You don’t have to purchase a Chromebook to use Google’s web-based desktop operating system. In truth, all you need is a computer that works and a USB disk.
Google now provides an official option to test Chrome OS using a USB drive, and there are other unauthorized ways to explore with the OS. These approaches are compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux. And, no, you will not be replacing your current operating system.
Here’s how to get Chrome OS and run it from a USB device.
The Official Way: Running Chrome OS Flex
Chrome OS Flex is Google’s most recent operating system under development. Google, on the other hand, has made an early access beta version available to the public. It is designed to work well on both older devices with low specifications and modern PCs.
Booting Chrome OS Flex From a USB
Chrome OS Flex removes technological difficulties that may have previously prevented you from installing and using Chrome OS on your PC. This version of Chrome OS offers enhanced device compatibility and allows you to use the official build on your PC.
So, using Chrome OS Flex, here’s how to start Chrome OS from a USB.
To begin, you need have a bootable USB device with a minimum of 8GB of capacity. If you want to boot and use the OS from your USB, a larger USB is recommended.
If you have the newest Chrome OS Flex ISO or BIN file, you can perform this using Etcher. However, we’ll use Chromebook Recovery Utility, which is the official way. Please keep in mind that, as of this writing, this approach is inaccessible to Linux users.
For this to operate properly, you need use Google Chrome. The first step is to download and install Chromebook Recovery Utility, a Chrome plugin used to make recovery disks for Chromebooks.
When you install the plugin, a popup will appear. Select your device model and proceed as directed. Finally, it will save the Chrome OS Flex BIN file to your hard drive.
If your PC manufacturer and product are not accessible, choose Google Chrome OS Flex as a manufacturer and Chrome OS Flex (Developer-Unstable) as a product. Continue by selecting your USB drive. Click Continue once more to build a bootable USB device.
Please keep in mind that this procedure will delete all data on your USB stick.
You have now downloaded Chrome OS Flex. Shut off the computer and restart it. Select the USB disk from the BIOS one-time boot menu. The machine will begin to boot from the USB.
Now that Chrome OS Flex is complete, you may install it on your main hard disk or continue to use it via USB drive with certain memory limits. Please keep in mind that installing Chrome OS Flex on a hard drive will delete your old operating system, and you will not be able to reverse this operation.
The Unofficial Way: Running the Open-Source Chromium OS
In this procedure, we’ll make a bootable USB stick with the Chromium OS disk image on it. Chromium OS is Chrome OS’s open-source version, where all development takes place. Before you begin, you will need the following items:
- A functional PC with a USB port
- A USB disk having a minimum capacity of 4GB (8GB or more recommended)
- A manager of archives (7-Zip, Keka, or p7zip)
- A bootable disk maker (Etcher)
Download: 7-Zip for Windows (Free)
Download: Keka for macOS (Free)
Download: p7zip for Linux (Free)
Download: Etcher (Free)
During the installation, the USB drive will be totally deleted. Please store any important data on the disk somewhere else.
You may make a Chromium OS live USB by following this step-by-step method.
Step 1: Download the Latest Chromium OS image
Google does not provide a download link for an official Chromium OS build. Arnold The Bat repository is the finest alternate source.
Download: Chromium OS
On your hard disk, you should now have a 7Z file. Use your device’s archive manager to extract this file.
Step 3: Format the USB Drive
Plug in the USB device and format it as FAT32. The procedure is easiest on Windows, but macOS and Linux aren’t far behind.
MacOS users may format it as FAT32 using the built-in Disk Utility. Don’t worry if you see it called “MS-DOS FAT” instead; it’s the same thing.
For a rapid format, we suggest GParted for Linux users.
Download: GParted (Free)
When prompted to name the new drive, call it “Chrome OS” for increased comfort.
Step 4: Run Etcher and Load the Image
You should now have a properly formatted USB device called “Chrome OS” inserted into a computer connection (as shown in step three).You’ll also get an unzipped image file of the most recent Chromium OS (as shown in steps one and two).
Etcher is also installed on your PC. So, start Etcher now to continue.
- Select Image and go to the Chromium OS image file. Insert it into Etcher.
- Select the Chrome OS USB Drive you created by clicking Select Drive.
- By choosing Flash, you can begin the process of installing the image and confirming the installation.
Etcher certifies the burning process, which means that after the image on the USB drive has been created, it will check that everything is correct. Make sure you wait until it says 100%. When Etcher is finished, you will have a bootable USB device with Chromium OS.
Step 5: Reboot Your Computer and Enter Boot Options
“Boot” refers to the process of selecting an operating system. Every computer allows you to choose which disk to boot the operating system from, whether it’s a hard drive, a USB drive, or even a DVD drive. Enter Boot and choose the USB disk you just made.
For a Windows or Linux PC: Each machine has its own BIOS settings. F5, F8, or F12 are common keyboard shortcuts for the Boot Options menu.
For a Mac, hit and hold the Option key as soon as the Mac shuts down and resumes. You’ll have to do this when the screen is dark, but that’s OK. Hold it down until you reach the boot menu, where you may choose between a Macintosh hard disk and the USB device you have put in (usually denoted as “EFI”).
Step 6: Boot Into Chrome OS
Select the USB device from the boot menu, press Enter, and the machine will boot from it. You may now enjoy all of the benefits of Chrome OS without compromising your primary hard drive or operating system.
The first time you use Chrome OS, you must configure it, preferably using your current Google account. Don’t be concerned. This configuration is only active the first time you start up. When you run it again, it will go right to the login page.
Turn Your PC or Laptop Into a Chromebook
Now that Chrome OS is installed on a USB stick, you may test it out. It’s startling how similar it is to full-fledged desktop operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux. You may also install various Linux apps as well as some Windows software.
You can learn more about Crosh, the Chrome OS terminal, now that you’re running it.
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