Chromium OS does not have an official build for the Raspberry Pi, even though it’s an ARM device. The reason? The project only focuses on Chromebooks and other Chrome devices. However, don’t worry! There’s an unofficial build of the operating system that can run on the Pi.
As of now, the unofficial Chromium OS build for the Pi is in “test” mode, and it only supports Pi 3/Pi 3B+, and Pi 4. Since it is in “test” mode, some features of the OS are yet to be implemented, bugs are present, and things can crash at random times. Still, if you have a spare Raspberry Pi 3/3B+ or Pi 4 and need a full-featured operating system, Chromium OS is one of the best.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to get the latest build of Chromium OS for the Pi, and set it up to run as a functioning operating system.
Download Chromium OS build for Raspberry Pi 3/3B+/Pi 4
Getting your hands on the unofficial Chromium OS build for the Raspberry Pi isn’t difficult, as the project hosts all of its code publicly on GitHub. To start the download, launch a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, with the terminal window open, use the wget download tool to grab the OS.
Note: not using Linux? Download either the Pi 3 or Pi 4 OS images here.
After using the wget tool to download the unofficial Chromium OS build for your Pi 3 or 4, do not extract the XZ archive! Leave it as it is, as it needs to be flashed to an SD card in the next section of this guide.
Installing Chromium OS to the Raspberry Pi
Installing the Chromium OS image to the Raspberry Pi 3 or 4 works exactly like how other operating systems are installed: flashing an IMG.XZ file to a Micro SD card.
On Linux, the SD card imaging process can be done in many ways (terminal with DD, Gnome Disks, etc.). However, in this guide, we will be using the Etcher SD Card/USB imaging tool, as it is easy to use, and works very well with Raspberry Pi OS images. Additionally, it works the same on Mac, Linux, and Windows, as it is cross-platform.
To get Etcher for your operating system, head over to the official website. Once there, click the “Download” button to grab it for the operating system you’re using to set up Chromium OS on the Pi. Install Etcher, and launch it.
Once the Etcher application is launched on your computer, find the blue “Select image” button and click it. Then, use the open-file dialog box to browse for “chromiumos_test_image_r77r2-rpi3b.img.xz” or “chromiumos_test_image_r77r2-rpi4b.img.xz”, and click the “Open” button.
Next, plug in your Pi’s SD card to the computer, and find the “Select Drive” button. Click it to choose the SD card as the device to flash Chromium OS onto.
Find the “Flash!” button, and click it with the mouse to start the flashing process, and be patient.
Getting Chromium OS on Raspberry Pi working
Getting Chromium OS on Raspberry Pi working is identical to setting up a Chromebook, and the UI in the setup is similar. To start the configuration process, plug in your Raspberry Pi with the Micro USB power supply. Additionally, plug in a USB keyboard and mouse.
After plugging in the power supply, keyboard, and mouse, connect an HDMI cord to the Pi’s HDMI port and hook it up to your computer monitor or television. When the HDMI is connected, you should see a window that says “Searching for Bluetooth and USB devices…” Click the “Continue” button at the bottom to move on to the next page.
Following the “Searching for Bluetooth and USB devices…” page, you will be required to connect to a WiFi network. Using the UI, log into your wireless network. Or, plug in an ethernet cable into the Pi. Once connected, click “Next” to continue.
With Chromium OS connected to the internet, it will check for updates. Sit back, and be patient. It will take a couple of seconds.
Once Chromium OS is done checking for software updates, you will be prompted to log into your Google account. Enter your Gmail address and the password associated with it to log in.
When you successfully enter your Gmail address and password into the login box, Chromium OS will start up and present you with the desktop. From here, click on the “Chromium” icon to browse the web, or the search icon on the left to open other Chrome apps on the Pi.