Posted by darren on Sunday, December 20, 2009

When the pre-alpha of Chrome OS was released a few weeks ago, it took about 24 hours before a compiled version that would work on a virtual machine appeared on the net.

As it is my duty to use any Google product, I immediately downloaded it and booted it up from within Sun's VirtualBox on my Toshiba N205 Netbook (Atom N280 Chip with two gb RAM, one of which was dedicated to the virtual machine),

Perhaps, not surprisingly, it was sluggish and unimpressive. Developed to run primarily on netbooks with solid state drives, this version of Chrome is obviously far from being complete. Yet, it would be unfair to judge considering that it isn't scheduled to be in its final form for another year and I wasn't running it on approved hardware. I can no longer find the links that I used to run this version. It may have been on Mashable. Regardless, Lifehacker has instructions on how to do this, as well as running Chrome directly from a usb drive, as I did this morning.

By downloading Chrome Cherry OS and putting it on a 1 gb usb drive, I was able to test Google's new operating system in an environment somewhat closer to how it's meant to be deployed. I loaded the image onto the usb and restarted my computer.

(One trick, after following the link and downloading the OS from the torrent, I was left with a tar.gz file. Something that's easily extracted in Linux but that I had never seen in Windows, especially on my netbook, which was running XP. But, after a little Googling, I was able to find an unzipper that extracted the disk image.)

At first, it proved a little difficult at first to get my 64 digit WPA-2 key into the OS after logging on with the neutral login "facepunch," but luckily, the drivers for the other usb ports were working so I could name a file with the key and then copy and paste it into the wireless access window.

Once I was on, it was relatively simple to maneuver. A little slower than my netbook normally is, but much faster and more responsive than Chrome OS was in VirtualBox.

I was able to access most of the options, I didn't try printing, and doubt that would work - the purpose of releasing the OS now is for drivers and other support to be written. The interface for the applications is clean and simple. Otherwise, it's a browser - just as you would expect.

Shutdown was a little confusing, and had to be done via the terminal and linux commands. I think that for the next few years, like the netbook that Chrome OS is written for, this will remain a second computer/operating system. Simple, sturdy and with everything I need for most applications I access on a daily basis.