Google’s Chrome OS laptops are being chosen by consumers because they are cheap and they feature a lightweight operating system that is suitable for those working mostly online or always on the go. However, this product’s major feature also makes it the major drawback – for many out there, a Chromebook is nothing more than a laptop running a web-centric operating system.
Francois Beaufort, a frequent Chrome leaker that was hired by Google to become its new open-source Chromium evangelist, has announced that Chrome OS users will soon get the ability to boot from USB and install an OS image from a USB thumb drive. He doesn’t mention which operating systems will be ‘allowed’, so we’re assuming one will be able to boot Linux, Mac or Windows.
However, unfortunately, as things stand right now, running a different OS on a Chromebook isn’t quite easy and requires technical knowledge. As Beaufort informs, the device has to be switched to the Dev Channel and reset before a new operating system can be installed, which will wipe out existing user settings. He added:
In order to support installing and testing custom code on Chrome OS devices, the chromium team is currently adding the ability to easily enable Debugging Features when the device is booted in Developer Mode.
He mentioned that these features will allow tech savvy persons to:
- Remove rootfs verification so you can modify OS files
- Enable SSH access to the device using the standard test keys so you can use tools such as cros flash
- Enable booting from USB so you can install an OS image from a USB drive
- Set both the dev and the system root login password to a custom value so you can manually SSH into the device
So, as we can see, while Google allows for other OSes to be loaded on Chromebooks, this requires quite a bit of technical knowledge. And now, just to make it clear, Google doesn’t officially support the installation of alternative operating systems on Chromebooks.