Installing Chrome OS on USB Drive December 16th, 2009
Recently, Google announced the release of the Chrome OS source code, after all of the build up it turned out to be quite a low key affair but within a few hours, the internet was full of images running within virtual machines such as VMware or VirtualBox. Soon after, images began appearing which could be transferred onto a USB stick and run directly without the need to install or change any of the partitions on your machine which is great news as it allows you to try the new OS without having to undertake a major upgrade.
Caveat: before you decide to download Chrome OS, there are a few things that you should consider. Remember that it is still very much in the early stages of development, so it may not work as well as you are expecting. In fact, depending on your hardware it may not work at all. You should also fully understand that by design, the new OS is very simplistic as it is intended for use on the new generation of netbook computers. By definition, a netbook is designed to perform simple tasks. When Chrome OS is launched, all you get on the face of it is a web browser. Don’t be too surprised after trying Chrome is you wonder why you bothered in the first place, personally, I won’t be using it again on my machine but that said, I am glad I gave it a try. Also, don’t forget the obvious, if trying it on your production machine backup any important data first!
OK, so you’ll need a USB drive that you can use to be able to try it out and a BIOS which allows you to choose a temporary boot device so that you can boot from the USB drive once you have the image written to it. I’d recommend using a USB stick with 4GB of storage capacity. Remember also to check if you have any files already on it before going any further, you’ll need to back these up in a safe place if so as the USB stick will be repartitioned during the following process.
You will also need a little bit of luck. Chrome OS may or may not work on your computer hardware. I did successfully run it on my Lenovo T61p but it did not successfully recognise the wireless network adapter. Finally, you’ll need to download the necessary files to put Chrome OS onto your USB stick.
- Download the Chrome OS for USB Torrent [here]
You’ll need a good BitTorrent client like uTorrent to download it.
The torrent has a zip file that includes the disk image, as well as a Windows tool for putting the image onto the USB drive. The program you’ll use to create the Chrome OS USB boot disk is called Image Writer for Windows. It’s a great little tool for writing disk images, it’s free, and it’s open source. You won’t need to download it separately as it is included in the download.
Installing Chrome OS onto your USB Stick
Unzip chrome_os_usb.zip and launch Win32DiskImager.exe to copy the image onto your USB stick. You may get the following warning when you launch Image Writer if so then simply cancel the error and continue. The problem is that it will be looking for a floppy disk that’s not there (a:/) so once you have cancelled the error, hit the refresh icon and you should now see the option of your USB stick. Once you have got Image Writer running, click the folder icon and select the chrome_os.img file (which should be located in the same location as you launched Image Writer from). Next, click on the device dropdown box and choose the drive letter which corresponds to your USB stick (check in My Computer if you are unsure). Then, click Write and the program will create a bootable Chrome OS on your USB stick.
Boot up Chrome OS
You’re now ready to boot into Chrome OS! Leave the USB stick in your machine and reboot, when the machine reboots press the appropriate boot menu key to interrupt normal boot and choose the USB stick as the bootable drive (on my T61p this was F12). In around 10 seconds you should see the Chrome OS login screen. Yes, it’s much faster than Windows! Login with chronos and password. This will log you into your new system as a local user. Once you have logged in, you should see what appears to be just a Google Chrome browser. If you click on the Chrome sphere in the upper left corner, you will see a Google Accounts login page where you will be able to login with your Google Account details and off you go! If you do not see this page and you get a browser page that says it could not find the page requested, then luck isn’t on your side and it means Chrome OS doesn’t like your network adapters. If this is the case you could of course always retry from within Windows in a Virtual Machine. If you were able to successfully log in, you should now see the application page.
As you can see, all of the applications are in the cloud. All of the applications that you can see on the application page bring up different webpages and everything you do takes place within the browser. As I said at the start of the post, a lot of the stuff isn’t working yet, this is all still under development. You’ll also see right at the top of the application page a message that says UI under development. Designs are subject to change. This means what it means so please don’t ask me why certain things are not working!
Let me know if you manage to get Chrome working properly and your thoughts. Enjoy!
Tags: bios, chrome, google
This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 at 7:38 pm and is filed under Blah, Chrome OS/Chromium, Google, Lenovo, Technology Related, ThinkPad. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.