Google's Chrome OS Has a Future on Dual-Boot Systems, Starting Now
Lately, there have been some signs of rejuvenation for Google's Chrome OS and Chrombooks based on the platform. As noted here, Chrome OS and Chromebooks got off to a shaky start due to the fact that they require users to use applications and store data in the cloud--a two-fisted approach that alienated some users who wanted local apps and data storage.
But since then, Chromebooks running Chrome OS have started to gain some traction in schools, and some people are doing what we predicted would happen in the first place: They are loading their favorite Linux distributions alongside Chrome OS on their Chromebooks.
Chromebooks and Chrome OS have a lot going for them. They offer airtight security, have solid hardware specs, boot almost instantly, and more. But not all users want to be painted into a corner in terms of using applications and storing data out in the cloud. In short, Chromebooks force a cloud-only compute model that leaves people used to working with local files and data in the cold.
However, what if you could take advantage of the best of Chromebooks and Chrome OS and still have the advantages of your favorite Linux distro--all on the same computer? That's the challenge tackled in ExtremeTech's story, "Unleash Your Chromebox: How to Dual-boot Ubuntu Linux on Your Chrome OS Device." According to the story (which focuses on the "Chromboxes" given out at Google I/O):
"Fortunately, Google and Samsung, who makes the ‘box, seem to have anticipated exactly this response, and left both the Chromebooks and Chromeboxes wide open to hacking. Not only can the devices be converted to dual-boot Chrome OS and Linux — nullifying the locked-down Chrome OS security model in the process of course — but it’s also easy to return them back to their locked-up factory defaults...Beginning the journey to a hacked Chromebox is as simple as flipping the developer switch in the back — slightly hidden inside the Kensington lock slot."
As the article shows, running Ubuntu alongside Chrome OS on the Chromebox is as easy as loading it in its own partition.
The fact is, this was bound to happen, and it is smart of Google to pursue hardware approaches and other open ideas that facilitate the use of Chrome OS alongside other operating systems. We were looking for this approach back in early 2010, and it can still work.
Let's see if more Chrome OS-based machines appear with easy hacking options, and don't be surprised if you see some systems arriving pre-loaded with Chrome OS and other operating systems.