking through my mail, I see I replaced the Keyboard in 2009, the battery in 2008 (OEM, after reading about OEM Dell battery issues). That diminished the heat issues somewhat, having given it a thorough cleaning then.

Looks like you're right, holgate, the official fork for Chrome is available, but not Chrome itself. And I'd need to install a few other things that are available ... can't think of any java-based apps I favor or they'd use.

So I guess with unlimited time and fiddle room, I could set up the laptop in a Linuxy way.

Probably quickest to blow away XP, reinstall and update XP, then lock it into kid/can't install things mode and point their files to save to a USB stick or the cloud in one form or another.
posted by tilde at 1:27 PM on July 22, 2013

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