How do I install Chrome OS in VMWare

Lightweight and inexpensive, Google Chromebooks offer a great, approachable alternative to a powerful Windows laptop. With access to Google Docs and Android apps, Chromebooks have many uses, be it for work or pleasure. Before you buy, though, try the Chromebook experience to see if it’s right for you.

It is entirely possible to try the Chromebook experience as a virtual machine in VMWare. Technically, you have to use Chromium OS, the open-source alternative to Chrome OS. It lacks a few features, but it’s otherwise identical and should give you a sense of the Chromebook experience.

What is Chromium OS?

Open source fans may already know that the Google Chrome browser is based on a project called Chromium. While the code for Chrome itself isn’t shared, much of it is based on Chromium, allowing Google to “lock” other Chrome-only codes.

The same process applies to Chromebooks, which run Chrome OS, based on the broader Chromium OS project. Much of the code is the same, but Chrome OS includes a few extra features like support for Android apps that you won’t find in Chromium OS.

Chrome OS can’t be downloaded, so non-Chromebook users can’t try it directly. The reasons for this are partly commercial: after all, Google wants you to buy its Chromebooks.

There are also some features that Google can include in Chrome OS, such as support for certain audio codecs, which cannot be included in Chromium OS due to licensing reasons.

Satisfying, Neverware CloudReady is a project that uses the Chromium OS base code and adds additional support to make it a more usable operating system on non-Chromebook devices.

You can install this edition of Chromium OS directly on your PC or laptop, although you should check Neverware’s List of supported devices to check how well your device is supported before you begin. Instead of doing this, let’s explore how to install CloudReady Chrome OS as a VMWare virtual machine.

Install Chrome OS on VMWare

VMWare allows you to run a virtual machine, with its own isolated virtual hardware and storage, on top of your existing operating system. For example, installing Ubuntu in Virtualbox will give you access to Linux on top of Windows or macOS.

You can do this temporarily to test out a new system, or to keep two operating systems running simultaneously for an extended period of time. Thanks to Neverware CloudReady, you can test and try out the Chromebook experience without being tied to it.

  • Name your CloudReady virtual machine (or leave the default name intact), then click Import† This will import the virtual machine image and settings into VMWare Workstation Player.
  • Wait for the import process to complete, which may take a minute or two depending on your PC. When you’re done, select your virtual machine and click Play virtual machine to turn it on.

If your PC is properly set up for virtualization, VMWare Workstation Player CloudReady should load in seconds. You can then begin the installation process.

Set up Chromium OS

When you first start ChromeReady, you will be presented with a control panel. Chromium OS, like all Chromebooks, requires you to have a Google account to sign in and use it.

If you don’t have one yet, create a google account now, go back to the CloudReady virtual machine.

  • On the CloudReady welcome screen, click Let’s go to start the installation process.
  • VMware will attempt to set up your network connection. VMware usually shares your host Internet connection with the CloudReady virtual machine automatically.

    If this doesn’t work, check if VMWare is sharing the correct connection by clicking Player > Manage > Virtual Machine Settings > Network Adapter > Configure Adapters and ensure that the correct adapter is selected.

  • Confirm whether or not you want to provide anonymous analytics to Neverware by checking or unchecking the Send stats to help improve CloudReady box in the next stage. Click Get on continue.
  • In the final stage, sign in to CloudReady with your Google account information. Once you are logged in, CloudReady will log in automatically, configuring the Chromium browser to add your extensions, bookmarks, etc.

Using Neverware CloudReady

Your CloudReady Chromium OS virtual machine works and is very similar to a typical Chromebook. Click on the circular menu icon in the lower-left corner to access your apps, settings, and files, and install new apps from the Chrome Web Store.

  • To further configure your CloudReady experience, click Menu > Settings† This will bring up a Chrome-esque settings screen, where you can configure your network settings, connect Android devices, and install third-party media plugins.
  • You can also change the background and theme used by clicking Menu > Settings > Appearance > Background or Appearance > Browser Themes† If you choose to add a new theme, you can download it from the Chrome Web Store.
  • Neverware CloudReady will use a US time zone and keyboard configuration by default. You can change this by clicking Menu > Settings > Language & input† Click Language to set your language, and Input method to choose a different locale for your keyboard.
  • When you’re done trying CloudReady, click Ctrl + Alt on your keyboard to move your cursor outside the CloudReady screen, then click Player > Power > Disable Guest to shut down the virtual machine.

Try the Chromebook experience

By installing Chrome OS on a VMWare virtual machine, you can: differences between Chromebooks and PCs before you decide to buy your own. While the experience may be similar, there are differences to keep in mind, including storage limits and app support.

If the Chromebook experience isn’t for you, you can install other operating systems in VMWare Workstation and try these instead.

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