Category: Chromium

Install Chromium OS Lime

Noah Petherbridge
Posted by Noah Petherbridge on Monday, March 05 2012 @ 08:06:15 PM
Warning: when installing a new operating system, always make sure to back up your important files from your hard drive, and disconnect any removable USB drives that you don't want to install the OS onto!
When dealing with partition tables and formatting to install an operating system, it's possible to accidentally wipe out partitions that you didn't intend to and you'll lose all your files. Back up anything you don't want to lose first, and I recommend disconnecting any USB hard drives to keep them far away from the disk partitioning process.

That said, onward to the blog post...

This information is ridiculously hard to find on the Internet.

I was playing with Chromium OS using the Lime build provided by Hexxeh. The Lime build is the same as the Vanilla build (i.e. upstream Chromium source code built daily), but it has more driver support, and it's the only build that works with the wifi on my Dell Mini 9.

Getting it onto a flash drive and booting from it was easy enough just following the directions on Hexxeh's site, but actually installing it to the hard drive was a bit more difficult. It was hard to find any up-to-date information online; most bloggers were talking about Hexxeh's old "Flow" builds, so the instructions were outdated. When I specifically googled how to install the Lime build, I was still finding outdated instructions.

Everyone was saying that you just hit Ctrl-Alt-T to get a shell prompt, and run the install command. Not that easy. The only way I could get into any form of text mode was by hitting Ctrl-Alt-F2 (which I only knew to try because I'm a Linux user). But this got me into a text mode login prompt and it took me a while to figure out the right username/password combination.

The username is chronos and the password is facepunch. After that, I was stuck in a really primitive shell that doesn't support anything I'm used to (not even ls), so I went out on a limb and tried running the command bash (which got me into a more familiar Bash shell).

But the install command was no good in Bash -- it was running the GNU install command instead of the one to install Chromium to the disk. After some more tinkering, I found that if I ran crosh (Chrome shell) and then run the install command from there, it did what I want. So, I was finally able to install it to disk.

It didn't end up working out though. The system doesn't boot after installation. Oh well. But hopefully this blog post will help others find out how to install the darn thing.

tl;dr: here's how I figured out to install Chromium OS to disk:

  1. Boot it from the USB drive.
  2. Push Ctrl-Alt-F2 to get to the text mode login.
  3. Log in as chronos / facepunch
  4. Type crosh, hit enter.
  5. Type install, hit enter.
Update (Mar 6): It turns out Dell has their own semi-official builds of Chromium OS for the Dell Mini 9 and 10v laptops. They can be downloaded from Dell's site here. I downloaded the Jan 3 2012 image. Following their instructions was easy enough, but I found a few differences that I'll note here:
  • On the first boot from the USB, wifi drivers weren't installed, so I couldn't get past the first screen. Ctrl-Alt-T doesn't work here, so I had to use Ctrl-Alt-F2 to get to the text mode login prompt.
  • The text mode log-on is chronos / dell1234 (the "dell" user didn't work). Then I was able to start bash and then execute /etc/ to install the wifi.
  • On the second boot from USB, wifi worked and I went through the setup process. Once logged in, Ctrl-Alt-T works. :)
The install from Dell's image did the trick too, and I now have Chromium installed on the internal hard drive on my Dell Mini 9. :)

Interestingly, the UI of Dell's image looks different to the Lime and Vanilla builds. The Lime and Vanilla builds had what looked like a sort of primitive desktop (complete with a wallpaper), and the Chromium browser windows could be resized and moved around the screen. Where you'd expect the task bar to be on a Windows system, was what looked more like the Mac dock, with icons representing all your opened Chromium windows (plus a couple other icons, one that brings up a menu and one that has the Chromium icon and didn't appear to do anything).

Screenshots of UI differences:

Chromium Lime
Chromium Lime (and Vanilla)

Chromium Dell
Dell's Chromium build

Dell's build looks more like the Chrome OS I've always seen screenshots of, so I think maybe the Lime and Vanilla builds are customized a bit (or else it's just a super new UI change and Dell's January image isn't up-to-date enough).