How to install and run ChromeOS using a spare USB Flash Drive

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Buying a Chromebook just for the sake of “trying out” Chrome OS, is perhaps a waste of money. What if you can try out Chrome OS on any of your laptops or desktop machines?

It is indeed possible since we are going to exactly tell you how you can run Google’s own Chromium Operating System a.k.a Chrome OS, from just your ordinary flash drive. What’s more is that you don’t need to buy additional stuff, as we are sure you already have a spare 4 GB minimum flash drive and a working computer or laptop. Besides this, you would need a zip file extractor like WinRAR for Windows or p7zip for those on Linux. You also need to download an image-burning software like Etcher.

The best part about following this course is that you can safely try ChromeOS without removing your current operating system.

How to install Chrome OS on a USB Flash Drive

  • First of all, you need to download the latest ChromeOS build. Since Google doesn’t offer an official build itself, you need to download from an alternative source like Arnold The Bat over here.
  • The file that would be downloaded would be a zip file, so would need to be extracted using the zip-extraction software.
  • Now you need to prepare your USB Drive for installation. Just insert the USB flash drive into one of the ports on your PC, and make sure you format it as FAT32.
  • For the Mac users, if the built-in Disk Utility doesn’t show a FAT32 option, and instead shows MS-DOS (FAT), don’t worry, these are the same. While formatting for your own convenience prefer giving the name “ChromeOS” to your USB flash drive so that you don’t accidentally format it again unintentionally.
  • Now you need to burn the extracted image to the flash drive, and for that, you need an image-burning software like Ether which is recommended in this case. The reason is that Etcher is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux as well, with nearly the same layout and way of use. Another important reason is that unlike common image-burning software, Ether also verifies the burning process once its completed, making sure everything is all right.
  • Once you have installed Etcher, open it, and choose Select Image, and then point to the directory where the ChromeOS build has been downloaded. Double-Click on that to select it.
  • Now you need to Select the Drive (Our Flash Drive in this case) to burn the image to. Just click Select Drive and choose the flash drive.
  • To finalize the things, just select the Flash option, which will begin the process. Once the process finishes, you now have a ready USB with ChromeOS installed on it.

How to Run ChromeOS from a Flash Drive

  • This process is simple and depends on your computer/laptop. You just need to boot up from your Flash Drive. To do this, you need to press F5, F8, or F12 depending on your machine, right away after you turn on your PC. Then select the Flash Drive to boot from.
  • It would be labeled Mass Storage device or something like that. For Mac Users, they will need to press and hold the Options key as soon as their Mac restarts after shutting down. They will then have the option to boot from either their Hard Drive or Flash Drive (typically labeled EFI).
  • Once you have selected the appropriate Flash Drive to boot from, just press Enter and it will now boot from the Hard Drive. The first time it will boot would be a bit longer, but don’t worry after that, it’s really that simple, and would straightaway take you to the log in screen.

You can now safely try out and even use the ChromeOS perfectly without any issue from just your flash drive, and without having to spend extra on specifically buying a Chromebook.


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