This blog is my attempt to share information with faculty, introducing new apps, websites, or other snippets of information that may be of use to faculty. I am also using it to keep track of projects I'm working on that might be good to reference in the future.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Trying out Chrome OS

There is talk of possibly getting Chromebooks for a few classrooms.  I wanted to test drive Chrome to see what it was like and so i could be informed when having discussions about Chromebooks.

Chromebooks run the Chrome OS.  You can not get a copy of the official google Chrome OS (as far as I know), but you can use the open source version, called Chromium, which will run on other machines and let you 'test drive' Chrome/Chromium.

The best place to get Chromium is at http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/
Here they have a build already done, so you don't have to do it.  You have three version to download: a version to run on a bootable USB (which you can then load to a standalone laptop to make it into a Chromebook clone), a version that will run on VirtualBox, or a version to run on VMWare.

VMWare you can try for free, but it costs $119 after the free trial is over.  So I skipped that option.
I instead tried the USB and VirtualBox options.

VirtualBox (https://www.virtualbox.org/) is a FREE program that lets you install other operating systems (or seperate instances of current OS) on your computer.  It basically shows up as another program window, but you can run Chrome, while running Windows at the same time on the same machine.  This is a good way to test drive the OS.

Here is a great post on how to install the VirtualBox software and get the Chromium up and running.....it's so easy even I could do it :-)
http://www.howtogeek.com/128087/how-to-run-chrome-os-in-virtualbox-and-try-out-chrome-os-before-buying-a-chromebook/

I did run into one common problem, when hosting VirtualBox on a Windows machine....something about a CPU pae error.  Here was a log post that helped me easily fix the issue, and then it worked like a charm: http://blog.manoharbhattarai.com.np/2012/05/05/ubuntu-12-04-on-virtualbox-pae-error-unable-to-boot-please-use-a-kernel-appropriate-for-your-cpu/

Running on a virtual box was slower, but it worked nicely enough to see what Chrome was like.

I also tried to boot my laptop from the USB version and it worked, but I had issue with the wireless card being seen, but not working.  Plugging into wired ethernet and it worked. Chrome did run faster this way then thru VirtualBox, but that is to be expected.

My next project, install Chromium on an older laptop at work.....I have one in mind :-)


Update 3/24: Still no luck on Chromium on older laptops.  I can install, but the two major versions our there don't natively support wireless, and one version the touchpad didn't work.  I think for this to be usable, it has to be wireless and not require a mouse.  I do like the Google Chrome interface, nice and clean, and with Chrome Store you can get a bunch of useful apps to install.  It is related to your Google/Chrome log in, so your tabs and pages/bookmarks are the same whether you are in Chromiums, or using Windows...it's all web based.


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