Now that the Chromebook is out and I’ve speculated about the target audience, I wanted to give running the Google OS a shot. The closest I know that you can get is running Chronium OS which is the open source version.
This is the first time I needed a virtual machine on my mac. I decided to start with VirtualBox since it is free for personal use. It met my needs, so I’m done. I should try Fusion at some point, but I didn’t need it for this. I started by downloading the 82MB download for VirtualBox.
Setting up the VM
Since the “versioned” copy only provides a VM Ware and USB stick image, I tried following the instructions to convert the USB image to a vgi virtualbox file. (The USB download is 324 MB.) Launching the VM that way just gave me a black screen.
Next I tried getting the nightly snapshot build for VirtualBox from the “vanilla” site. That worked well and I got the Chromium login screen.
I created the VM both times. using 512 MB RAM and Linux Ubuntu 32 bit.
Taking a screenshot
The only thing that that wasn’t obvious in VirtualBox was how to take a screenshot. Thanks to this Techmix post, I learned you need to press left command to return the keyboard to the host mac and then use the right command key (with shift + 4) to grab a screenshot and have it sent to the desktop of the host mac. And you have to do this every time because the keyboard focus returns to the VM every time you command+tab back to it.
I installed Google OS (Chromium really) in a virtual machine to try it out. It really is as simple as advertised. Here’s everything you have to do.
The first time you use the computer
- Tell the machine how to connect to the internet. It was ethernet rather than wifi. Presumably because the VM is networked to the host machine.
- Username/password for google account if have one.
- Image you’d like to use for identification.
- Practice with your touchpad. You can see this online. It’s pretty cool in that it picks up on the fact that I have a smart touchpad. In my Safari browser on the host machine, I can drag and drop and the like. In my Chrome browser on the guest, I cannot. Both the laptop and external trackpads work fine in the Chrome browser on guest; it’s just the test page giving me problems.
- Usability issue: It took me about five minutes to realize that was it. It’s a normal browser window from which yo can go to other websites.
Click time and “open date and time options” to get the control panel lite. This is where you can say you don’t want passwords saved, set up security and other preferences. You can also get here by clicking the wrench on the right side of the screen.
If you close the browser, you get the bookmarks bar. It starts with an option to take you to the webstore which offers both free and paid apps. You mean you didn’t want to play Angry Birds? The other built in option is the file manager which appears to host local and cloud storage. I was puzzled because I thought there was no local storage.
There options for the browser are easy to read.
The second login
It shows your cute icon/avatar. It took about 15 seconds to launch. I’m not sure how much of that is Chromium and how much is me launching a computer within my computer. (For the more technical folks reading this, I imagine starting a real computer is going to be about the same or a little slower.)