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How to run ChromeOS in VirtualBox

Would you like to try ChromeOS in VirtualBox? Whether you’re buying a Chromebook and want to get a feel for the operating system, or just curious about ChromeOS, a virtual machine is a great way to try out Google’s browser-first operating system.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t offer downloads of ChromeOS – at least not in a form that is easy to use with a virtual machine. The popular ChromeOS builds that were once offered by Hexxah seem to have disappeared as well. Even the CloudReady version of Neverware has limitations.

However, your choices for running ChromeOS in a virtual machine are extremely narrow. Here̵

7;s how to run the older ChromeOS build of Neverware in VirtualBox. If you want something newer, the company offers a build for VMware ESXi 6.5, Workstation 14.1.1, and Fusion 10.1.

What you need

The latest version of the CloudReady ChromeOS image, version 83, will not work with VirtualBox due to “graphics incompatibilities”. You need to find and download the older version listed below as Neverware does not offer this file. As for VirtualBox, the latest version works just fine.

Before installing VirtualBox

VirtualBox won’t work if certain features are installed in Windows 10. If you encounter an error loading the ChromeOS image, do the following:

Step 1: Enter “turn” in the search box on the taskbar and select Turn Windows features on or off in the results.

Step 2: A pop-up window will appear on the screen. The following features should be disabled (but first check what you’re losing access to):

  • Application Guard – Untrustworthy sites defined in isolation by companies.
  • Credential Guard – Virtualization-based security that only allows privileged system software access to secrets.
  • Device Guard – Enables Hyper-V components.
  • * Guard
  • Container – System-level virtualization to run multiple isolated applications.
  • Hyper-V – Runs 64-bit virtual machines on the host operating system.
  • Virtual machine platform – Component for running a virtual machine.
  • Windows Hypervisor Platform – Adds an advanced user mode API for third-party virtualization stacks and applications.
  • Windows Sandbox – A virtual one-way environment.
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) – A compatibility layer for running Linux executable binaries.

Note: The functions listed above relate to virtualization and are not included in Windows 10 Home. Re-enable these features if you don’t want to use VirtualBox outside of this ChromeOS test drive.

Step 3: Restart Windows 10.

If the ChromeOS image still fails to load, try the following:

Step 1: Right click on Beginning Button and select Windows PowerShell (Admin) on the Main user menu.

Step 2: Type: bcdedit / set hypervisorlaunchtype off

Step 3: Shut down and restart the PC. Don’t just click “Restart”.

Run ChromeOS in VirtualBox

VirtualBox Import Appliance
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Step 1: With VirtualBox open, click file in the upper left corner, followed by Import appliance in the drop-down menu.

Step 2: Next to the file Click on the field folder Find the icon on the far right, find the CloudReady_Free_x64_Virtualbox.ova file on your PC, and then click to open Button.

Find the VirtualBox source file
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Step 3: The OVA file is displayed in the file field. click Next keep going.

Step 4: Leave all default settings of the appliance alone and click on Import Button to continue. A popup will appear when VirtualBox creates the ChromeOS virtual machine.

VirtualBox Importing Appliance
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Step 5: In the VirtualBox Manager main window, select the option CloudReady_Free_x86 virtual machine, and then click the green Beginning Button.

Open the ChromeOS virtual machine
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Step 6: The CloudReady logo will be displayed for a moment until the installation window loads. Select a language, keyboard layout, and network connection, then click Continue when ready.

Set up the ChromeOS VM
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Step 7: The Adobe Flash EULA terms are displayed. Press the Not now Button.

Step 8: Enter your Google Account email address or phone and click Next Button.

Step 9: Enter your Google Account password and click Next Button.

Note: You can also choose Browse as a guest, although you’ll see more of ChromeOS with a Google Account.

Step 10: Check the two-step authentication if necessary.

Welcome to ChromeOS

ChromeOS VM in VirtualBox
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

With ChromeOS loaded, you can get an idea of ​​what to expect. This build does not reflect the latest version as the entire user interface looks different. Some web-based apps associated with your account may appear below, but that’s about it. This build doesn’t come with wallpapers, so we downloaded one using the Chrome browser.

Chrome browser in VirtualBox
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

In newer builds, apps are hidden in a “drawer” that you can access by clicking Launcher Symbol. In this older build, click Magnifying glass In the lower left corner you’ll see an old school pop-up with all of your web-based apps. Because this build doesn’t support (or contain) Google Play, Android apps cannot be downloaded and installed.

ChromeOS App Tray
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Click your icon next to the system clock followed by the settings For changing the wallpaper, mouse speed, default download location, Google Cloud Print, and more.

ChromeOS settings VirtualBox

While there doesn’t seem to be a way to change the output resolution to better complement your PC’s desktop. However, you can toggle between three modes: Full Screen, Seamless, or Scaled – or choose a percentage to scale the ChromeOS desktop from 125% to 125% by 300%.

ChromeOS VM Change Scaling
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Click as shown above view Select one of the three modes in the menu bar of the virtual machine or click on Virtual screen 1 and choose a certain percentage.

Try it before you buy it

At this point, running ChromeOS in a virtual machine with the build linked above is just an example. Unfortunately, the current CloudReady image does not support VirtualBox. Furthermore, it doesn’t even run in VMware Workstation Player 15.5 – it only works in VMware ESXi 6.5, Workstation 14.1.1, and Fusion 10.1.

If you’d like to try ChromeOS, just visit Best Buy or a similar retail store that sells Chromebooks. Otherwise, experimenting with ChromeOS in VirtualBox is extremely limited until another image with a newer ChromeOS version arrives.

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