updated 03:20 pm EDT, Wed July 20, 2011
Chromium OS works on Apple's MacBook Air
A new hack has managed to load Chromium OS on to the previous-generation MacBook Air. The trick involves 'burning' an image of the OS to a USB flash drive and running Terminal prompts to move the OS and give it permission to run as a boot drive on the Apple notebook. Because it needs to run on the Mac's solid-state drive for the firmware to recognize the boot process, it has to wipe out the Mac OS X install; the creator, Hexxeh, urges every user to backup any data.
The trick was tested on an 11-inch Air but should work on the 13-inch model given very similar components. Virtually every component works, including NVIDIA graphics acceleration, the webcam, and both screen and sound controls. Battery life may even be slightly better because of the reduced overhead.
A few significant limitations exist. The new OS takes longer to boot than a Mac, at nearly 30 seconds versus 15, because of how Apple's EFI firmware and Chromium OS interact. Bluetooth is disabled. Trackpad scrolling is also "painfully slow" since Google's drivers don't perfectly match.
The warranty-voiding approach in some ways brings Chromium OS and Chrome OS full circle. Google had indirectly positioned Chromebooks as having many of the same traits as an Air, such as very fast boot times, a thin and light profile, and a minimalist design.