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Chrome OS hacker ports Chrome OS into a Macbook Air

Chrome OS has been ported to the Macbook Air to make it a dual-boot system

If you find your $1000 Macbook Air too costly – this might give you something more to cheer about. Popular Chrome OS hacker Hexxeh has released a Chrome OS build that can be hacked into a Macbook Air. This would make the Macbook Air to dual-boot into either of the two operating systems.

He is pretty confident that every piece of hardware works except for the Bluetooth. This is understandable as Bluetooth isn’t currently supported by the Chromium OS. Apart from that most other things like the Wi-Fi, graphics accelerator via the NVIDIA graphics chip, screen brightness controls, audio, touchpad etc perform as expected – although some not optimally. For example, the touchpad drivers could use some tweaking, as scrolling seems to be painfully slow right now.

One major problem in this hack is that the Chrome OS build cannot be installed from an USB stick, so one will have to install it on the Air’s SSD – removing the stock Mac OS X in the process. However, this makes the system gain a boot time to make it up to 22 seconds to the login screen. Hexxeh says it could have been even less, could the system bypassed Apple’s EFI implementation. The new Battery life is probably slightly better than that of OS X.

Now if you wish to make the machine dual-boot, you can do so by what is called a Boot camp. Simply make sure that the first partition on the CrOS image is the first partition on your SSD, the third partition on the CrOS image is the third on the SSD and that you have a bootloader somewhere configured in the same way as the one on the second partition of the CrOS image.

Though Hexxeh has tested it only on the 11″ model of the Air, the build should work on the 13″ version as well – tells Hexxeh. If you are like us, you might try this on other Macbooks as well – at your own expense of course!

To install the Chrome OS on to the SSD, you’ll need a 2GB USB stick and the Mac OS X. It takes about 30 minutes for the Chrome OS to get installed, erasing the stock OS in the process.


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Pallab Jyotee Hazarika, 2011-07-21 (Update: 2012-05-26)