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.
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
- Network—Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or both, if present
- Touchpad, if present
- Sleep and resume
- System UI and graphics
- Webcam, if present
These actions are not guaranteed to work:
- Automatic screen rotation
- Keyboard shortcuts and function keys, such as brightness and volume
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
To remotely manage your Chromeboxes and other Chrome devices, you need to subscribe to a Chrome Enterprise Upgrade. There are 3 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 single app kiosk mode, manage networks, policies, and remotely troubleshoot devices. This gives you confidence that your devices are secure and not being hijacked with unwanted content. Your Arreya digital signage channel will be the only app shown on your device.
If you have any questions about Chrome Enterprise Upgrade, need to purchase upgrades, or purchase Chrome devices check out the Arreya store.
Chrome Enterprise Upgrade can be purchased either standalone or bundled with ChromeOS devices.
ChromeOS devices with bundled upgrades / Chrome Enterprise Devices
- Best recommendation
- Bundled with Chrome Device, no extra license to purchase
- Perpetual, one-time cost
ChromeOS devices with bundled upgrades are the easiest way to get started as the license is tied to the device and doesn’t require any extra steps to provision licenses to your Chrome devices. Bundled upgrades allow complete control and management of Chrome devices via the Google Admin console. Bundled upgrades are perpetual, and last the life of the device. Look for Chrome devices labeled “Enterprise” or “Bundled” to make sure you get a device with a bundled license.
Standalone Kiosk & Signage Upgrade
- Renews annually
- Specifically for kiosk and digital signage use
The Kiosk & Signage Upgrade gives you most of the same functionality as the bundled upgrade, but doesn’t allow you to manage policies for users, and can only be used in single app kiosk mode. This upgrade is also billed annually, but is offered at a lower cost compared to other upgrades. These licenses are great if you want to use a device that doesn’t come with a bundled upgrade, ChromeOS Flex devices, or if you prefer annual billing.
Chrome Enterprise Non-Profit Upgrade (Perpetual)
- Non-profit organizations only
- Discounted price
Chrome Enterprise Non-Profit Upgrade allows access to the same features as bundled perpetual upgrades at a lower cost for non-profit 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.
Chrome Enterprise Education Upgrade (Perpetual)
- Education organizations only
- Discounted price
Chrome Enterprise Education Upgrade allows access to the same features as bundled perpetual upgrades at a lower cost for education 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.
Chrome Enterprise Upgrade Annual
- Renews annually
- Allows managed guest sessions and user policies
The Chrome Enterprise Upgrade Annual license gives you the same functionality as the bundled upgrade including managed guest sessions and user policy management. This upgrade is billed annually, and is offered at a lower cost compared to other upgrades. These licenses are great if you want to use a device that doesn’t come with a bundled upgrade, if you need to use managed guest sessions, manage users, or if you prefer annual billing.
For more information on each service type of Chrome Management License, refer to the description in the Arreya online store.
||Upgrade term available
|ChromeOS device bundled with Chrome Enterprise Upgrade
Bundled with Chrome Device, no extra license to purchase
Perpetual, one-time cost
For a full list of supported devices, see ChromeOS devices.
|Standalone Kiosk & Signage Upgrade
Specifically for kiosk and digital signage use
No managed guest sesssion No user policy management
|Standalone Chrome Nonprofit Upgrade
||Non-profit organizations only
|Standalone Chrome Enterprise Upgrade
Allows managed guest sessions and user policies
|Standalone Chrome Education Upgrade
||Education organizations only
Services governed by the Chrome Services License Agreement
Chrome Enterprise Upgrade 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 & Signage Upgrade 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 (managed guest sessions). This service is only available to business customers.
So which one is right for you?
For most Arreya digital signage subscribers, we recommend the Bundled Chrome Enterprise Upgrades. The upgrade is tied to the device, and is a one time cost for the life of the device. There is no annual cost for updates or renewals. For projects that have a set cut off time, Standalone Kiosk & Signage Upgrades may be the cost friendly. Contact us to discuss 319-294-6671, email@example.com or For more information go to Service and subscriptions.
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 –
- Click the clock in the lower right hand corner
- Click “Accessibility”
- Click “On-screen keyboard”