Hhexxeh.net is a site that offers installable versions of Google's Linux-based and browser-based Chome OS operating system. Yesterday I finally got around to trying it out.
1. Download the latest version (aka "build") from http://chromeos.hexxeh.net (scroll down the page, and then click Download the USB Image.)
2. Windows users can use the free 7-ZIP utility to unpack the .tar.gz file (Linux version of .zip). Although the download is just 335MB, the .gz file expands to 1.9GB. (So much for a lean operating sytem!)
3. The resulting .img file needs to be transferred to a USB thumbrive using software that makes the thumbdrive bootable:
- The USB thumbdrive must have a capacity of at least 2GB, and be formatted with FAT32. (I used a spare 4GB SDHC memory card plugged into a USB card reader.)
- Windows users can use the free DiskImager utility to copy the .img file and make the USB drive bootable.
4. Once DiskImager was done, I plugged the USB drive into my ASUS 701 netbook computer.
5. This was the trickiest step: While the netbook booted, I repeatedly pressed the F2 key so that I could get into the Bios setup and change the boot drive order. I specified that the USB drive be the first drive to be checked for a bootable operating system.
6. I rebooted the netbook, and the Hhexxeh version of Chrome OS started up. You need to enter the following as the username and the password: facepunch
(The second time you log in, you use your Gmail name and password.)
7. The boot time is 28 seconds from pressing the power button, through the BIOS load, to the login screen. Following login, it takes another 7 seconds for the browser-based UI to appear. Shutdown takes 4 seconds.
(While Chrome OS boots and runs on this ASUS 701 netbook, it would only boot but not run on my LG X110 netbook. On the ASUS, Chrome OS recognized the wireless device, but didn't seem to be able to connect to my wireless network; the ethernet cable worked.)
Once running, Chrome OS is not exciting; after all, it is just Linux with a Web browser for its UI. And an immature one at that -- at this stage of its development. Still, it proves useful for playing around with an OS that uses cloud-based apps.
The figure below shows Chrome OS on the ASUS 701, with the SD card and card reader on the right.