Chrome, HTML5, JavaScript, webdev

Install Ubuntu On Your Chromebook

chromebook 5

Chromebook For Developers And Hackers

If you are a Linux hacker and/or a developer with a new Chromebook, Chromebox, Pixel or an old laptop with ChromeOS… You might want to have the ability to have a dual-boot option that will let you enjoy the power of your ChromeOS but on the same time be able to boot your laptop with Linux and enjoy C, C++, Java and the fun technologies. It might be hard on other platforms to ‘hack’ them, but since the chromium project is open-source, I guess, they wanted to be hackable by design (e.g. you have a keyboard shortcuts in Pixel that let you enter this mode). Here are the few steps you need to follow in order to enjoy hacking ChromeOS.

Entering the (scary) developer mode

First we must start with a bold Caution: All the modifications you make to the system are not supported by Google, may cause hardware, software or security issues and may void warranty. Now we can move back to business, the developer mode allows you to modify the operating system or replace it with one of your own, so you should proceed cautiously. However, as long as you don’t remove any screws or disassemble the device it should not be possible to make any irreversible changes, and Google provides an easy way to restore things back to the factory condition. The developer switch enables the command line shell and deactivates part of the verified boot process. The switch on both devices is located inside the Kensington lock hole, and can be operated with a small paperclip). To enable developer mode, simply move the switch and reboot. The image below show you the switch in Samsung Chromebook Series 5 Device (you can click on the image to get a HD version):

move into dev mode
Btw, on Pixel you don’t have this physical switch. You can just use a keyboard combination: Press and hold the Esc and Refresh keys while you hit the Power button

The first time you reboot after turning the developer switch on, your chromebook will:

  1. Show a scary warning that its software cannot be trusted. You should press Ctrl-D or you can wait 30 seconds to dismiss this message.
  2. Erase all personal data on the “stateful partition”.
  3. Make you wait between 5 and 10 minutes while it erases the data.

Installing Crouton

  1. Download crouton
  2. Open a shell (Ctrl+Alt+T, type shell and hit enter) and run
    sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce
    Another great option (I've tried and liked) is to install Ubuntu unity:
    sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t unity
  3. Wait and answer the prompts. Btw, if you wish to checkout what is going on the network from your Chromebook during the process you can open another tab and type in the url: chrome://network/10 – This will show you the network internals and will keep refresh the page every 10sec.
  4. Go to Xfce session by running: sudo enter-chroot startxfce4 or in case you installed at #2 the unity type: sudo enter-chroot startunity
  5. Cycle through Chromium OS and your running graphical chroots using Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Back and Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Forward.
  6. Exit the chroot by logging out of Xfce.

Here are the screens you will see during steps #2




Installing Crouton with encryption

  1. Add the -e parameter when you run crouton to create an encrypted chroot.
  2. You can get some extra protection on your chroot by storing the decryption key separately from the place the chroot is stored. Use the -k parameter to specify a file or directory to store the keys in (such as a USB drive or SD card) when you create the chroot. Beware that if you lose this file, your chroot will not be decryptable.

Happy Hacking…



7 thoughts on “Install Ubuntu On Your Chromebook

  1. anthonyvenable110 says:

    WOW! I was just hearing about this from the LInux for the rest of us podcast, so this was right on time. Thanks!

  2. David Raviv says:

    “Btw, on Pixel you don’t have this physical switch. You can just use a keyboard combination.”
    And the keyboard combination is:
    Press and hold the Esc and Refresh keys while you hit the Power button

  3. Pingback: Visto nel Web – 94 | Ok, panico

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