Chrome OS and Chromebooks are here. But if you have a netbook already, you can try Chromium OS on it and get almost the same experience. There will be very few things missing on Chromium OS, say, the default PDF plugin, MP3 support and Print Preview. But, in general, you still have a working OS, with cloud power.
note: methods explained here will wipe your computer’s hard drive. Proceed only if you are ok with it.
If you are planning planning to buy a new netbook for this purpose. I recommend you check out the hardware compatibility list at Chromium page here.
You have two options, either boot the OS from USB / Pen Drive and try it out and if you are interested, install it to hard drive for permanent use.
Finding the Build That Suits You
Google does not provide an official build of Chromium OS to use. You have to build one on your own ( instructions here. )or use one of the available. Thanks to developers like Hexxeh, we have multiple options.
1. Chromium OS Flow : This is a modified build and rarely updated version of Chromium OS from Hexxeh. He has modified the code so that it will work with most of the laptops and netbooks we have around us now. However, the last update to flow was done a while back and newest Chrome OS features may not be available here.
2. Chromium OS Vanilla : This is another build from Hexxeh. This is fresh and unmodified version of Chromium OS built every day. You have an update everyday ( if you can download and boot it manually everyday ) and you get to see the most recent features of Chrome OS here. Things may not be working smooth always since this is a bleeding edge version. Hardware support may be less ( some netbooks will not have wifi working ).
3. Chromium OS Build for Dell Mini : This build is provided by Linux Team at Dell. Chromium OS by default does not support wifi devices in Dell Mini. This is a modified build to support Wifi fiction as well. The latest version is from May 13th, 2011. Steps to download and install this build is available here. For the other two builds we discussed above, read on.
Booting Chromium OS From USB Drive
If you followed instructions from the above section successfully, you should now have a working build of Chromium OS in a USB Drive in your hands. Booting from this Drive is dead simple. Keep the drive plugged in and switch on your netbook. Most of them should detect the OS and boot from USB. If not, go to boot menu and change preference to USB drive.
Installing Chromium OS To The Hard Drive Of Netbook
Next step, if you are interested, and its ok to wipe the hard drive, is to install Chromium OS to the netbook permanently, for better performance and faster boot.
- Boot from Pen drive and Log on to Chrome OS.
- Press Ctrl+Alt+T.
- If your build is Flow : Type /usr/sbin/chromeos-install and press Enter. ( other builds, the command is just “install” without quotes.
- Enter the Root password ( facepunch if you are using flow or vanilla and for the dell build, dell1234)
- Follow prompts. ( couple of them, dont worry !)
- Unplug the USB Pen drive and reboot the Computer.
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