How to Install Chromium OS for the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi Chromium operating system is a great alternative to Raspbian offering a simple, fast & secure experience for anyone who finds themselves on the web a lot.

Raspberry Pi Chromium

Now this version of the operating system is a work in progress, so there are still quite a few issues at the time of this tutorial.

It appears work on this has halted, so be sure to check out their subreddit or the official website for any updates on development. If in-progress work doesn’t bother you and would love to get Chromium on your Pi, then let’s get to it.

I should also mention that for me there was a noticeable improvement in using the Raspberry Pi 3 over the 2 with this image. I came across fewer issues, and it just seemed to work better overall.

Equipment

All the equipment that you will need for this tutorial is listed below. If you’re starting out, then a starter kit will have everything you need to get started.

Recommended:

Raspberry Pi 2 or 3

16Gb+ Micro SD Card

Ethernet Cord or Wifi dongle (If you’re using a Pi 3 you don’t need a WiFi dongle)

Raspberry Pi Power Supply

Optional:

Raspberry Pi Case

USB Keyboard

USB Mouse

Video

If you want to hear me talk through the process of installing Chromium OS and any extra little bits that you might want to know, then please check out the video below.

If you like it, then please don’t forget to subscribe or follow us on social media so you can stay up to date on all our latest work.

Installing the Raspberry Pi Chromium OS

As with most of the operating system installation guides, I have done this one is pretty easy. You will be wiping the SD card so make sure you don’t have anything you want to keep on there.

Download & Preparing the SD Card

1. Firstly, we need to get the latest version of the Chromium OS. Their main project website has been down for quite some time and looks like it won’t be coming back. You can still find all the released versions over at their SourceForge mirror (You will most likely want the files in the Raspberry Pi 3 folder.).

Alternatively, you can install Flint OS which is built on Chromium OS and still in active development.

2. On this page scroll down to downloads and then find the latest version for your Pi. For example, CHROMIUMRPI3 is for the Raspberry Pi 3.

3. Once downloaded you will need to unzip the file. If you don’t have any zipping tool installed, I suggest something like 7zip if you’re using Windows (Mac should unzip by double-clicking on it).

4. Next, you will also need a formatting tool. The one I always use and I highly recommend you use, is called SD formatter and can be downloaded here.

5. Once downloaded, install it.

6. Once installed insert the SD card into your PC and check the drive letter allocated for it. (For example: g:/)

sdformatter

7. Now open up the SD formatter and select your drive letter in the required field. Once confirmed that it is all correct press format.

8. Now that’s done we need to install the image on the SD card. To do this download and install the Win32diskimager.

9. Now open up the Win32diskimager and select the image we extracted earlier. It is also super important to make sure the drive letter is correct as you don’t want to wipe a random drive.

10. Once you have confirmed everything is correct, click on write.

win32diskimager Chromium OS

11. Once it is done, merely eject and remove the SD card from the computer.

Now we’re ready to insert the SD card into the Raspberry Pi and boot it up.

First Boot Up

Booting up is a pretty straightforward process, but I will just quickly go through it. If you have ever owned a Chromebook before, then the process is pretty much the same.

When you first boot up, you will be presented with a screen asking for your language, keyboard type and the network you will be using. When I wrote this tutorial, the WiFi wasn’t fully supported, so it’s suggested that you use Ethernet. I did try WiFi but found some weird issues with it.

Next, you will be asked to sign into your google account. If you don’t wish to do this, you can continue as a guest, however, nothing will be personalized to you, and you will also need to login to your Google account manually.

If your login it will sync your preferences and then you can start using the Chromium operating system as usual. I have found that sometimes on setup it gets stuck in an endless loop a simple reboot will fix this.

chromium OS screenshot

Troubleshooting

Now as I mentioned Raspberry Pi Chromium operating system is a work in progress and will contain issues that might be a little annoying if you want a flawless experience. It’s important to know these are likely to be patched and fixed by the people working on this port. If you’re going to see this project grow, make sure you throw your support behind them and let them know of any issues that you come across.

As I mentioned earlier, the Raspberry Pi 3 indeed performed a lot better than the two so if you want a better experience you will need to pick up the latest version of the Pi. You will also find that Netflix isn’t working in the current version but the devs are aware of this and looking into it.

SD Card Formatting Help

You will notice once you write the image to the SD card it will disappear from your file explorer. This lack of icon in the file explorer is really annoying if you need to wipe it or reinstall a different operating system. I go through the steps to getting it back in working condition below.

Either search & open diskpart or open up run and enter diskpart.

Inside the terminal window enter the following:

list volume

It should show something like this, and your volume will have no label and have a size of roughly 121mb and the type will be removable. Be super careful in these next few steps as you will be wiping the drive. Enter following to select the volume you wish to wipe. (Change x to the number of the volume)

select volume x

Now simply write clear and this will reset the SD card and can now be reformatted.

clean

diskpart fix sd card

You will notice that you may get an error saying access is denied to the disk but you will find that it has correctly wiped the disk and is accessible in Windows again.

I hope you have been able to get the Raspberry Pi Chromium installed and working correctly. I hope that it is proving to be a decent alternative to Raspbian. If you come across any problems or anything else that you would like to say, then please feel free to leave a comment below.

37 Comments

  1. Alex Jason on

    Hello, How do I install Flash Player with this Chromium browser? Thanks

  2. Jose Pedro on

    Hi, I followed instructions for image 0.5 and 0.4 for raspberry 2 but can’t get the image to boot – when I start the raspberry I only get the multicolor screen!

    Can anyone help?

    1. Anonymous on

      I have the same problem. I use an old tv with av output not hdmi. I don’t know if this is the reason?

  3. john jones on

    I have a wave share 7 inch touchscreen how do I set this up correctly, it gives me a ghost image at the bottom

    1. Gus on

      I would look at editing the config.txt file manually typically located in /boot/config.txt

      There are a ton of settings that you can set in here: https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/configuration/config-txt.md

      I am not 100%sure how much of them are compatible with this image of chromium.

      Unfortunately the support seems to have stopped over at the chromiumforsbc subreddits and their website is now just display under construction.

  4. mehmet ergene on

    black screen problem goes on? any fixes?

    1. John Guy on

      I got a black screen when I was setting up Chromium up, turns out I did not have the image file on my memory chip. Since there was no OS to boot the screen remained black. Check to be sure you have the image file. I had to unpack the archive 2 times to get the image file needed. Unpack once and you get a *****.tar file, unpack the *****.tar file and you should get the img file you need to put on the memory chip.

  5. kevin on

    hi, I ask you something.
    My computer said, www.chromiumosforsbc.org is under construction.

    So, can you give me the file of ‘CHROMIUMRPI3 0.4 ‘Lenny Bruce’ Latest Version’ please?

    1. Gus on

      Hi Kevin,

      I am not sure what has happened but it looks like they may have pulled the plug on the project. You can find all the downloads for chromiumsbc here

  6. John Guy on

    I have tried and failed 5 times to get Chromium to boot, let alone run. I have no idea what I am doing wrong, followed instructions and still a no go……….help!!!!

    1. John Guy on

      I got it figured out. Turns out I had to unpack the archive file 2 times to get the image file I needed to set up this OS. After I did that things went nice and smooth!!

  7. PiLover on

    Why is the a 2gb file and a 16gb file for download. Which one should I use?

    1. Gus on

      The file sizes represents how much room the space chromium allocate to itself. For example installing the 2gb file on a 16gb card will leave you with 1.4gb free space, 600 mb for chromium and the 14gb will be wasted/inaccessible.

      They currently don’t have a tool available to increase the size to the full size of the SD card.

  8. Charlotte on

    Your tutorial seems very helpful although I haven’t tried it yet.
    Being a complete novice, I bought a starter kit with a Pi 3 and a pre-installed 16GB NOOBS micro SD card and didn’t back it up before I used it because, annoyingly, the kit did not come with a micro SD adapter. I only installed Raspbian and OpenElec but I’m sure that I saw Ubuntu and a couple of other things that I haven’t been able to find again.
    I then bought myself a 32GB micro SD card so that I had room to install more operating systems. I downloaded NOOBS and it seems to be working fine but I was only given the choice of Raspbian, OpenElec, OSMC and Windows IOT.
    How do you find other OS’s and can you install Raspbian, OpenElec, Ubuntu and Chromium (for example) at the same time? Can you install an additional OS without overwriting the existing ones?
    I told you that I was a complete novice 🙁

  9. Jay on

    I have v0.5 of chrome is on RPI 2 everything is working fine expect wifi and audio unable to play sound boule to see the volume bar and output options bcn2835

  10. Girish on

    can you watch videos from pendrives after installing chromium?

  11. ross Kirbyshire on

    I followed all the instructions but CUB will not boot. The keyboard and mouse lights flash randomly but no show on the monitor.

    1. ross kirbyshire on

      Worked out the fix. The problem was the power adaptor was not powerful enough. Working well now with a more powerful adaptor. Thanks

  12. Peter on

    Hi

    I am a newbie still waiting for the hardware

    the way I am reading this the sd card is the “hard drive” and you are installing the os on it, and you can make as many different ones as you like just switching the card and rebooting
    to change operating systems?
    so you would want to have the bigger sd cards for storage room?
    Is this correct? or can you use the attached usb drive for the storage drive, or both looking forward to the mail delivery.

    Thanks for your time to create your tutorials

  13. Andrew on

    Trying this on a Pi 2b. Using Chromium 4. It gets as far as asking for my Google account details and then tries to log on. Two seconds in it freezes… Tried it initially using a wifi dongle. then rebooted with that disconnected and CAT5 connected. Just freezes. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,

    1. Ridley on

      CTRL Alt F2 and set the time and Date then retry

  14. gychang on

    very nice, I will try this on Pi2, anyone compare with the performance of ubuntu-mate, raspian and this on RP2?

  15. was on

    hi,

    i cannot listen in my pi3, i have problem with the sound in the chromium.

  16. Rjkj on

    Hi,
    I’ve a little problem with built-in wifi of the Pi3, it’s don’t recognized from Chromium and I must us an externel dongle to use the wifi.

    I’m the first with tiss little issue ?

    Thank a lot.

    1. Gus on

      There are currently issues with the WiFi both the inbuilt and dongles. They’re looking at addressing these issues in future builds. There is guide on WiFi that might be able to help here.

  17. Damon Key on

    I cannot reset the micro sd card from diskpart …. it gives me the error “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error.”

    1. Gus on

      Hi Damon,

      That’s strange, are you able to restart your computer and do the process again. I remember getting a similar issue once.

    2. Omar Dahman on

      If you format it via “Chromebook Recovery Utility” when you go to the gear icon and then you will see “Erase Recovery Media” then you choose the SD Card.

  18. jorrit on

    When I boot my rpi3, the screen remains black, how can I fix this?

    1. Gus on

      This sounds like it could be related to this problem here.

  19. acromm on

    Hi, great tutorial!

    Did you tried to play videos from youtube on ChromeOS?

    1. Gus on

      Hi Acromm, Yes I did! They worked pretty well there was a bit of a lag going from window to fullscreen but apart from that seemed to perform pretty well. I did hear there are issues with netflix videos at the moment that may be fixed in a future build.

  20. kpg on

    The downloaded image is only 8GB, why do you need a 16 GB SD Card?

    1. Alan Bates on

      I would think that it would be useful to have space to save your files etc as well as the OS

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