Earlier this year Asus unveiled the first Chromebit: a tiny computer-on-a-stick that runs Google’s Chrome OS software. Plug it into the HDMI port of a display or monitor and you’ve got a Chrome-powered computer.

But it’s been more than half a year since the Chrombit was introduced, and you still can’t buy one yet. But you can kind of make your own.

Ian Morrison has come up with a method for installing Chromium OS on an Intel Compute Stick or other devices with similar hardware.

chromium stick

Chromium is the open source version of Chrome, with most (but not all) of the same features. Theoretically you should be able to load any version of Chromium OS on the Compute Stick… but you might run into some hardware compatibility issues.

The nice thing about Morrison’s build is that WiFi should work out of the box. The less nice thing is that audio does not work… at least not yet.

Since his instructions show how to install Chromium on a microSD card or USB flash drive, you also won’t have to replace the operating system on your Compute Stick to try Chromium. Just hit F10 when the tiny computer is booting and choose the appropriate storage device from the boot options menu.

Morrison also made sure to include support for Crouton, which means that you can use Google’s Chrome-based operating system as your primary OS. But if/when you want to run software that’s not available for Chromium OS you can load up Ubuntu or another Linux-based operating system in a chroot environment. This lets you flip back and forth between Ubuntu and Chrome OS by pressing a keyboard shortcut.

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6 replies on “Make your own Chromebit with an Intel Compute Stick and Chromium OS”

  1. Try Crowdready! https://www.neverware.com/free#freedetails

    It might have the security as its also designed for educators and to turn existing older computers into chromebooks. I have tried it on an older Dell and Toshiba laptop and it works beautifully. I bet it would work on a Compute Stick.

    1. I have been trying to get Cloudready running under Virtualbox, with no luck. If I had a laptop I wasn’t using, I would give it a try (but I have two running Ubuntu Gnome, and they are working fine).

      1. If you actually try to install it (rather than just run it from flash) make sure you are not logged in when you try to install it to the drive. That gave me 24 of headaches until I read the forums. Works like a champ once it installed!

  2. One of the things I like about ChromeOS is the ‘ground-up’ security in the products and for a lot of people it’s the security of Chrome OS that’s the important part of it. These Chromium retro-fits don’t include any of the boot security and that makes it just another Linux distro to me.

    1. You’re right, without the read only rom and verified boot it is not as secure as ChromeOS. For me, things dealing with money, only ChromeOS Guest mode immediately after a reboot. Still, cloudready has a place. Education, which is perpetually looking for a cheaper solution, can install this to reuse old hardware where the security of someone’s essay on Lenin may not be as important as someone’s retirement account. And it does support googles group management. Consumers may want a low maintenance browsing machine for the kitchen, den, or kids to play with that doesn’t have to have malware cleaned every week or so. Too soon to write it off as useless. BTW, I’m typing this comment on an old Dell Latitude with Cloudready. The trackpad is as horrible as ever, but the rest works fine. 🙂

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