I’ve been experimenting with Chromebooks for a few weeks now to try and come up with a low-power low-cost no-maintenance setup. There are a lot of very good blog posts covering the basics already, but I thought it was at least worth documenting how I got Ubuntu installed on my older Chromebook (which is a bit of a frankenstein that goes against the general ethos of not upgrading or otherwise tinkering with the hardware). This is probably best not attempted on anything with less than 32Gb of storage, and 4Gb of RAM is probably a good idea as well.
Enable developer mode
To enable developer mode, press
refresh and hold down the power key. When the scary message appears then press
Ctrl+d and wait for the (fairly long) process to complete. This will unlock the full bash shell, and give you enough control over the Chromebook to set up a chroot.
Crouton is the script that is used to install Ubuntu in a chroot. Download it from here and ensure it’s in your downloads folder. Then press
Ctrl+Alt+t to open the chrosh terminal, and type
shell at the command prompt. This will get you full shell access to the Chromebook.
To install Ubuntu (at time of writing 16.04) then issue the following command:
sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -e -t xfce
This will take a while, but when it’s done then issue the following command to start Ubuntu:
To toggle between ChromeOS and Ubuntu use
Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Forward. Performance is actually not bad, and productivity is only an
apt install firefox away.
Other useful commands
The following commands could be useful (all issued within the ChromeOS shell):
See a list of possible distributions to install:
sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r list
Back up a chroot:
sudo edit-chroot -b name
sudo edit-chroot -r name
Delete a chroot:
sudo delete-chroot name