We’ve all got a computer that is gathering dust, how would you like to bring it back to life ? But you say it can’t run Windows, no problem you can always install Chrome OS or its variant Chromium OS open source.
This system works with the Chrome browser and applications running in the cloud, like Google Docs, Google Drive, Dropbox, and hundreds of apps compatible with Chrome.
To get started you need to learn about CloudReady, this is just an installation package created by NeverWare that turns any PC into a Chromebook.
This piece of software uses Chromium OS as we mentioned above this is an open source version of Chrome OS, since the latter can only be installed in licensed by Google Chromebooks.
They are nearly identical, differing only in that Chrome OS and supports some more advanced options in Google applications such as multimedia formats, but otherwise work the same and support the same programs. CloudReady allows dual boot (you can have Windows and CloudReady on the same computer) or direct booting from a USB, so you can try it without changing anything on any modern computer you are using.
What type of computer do I need ?
These are the minimum requirements CloudReady:
- Any desktop processor manufactured after May 2007
- Any notebook processor manufactured after June 2009
- 2 GB of RAM (works with fewer but performance is reduced)
- 8 GB hard drive
- USB connector
- Internet connection
NOTE: laptops with Intel GMA graphics chips 500, 600, 3600, or 3650 will have a poor performance even if they meet the other requirements. If you do not know the hardware on your computer, NeverWare has compiled a list of compatible PCs that are CloudReady.
Let’s start by downloading CloudReady. You can follow this link to the download section and you will see that there are two different versions. On one side is the 64-bit version for computers released in the last 5 or 6 years and the other of 32 bit, if you have a Pentium 4, Intel Core Solo / Duo, or Intel Atom, god forbid, just kidding.
Don’t worry its a fairly normal size download of only 0.5 GB. No need to unzip the ZIP file, but if you do you will get a file with .BIN extension, which is called something like CHROMIUMOS_IMAGE.BIN, and occupies about 5 GB. If these steps do not work with the ZIP file, decompress it as .BIN.
Creating image via Live USB
CloudReady lets you create a Live USB, ie, an executable version from a USB flash drive. With this method you can boot the new operating system from a USB stick without requiring a DVD on your computer.
So you can use it without deleting Windows or without having to make a dual boot. To create the CloudReady installer you need the Chrome browser and the Chromebook Recovery Utility plug-in. This step can run on any other PC you are installing CloudReady.
You can get started and click on this link to run the Chromebook Recovery Utility and download and install the plug-in.
Open Windows finder, locate and set up the Chromebook Recovery Tool or Chromebook Recovery Utility. Press the Start button. You will be asked to identify your Chromebook. Tap the icon and select Use Local Image. Select the file that you downloaded in the previous step, click Continue and then choose the USB drive where you want to install.
You need at least 8 GB free. Please note that all content will be deleted from you USB stick.
Booting from a USB flash drive
When finished, turn off the old computer and stick in the USB flash drive. Turn it on and press the F11 key or the boot button to load the USB stick on your computer.
CloudReady should start instead of the operating system you have installed. If not, restart the computer and quickly press the F12 key or Delete / Delete / Del before starting Windows, to enter the BIOS. The option changes according to the manufacturer, so enter the menus and look for a section called Start, Start, Boot, or the like. You will see that the hard drive is located in first position.
Change the order for the system to boot from the USB stick, and secondly from the hard disk. Save changes in the BIOS and reboot the computer. Now, when starting with the inserted USB, you should see CloudReady start and load the Chromium OS operating system:
If CloudReady does not start or the screen goes black, you must activate the UEFI mode in the BIOS, and disable Secure boot and TPM. Consult the manual of your BIOS.
Clean install or use dual boot
Using CloudReady from a USB stick is very convenient because you do not have to install anything on your computer, but if you’re going to use it often you should install it on your hard drive. You can choose a clean installation. This will delete the entire hard disk and install CloudReady, making it a Chromebook.
The other option is to choose a dual-boot installation, which allows you to have Windows and CloudReady installed at the same time on your computer, and choose one or the other when the computer boots.
Note that some older computers do not support dual boot. To install CloudReady start the computer with the USB flash drive inserted and let the system boot. Access the Control Panel in the lower right corner of the screen and an option to Install CloudReady should appear:
The installation program itself will offer two options: + Install CloudReady Standalone: Clean install. It is installed on the main hard drive but, as mentioned, ERASE ALL DATA. + Install CloudReady dualboot: Dual boot. It preserves the current operating system and data. Every time you turn on your computer you can choose whether you want to use Windows or CloudReady.
Upon completion of the process, remove the USB flash drive and restart the computer without it. You will be asked to choose language, keyboard type and the type of Internet connection: wired (Ethernet) or WiFi.
CloudReady is an Internet-based system. If you’re using WiFi, the first thing you have to do is set it up. Tap the WiFi icon in the bottom corner of the screen, look for nearby networks, choose yours, and enter the password. Now you can enjoy your brand new Chromebook!
After this brief setup process, CloudReady will start and will have an operating system based on the cloud with all Google applications and thousands of installable programs available through the Chrome store. That’s it.