Google’s Chrome OS is an alternative to operating systems like Windows and macOS. It’s a great platform that’s aimed at a specific audience and has its pros and cons, just like its rivals. If you’re thinking of buying a Chromebook, the first thing you should do is learn exactly what is Chrome OS, how it compares with more traditional operating systems, and who exactly should and shouldn’t use it. You’ll find answers to all these questions and more in this post.
Chrome OS is an operating system developed and owned by Google. It’s based on Linux and is open-source, which also means it’s free to use.
A big advantage of Chrome OS is that it’s super simple to use. Although it has a desktop environment similar to the one you get on a Windows machine, Chrome OS is basically a web browser at its core. You can watch videos, scroll through Facebook and other social networks, and do everything else you can do in a browser on rival operating systems like Windows and macOS.
Google announced Chrome OS on July 7, 2009, describing it as an operating system in which both applications and user data reside in the cloud. To ascertain marketing requirements, the company relied on informal metrics, including monitoring the usage patterns of some 200 Chrome OS machines used by Google employees. Developers also noted their own usage patterns. Matthew Papakipos, former engineering director for the Chrome OS project, put three machines in his house and found himself logging in for brief sessions: to make a single search query or send a short email.
The initial builds of Chrome OS were based on Ubuntu, and its developer, Canonical, was an engineer partner with Google on the project. In 2010, Chrome OS moved to Gentoo Linux as its base to simplify its build process and support a variety number of platforms. Sometime in 2013, Google switched Chrome OS to its own flavour of Linux.
Chrome OS was initially intended for secondary devices like netbooks, not as a user's primary PC. While Chrome OS supports hard disk drives, Google has requested that its hardware partners use solid-state drives "for performance and reliability reasons" as well as the lower capacity requirements inherent in an operating system that accesses applications and most user data on remote servers. In November 2009 Matthew Papakipos, engineering director for the Chrome OS, claimed that the Chrome OS consumes one-sixtieth as much drive space as Windows 7. The recovery images Google provides for Chrome OS range between 1 and 3 GB.
On November 19, 2009, Google released Chrome OS's source code as the Chromium OS project. At a November 19, 2009, news conference, Sundar Pichai, at the time Google's vice president overseeing Chrome, demonstrated an early version of the operating system. He previewed a desktop which looked very similar to the Chrome browser, and in addition to the regular browser tabs, also had application tabs, which take less space and can be pinned for easier access. At the conference, the operating system booted up in seven seconds, a time Google said it would work to reduce. Additionally, Chris Kenyon, vice president of OEM services at Canonical Ltd, announced that Canonical was under contract to contribute engineering resources to the project with the intent to build on existing open-source components and tools where feasible.
Before we start our tutorial, let’s get the requirements and downloads out of the way. Once you meet all the requirements and download the relevant files, the setup will go smoothly. You can click on the links below to move between different menus.
UEFI support in the motherboard
Support for legacy BIOS has also been added, but there are a few limitations. You can read the documentation here.
Intel-based CPU and GPU
Support for AMD CPU and GPU has also been added, but currently, it only supports AMD Ryzen 3XXX and AMD Stoney Ridge processors
A USB flash drive with at least 16GB of storage space
1. First off, download the Linux Mint Cinnamon image. You can also use other Linux distros such as Ubuntu or Debian, but since Linux Mint is pretty lightweight, I am using it in this tutorial.
2. Next, download Rufus (Free) so that we can flash Linux Mint Cinnamon on the USB drive.
3. After that, download the official Chrome OS recovery image from here. If this link is not working then you can download the image from here as well. Open the website and search for “rammus”. Now, click on the latest recovery image to download it (right now it’s 87, but it may change in the future). Here, I am recommending “rammus” because it works on modern Intel processors. However, you should follow the below rule and download the specific image based on your processor.
“rammus” is the recommended image for devices with 4th generation Intel CPU and newer.
“samus” is the recommended image for devices with 3rd generation Intel CPU and older.
“zork” is the image to use for AMD Ryzen 3XXX.
“grunt” is the image to use for AMD Stoney Ridge.
4. Now, download the most important file: Brunch. It’s a framework built by a developer named sebanc so huge thanks to him for making this project possible. The framework creates a generic Chrome OS image from the official recovery image so it can be installed on any Windows PC. To download the file, click here and look for the latest stable build and then click on “Assets”. Now, download the “tar.gz” file.
5. Finally, download the “install.sh” script which magically installs Chrome OS without manually typing the commands. The script has been written by Kedar Nimbalkar. To download it, click here and press Ctrl + S to save the file. If the above link is not working then you can click on this alternative link to download the “install.sh” script.
Before moving to installation steps, I want to give a quick rundown as to how we will install Chrome OS on PC with Play Store support. First off, we will boot Linux Mint through the USB drive on our Windows computer, and from there, we can run the script and install Chrome OS on our PC. Keep in mind, this process will completely wipe your hard drive including personal files and folders. So create a backup before you proceed. With that out of the way, let’s move to the steps.
Flash and Manage Files
1. Connect your USB flash drive and open Rufus. Next, click on the “Select” button and choose the Linux Mint Cinnamon image. Now, just click on “Start”. You will get a few prompts so click on “Yes” and “OK” to continue the flashing process.
2. After Rufus is done with flashing, close it. Now, create a folder named “Chrome OS” on your desktop. Move the “install.sh” file to the “Chrome OS” folder.
3. Next, right-click on the Brunch file and choose “Extract to Brunch…”. All the files will be extracted in a folder on the desktop.
4. Now, move all the extracted Brunch files to the same “Chrome OS” folder on the desktop.
5. Similarly, extract the official Chrome OS recovery image and you will get a folder on the desktop. Open it and rename the file to rammus_recovery.bin. If you have downloaded another image then rename it accordingly. For example, if you have downloaded the “samus” image then rename it to samus_recovery.bin.
6. Finally, move the “rammus_recovery.bin” file to the “Chrome OS” folder. By the end, you should have these 6 files inside the “Chrome OS” folder.
7. Now, move the whole “Chrome OS” folder to the USB drive on which you just flashed Linux Mint Cinnamon.
Boot into Linux Mint Cinnamon
1. Plug the USB flash drive into the PC on which you want to install Chrome OS. If you are installing Chrome OS on the same PC then keep it plugged in.
2. Next, restart your PC and press the boot key continuously to boot into the UEFI/BIOS menu. If you don’t know the boot key of your PC then you can find it from the below table.
3. Once you have entered the BIOS, move to the “Boot” tab and select “UEFI” from the Boot List Option. If this option is not available then don’t worry, move to the next step.
4. After that, move to the “Security” tab and disable “Secure Boot”. Keep in mind, every BIOS has its own interface so the menu placement might differ from one PC to another. Nevertheless, look for “UEFI” and “Secure Boot” under Security, Boot, or System Configuration tabs and makes the changes accordingly. Keep in mind, disabling Secure Boot is mandatory.
5. Finally, move to the “Exit” tab and choose “Exit Save Changes“. Immediately, after that, start pressing the boot key again. You will be asked to choose your boot device. Select the “USB drive” and hit enter.
6. You will boot straight into Linux Mint Cinnamon. If you are prompted with a splash screen, choose the default option: “Start Linux Mint“.
Install Chrome OS on PC
1. Now that you have booted into Linux Mint, click on the network icon at the bottom-right corner and connect to WiFi or Ethernet. The Chrome OS installer will need an active internet connection to download some missing libraries and dependencies.
2. After that, open the “Home” folder on the desktop and move to the “File System” tab.
3. Here, click on the search button and type “Chrome OS” to find the folder that we moved earlier.
4. Now, open the folder and right-click inside the folder to open the Terminal. Here, type sudo sh install.sh and hit enter. It will start downloading some libraries and dependencies.
5. After a while, it will ask if you want to continue with the installation. Keep in mind, this will completely wipe your whole hard drive. To proceed with the installation, type yes and hit enter. It will now start installing Chrome OS on your PC.
Note: If you get any syntax error during installation then move to the Troubleshoot section below to find the solution.
6. After the installation is done, open the start menu of Linux Mint located at the bottom-left corner and click on the “Turn off” button. Here, choose “Shut Down” to turn off your PC.
7. Now, remove the USB flash drive and then turn on your Windows PC. This time, your PC will boot straight into full-fledged Chrome OS. In case, Chrome OS is not installed on your PC hard disk and has, in fact, installed on the USB drive then follow our troubleshooting guide below.
Note: Before logging into your Google account, keep in mind, you are officially not allowed to run Chrome OS with Play Store support on non-certified machines. In some ways or the other, you might be violating Google’s terms and conditions. So, I would recommend you to sign in with a secondary Google account so that your primary account remains safe.
8. Now, you can run Android apps straight from the Play Store on your PC, how awesome is that? Not to mention, the Android framework is based on Android 9 so you are quite updated too.
Note: If you are having issues with WiFi, Bluetooth, or any other hardware device on Chrome OS then go through the Troubleshooting section for help.
9. Apart from that, you can also set up Linux on your Windows-turned-Chrome OS machine. You can find the best Linux apps for Chrome OS from the linked article.
Most used web links are shown on startup pages in Chrome
If any chrome tab crashes then other tabs are not affected
Chrome automatically translates the page into your language
Chrome installs within seconds
You can change the color and theme of the Chrome browser
Chrome loads faster than other browsers like Firefox and Safari
Chrome is the first browser to start searching the web from the address bar
Ctrl + enter will add .com extension in the address bar
Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel. As you know Linux is a very solid OS. You can install native apps of Linux on Chromebook also.
When you buy Chromebook then 100 GB of cloud storage is given free to you. You can use this cloud storage in Google drive, photos, documents, spreadsheets, slides and other Google apps also. This is enough storage for any kind of work you do online.
Free and fast:
Chrome OS is free and open source. The code of Chrome OS is available on GitHub. Anybody can see and change the code if he likes too. If you compare this with other OS then windows and mac OS are very costly and are paid software. It only takes you 8 seconds to boot Chrome OS. All apps and websites load very fast in Chrome OS.
According to Google, Chrome OS startup time is within 7 seconds. Chromebook comes with an SSD drive. Chrome OS uses the hardware of the device very efficiently. You can easily carry your Chromebook and move it to different locations.
Chrome OS is a very secured operating system. You will not be attacked with any virus/malware because Chrome will first warn you to not open any app/website that contains a virus. If you open a virus-containing website then there are little chances to get infected with the virus because of safe-browsing, encryption and verified boot.
Chrome OS has a simple user interface that can help any type of person to use it. Different people can log in to the system easily. Google updates the OS automatically and you don’t have to worry about any updates of the system.
If your kids also want to use Chromebook then you can create a supervised account that can monitor your kid activities.
Supports Android apps:
Now Chrome OS also support android apps. Mean you can run android apps from the Chrome OS. So you can now use both Chrome apps/extensions and android apps.
You can do your office work like spreadsheets, slides, drive, documents easily. Google provide all these tools in the Chrome browser.
Chromebooks have a low price as compared to another type of laptops. You can get a normal Chromebook in the price range of $300-$400. You can use Chromebook for your normal online work e.g. checking emails, using social networking sites, streaming videos, using online apps etc. Your kids can also use Chromebooks easily. If you are a student then you can do your research work easily using Chromebook.
Good battery life:
If you have a Chromebook then you can use it for 13 hours also. While most MacBook’s have a battery life of 4 hours. You can do your office work or research work easily by using Chromebook.
Supports many touchpad gestures:
You can use different finger gestures on Chromebook to perform various actions. Some of the touchpad gestures are:-
For viewing all windows, swipe up or down with three fingers
Swipe left with two fingers to go to the previous page. Swipe right with two fingers to go to the forward page.
To make right-click, tap two fingers on the touchpad.
To switch between tabs, swipe left or right with three fingers.
Advanced photo and video editing:
You cannot do heavy editing of photos and videos. You cannot install Photoshop and other adobe software on Chrome OS. There are some online apps available that you can use for simple editing of photos but for professionals, Chrome OS is not the right thing. The hardware is also right in Chromebook for this editing.
You cannot play Windows and Mac supported games. You can play online games but installing Windows and Mac games is not possible. You can play Android games on Chromebook.
Needs fast internet:
As 90% of Chromebook is for internet-connected apps so you will need a fast internet connection to use Chrome OS. All the apps in Chromebook are cloud-based. Most Chromebooks have 30 GB of local space that is not enough for storing a lot of data. If you want to see a movie then you have the only option to stream online through YouTube, Netflix websites.
Gotowebinar is a popular software for doing online meeting but it is not available for Chrome OS. It runs on only Windows and Mac OS.
If you have already a laptop or PC then you don’t need to buy a Chromebook because it has a major feature of Chrome browser which your laptop or PC already have.
Most software companies prefer to make software for PC and MAC because they have large users. Also, Chrome OS is not meant for running large software but it is more concerned with internet-based apps.
Uses high RAM:
Chrome browser uses high RAM because it contains extensions too that consumes a lot of RAM.
For making printing you need to use Google cloud print. For doing Google cloud print you need to always have internet access.
Source: Wikipedia, beebcom
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