Neverware: ChromeOS on third-party hardware

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
48,409
5,269
136
http://www.neverware.com/free

What you need:

1. A computer (preferably a pre-tested compatible model)
2. The install image (link - click "DOWNLOAD CLOUDREADY NOW", 600 megs)
3. Chromebook Recovery Utility (plugin for Google Chrome desktop browser)
4. 8gb (or 16gb) USB stick

Basically, just download the image & then write it to a USB stick using the recovery utility within a Chrome browser on your PC. From there, boot to USB and you can either run ChromeOS off the stick, or else write it to the hard drive as the host OS. I tested an Optiplex 330 (2ghz dual-core Pentium E2180 with 3GB RAM) in the following configurations:

1. With an integrated GPU & with a dedicated GPU
2. Booting off USB, HDD, and SSD

Using a dedicated GPU makes a noticeable difference...the GUI is very snappy with even a basic 8400GS card. As far as usability goes, the installation method & drive also makes a big difference. I started out using a very slow USB 2.0 stick and there was a fair amount of lag. The worst combo was definitely integrated graphics + booting off a (slow) USB 2.0 stick. Installing Neverware to the boot drive sped things up a bit, but an SSD helped even more. Booting off an internal SSD & using a dedicated GPU was the best combination and made it very usable for basic users. Still a bit laggy in the GUI (at least for power users...nowhere near as zippy as an actual Chromebook), but the dual-core Pentium is plenty usable for a regular computer user.

Nice way to re-use old equipment. Chromebooks are fairly inexpensive these days (cheap ones are in the $150 range), but if you can get an old Optiplex (or other compatible & tested model) for $50 (or free) then it's not a bad way to re-purpose it. I hate to see old equipment go to waste, so this is a pretty cool way to extend out the usable life of a computer without having to resort to using actual Linux or something else your average user would struggle with. Plus you don't have to feel bad about donating say a Windows XP or Vista PC to a friend or family member (growing incompatibility list, insecurities, etc.) because ChromeOS is more or less bulletproof.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
48,409
5,269
136
I'd be curious as to how well it performs on quality hardware & how good the driver support is. My only real complaint about my current Chromebook, which I love, is that 2 gigs of RAM is just not nearly enough. I was eyeballing the Chromebook Pixel, but I don't want to spend a grand+ on a laptop that only runs ChromeOS. A used Dell E6520 laptop loaded up with an i7, 16 gigs of RAM, and a small SSD would be half that price (granted, no weight savings or awesome battery life).

I bet it would really fly on some newer systems, like a Core 2 Duo or a base i3 or something.
 

v-600

Senior member
Nov 1, 2010
488
3
76
I installed it on an old Dell Vostro 3500. It worked really well until the HD gave up the ghost. Everything worked out of the box and battery life wasn't unduly changed.
 

Magic Carpet

Diamond Member
Oct 2, 2011
3,477
231
106
You know, for those one-off applications, you can do with pretty much any Linux-based OS. Google may have revolutionized the internet search but in the OS world, they are copycats. Ubuntu works fine for me.

NB. Still, GPU hardware acceleration works best in Windows.
 
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