Chrome OS forks are quite popular with regular laptop users. If you’re not happy with an older computer, use one of these forks to convert it to a Chromebook device. FydeOS (formerly Flint OS) is an open-source, cloud-driven operating system from China that offers similar browser-like computing experience as any other Chromium OS.
Although aimed at the Chinese market, anyone can use this faster and simpler operating system. Despite limitations, such as an inability to support Play Store apps (in non-Chinese languages), FydeOS is ahead of its time and can be considered a near replica of Chrome OS.
Visit the official website to download the relevant FydeOS image for your computer. You can install FydeOS for your PC or as a virtual machine for VMWare. There are dedicated download links for touchscreen computers including Microsoft Surface 3, 4, or 5, Surface Go, and Chromebook Pixel. You can also find links for Raspberry Pi and ASUS Tinkerboard.
For all download links, click “download directly” to save the image on your computer.
There are two modes of installing FydeOS. You can flash it to a USB stick using BalenaEtcher and similar tools. Alternatively, you can run it as a dual-boot on a Windows hard drive with at least 10 GB residual space.
FydeOS recommends creating a dedicated hard drive for best performance, although you can work quite well in USB mode as well if you have enough space.
To create a separate hard drive in C:/, refer to this detailed tutorial. You need to “compress” or “shrink volume” in the drive. Although we’re not dealing with bloatware, it is important to leave residual space in the drive.
The procedure to start the operating system in USB mode depends on how comfortable you are with USB reboots.
You have to first disable UEFI secure boot on a Windows 10 laptop. Follow the detailed steps shown here to successfully proceed with the Chromium OS booting. It is important to ensure that FydeOS is beneficial on the target device with no significant hardware compatibility issues.
The welcome screen starts with a FydeOS logo.
Don’t forget to set up your preferred language using arrow keys. You also need to fix a keyboard layout (US, etc.) and the time zone.
Although English options are clearly available, remember that most help and advanced features of FydeOS are available in Chinese language only.
You will be asked to enter your Internet details and fill up the passwords for a new FydeOS account. Otherwise, you can access FydeOS by browsing as a guest.
Depending on the speed of disk read and write, the entire installation process may be fast or take long. You need at least 10 to 20 GB of free residual space on a hard disk. This does affect performance. So, even if you run this thing on a USB drive, keep at least 16 GB space.
Appearance-wise, FydeOS is very elegant. You can change the wallpapers, turn the nightlight on and run all apps from a browser window. A nightlight feature allows you to work better in dim light conditions.
4. Features and Applications
All downloads take place as default in a “My Files” folder. For cloud integration, a few online apps will require you to create a free account. Some of the coveted features, such as support for the Chrome web store, are not available in the FydeOS English version at the moment.
Indeed, the Chrome Goodies – a terminal, and a Zip archiver – are available in a simplified Chinese version. It is a big disappointment for those looking for a Chrome OS on a basic computer. Unless you can read simplified Chinese, you will not be able to use these advanced features.
After a cursory look, I found the FydeOS terminal supporting Linux enablement and Android applications; the below options are clearly not available in the English language menu.
However, not all features have been forgotten. The English version has ChromeVox support, a full-screen magnifier, and automatic clicks with gesture control.
The magnifiers work excellently for those looking for a big screen experience on their devices. They have been designed for compatibility with IoT and embedded devices along with laptops and tablets.
You can further convert your screen to a touchpad directly from the “Settings,” which is useful for those who downloaded FydeOS on a touchpad laptop.
As a Chrome OS fork, FydeOS is a decent operating system. Let us remember that the current download version is still in Beta phase. This is the reason the full breadth of features are not available in English.
There are many more localized enhancements that meet the habits of users in China. Even though the limited version will not excite users outside the demographic, FydeOS supports automatic updates in a secure environment. It should be considered by you if you’re looking for the closest Chrome OS fork.