ChromeOS Flex for Digital Signage

What is ChromeOS Flex?

ChromeOS Flex is an exciting new operating system for Macs, Linux devices, and PCs. ChromeOS Flex was designed to make older devices faster and more secure.

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Why is ChromeOS Flex important for digital signage customers?

Many customers have older devices, or even newer devices that aren’t compatible with certain digital signage softwares. ChromeOS Flex allows these customers to enroll devices in the Google admin console, and lock them down in kiosk mode. Kiosk mode makes digital signs tamper proof and secure. Flex also allows users to control updates, and enables digital signage software to work with the operating system seamlessly.

What devices are ChromeOS Flex compatible?

Google is constantly adding to the list of ChromeOS Flex certified devices. One example is the AOPEN Ace Mini, which we recently reviewed. View the full list of ChromeOS Flex certified devices HERE. This list will indicate whether a device is certified, if minor issues are expected, or if major issues are expected.

Flex works on most Windows, Mac, and Linux devices made over the last 10 years. For every certified model the following actions are guaranteed to work:

  • Audio input, at least one method
  • Audio output, at least one method
  • Internal display, if present
  • Video output
  • Installation
  • Network—Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or both, if present
  • Touchpad, if present
  • Keyboard
  • Sleep and resume
  • System UI and graphics
  • USB
  • Webcam, if present

These actions are not guaranteed to work:

  • Automatic screen rotation
  • Bluetooth
  • Keyboard shortcuts and function keys, such as brightness and volume
  • Touchscreens
  • SD card slots

What about devices that aren’t on the certified models list?

Flex might work with no issues on devices that aren’t already listed as certified models, but Google can’t guarantee that it will work properly between updates.

How do you install Flex?

Installing ChromeOS Flex is simple. First, you’ll need a USB drive to create a bootable version of Flex to try before installing. Next, install Flex to replace your current operating system. Finally, add Flex to other devices with a USB drive or through network deployment.

How is ChromeOS Flex different than ChromeOS?

  • Security
    • Verified boot and Google Security Chip: ChromeOS devices have a Google security chip built in. This security chip enables devices to use verified boot, a procedure which prevents devices from booting up if they are infected. Since Flex devices don’t have a Google Security Chip built in, verified boot is not available.
    • Firmware Updates: Flex devices do not automatically update BIOS or UEFI firmware as ChromesOS devices do.
  • Virtual Machines and Apps
    • Google Play and Android apps: Not supported on Flex.
    • Virtual Machines: Flex does not support running Windows virtual machines.
  • Performance
    • Some performance factors vary by model such as: Boot Speed, Battery Life, and Power Savings
  • Device Management
    • Zero-touch Enrollment: Not supported on Flex.
    • Forced re-enrollment: Not supported on Flex.
    • Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol: Supported on Flex.

View the FULL LIST of differences.

Best Practices for Deployment

  • Enable Secure Boot
  • Clear and Enable TPM
  • Restrict bootable media and BIOS or UEFI access
  • Only use official Flex Images

View the FULL LIST of Best Practices.

 

Choosing the Chrome Management License for Your Project

Choosing the Chrome Management License for Your Project

To remotely manage your Chromeboxes and other Google hardware that runs ChromeOS, you need to subscribe to a Chrome Management License. There are 4 types of services as listed by Google,  and you choose the one that best suits your project. When you subscribe, you specify the number of subscription licenses that you need, based on how many Chrome devices you want to enroll. How you pay for licenses (subscription type) depends on what service you subscribe to.  All the licenses allow you to lock the device into a 1 app kiosk mode. This gives you confidence that your devices are secure and not being hijacked to unwanted URL’s.  Your Arreya digital signage channel will be the 1 app shown on your device.

The four different service types of Chrome Management Licenses for Chrome OS Devices:

Chrome Enterprise Perpetual

The Chrome Enterprise license allows you to configure policies and settings for Chrome devices, manage users, manage apps, configure networks, and more. Chrome Enterprise includes 24/7 Enterprise support from Google. The perpetual license is valid for the life of the device but can be transferred to a like device in the event of a device issue. This license is a great choice for digital signage as it allows you to “set it and forget it” and not worry about renewing the licenses yearly.

Chrome Enterprise Annual

The Chrome Enterprise annual license gives you all of the same features as the perpetual license, but is billed annually instead. Licenses purchased mid-term are able to be prorated to align renewals to the same date. The license allows you to configure policies and settings for Chrome devices, manage users, manage apps, configure networks, and more.

Chrome Education and Nonprofit Perpetual

The Chrome Education and Nonprofit licenses allows access to the same features as the Chrome Enterprise perpetual license at a lower cost for Education and Nonprofit organizations. The license allows you to configure policies and settings for Chrome devices, manage users, manage apps, configure networks, and more. The perpetual license is valid for the life of the device but can be transferred to a like device in the event of a device issue.

For more information on each service type of Chrome Management License, refer to the description in the Arreya online store.

Annual vs. Perpetual

Perpetual Management Licenses are available for Chrome Education, Chrome Enterprise, and Chrome Nonprofit.
  • Covers the life of the device it’s enrolled to.
  • If you encounter a hardware issue and need to replace a device, you can transfer the subscription to another device of the same model (or equivalent manufacturer-provided replacement).
  • You can’t transfer a subscription from one device model to another in the same domain.
  • You can’t transfer a subscription to a device in another domain.
  • Transfers are audited.
  • We recommend reviewing the Auto Update policies for each device before you purchase a perpetual subscription.
Annual Management Licenses are only available for Chrome Enterprise.
  • Bought per subscription term and can be renewed when the term ends.
    • I got subscription licenses for Chrome Enterprise using the Admin console—Add your billing information to your subscription in the Admin console to automatically renew licenses at the end of each term. If you opt out of automatic renewal or don’t add your billing information, you’ll have to manually renew licenses when the term ends.
    • I have subscription licenses with an authorized partner—When the term ends, you need to manually renew licenses by purchasing an additional subscription term from your authorized partner.
  • Currently, there is no flexible plan available.
  • You can unenroll a device and transfer the subscription to another device (of any model) in the same domain.
  • You can’t transfer a subscription to a device in another domain.
  • If you purchase additional annual subscriptions mid-term, the cost is prorated and the new subscription expires at the same time as your original subscription.


Features by Chrome Management License

Chrome Enterprise License Service

 

Services governed by the Chrome Services License Agreement

Chrome Enterprise, Chrome Education and Chrome Nonprofit services allow you to configure settings and enforce policies for specific Chrome devices. You can control user access, customize features, configure network access, and more. Choose the service that’s right for your organization type.

Chrome Kiosk service gives you access to the settings you need to configure, deploy, and monitor a Chrome device as a single-app kiosk. It’s perfect for a device that’s used exclusively as a kiosk, such as a digital sign or point-of-sale system in a store. However, it can’t be used for public-session kiosks. This service is only available to business customers.

So which one is right for you?

For most Arreya digital signage subscribers, we recommend the Perpetual Chrome Enterprise Management License. A one time cost for the life of the device, there is no annual cost for updates or renewals. Google offers this license to non-profit 503c entities and certified educational entities at a large discount . This makes purchasing a large quantity of licenses very affordable. For projects that have a set cut off time, the Kiosk annual license may be the cost friendly alternative to the perpetual license. Contact us to discuss 319-294-6671, info@arreya.com or For more information go to Service and subscriptions.

Enable On-Screen (virtual) Keyboard on a Chrome Device

To enable the virtual keyboard on ChromeOS:

Sometimes you just want a keyboard on your tablet or handheld device. Now you don’t have to buy a new external keyboard, because Chrome offers the virtual keyboard function.

On the login screen –

  1. Click the clock in the lower right hand corner
  2. Click “Accessibility”
  3. Click “On-screen keyboard”