How to Install Chrome OS on a Netbook

So I was rummaging through some junk I had in my garage the other day and I ran into my old beloved, but now completely useless, Asus 1000HE netbook! Wow, that segment vanished just as quickly as it appeared! Anyway, it’s still a decent little computer, so I didn’t want to give it away. It was running Windows XP, but I wanted to try something new.

Other articles I read online suggest installing Linux (Ubuntu, JoliCloud, etc), but I wanted to give Chrome OS a try since I had NEVER played around with that operating system. After a little bit of research and a few hiccups, I was able to get it installed and working! In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps (and troubleshooting) steps to get Chrome OS installed on your old netbook.

First things first, where do you go about getting a copy of Chrome OS? Well, it’s open source and free, so you can download the source code from here:

http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os

Hmmm, download source code, install Linux, build Chrome OS, then install it! Wow, that’s not easy. Luckily, someone else has done that for us! The awesome dude(s) at hexxeh build each nightly build of Chrome OS for you and even have an installer for Windows, Mac, and Linux that installs it onto a USB stick and makes it bootable! Yippeee! Can’t get any easier than that.

http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/index.php

First, go to the link above. You’ll see it says Vanilla. There are two types of Chrome OS downloads created by hexxeh: vanilla and lime. Vanilla is straight conversion of Chrome OS released by Google into a build.

vanilla chrome os

Lime has a few extras that make it much more compatible with different hardware. Now that may sound nice, but I tried to install Lime first on my netbook and it basically got stuck on a blank screen when booting. I downloaded Vanilla and it worked just fine and it detected all my hardware (sound, wireless card, etc).

chrome os lime

I suggest you download Vanilla first and give that a shot. If it doesn’t work, then you can try Lime. Or if it does work, you can try Lime too later on. It’s a fairly fast process and installing Chrome OS from the USB stick took literally 5 minutes. It’s not like installing Windows that can take hours at times.

Ok, so where do you download it? Scroll down the hexxeh page and you’ll see the builder applications:

builder application

Obviously, if you’re on a Mac, download the Mac builder application and if you’re on Windows, download the Windows one. I’m on a Mac, so you’ll see Mac screenshots, but it’s the same procedure on either OS. Run Chrome OS Image Creator and you’ll get this screen:

chrome os image creator

Here is where you choose the Lime or Vanilla version. It’s the last 3 days of each build. I just picked Vanilla and the latest version by date. Then click Next. You’ll be asked to select a USB stick to use, so plug that in now if you haven’t already. It should be greater than 4 GB.

usb stick

Click Next and you’ll be asked whether you are sure you want to erase the memory stick.

erase usb stick

Click Erase and the program will begin to download the version of Chrome OS you had chosen. After downloading, it will write it to the USB stick.

downloading

Finally, when it has completed, you will see the following message:

chrome os install

Click Finished and take out your memory stick. Now you have to go to your netbook and change the boot sequence so that the memory stick boots first before the hard drive. On my Asus, I had to have the usb stick connected before pressing F2 to get into the BIOS settings.

bios settings

I went to Boot at the top and then selected Hard Disk Drives. Note that Hard Disk Drives won’t even appear unless you have connected your USB stick. Also, you should turn off your netbook, plug in the USB stick and then turn on the netbook and go into the BIOS settings. If you try to connect it while in the BIOS settings already, this option won’t show. Now you’ll be able to move up the USB stick in the boot priority.

boot priority

Now exit and let your computer boot up. You should see the Chromium screen pop up on your netbook!

chromium

If you see this, you’re good to go now! You can now run and play around with Chrome OS on your previously useless netbook! On the next screen, you’ll be asked to choose the language, keyboard and a wireless network. Hopefully, depending on your netbook, it will show a list of wireless networks here, which means it can recognize your wireless card. If not, you’ll have to try the Lime version or a different build.

chrome os settings

It’ll then check for updates and if nothing is found, will take you to the sign in screen. Here you need to enter your Google account email and password.

sign in chrome os

Lastly, choose your profile pic and then you’ll be brought to the Chrome OS desktop, which for me was some green grass.

chrome os desktop

Enjoy the new netbook with Chrome OS! If you had any trouble installing Chrome OS on your netbook, post a comment here with your specs and the problem and we’ll try to help! Enjoy!

Comments [1]

  1. Chris Nash says:

    HiYa,

    Great article, and I want to do the same on my neighbours children’s old Toshiba Portege P3500 Tablet Laptop currently running MS Win XP Tablet Version 2005 – however, there’s always a “However” …. Firstly it doesn’t have an Optical Disc Drive no surprise there but Secondly it also has a BIOS which doesn’t have the option to “Boot From USB”.

    Reason for all this is mainly because I can’t get Recovery Disc’s to re-install OS to over come seriously infected ( by mischievous little children’s fingers ) machine as this machine was born 2003 – so no disc’s or the option to update the BIOS as to OLD .. like me.

    So was wondering could it be installed over a LAN or cross-over cable.

    Any thoughts or advice would be gratefully received – Chris

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