Anyone who knows Chrome, knows Hexxeh- the fellow behind pretty much every open source Chrome OS build available on the net. If you’ve used a Chrome build, and it wasn’t on a Chromebook- you probably used on built by him. You probably get the idea by now- he’s kind of a big deal, guys-at least when it comes to the Chrome open source community. Now, you’re probably wondering what Hexxeh has to do with this story, right?
Turns out, he’s been busy- on top of developing new Chromium builds for all of us to fiddle with; he’s also managed to do something very interesting with Apple’s new Macbook Air- he’s jammed Chromium into it.
I’m not just talking virtualization, either-Hexxeh’s tossed OSX out the window for this one. The Macbook seen here is one hundred percent Chrome. Pretty spiffy, no? Now, unfortunately, the Macbook Air isn’t going to have all the same features one might find in a Chromebook- it’s simply not built to accommodate some of the features that are standard fare for Chrome- such as verified boot or boot speed optimization. According to Hexxeh, his jury-rigged Macbook Chrome takes around twenty two seconds to start up- pretty damned fast, but left in the dust by a traditional Chromebook.
Aside from a massive leap in hard drive space and slightly improved graphics hardware(which you’ll need to do some BIOS tweaking to get up and running); Hexxeh’s Macbook Chrome isn’t all that different from a traditional Chromebook. I mean, you could have double the RAM if you shelled out extra for the 4 GB model, and about .24 GHz more processing power, but that aside…not a whole lot to see here. Still, Hexxeh says it’s pretty awesome-we should probably take his word for it. After all; he is the expert here. Anyway, those of you who enjoy tinkering with code are probably clamoring to find out how to do this yourself, aren’t you?
How to Do It Yourself
Here’s the process, straight from Mr. Mcullough himself:
Step One: First things first, you’ll need to download the Chromium install image.
Step Two: Next up, extract the archive using a decompression tool. Hexxeh recommends Unarchiver for Mac.
Step Three: Burn the image to a USB stick using dd. Check the Wiki for instructions on how to do this, as it’s the same as Flow/Vanilla instructions.
Step Four: Insert both the USB stick and the OSX install drive into your Macbook Air while it’s powered off.
Step Five: Hold the “C” key down and press the power button, letting go of the “C” key once the Apple logo appears.
Step Six: After selecting your language; click “Utilities” on the bar at the top of the install wizard, then click “Terminal”
Step Seven: Type “unmount/dev/disk*” without quotations.
Step Eight: Type “dd if=/dev/rdisk1 of=/dev/rdisk0 bs=4m count=512.” without quotations
Step Nine: Type “bless –device /dev/disk0s2 –setBoot –legacy” without quotations.
Step Ten: Once it says its finished, power off your machine.
Step Eleven: Remove both your USB stick and the OS X install drive.
Step Twelve: That’s it! You’re done!
Dual Booting Chromium And OS X
Now, those of you reading this are probably wondering why you need to wipe OS X from your system just to run Chromium on it. Basically…there’s currently no way to boot from the USB drive on the Air. It’s certainly possible to dual boot the two, if you’re savvy enough- but Hexxeh has, for some reason, stated that he will not support that practice. Just the same, he offers some rudimentary instructions on how to do it, if you’re feeling daring. Do note that this is one of those “perform at your own risk” procedures:
1: Make sure that the first partition on the CrOS image is the first partition on your SSD.
2: Make sure that the third partition on the CrOS image is the third partition on your SSD.
3: Make sure that you have a bootloader configured in the same way as the one on the second partition of the CrOS image.
For now, that’s all we’ve got- I’m sure someone will post a more in-depth explanation of how to do it at a later date. I’ll keep you folks posted.