How to Test ChromeOS in Ubuntu

You probably have heard that Google has released their own operating system call ChromeOS, which is essentially a Chrome browser bundled with plenty of web apps. The ChromeOS is already available for purchase and you can get it now for $249 (Samsung Chromebook). However, what if you want to try it out first before you purchase? Or you want to install the ChromeOS on your PC without buying the netbook? If you are a Ubuntu user, here’s how you can test it out, or even use it alongside your Ubuntu.

Note: Before we begin, it is important to note that the ChromiumOS package will only work on 64-bit Ubuntu.

1. Download the lightdm-login-chromiumos_1.0_amd64.deb file. This is a modified version of the ChromeOS which give you the the ability to login directly from the LightDM.

2. Double-click the deb file to install in your Ubuntu machine.

Alternatively, if you install the command line way:

wget https://github.com/downloads/dz0ny/lightdm-login-chromeos/lightdm-login-chromiumos_1.0_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i lightdm-login-chromiumos_1.0_amd64.deb

After you have installed the ChromiumOS package, all you have to do is to log out of your existing session. In the LightDM login session, you should now see a new entry – Chromium OS. Select it.

chromeos-ubuntu-login

Login with your Ubuntu username and password. DO NOT LOGIN WITH YOUR GMAIL NAME AND PASSWORD. It won’t work.

Once you have logged in, on the first run, the setup wizard will walk you through setting up the system for Chromium OS. You will be asked to setup your language, Internet connection (ethernet or WiFi), login to your Google account and etc.

chromeos-setup

On subsequent login, you just have to enter your Google password to enter.

chromeos-google-login

After the setup, the first page to show up is the “Get Started Guide” where you can find instructions to do various things, like printing, work offline, save and access files, set wallpaper etc, on Chromium OS.

chromeos-get-started-guide

After that, you can proceed to use it like any other browser.

The control panel is mainly situated at both the left and right bottom corner of the screen. The left bottom corner is where you can open new browser / tab and access the Chrome Webstore. The right bottom is the system tray where you can turn on/off your bluetooth, manage Internet connection, volume etc. You can also access the “Shut Down” button from here. (Note: Clicking the Shut down button will not shut down the machine. It will only log you out to the LightDM again.)

chromeos-system-tray

I have not tested it fully to find out what’s not working yet, but according to the developer:

What’s working:

  • Login directly from LightDM (at login screen)
  • Sync, apps, bookmarks
  • Flash(install google-chrome-stable)
  • Talk(install google-talkplugin)
  • Java (icedtea-plugin)
  • Simple development for ChromeOS specific plugins/extensions(~/chrome-os/user)
  • HW acceleration
  • Tablet mode

What’s not working:

  • Importing images from camera, other disks etc (missing dbus service, mtp deamon)
  • System controls, data is ignored and replaced with fake data alt text
  • Guest login (missing cros subsystem)
  • Special “KIOSK” mode (switch still exists)
  • Auto-updates

As can be seen, there are plenty of stuff working and some of the stuff not working. Many of those “not working stuff” are still work in progress, so they will probably work in a future release. At the moment, you might want to test it out and see if you like it. Depending on your needs, you might want to live with the flaws and continue to use it, or just switch back to Ubuntu and remove it totally from your system.