How To Install Chrome OS on a Netbook

Google’s Chrome OS-powered netbooks are finally available in the market but there aren’t many takers because they are too overpriced and are quite limited in their use. One can easily buy a Windows-powered netbook at a cheaper price or a laptop for around the same price. There are some who would like to try Chrome OS out but are put off by the price. Fortunately, there is a solution available where one can easily use Chromium OS on a netbook without paying the price. Chromium OS is the slightly less polished version of the Chrome OS which is easily available over the net. If you are looking for Chrome OS you won’t be as lucky as it’s only sold on the Chromebook.

Stuff you need

  • One netbook with compatible settings (the system has not been perfected yet as Chromium OS won’t run properly on all machines). Please check this list out to see if your netbook is supported.
  • One USB Stick with a minimum of 4 GB to run the installation. (USB Stick required  because you can’t burn Chromium OS to a CD). In case if your netbook doesn’t support booting from CD you can opt for Plop Boot Manager Live CD and then boot to the USB stick from there.
  • Hexxeh’s Vanilla Chromium OS Build  (Download it via torrent or their home page)
  • Linux Live CD (this is only required if you want to dual boot your system with Chromium OS.) the Linux CD will be used so you can dual boot your Chromium OS. It will not be installed on your system though.

Downloading Chromium

Please do remember that the Hexxeh Chromium build you download is unofficial.  There are two builds of Hexxeh’s Chromium: Flow and Vanilla. I would recommend Vanilla as it’s more stable and does not have any major stability issues. Download Chromium from the Hexxeh Chromium page and follow the instructions.

Step One: Prep your USB Drive

In order to get Chromium OS to work, we need to test it first. Make sure your USB drive is formatted as FAT32 and that there is no data left on it. Formatting is a  piece of cake as it involves right-clicking the drive and click on Format. Copy the Chromium OS build to your desktop and then write the image to your USB drive. Windows users can opt for Windows Image Writer while Linux users can use their terminal to type the command “ sudo apt-get install usb-imagewriter”. This will bring up the USB-ImageWriter program where you can select the image file and write it to the USB drive. Once you have done that you have a ready bootable USB drive.

Step Two: Testing Chromium on Flash Drive

Insert your USB drive in the netbook and start it so that you can test Chromium on your Flash Drive. If your BIOS settings don’t allow for the system to boot via Flash Drive then it’s time you make the changes. Go to your BIOS settings on startup by pressing the Delete key (or whatever lets you access your BIOS) and find the setting for Boot Priority. Make sure that the “USB drive” option is the number one choice. Then go and reboot the machine so that you will be able to boot into Chromium OS. Once you boot from the USB you will be able to see the Chromium OS startup screen.

Then you have to log on to a wireless network so you can enter your Google username and password. Please do consult the guide to make sure your Wireless card is supported by the build.  If for any reason it doesn’t work then you can always try another build. Once your credentials are accepted you will boot directly into Chrome and you can see all your Chrome settings, bookmarks, and extensions. Please keep in mind that the OS has not been installed on your system and it’s merely on your Flash Drive.

Step Three: Install Chromium OS

This is the stage where you choose to install Chromium OS on your netbook. You can choose to install it as the solo Operating system or to keep it as the second operating system on your netbook. Please do remember that a dual boot system will take a long time but is a good backup in case if you decide you don’t want to go for Chromium OS.

Instructions for Fresh Installation

  1. Boot Chromium OS from your Flash Drive.
  2. Then enter “Ctrl+Alt+T” which will bring up the command line. Then type “install” and then press Enter.
  3. If you are asked for a password enter “facepunch” without the quotation marks.
  4. The installation process will take place after which you can remove your USB drive and boot directly into Chromium.

If you want to do a dual boot then you need to follow these instructions. Don’t go for a dual boot unless you really need it.

Dual Boot

  1. Back up all your data, use the Linux Live CD and boot into it. if you already have Linux on your drive boot into that.
  2. Insert you Flash Drive with the Chromium OS into your drive.
  3. Partition your hard drive and make two partitions. One  ”C-ROOT” partition, which holds the root OS, and a “C-STATE” partition, which will hold your settings and other data. Run the  Gparted program which is available in the System > Administration on your Linux Live CD. You will notice your USB drive on the source menu in the upper left corner there. Select it and note the size of the C-ROOT and C-STATE partitions on your thumb drive. You’ll also want to note the partition reference for each, which will be something like /dev/sdb2.
  4. Select the netbook’s HD from the drop-down menu and click on your main partition which should have plenty of space.
  5. Go to Partion> Resize/Move, then shrink it so you can get at least 3 GB of empty space, and hit the Resize/Move button. Then, click on your new “unallocated” free space and go to Partition > New.
  6. Make sure that you mirror your partitions on your flash drive. Make sure that your partition on your netbook HD is the same size as the C-ROOT partition on your USB drive.  If the Partition is 900 Mb then make sure the partition is also 900 MB on your hard drive.
  7. Choose Ext2 under your file system, click on unallocated space and create a  new partition. The new partition should have Ext3 as its file system. Hit the apply button and voila you have a new partition.

Once you are done you should note down the partition references which should be like /dev/sda3.

Copy the Chromium Files

This step involves transferring partitions from the flash drive to the HD. Open the terminal and type

sudo dd if=/dev/C-STATE_USB_PARTITION of=/dev/MACHINE_SMALL_PARTITION bs=4096

sudo dd if=/dev/C-ROOT_USB_PARTITION of=/dev/MACHINE_LARGE_PARTITION bs=4096

Actual Examples: (be sure to replace sdb1,sda5, etc. with the actual partitions for your machine!)

sudo dd if=/dev/sdb1 of=/dev/sda5 bs=4096

sudo dd if=/dev/sdb2 of=/dev/sda6 bs=4096

Update or Install the GRUB Bootloader

This is the part where you boot in Chromium OS. If you are using Windows then use the following commands,

sudo grub
> root (hd0,0)
> setup (hd0)
> exit

Then run

sudo update-grub2

This will then give you the option of booting either into Windows or Chromium.

If you have Linux installed on your system you can run the Terminal window and run “grub-install-v” to see which version of GRUB you have. If your GRUB version is a legacy one (prior to v1.99) then you need to boot into Linu and run:

sudo update-grub

If you are running GRUB2 (1.99 or later), you will have to add  Chrome OS’ entry manually. Type “gksudo gedit /etc/grub.d/40_custom”  to edit your GRUB configuration file.

If you have an Intel graphic card add this line to the end of the line:

 

menuentry “ChromiumOS” {

insmod ext2

set root=(hd0,x)

linux /boot/vmlinuz root=LABEL=C-ROOT rw noresume noswap i915.modeset=1 loglevel=1 quiet

initrd /boot/initrd.img

}

Use these lines if you have a Nvidia Card

menuentry “Chrome OS NVIDIA” {

root=(hd0,x)

linux /boot/vmlinuz console=tty2 init=/sbin/init boot=local rootwait root=LABEL=C-ROOT rw noresume noswap i915.modeset=1 loglevel=1 apci=force single

initrd /boot/initrd.img

}

When you reboot, you should get the option to boot into Chrome OS. Voila you have a Chromebook on your hands and you will be able to save a pretty penny