Unfortunately, you can’t install the Chrome OS directly. But thanks to CloudReady Chromium OS by Neverware, you can breathe new life into any laptop you want and enjoy a similar experience. All you have to do is create a CloudReady installation file on a USB drive. Then just boot CloudyReady from the USB flash drive. In this guide we’ll show you how to install Neverware’s CloudReady version of the Chromium OS on any laptop, including Windows, Mac, Chrome, or Linux using an 8- or 16GB USB flash drive.
Creating a CloudReady Chromium OS Installer on a USB Flash Drive Using the Windows OS
How to Download the USB Maker
Neverware recommends using the Windows operating system to download the CloudReady USB maker from Neverware (even if you’re not installing CloudReady on a Windows laptop):
- Navigate to Neverware.com.
- Scroll down to “Get the Free Version” and click it.
- Then, click on the “Home Edition.”
- Finally, click “Download USB Maker.”
Once the USB maker is downloaded, you’re ready to create the USB installer. For this, you’ll need an 8- or 16GB USB flash drive. CloudReady warns that any size smaller or bigger can cause issues (using a SanDisk flash drive may also cause problems). You will lose any data stored on the flash drive, so be sure to back it up before creating the USB installer.
Creating the USB Installer for CloudReady
- Launch the CloudReady USB maker program you just downloaded from Neverware.
- Click “Next.”
- Then, click 64-bit or 32-bit depending on your laptop, and click “Next.” Here’s how to find out if your Windows PC is 64- or 32-bit.
- Insert the USB flash drive into a USB port and click “Next.”
- Then, select the USB drive you want to use, and click “Next.”
- Now just wait for the installation to complete, then click “Finish.”
- Once the CloudReady USB drive has been created, you’re ready to take it for a test drive.
Running CloudReady from a USB Flash Drive
Now that you’ve created a CloudReady installation USB flash drive, you need to shutdown the laptop you want to install CloudReady on (be sure that it can boot from a USB for the installation process).
To run Chromium OS from the USB flash drive:
- Insert the CloudReady installation USB flash drive into an empty USB port on the laptop you want to install CloudReady on.
- Then, turn the laptop on (If the machine boots to its normal operating system, you’ll need to change the boot order in BIOS to boot from the flash drive). On a Mac, just hold down the “Option” key when booting and the system will give you a choice of device to boot your Mac.
- Now, wait for the Welcome screen to appear.
- Click “Let’s go.”
- Check your Internet connection. You can either plug into the Web via Ethernet or click “Add other Wi-Fi network.”
- If you’re not connecting to the Internet through an Ethernet cable, you’ll need to add a Wi-Fi network. Or enter the SSID and click “Connect.”
- Click “Next,” then “Continue.”
- Enter your Gmail address or the email associated with your Google account, and click “Next.” If you don’t have a Google account, just click “More options” and follow the on-screen instructions.
- Enter your Gmail or Google account password, then click “Next.”
- Enter your two-factor authentication code, then click “Next.”
- Now that the installation process is finished, turn your computer off. Remove the USB drive. Then turn your laptop on again and it will automatically boot into CloudReady.
CoudReady is now ready to use. You can start browsing the Internet with Chrome, access your Google Drive files and anything else you can do with a Chromebook.
Using the Mac or Chrome OS to Create a CloudReady Chromium OS Installer on a USB Flash Drive
Although Neverware recommends using Windows, if you don’t have access to the Windows OS. A CloudReady USB installer can be made using either the Mac or Chrome OS. The process is just a bit more involved.
The first thing you want to do is download a CloudReady image for your USB flash drive. Here’s how:
- Navigate to Neverware.com.
- Scroll down to “Get the Free Version” and click it.
- Then, click on the “Home Edition.”
- Now, click “Download 64-BIT” or “Download 32-BIT.” Again, you’ll have to check the computer you’re using to find out which it is.
Adding the Chromebook Recovery App
This next step requires that you have Chrome installed on your computer (even if you’re working with a Mac). If you’re working with Chrome, you already have Chromium and you’re good to go. If not, you’ll need to install Chromium to proceed.
To add the Chromebook recovery app:
- Navigate to the Chromebook Recovery Utility in the Google Play Store.
- Then, click “Add to Chrome,” then click “Add app.”
- Now, open the “Chrome Recovery Utility.”
- Click the “gear icon” to get the drop-down menu and click “Use local image.”
- Then, select the CloudReady .iso you downloaded from Neverware. (For Mac, Neverware recommends unzipping the .iso using the Unarchiver utility. Otherwise, the USB installer creation process may not work.)
- Click “Continue.”
- Now just wait for the process to finish, then click “Done.”
Installing CloudReady with Mac or Chrome OS
Installation is extremely easy:
- With the CloudReady USB drive inserted into a USB port on your laptop, turn on your laptop.
- Then, wait for CloudReady to boot up.
- Click on your user icon in the lower right corner of the system tray.
- Click “Install CloudReady,” and select “INTALL CLOUDREADY.”
- Make sure you read and agree to all the warning pop ups.
- Then, wait for the installation to finish.
- Once the installation process is finished, turn your computer off. Remove the USB drive. Then turn your laptop on again and it will automatically boot into CloudReady.
Installing CloudReady Deletes Your Original OS
That’s right. A CloudReady installation deletes your original operating system, along with all files on the computer onto which you’re installing the software. After installation, your laptop will have a version of Chromium OS instead of the original OS. Any images, videos or data that was saved one the system is gone for good after installation.
Obviously, we strongly recommend that you back up all files to the cloud or an external hard drive before you proceed with booting up CloudReady.
NOTE: If you’re computer wasn’t running properly before your installation of CloudReady, it won’t run properly after installation. Be sure that everything associated with the computer you want to install CloudReady on is in proper working order first.
But What if You Don’t Want to Permanently Replace Your Existing OS?
There is an option for running CloudReady just from the USB flash drive without permanently installing it on your system. Just leave the USB stick in your computer instead of going through the installation process. Now every time you turn on your device, CloudReady will boot instead of the original operating system.
And if you ever have need for your system’s original OS, just turn off the computer, remove the USB thumb drive, and turn the machine back on.
CloudReady – like the Chrome OS – receives regular, automatic updates from Neverware. But only if it’s permanently installed on your laptop. The way to work around this so you still have access to updates if CloudReady isn’t permanently installed on your computer is to create a new CloudReady USB flash drive periodically.
Before You Install CloudReady
While CloudReady makes it easy to install a version of the Chrome OS on practically any laptop by handling most of the technical matters behind the scenes. Here are a few things you should keep in mind before you take the CloudRdeady plunge:
- It won’t work on all laptops. The Chromium OS is designed to run on light hardware, which will be perfect for a laptop with underpowered specs. But while, CloudReady is designed to work on most Windows laptops made since 2007. There’s no way to guarantee it will work on all laptops. Checkout the list of tested hardware, and basic system requirements here.
- Again, installing CloudReady will wipe your laptop. We feel that this point can’t be overstated. You can use other operating systems with the Chromium OS using the dual-boot feature. While this option provides a means to get into the Chrome environment without being fully committed. Dual-boot mode won’t work on every laptop. And configuration is involved. Make sure to back up any data you want to keep before you begin the installation process.
- Chromium isn’t exactly Chrome OS. We’ll dive into the difference more in a moment. But as mentioned, you won’t get regular, automatic updates. Or any official support the way you do with the official Chrome OS; Adobe Flash isn’t built-in either. But you’ll be given instructions on how to install it manually the first time you boot up. And as for updates, Neverware implemented the same kind of system the Chrome OS has in place within the CloudReady software–updates come automatically and seamlessly from the company (albeit three versions behind Chrome OS). And the system applies it to your laptop upon a restart in a similar way.
What the Difference Between CloudReady and the Chromium OS?
CloudReady is an operating system based on the Chromium OS. It’s a service provided by Neverware to individual users for free. The service complements the company’s core business, which revolves around both the education and enterprise markets.
Neverware and Google take the base code from the Chromium OS open source project and add their own proprietary code so it works like Google’s official Chrome OS.
The advantage of CloudReady in comparison to the Chrome OS is you can install CloudReady on a wider variety of devices. Particularly old Windows laptops and MacBooks that have lost a step over the years. CloudReady gives you the opportunity to breathe new life into your old devices by turning them into a Chromebook-like laptop.
And because CloudReady isn’t as resource heavy as the modern versions of Windows and MacOS – like the Chrome OS – you’ll likely experience a noticeable performance improvement from your old devices.
The Chromium Operating System
CloudReady converts any computer into a cloud-centric, Chromebook-like system. It gives your laptop similar functionality to other fast-booting, cloud-powered devices.
The Chromium OS is at the foundation of all Chrome OS devices. What Neverware has done is make it into something you can easily install and run on your old laptop or any computer.
Since the term Chromebook is a trademarked name for official Chrome OS products. It implies Google’s involvement. To be clear, when you install the Chromium OS onto your laptop, it won’t officially become a Chromebook. But form and function will be similar.
Furthermore, the Chromium OS is an open-source project that anyone can copy, modify and use. While it affords a Chrome OS experience, installation takes some degree of technical expertise.
Distinguishing Characteristics of the Chromium OS
It will differ in some meaningful ways from the Chrome OS. Since CloudReady only has access to the open-source code, it won’t have the propriety services and features that you get with Google’s Chrome OS.
- Use of the “Share” command when viewing Google Drive files.
- Geolocations when using Goolge Maps.
- Chrome’s integrated language-translation screen-sharing and drawing functions within Google Hangouts.
- The ability to install and use Android apps.
- The Trusted Platform Module (TPM).
- And the native Flash-playing plugin are but some of the apps and functionalities you’ll find missing on Chromium. The buttons are available, but they’re effectively dead switches.
If you decide to install the Chromium OS using CloudReady, the company provides some ways to duplicate these processes while maintaining the use of these buttons. (Here’s an unrelated workaround to get a Netflix Chromiumed device.)
Creating a Chromebook Linux Hybrid
Another way to resurrect your old laptop from the obsolescence doldrums is by creating a Chromebook, Linux hybrid. Club Linux replicates the look and feel of Chromium.
Unfortunately, this OS is no longer being actively developed; even the user-forum page has been taken down, which opens it up to the security risks inherent with an OS that’s no longer being updated.
On the other hand, Linux tends to be very secure. You might even be able to find help on its broader forums. With Club Linux you get the added benefit of running Linux apps alongside Chromium apps.
Tools for the Job
- A USB flash drive with a minimum of 1GB capacity.
- Then download the portable version of Rufus. It’s a free utility for creating bootable flash drives.
- Next, download Club Linux. This will be a single ISO file, which is what Rufus will add to your bootable flash drive.
Creating Your Rufus Flash Drive
- Plug the USB flash drive into your laptop and run the Rufus utility.
- Make sure your flash drive is selected in the Device field at the very top. If not, click the drop-down arrow and select it.
- Click the small disk icon near the Create a bootable image using.
- Navigate to the Club Linux ISO file you downloaded. (You might find it in your Downloads folder. Select it and click Open.)
- Change the New Volume labelto Club Linux.
- Press Start and the drive will begin formatting the ISO installed.
This is an involved process. But it shouldn’t be too difficult with a bit of technical know-how. Before you do anything, you should back up all the information on the computer you want to install CloudReady to, as well as the USB flash drive you plan to use if it has any stored data. Next, you’ll need to create a CloudReay USB flash drive using the instructions outlined above. Then, you could first test how well CloudReady works with the other software already on your laptop by launching it off your USB flash drive. Or just go forward with the installation process. Hopefully, everything works as it should. Just keep in mind that some systems simply won’t allow CloudReady to work. But if all goes well, you get to enjoy a new Chromebook-like laptop.