Turning a crappy old Windows PC into a full-fledged Chromebook with CloudReady

Enlarge / Dell’s old Latitude E6410 becomes a modern Chromebook. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Back in my IT days, one of the things I liked doing the most was repurposing old equipment. It was pretty easy to image, customize, and deliver new computers to people once every three or four years, but it was more fun to fix up the three- or four-year-old PCs you’d get back and then use them to replace stuff around campus that was even older. There was always plenty to do.

Which is why I was intrigued when a pitch for Neverware’s CloudReady showed up in my inbox. CloudReady is a fork, of sorts, of Chromium OS, the open source code that Chrome OS is based on, and it promises to turn old PC hardware into nearly fully functional Chromebooks, complete with the features of Chrome OS’ management console. It’s not the first distribution of Chromium OS aimed at regular old PC hardware, but it certainly appears to be the best supported, and it’s actually being tested against hardware that real schools and businesses buy.

Cloudready is primarily aimed at those schools and businesses, but, as of earlier this month, individuals can take it for a spin for free. We installed it on an old Dell Latitude E6410 to see what it was like and to talk about what a real Chromebook gives you that CloudReady doesn’t.

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