CloudReady Review! Similar to Chrome OS, but works in VMware!

What is CloudReady?

CloudReady is a alternative to Chrome OS that is freely available to download, and can be run in VMware. I wanted to review Chrome OS a while back and happened upon it, so that’s why I’m now doing a CloudReady review. You can pretty easily install CloudReady on an old netbook, so this may be of some use if you have an old machine kicking around. As with most of my reviews, there’s a video from my YouTube channel here, as well as a write-up.

The Write-up

Setup

So, seeing as I used a pre-prepared image in VMware, I didn’t need to install it. There was some initial setup to do though, which was just stuff like setting the language, some privacy options, and signing to my Google account. This was all pretty simple, and the wizard was very nicely done.

First Impressions

The desktop reminded me of Windows a bit, surprisingly. The app draw is very similar to Android, or perhaps Windows 8/8.1’s Metro interface, and most of the features of the OS revolve around Google Chrome, as I thought. Though the Google Play store isn’t available in CloudReady, there is a chrome web store, where you can install things like Dropbox and Pocket. It was nice and easy to use, like the App Store on a Mac, and things installed quickly.

I did find it weird that you get to the system settings through Chrome, but I guess this become second nature fast, being that most things are done through Chrome. I was not surprised to see that the privacy options were hidden in advanced, but it was a bit annoying.

VirtualBox

Surprisingly you can install VirtualBox really easily in CloudReady, and it looks and works exactly the same as the Linux version of VirtualBox. It did even (sort of) work inside VMware, which I found quite impressive. I had a quick go virtualising TinyCore, which booted only to the bootloader menu, but it does show that the functionality will work. It also lets you browse the filesystem a bit with the file picker, which made the nerd in me happy :). It looks more or less like Linux in terms of the folder structure. I may revisit this and try in on a physical machine at some point, just to see.

Android and Linux Apps

Apparently there are ways of getting the Google Play store on CloudReady, but I couldn’t figure it out in the time I had. According to this article, the store isn’t included in CloudReady due to technical and legal issues, so we won’t get into any of that here. What I did try, however, was getting Linux apps installed on CloudReady. This meant I had to update it first, though, which took around ten minutes. After this, I followed some instructions to enable Crostini, so I could try and finish the process. This didn’t work for me, and I couldn’t go any further and install the Terminal app unfortunately.

How Crostini should be installed

What should happen is that your have an option in settings to install Linux. Then there is a Terminal app in the draw. After installing it in a similar way to VirtualBox, CloudReady/ChromeOS will reboot, and you should be good to go and start installing Linux programs. You can read more about Crostini here. I realized afterwards that I didn’t actually enable it in settings… XD. I will try again, and if it works you should see a followup video on my YouTube channel pretty soon 🙂

UPDATE: See the video here: https://youtu.be/aNdIBfUV0dM. Just so you know, this didn’t work for me either. This is looking like a 3-parter…

Conclusion

I can see why Chrome OS is popular, because it’s very fast, minimalist, and very easy to use. It’s like macOS, but even simpler! We’ve reached the end of this post, but stay tuned for more such as the Windows Subsystem for Linux review soon, and that should be an interesting one to read 🙂

Hamish

 

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About Hamish McIntyre-Bhatty

I'm currently studying for a Computing and IT degree with the Open University, and am a software developer as well. I enjoy coding in Python, C++ (still learning), and Java. Having written 4 open-source programs (hosted on launchpad.net), set up my own website, and started volunteering at Wimborne Model Town to work on their river control system, I still find the time to enjoy cycling, acting, photography, and playing bass guitar. I go climbing every now and then as well. As you may have guessed, I also enjoy blogging :)

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