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How to try out Chromium OS under Linux, without a Chromebook

The Chromium team have an automated build bot that generates builds every night; this short guide will explain how to get one of these nightly builds running in QEMU so you can try it out!

QEMU is (according to wikipedia) “QEMU (short for “Quick EMUlator”) is a free and open-source hosted hypervisor that performs hardware virtualization” – basically a system for running virtual machines in a slightly different way to VirtualBox/VMWare.

First, we need to fetch the Chromium OS build we’re going to try. The builds are generated here:

http://build.chromium.org/p/chromiumos/waterfall

You’ll want to pick a build for whatever platform you’d like to emulate – I’m going to use QEMU on an x86_64, so I’ll get the x86_64 build; the one I’m after is

amd64-generic full

(not incremental!)

Once you’ve picked that, you’ll be presented with a list of currently building, pending build requests, and at the bottom of the page, the recent builds; we really want to pick the most recent successful build. Click on that build which will take you to the build results page.

Towards the bottom of the output on the build details page should be one marked “Artifacts[amd64-generic]…” – find that and click on it; the next page lists the artifacts generated for that particular build.

The OS image that we want to run in QEMU is the

chromiumos_base_image.tar.xz

Download this file, then from a shell, run:

tar xf chromiumos_base_image.tar.xz

that should give you

chromiumos_base_image.bin

Next up, we need to make sure we have QEMU installed; for Ubuntu/debian systems, just run:

sudo apt-get install qemu

and that should pick up everything you need to get QEMU running.

Now it’s time to boot our new Chromium OS box! From a shell (again, I’m on an x86 so the exact command may differ for you):

qemu-system-x86_64 -enable-kvm -m 2048 -hda chromiumos_base_image.bin

Now you should have Chromium OS in its own window for you to explore 🙂