File this one under ‘potentially interesting for the future, but largely useless for now’. A PC port of Android TV has surfaced via the Linus Tech Tips forum (opens in new tab), providing a lightweight media-centric OS that could breathe life into old hardware you have laying around.
As the post points out, with devastating understatement, it’s a little early in development right now. So early, in fact, that things like Netflix HD and Chromecasting are either not working or buggy, while other apps are described as ‘working really well’.
Based on the existing Android X86 project (opens in new tab), it should have things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sound drivers all pretty much nailed, which just leaves getting it onto your machine in the first place. Other posters on the forum confirmed it works with an Xbox controller, and the specs (1.2GHz dual-core CPU, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage and 64MB of video memory) point to a PC carcass well over ten years old.
An ISO file is linked to from the project’s Google Sites (opens in new tab) page, which you can turn into a bootable USB drive using something like Rufus (opens in new tab). Not having a spare PC around (at least, not one we want to reformat to EXT4), we tried creating a virtual machine out of it, but got no further than the setup menu. We managed to install the Android X86 port as one, however, so the project (and our tech skills) may not be a complete dud.
If you’re wondering what to do with an old PC, take a look at CloudReady, which turns it into a kind of Chromebook. Then there are light versions of various Linux flavours, such as Lubuntu. Beef up an elderly PC with plenty of storage, and you can turn it into a NAS server with FreeNAS. Just don’t expect to play too many games on any of them.