Run Chrome OS From a USB Stick or as a Virtual Machine

By on May 20, 2011, 6:23 AM

Chrome OS notebooks from Acer and Samsung are expected to launch next month at $349 and $429, respectively. The fact that you can get a more powerful netbook with Windows 7 pre-installed for roughly the same price, or even less, is already putting some people off. But that doesn't mean you should disregard Google's operating system without so much as giving it a try -- especially since it's available as a free download for you to test on your own hardware.

While you'd normally have to build Chromium OS from source to try it out on your computer, several developers have released installable builds that will save you the trouble. We'll show you how to create a bootable USB flash drive with Chrome OS or run the it using a free virtual machine.

Read the complete guide.

User Comments: 16

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Guest said:

Nice guide! But have you tried with the newest version of Chrome OS? It can be downloaded from and it's much easier to set up!

andreasf93 said:

I just tried it and I can't operate it because of error:

Unaccelerated graphics (small resolution - hurts my eyes | low fps - I could never get use to that). Also no sound.

Guest said:

@Guest above, that link isn't related to ChromeOS in any way, it's just a Linux distribution with Chrome installed.

madbo said:

I just tried it too. On Lenovo T61 and it works. But is very strange to have only browser :(

andreasf93 said:

That's true, it feels really weird.

Guest said:

I wsh we could get a 'live-cd' version of this OS. Just like KNOPPIX which has set a trend of "Live-CDs" or "Live-DVDs". That would be much better. USB thing may need several configuration before it becomes functonal.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

I think its perfect for netbooks.

Sketchman64 said:

Be-careful USB boot utility suggested in directions re partitions your USB flash drive making it impossible to repartition or reformat it from drive management screen in windows 7. I had to download a program called EASEUS Partition Master 8.0.1 Home Edition to restore my USB flash drive back to normal everyday usable.

blimp01 said:

Is Chrome OS going to have DirectX and compatibile geforce / catalyst drivers?

ikesmasher said:

Chrome OS feels exactly like a web browser, which is bad. I don't like it.

aj_the_kidd said:

ikesmasher said:

Chrome OS feels exactly like a web browser, which is bad. I don't like it.

That's because it pretty much is. Why people would buy a chrome book over a standard netbook is beyond me. Still, to have the ability to run via USB or VM is nice, might try it out some time, then again maybe not, sorry google

Guest said:

Great guide but pointless endeavor, at least for me, Chrome OS offers nothing that an existing OS does not already provide. Messing around with VMs is still fun though :)

Guest said:

ChromeBook is a dedicated webbrowser, not a traditional laptop or netbook. ChromeOS is optimized to surf the net fast, securely and effectively. It does not have to replace your traditional Desktop, laptop or netbook. It complements them. Just like a dedicated book reader. When you want to read electronic books as comfortably as you can, you better use a dedicated ebook reader device.

Having said that, I do believe that the best place to place the ChromeOS is not in a netbook/laptop kind of device, but on a [[preferably] large screen monitor. Just add the necessary hardware, a few usb connectors and ChromeOS to a regular looking monitor. This should raise the price of the monitor no more than $100...

For traditional computer use, you connect your monitor to your computer. For fast and dedicated web browsing you connect your mouse and keyboard to the monitor, push a button on the monitor and use the ChromeOS system built into the monitor....


Not sure if it's me but that sign in screen reminded me of ubuntu.

Guest said:

I tried the USB way. I managed to create a bootable USB with ImageWriter. I then booted using the USB drive. I only saw a white screen and the animated "chromium" text. After that I get a black screen and that's it. Nothing else happens. I waited for quite sometime and had to reset the PC. I used the latest nightly of chromium. I have a Lenovo T60p (its close to 5 years old, Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM etc.,). Any clues as to what could be wrong?

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Instructions for USB (#2) says it needs to be 2GB or larger. I was pleased since I have a spare 2GB flash drive. But then I clicked through to the USB download page and it says 4GB required.

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