What is chromeOS?

The term Chrome, developed and controlled by Google, caused confusion. The same name referred to both the OS and the web browser. Google finally took care of this simple annoyance by changing the name of the OS to chromeOS following the same convertion as Apple — macOS macOS and iOS — where the name of the OS starts with lower case followed the word OS as a single word. The original version of chromeOS was intended for its line of laptops, marketed under the name Chromebook. Just like Google's portable OS, Android, it is also based on Linux.

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65277366

As of 2010, a year before its first release, the development of the chromeOS switched to Gentoo because of the flexibility of its package manager — Portage.

Although the OS is open source, users only have access to personal files, but no access to system files especially the kernel. chromeOS mostly runs web applications making it basically a thin client — except for multimedia with several (if not all) codecs, camera and daemons.

Running chromeOS (stable channel only) demands the user to completely trust Google as it controls all aspects of the OS including and perhaps not limited to updates, which is perfect for users. As a matter of fact, all applications are only accessible through the Chrome Web Store and there is little to no risk of viruses or other malware.

As of version 53 of the OS released on September 2016, Google Chrome can run a Google Play, which allows users install and run Android apps.

chromeOS has a limited shell in user mode named crosh.

The latter was taken from help_advanced.

Installing chromeOS:

Before early 2022, there was no OS installation. chromeOS is heavily isolated. In other words, the user has no root access — no control over the OS.

In case of extreme errors, there is a local utility that resets the system to factory settings from an on-board ROM chip called POWERWASH. Another alternative only when suggested by the Chromebook vendor was to re-store the OS creating a recovery USB flash drive and booting from it. In the latter scenario, you needed to contact the vendor for specific instructions.

Note that OS updates do not count as installations. Updates are pushed by default and the end user only needs to reboot the machine. These changes to the OS are written to a ROM chip. If you were to run POWERWASH, you would not have to reinstall all updates to the OS.

Introducing ChromeOS Flex:

In 2002, Google finally made chromeOS available to any computer running a 64-bit chipset — except for old Chromebook (upper case C, fairly annoying that Google cannot seem to follow its own naming convention). The new variation of the OS is ChromeOS Flex. I tried downloading ChromeOS Flex for my EOL (end of life, no longer supported, no more updates including severe security fixes) ASUS Chromebook C202SA, but the script used to verify the OS, manufacturer and model of the machine gave me the latest version of chromeOS and not Flex. I have not found a way to fool or bypass the script. It seems that Google does not want users to extend the life of laptops they have previously sold in order to push the user into buying a new machine. The life cycle of a Chromebook is eight (8) years.

Whether I want to admit or not, I will not buy another chromeOS system. I understand that Google wants to make money (advertisement revenue, store fees, cloud computing, etc.), but why should I pay for a machine (cash cow) that already makes money from every more I make.

As an alternative, some users have installed crouton.

crouton is a set of scripts that bundle up into an easy-to-use, Chromium OS-centric chroot generator. Currently Ubuntu and Debian are supported (using debootstrap behind the scenes) (crouton GitHub, 08/09/2022).

This script allows you to install a version of Linux as recommended (supported) by the script. I understand that one of these distros is Ubuntu-based Linux Lite for its low resource consumption.