What is CloudReady? Is this a viable alternative to Chrome OS?


CloudReady is becoming popular, especially among people with low-end hardware. So I decided to take a look and share my findings with you in this article.

What is CloudReady?

CloudReady is an operating system based on the open source Chromium OS code base from Google. Neverware, the organization behind CloudReady, has developed the CloudReady operating system for deployment on existing PC and Mac hardware and guarantees improved performance on said hardware due to its minimal hardware requirements. Basically, CloudReady turns your old computer into Chromebooks. Neverware was bought by Google itself at the end of 2020.

Before I share my experience and opinion on this, let me tell you a little more about it.

Who should you try CloudReady?

CloudReady

CloudReady is primarily aimed at institutions that would benefit from Chromebook-like devices, but have already invested in hardware. Here are a few examples that come to mind:

  • The user interface of Chromium OS and, by extension, CloudReady is simple enough that there is rarely a need to retrain staff to switch from macOS or Windows to the CloudReady user interface.
  • Better security because users cannot install traditional apps containing malware available for macOS and Windows.
  • Chromium OS has few hardware requirements, so it’s pretty much guaranteed to work on your old hardware.
  • Computer management via the Google administration console.
  • Relatively easy initial setup.

Here are the minimum hardware requirements to run CloudReady:

  • CPU : Any processor made available after year 2008 should work (no mention of ARM processors, so assume only X86 – Intel and AMD – processors are supported)
  • RAM : 2 GB or more
  • Storage : 16 GB or more
  • Full BIOS or UEFI access – to boot from USB installer

If you are wondering if your current netbook works well with CloudReady, Neverware has released a list of netbooks certified to run CloudReady. Currently, more than 450 models are certified. You can compare your model to the official listing on this link.

How does CloudReady compare to Chrome OS?

If your primary goals are any of the following, you’ll be happy with CloudReady:

  • Manage CloudReady devices with the Neverware Admin Portal (until the Google acquisition is complete) or through the Google Admin Console.
  • Work in your organization can be done in a web browser (using web services).

When you hear the words “This is a Chrome OS based operating system,” you assume that at the very least, it can run Android apps.

Unfortunately, it is not the case. There are no support for android Framework / Runtime Service (ART) for Chromium OS open source, and therefore not available in CloudReady. Neverware did not pursue adding Android Runtime to CloudReady for several legal and technical reasons.

Which, in turn, prevents you from even loading an APK, as nothing can run those Android apps.

When I tried to launch Play Store from the app drawer, the Google Play Store webpage was opened for me in the browser. So bad news in that regard… But, since CloudReady is based on a “web-centric” operating system, my Chromium browser extensions seem to work fine.

07 app drawer
A screenshot of the app drawer in CloudReady with the Google Play Store app icon (which redirects you to the web page in Chromium) as well as the Chrome extensions as “apps”

So if you’re looking to use your old laptop as a non-touch tablet with CloudReady, you’re out of luck.

Why does CloudReady exist?

You might have wondered if Chrome OS already exists, why has Neverware spent its resources creating a “clone” called CloudReady?

If you take a close look at the devices that are running Chrome OS, they are pre-built. Which indicates that Chrome OS is only available to OEMs that make Chromebooks.

Unlike Microsoft’s Windows, where OEMs get Windows to preload their laptops and / or desktops and provide users with an installation ISO, Google doesn’t provide you with an ISO that you can use to install Chrome OS on your computer. computer.

Hence the need to create an operating system based on the Chromium OS code base. Something you can install on your already existing PC and Mac hardware.

In addition to providing you with a way to install the Chromium OS based operating system, Neverware provides options for corporate users who would like official support for their operating system. You get this with CloudReady.

Prepare for the cloud

cloudready screenshot
CloudReady screenshot

CloudReady offers three editions: Home Edition (free), Education, and Enterprise (both paid). If you want to try it out first, the obvious choice will be to use the Home Edition first.

Neverware does not provide you with ISO. But, Neverware gives you a tool to create bootable USB drives with their USB Maker tool, it is only for Windows.

Neverware also provides you with a RAW file which you can use to manually create a bootable USB drive from any operating system using the Chromebook Recovery Utility extension from any browser based. Chromium.

Since Neverware does not provide ISO, if you want to try it out as a virtual machine, Neverware provides an “.ova” file. But, this “.ova” file will not work with VirtualBox. It is intended for use with VMware.

Ubuntu Web: an alternative to ChromeOS and CloudReady?

If you are hoping to use CloudReady on your old computer or laptop but are disappointed that ART is missing from CloudReady, maybe give Ubuntu Web a try.

ubuntu web screenshot
A screenshot of Ubuntu Web

As the name suggests, this is a Linux distro that is aimed at people looking for alternatives to Chrome OS.

Ubuntu Web has the same familiar Ubuntu base that gives you the ability to sync with / e / Cloud – a privacy-focused alternative to Google’s cloud sync services.

Best of all, Ubuntu Web comes with Waydroid by default.

If you are new to Waydroid, this is a “container-based approach to booting a full Android system on a standard GNU / Linux system“. Which means it will run your Android apps (unlike CloudReady).

Conclusion

While you might think that CloudReady doesn’t have much compared to Chrome OS, this seems like a good option for organizations that want to deploy a centrally managed, Chromium OS-based operating system, but don’t want to invest in Chromebooks.

This could also be a good option for home users with low-end hardware, but we already have a lot of lightweight Linux distros for it.

Have you used CloudRead before or are you first hearing about it here? What is your overall opinion on this project?

About Jon Moses

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