Diet Chromium – A Slimmer Chrome OS That Supports More Hardware

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The other day Jorge showed you how you can run Chrome OS off a USB drive in this exceptional article. As you might know, Google has released the source code for Chrome OS as Chromium OS, much like they did with the Chrome Web Browser, giving people ample opportunity to play along with the open source counterpart of Chrome OS.

As with any popular open source project, there are a number of forks, mods and releases of the Chromium OS on the interwebs already. One such release which has greatly impressed users is called Diet Chromium.

An odd name for an Operating System, it refers to the amazingly small size of the release – sort of a “Chrome Lite.” A mere 300MB, it is by no means a trimmed down version of Chrome OS. In fact, it supports more hardware than Chrome OS. Heck, I even got it working on my aging desktop computer using a 1 GB USB drive I had lying around. That is what I expect and want a cloud based OS to be.

Here is how you can get this Chrome Lite OS working as well:

You can download Diet Chromium from here. After the download is complete, extract to get an IMG file. IMG files are to USB drives what ISO files are to CDs. So you would need a software to write the IMG file to a USB drive. You can use Win32 Disk Imager as Jorge suggested if you are on Windows. If you are using Linux for creating the bootable USB drive you can use the ever so handful ‘dd’ command like so:

dd if=<path to IMG file> of=<path to USB drive>

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chrome lite


With that done you are all set to try out Chrome (Chromium) OS. Plug your USB drive in and restart the computer. Make sure to set the boot order to check external drives before it checks the internal hard disk or it will default back to the operating system you have got installed.

chrome lite

The OS boots as fast as touted about. Almost instantaneously you are presented with the login screen, use your Google Account to login. After it signs you in you see a – yes you guessed it – ‘a browser’, Chromium to be precise. Gmail and Google Calendar open as separate pinned tabs by default. Everything is the browser and the browser is everything, so without much surprise the applications are all web apps. You can access them by clicking on the Chrome/Chromium icon.

chrome lite

The operating system is in early stages and not many options are available at this time. You can toggle ethernet or wifi on or off depending upon your preference (It detected LAN on my PC and WiFi on the laptop automatically).

chrome os

Besides this there are a few options pertaining to Chromium itself that you can mess around with:

chrome os

Help! My Computer Doesn’t Boot From My USB Drive!

Have a really old computer that can’t boot from a USB drive? Fear not, we have got you covered. You too can have a piece of the Diet Chromium pie courtesy of VirtualBox!

Although there are a few extra steps you would have to keep in mind. Remember that Diet Chromium is available as an IMG file. We created a bootable USB drive using the IMG file, well now we have to create a bootable virtual harddisk that Virtual Box will recognize. Doing so is easy, just run the following command:

VBoxManage convertrawformat -format VDI <IMG file path> <filename>.vdi

You might have to cd to the Virtualbox install directory if it is not included in the PATH environment variable. Now attach this VDI file as the virtual hard disk when you create a Chromium OS virtual machine. You can now start and use the virtual machine just like any other.

Trying out Chrome (Chromium) OS is even simpler now. All you need is a 1 GB USB drive and a reasonably good computer and Diet Chromium. Check it out and let us know what you think about Google’s new operating system! Will you switch to it full time once it comes out in 2010?

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