Installing SteamOS And Windows On A Google Meet Video Conference Computer

The Lenovo Meet is a collaboration with Google to bring Google Meet to customers in a ready to install kit for conference rooms and similar. Also called the Google Meet Series One, it features a number of cameras, speakers, display and more, along with the base unit. It is this base unit that [Bringus Studios] on YouTube tried to install a different OS capable of running Steam games on in a recent video. Along the way many things were learned about this device, which is – unsurprisingly – just another ChromeOS box.

After removing the rubber bottom (which should have been softened with a hot air gun to prevent damage), the case can be opened with some gentle prying to reveal the laptop-like innards. Inside are an 8th gen Intel CPU (i7-8550U @ 1.8 GHz), a 128 GB SATA M.2, 2 GB DDR4 RAM, along with 2 more GB of DDR4 a MicroSD slot and a Google Coral DA1 TPU on the bottom of the mainboard. It should be easy to install Linux, Windows, etc. on this other than for the ChromeOS part, which locks down the non-UEFI BIOS firmware.

Flashing a ChromeOS-afflicted device back to something resembling a standard x86 PC can be done with a range of open source tools, but these do require a few prerequisites, including a non-write protected SPI BIOS ROM and a ‘SuzyQ’ cable to gain debug access. The latter can be created yourself using a USB-C adapter and some resistors, but to gain write access to the SPI ROM, the WP pin had to be patched with a piece of wire to enable write access. This allowed the UEFI BIOS to be flashed at long last.

Another issue was the oddball power connector on the device, which accepts both 19V and 54V, but only needs one. This turned out to be a Kycon KPJX-CM-4S connector, which when combined with any random 19V laptop power supply is a lot cheaper than the genuine Lenovo part. With this resolved, the SATA M.2 SSD was upgraded to a 1TB NVMe SSD and the dual-channel 4 GB to single-channel 16 GB, before installing a new OS, starting with Bazzite.

Bazzite is a beryllium scandium cyclosilicate mineral, but also an image built on top of Fedora with a focus on Linux gaming. This installed without issues, but gaming performance with the anemic iGPU and single-channel memory was obviously terrible, and only CS2 and TF2 somewhat ran. In Windows 11, Steam worked much better, with even the newer Doom games running, albeit at 480p. Not a great gaming system, but after you hack away the ChromeOS nastiness, it could be an interesting system with less graphics-intensive tasks, and the built-in TPU could be useful for machine vision tasks.

Thanks to [Stephen Walters] for the tip.

19 thoughts on “Installing SteamOS And Windows On A Google Meet Video Conference Computer

  1. Hardware is becoming less and less of a blocker to running software. Sure RISC has benefits over CISC and GPU’s with RTX cores and lots of RAM can run large language models, but relatively cheap hardware is becoming within reach. It is only a matter of time before hardware is throwaway and capable!

    1. Really depends on how computing demands grow over that time for the good and bad reasons. Go back to the early days of the web and functionality wise basically everything we do commonly do today exists. But its not super high resolution images and streaming 4K its probably 480p at best, however websites are nowhere near as bloated and actually don’t need anything more than a potato to load… (Not to mention how much more bloated Windoze has gotten in its own right for very little in user experience improvement).

      In the same way the processor of your 1980’s type PC is in performance terms dwarfed by a Pi Pico something that is next to useless as a computer now. The Pico might be cheap and ‘throwaway’ if you are that way inclined, I’d even agree its capable, it is just not playing the same game as a ‘real’ computer of today at all.

      1. Does depend on demands we put on our machines. But I think we are getting closer to throw-away hardware prices. Take the RPI-5 8GB SBC. For $100 or so, the SBC can do most desktop activities rather well and you can attach as much storage as you want, plus two 4K monitors. For a general purpose PC, I think it would work today (but not for the gaming crowd of course). I’ve been impressed with mine. Would I give up my Ryzen 5900X workstation for it? No. That would be like trading in a Vette for a Volkswagen bug.

        As for the Pico. It ‘IS’ a ‘real’ computer. A very potent device for the market it was intended for…. Even at $7 for top of line WH+Wifi it is really a through-away device… which means to me, I can experiment with it, and if I fry it for some dumb reason, I can easily replace it and not feel bad about it. Also you have a multi-core 32bit machine at 133Mhz plus 264K of RAM and 2MB of flash, PIO, and GPIO to work with! In comparison, back in the 80s we had 8/16 bit single core computers running 4 or 8 Mhz and 64K, well maybe 256K if you splurged (wasn’t cheap) and maybe 160K disks for storage. Today we have more CPU cycles than we know what to do with in the ‘projects’ arena :) .

        1. Indeed, though personally I’d suggest you can go back to the Pi4 and get ‘most desktop activities…’ in part because I’ve used a well cooled overclocked Pi4 for my desktop a great deal, even done much of the FreeCad projects on it – no need to fire up the electric hog when the Pi is adequate.

          But really we are getting in a more semantic argument than that in part, as what does the word ‘computer’ really mean now? And I’d suggest a Pico isn’t going to be described as a real ‘computer’ – it might make a computer native of the 80’s look like a slug, and I agree its fantastic for what it is. However it isn’t capable of running the software expected of a ‘computer’ today… Language evolution is strange, but what would have been a supercomputer in the 80’s isn’t going to even be called a computer now by most folks.

  2. And what is wrong with ChromeOS? Despite the fact that the Linux distribution it uses is accident prone there’s nothing wrong with it. There are scads of cheaper simple solutions for what that now does.

    1. The problem with ChromeOS is mostly that it comes on systems that have a non-UEFI BIOS and thus require a lot of jumping through hoops to get a proper BIOS image flashed. If you could just wipe ChomeBooks and kin like on any other computer people would probably be far less upset with it, and far fewer ChromeBooks would end up being tossed as e-waste after support gets dropped.

      1. “The problem with ChromeOS is mostly that it comes on systems that have a non-UEFI BIOS and thus require a lot of jumping through hoops to get a proper BIOS image flashed. ”

        Well that’s one way to ensure bios security.

        1. Actually the majority of ChromeOS devices despite being created using an accident prone distribution, have an advantage it is also using a more advanced bootloader for itself. That is coreboot, a descendant of LinuxBios. EFI is still old news when it comes to bringing up anything. In fact outside of the possible presence of the dangerous management engine tools, everything on the thing is open source. Windows certainly is not. And the EFI code isn’t either.

    1. That is actually something I didn’t even consider when I first saw the video.
      What got my attention is the audio and camera peripherals are all ethernet and POE powered, and it seemed like an interesting idea for home assistant interfaces when these hopefully start appearing en masse on ebay.

      ie; instead of a bunch of cursed alexa or siri boxes around the house, you could have a bunch of the smart speaker pods connected through your own network to something like Mycroft for home automation.

      That seems way more interesting to me at the moment.

  3. While a nice experiment in repurposing a chromeOS device, the SteamOS route seems rather pointless as you can get like two steamdecks for the price of one used Lenovo Meet Series One…

      1. That is a rather silly response – a steamdeck is just a computer that has really good hardware compared to this Lenovo Meet for that task – being actually built to run SteamOS and play games. So being able to buy two more powerful computers, with good integrated graphics, upon which you can install anything you like, all wrapped up in a handheld gaming console form factor for the same price as something that has none of those…

        There are reasons you may find a meet worth the effort – its covered in IO, PoE in there somewhere though its not very clear if it can go both ways – but that would perhaps explain the 4 pin dual voltage supply, the high voltage is to provide PoE on its network ports. But running SteamOS really isn’t it – something about as far removed from optimised for gaming as you can get and an OS that very much gaming focused…

    1. His channel is a lot of ‘getting steamOS to run on X’, it’s not so much for the practicality but the memes. If you can get steamOS running you can get any other flavor of Linux going which would be more practical in this case.

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