Not too long ago, we repurposed a Surface Laptop SE – the proposed “Chromebook Killer” from Microsoft – and turned it into a functional Chromebook with the assistance of ChromeOS Flex. If you’ve not read up on this effort from Google, let me catch you up. ChromeOS Flex is essentially a version of ChromeOS designed to run on a variety of legacy hardware, not just Chromebooks. For older, still-capable hardware, ChromeOS Flex offers a new lease on life and can make slow laptops fast again and able to be fully managed just like any other ChromeOS piece of hardware.
You can install ChromeOS Flex from a USB drive, test it out, and if you find it works for what you need it for, you can then overwrite your existing operating system. ChromeOS Flex closely mirrors the features of ChromeOS on Chromebooks, though there are a few limitations. Linux support is hit-or-miss and there’s currently no access to Android apps, either. Other than that, though, everything you’ve come to expect on a Chromebook is here with ChromeOS Flex, and that even includes the new Lacros browser.
LaCrOS: the new browser on the block
Recently, Google made a game-changing move by beginning the decoupling of Chrome the browser from ChromeOS in version 116, introducing the Lacros browser in a more official way than we’ve seen before. This move – once fully rolled out – offers numerous benefits, including enhanced security through weekly Chrome updates that we see on other platforms like Windows and MacOS. LaCrOS also allows users to switch profiles, manage bookmarks, and it offers the same smooth browsing experience you expect from Chrome regardless of the underlying OS.
Chrome OS Flex Meets LaCrOS
So, we wanted to see if Lacros was available in the same way on ChromeOS Flex. After all, if they are truly the same (aside from the couple differences listed earlier), this should work. And a bit to my surprise, after enabling the same flags needed on a Chromebook, we had Lacros fully functional on ChromeOS Flex.
This seamless setup only serves to highlight the truly parallel development paths of ChromeOS Flex and standard ChromeOS. It proves at a deep level that features – even especially complex ones like LaCrOS – are likely to land on ChromeOS Flex right alongside those arriving on standard Chromebooks. The integration of Lacros with ChromeOS Flex is not just a small update; it’s a statement that Google is committed to making ChromeOS accessible and functional across a variety of devices.
And just like we expect with Chromebooks, the roll-out of this new browser will take months to fully arrive, and when it does, the transition should be seamless and out of the way. For now, however, its just really sweet to see it up and running in ChromeOS Flex exactly the way we imagined it would.