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My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Sunday, July 07 2013 @ 10:57 PM EDT

I impulsively bought one of the $199 Acer C7 Chromebooks, specifically to find out if I could successfully put pure Linux on the Android Chrome OS laptop. I know Chromebooks run on Linux, the kernel, but I wanted KDE, which is what I normally run. I wanted both, and I thought it'd be fun. I also thought it might be an easier way to get around Microsoft's Secure Boot, which makes it hard to install a GNU/Linux environment on new laptops. Microsoft never runs out of ways to make it inconvenient to use Linux, of course.

So when I went to Best Buy, for something else, I asked if they had any Chromebooks. They were sort of hidden away, on the the far end of a display of all the Microsoft laptops. There were only two models, one a Samsung and the other an Acer C7. I chose the Acer over the Samsung Chromebook because the Acer had both wireless and Ethernet, and with the Samsung, it only had wireless, so if I wanted to use Ethernet ever, I'd have to get a USB Ethernet adapter. And I like to have both. Plus I worried some donkey would accuse me of pushing Samsung products, since we've been covering the Apple v. Samsung patents wars.

Then, once I got my new Chromebook home, I realized it only had 16 GB of storage, which I hadn't noticed in the store. Like I say, it was an impulse buy. I didn't think that'd be enough room for a dual boot. But just as I was giving up, a friend told me about crouton. Oh, my! A chroot so you don't have to dual boot but can just switch back and forth between Chrome OS and KDE or whatever you like.

The short version of my happy tale is I did it, and it works. And if I can do it, likely so can you. It was fun. I'll show you what I did, and I have some resources in case you can think of an even better way.

If what you want is the perfect laptop, you will probably have to spring for a Chromebook Pixel, I'd say, and put GNU/Linux on it too. The hardware is a big part of what makes a laptop superior, after all, and that Pixel screen can't be beat by a $199 laptop.

But for what it is, this is a great solution. And since for a couple of weeks I thought I couldn't dual boot, I explored the Chromebook and it's really surprisingly enjoyable. Faaaaast to boot up, and easy to use. Tons of apps instead of programs, kind of like on an iPad or your phone. And lots of details I like a lot. For example, I like the login as guest option. It doesn't track you. Once you log out, nothing is left behind. Of course wherever you went, they might be tracking you, but at least if you want to buy a gift for your husband or wife or kids, they won't find traces of what they are getting on a shared laptop. You can turn off Google Drive, if you don't need it. You can turn off cookies, all the usual things. I love the accessibility feature where you can get a black background and light text. So, yes, I enjoy my Chromebook a lot. Late at night, I would use it in bed while I watched TV too. It's lightweight, and just the right size. In short, tons of fun. But there were some things I wanted that I missed from KDE. Sometimes you just want to be local, not in the cloud at all.

So, let me show you what I did. I'll give you all the resources I had before me also, and I'll tell you what I picked out of that mountain of information. I will use a lot of words in the Resources section, because it helps me to know every detail, and maybe it will be like that for you too, but it's sooooo easy and quick to do this. I'll start with what I actually did, so you can see how easy it is, but here are links to both sections, and I do recommend reading it all before you begin, unless, unlike me, you are blessed with a lot of skill.


[ What I Did ] [ Resources ]    

How I Installed KDE on my Acer C7 Using Crouton

I'm not a developer, obviously, just a person. So a lot of the resources were above my head. But I read it all first, before I did a thing, and I recommend it, because if anything goes wrong, you won't panic. On my first try, things did go wrong, but it was actually fun and funny, because I knew what I was going to do to fix it, and it did fix it, as I'll show you. If I hadn't prepared in advance, it wouldn't have been fun at all.

It's a three step process to install crouton:

  • do a recovery image on a USB disk
  • enter Developer Mode
  • download and install crouton

That is all there is to it.

1. Make a recovery image on a USB disk: I did a recovery image first, in case anything went wrong. It did go wrong on my first try, so I was glad I had it. This is while you are in your pristine, untouched Chromebook. Bring up your Chrome browser and type in the navigation bar:

chrome://imageburner
I used a Sandisk Cruzer 32GB USB stick, because I had it in the house already. Sandisk has goofy stuff for Windows people on it, so my first attempt didn't work. I got a warning and did it again, and then it worked. After I typed in the above chrome://imageburner, I got a prompt telling me to plug in a 4 GB or larger USB stick. Once I did that, it did the rest without me doing a thing. It tells you when to remove the USB stick. That's it.

2. Get into Developer Mode: Here's exactly what I did to enter Developer Mode:

a. Press and hold both the Esc and the Refresh (F3) keys and then tap the Power button.

b. When I saw an exclamation point and a warning that OS verification was turned off and suggesting I press SPACE to reenable it, I didn't press SPACE. Instead, I pressed Ctrl+D. It then asked if I wanted to enter Developer Mode. I pressed Enter then to do that.

c. I let it do its thing. It's wiping your laptop, so just wait while it reboots, and at one point you see the same exclamation point and the OS verification warning. Just ignore that. It will eventually reboot into Chrome OS. But you are still in Developer Mode.

Notes: I used a combination of the instructions from the crouton page itself for that and LifeHacker's page. In fact I downloaded from this link on LifeHacker. There is a screenshot there showing the exclamation point warning. But do check with the crouton page to make sure you are getting the latest version if you use the link years from now. I'm not a developer, so I needed more words, so that's why I switched to LifeHacker and combined the two. A Groklaw member had posted the url when I commented that I had gotten an Acer Chromebook and wanted to try to put Linux on it. Well, *more* Linux. Here are the Acer C7 instructions on how to enter Developer Mode from Chromium.org's page on Acer C7s.

3. Download and install crouton: I used the Lifehacker link, as I mentioned. It saves crouton to the Downloads folder automatically, but if not, make sure that is where it ends up. Both environments share the Downloads folder, so that's pleasant.

Next, I pressed Ctrl+Alt+T. This brings up your terminal on a Chromebook. Then I typed:

shell
Then, to actually download and install crouton:
sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t kde
They suggest encryption, which you can read about here.

While it's installing, you'll see the text showing you what is going on and it takes a while. But it does it all by itself. You don't do a thing. When it's done, it will ask you for a username and password. I was told you could use the same ones from your Chromebook setup, but you can choose different ones, which is what I did the second time I did the install. Then when it's all done, run this command to start in the new desktop environment:

sudo startkde
The first time, I installed XFCE, because that's what most people install on Chromebooks, because of the simplicity factor, but for me, it wasn't working right afterward. I don't know why. The touchpad was hard to work with, so I had to plug in a mouse and I still had weird things happen. The instructions somewhere said to turn off the screensaver, as it was a known problem with the graphics. So I did that, but it was hard to get even the mouse to work normally. But after I erased everything and started over, I downloaded KDE and it was fine. It could just be my familiarity with KDE. I honestly have no idea why XFCE didn't work, but it's almost certain to be me and not it.1

That's it. You are done.

4. Going back and forth: Ctrl+Alt+Back and Ctrl+Alt+Forward to go back and forth. You hit Ctrl+Alt+Refresh after Ctrl+Alt+Forward on an Intel Chromebook, which is what an Acer C7 is. If you log out of Linux, and you want it back, just run

sudo startkde
or sudo startxfce4 or startunity or whatever you have installed. If you want to make boot up faster, just do the same Ctrl+D when you see the Developer Mode message.

How I got rid of first failed effort: I mentioned I put on XFCE first and it didn't work, so here's what I did to get rid of it and start over:

1. Reboot. When you see the exclamation point and the warning about your verification being off, do press SPACE. This time, it will get rid of crouton and restore you to the original state of Chrome OS. If, like me, you instead get a warning that Chrome OS is missing or damaged, it's time for you recovery image. I was so glad I was advised to do that first.

2. Recovery: Recall how you hit ESC and Refresh while poking the Power button? That's how you enter Recovery mode. So do it again. Or just reboot and when it asks you to plug in your USB recovery disk, do it. Then just wait until it tells you to remove it. That's all there is to it.


Resources

1. Chromebook Central is a Google-sponsored community forum. Just click on "Discuss Chrome OS". You don't need to log in to read, just to post. This is where you find questions and answers from folks, meaning they might be right or they might not, but this is an example of the fun and intriguing things you can find there, this response to a question about whether you can run Crouton in a tab:

Dennis L: There's an experimental branch of crouton called 'crouton-vnc' that runs a vnc server in the crouton chroot, this allows you to get a chrome store 'vnc viewer' and access the crouton vnc server via a tab in chrome - very cool. ;-)
I agree. I'm actually putting this here, so I can find it later, when I'm ready to try it.

If you've just bought a Chromebook and are just getting started, they suggest starting here, for answers to usual question by first time users, like where do I find things in Chrome OS. No Java or Silverlight on a Chromebook, by the way. They are not supported: "Chrome devices have Flash support built-in, but they do not support Java or Silverlight. If you need Java, Silverlight, or other plug-in support, there are virtualization and remoting options you can use for Chrome devices. See the chapter on Remote Access and Virtualization in the Chrome Devices for Education Technical Planning Guide (PDF)." There are videos for all of the main things you would want to know here.

2. The Chrome website. The Chromium Project page is for developers, mainly. That's where all the development is done for both Chrome and Chrome OS. So they're talking about things that are not what I am doing or wanting to do, but still, it's interesting and helpful to get an overview. You'll find documentation, bug tracking, source code and build instructions, and a few helpful hints as well. So I read and read until I couldn't stand to read any more, and by then I had collected what I thought I needed. The "Chromium" names refer to the purely open-source version of Chrome and Chrome OS and the Chromium OS section is where you'll find the information related to Chromebooks. Here's a helpful page, Poking Around Your Chrome OS Device. It tells you ways to get the command prompt in Chrome OS, for example, how to make changes to the filesystem, how to get into Developer Mode, that sort of thing.

In particular, there are model-specific instructions on switching into Developer Mode, which gives you a root shell and a few pointers on what to do next. Here's the page of instructions for the Acer C7 Chromebook. If you really know your way around, that will be enough for you. But for me, it wasn't.

3. Jay's Lee's website, where you can find how to set up a dual boot arrangement. He has a single script that "can install Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu or many other desktop variants." It works, according to the page, on Samsungs too. That's what I had decided not to do, but if you have room on your Chromebook, and there are Acer C7s that have a larger hard drive than mine, this may be your page.

4. Crouton, which is a script by David Schneider that, once you are in Developer Mode on Chrome OS, you just create a virtual Linux installation in a persistent directory and switch to it without rebooting at all. That way you can run both Chrome OS and a Linux desktop at the same time.

Here is Schneider's explanation of crouton. First, what's a chroot?:

What's a chroot?

Like virtualization, chroots provide the guest OS with their own, segregated file system to run in, allowing applications to run in a different binary environment from the host OS. Unlike virtualization, you are not booting a second OS; instead, the guest OS is running using the Chromium OS system. The benefit to this is that there is zero speed penalty since everything is run natively, and you aren't wasting RAM to boot two OSes at the same time. The downside is that you must be running the correct chroot for your hardware, the software must be compatible with Chromium OS's kernel, and machine resources are inextricably tied between the host Chromium OS and the guest OS. What this means is that while the chroot cannot directly access files outside of its view, it can access all of your hardware devices, including the entire contents of memory. A root exploit in your guest OS will essentially have unfettered access to the rest of Chromium OS.

...but hey, you can run TuxRacer!

That's why you want a good passphrase:
Prerequisites

You need a device running Chromium OS that has been switched to developer mode. Note that developer mode, in its default configuration, is completely insecure, so don't expect a password in your chroot to keep anyone from your data. crouton does support encrypting chroots, but the encryption is only as strong as the quality of your passphrase. Consider this your warning....

With encryption!

Add the -e parameter when you run crouton to create an encrypted chroot.

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. That's kind of the point, of course.

But when I got to this section, and I was lost:
Usage

crouton is a powerful tool, and there are a lot of features, but basic usage is as simple as possible by design.

There are three ways to acquire and run crouton. Two of which have cyclical dependencies.

If you're just here to use crouton, you can grab the latest release from goo.gl/fd3zc. Download it, pop open a shell (Ctrl+Alt+T, type shell and hit enter), and run sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton to see the help text. See the "examples" section for some usage examples.

The other two involve cloning this repo and either running installer/main.sh directly, or using make to build your very own crouton. Of course, you won't have git on your Chromium OS device with which to do this, hence the cyclical dependency. Downloading a git snapshot from GitHub would bypass that issue.

crouton uses the concept of "targets" to decide what to install. While you will have apt-get in your chroot, some targets may need minor hacks to avoid issues when running in the chrooted environment. As such, if you expect to want something that is fulfilled by a target, install that target when you make the chroot and you'll have an easier time.

Once you've set up your chroot, you can easily enter it using the newly-installed enter-chroot command. Ta-da! That was easy.

That was when I switched to the LifeHacker page. Most people use XFCE with crouton, but it doesn't have to be XFCE. There are other targets, as he calls them. Here are your choices. I chose KDE and it worked fine. Simple is good on a cheap Chromebook, so XFCE might work better, but I know KDE and I wanted as much familiarity as possible, and it's a chroot, so you can remove it and put another one or have two. But before you do anything, you need to download crouton to your Chromebook's Downloads folder.

Once you have installed it and are booting, remember not to press SPACE when the warning about verification being off shows up. If you re-enable verification, it will wipe your KDE or whatever you installed and you will be back to Go. Just wait, and then you'll see a Chrome welcome page. Don't worry. Your KDE or XFCE is in there. Just pick your wireless network from the dropdown list, enter your user name and password (from your Google Gmail info) and then hit Continue. Sign in. Note that you can sign in with Ethernet also, but if you are on a static address, one where you manually have to plug in the address, you can't really do it. But there is a workaround. Without closing what you are doing, go into guest mode when you reach the point in the sign-in process where they ask for the network you want, fill in the manual information in your Settings, and then close out that guest page, and you'll be back in the sign-in section. It will then see your Ethernet properly and you can soldier on.

LifeHacker has instructions too. And here are the instructions for crouton at Google Groups.

5. How to get into Developer Mode. Note that it's device specific. An Acer 710, which is what I have, is a C7, not an Acer 700, which is another model that has a hardware switch. Everything is virtualized now. So look down the list for whatever brand and device you have. If you follow the instructions, you'll know when you have made it into Developer Mode when you see an exclamation point and "OS verification is OFF. Press SPACE to enable". But don't press SPACE. Just wait or press Ctl+D at the same time, you will hear beeps and see a screen saying it's entering Developer Mode. It takes a while. Don't turn it off. OS verification is how Chrome OS makes sure you are only running software that shipped with your Chromebook, meaning it's a read-only BIOS. As my instruction page explained: "The read-only BIOS verifies one of two read-write BIOSes (there are two so we can provide updates if we have to with less risk of failure) and continues execution there. The read-write BIOS then verifies one of two (same reason) kernels and executes that, and the kernel verifies its root filesystem as each block is read off the SSD."

This is why you need a recovery image handy, because if you mess around, and then you find you can't boot, it's likely to be that it's refusing to boot without the verification. That's great for everything normally, but when you want to install something else, like a GNU/Linux system or crouton, verification has to be off and you have to stay in Developer Mode to be able to boot your new GNU/Linux environment.

6. Switching back and forth between Chrome OS and pure Linux: After you have installed crouton, you can then switch back and forth. To get to Chrome OS from Linux, it's Ctrl+Alt+Back (the Back key is the left-facing arrow key, F1 on the Acer C7). To get back to Linux, it's Ctrl+Alt+Forward (or F2). On an Arm device, you will need to add the Switch key, as in Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Back and Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Forward.

7. To leave Linux, just log out as you normally would. To get back in:

sudo start(target)
For me, that's startkde. If you put XFCE, it'd be sudo startxfce4

8. How to make a recovery image. This should be number one, before you do anything else, actually. It saved me when the first attempt was an unmitigated disaster. All you do is this: on your Chromebook, type this into the navigation bar: chrome://imageburner. Have a USB stick handy, at least 4GB in size. You will get a prompt to plug it in. Once you do that, it does the rest. Then, if everything goes wrong, you can get back to the original factory state.

If you ever need it, here are the instructions:

In developer mode, your Chrome OS Notebook gives you an option to use a recovery image every time the machine boots. To install your recovery image, do the following:
1. Turn your Chrome OS Notebook off.
2. Turn it back on.
3. During the boot warning (telling you your OS verification is turned off), press space to enter recovery mode.
4. Wait until prompted to put your USB disk in.
5. Put the USB disk in.
6. Wait while the image is copied to the SSD.
It is just that simple. But if, when making your recovery image, you get any warnings at all, do it again, to be sure. There can't be anything else on that USB stick you care about keeping, because it will wipe and reformat it.

9. List of keyboard shortcuts on a Chromebook: The first is Ctrl-Alt-/, aka Ctrl-Alt-?. That pops up an overlay to show all the keyboard shortcuts, which occasionally change slightly from release to release. At one point, in fact the point when I decided to erase and start over, my screen was sideways for no known reason. But had I looked at that list first, I'd have realized that you can move the screen sideways and back with shortcuts.

10. You can install using apt-get whatever you don't see that you want. I read that, but I haven't done it yet, personally.

11. Removing Linux: If you want to remove Linux ever, just press spacebar when it prompts you to reenable the OS verification, or unmount
/usr/local/chroots/precise

11. Miscellaneous things I read: If in XFCE, disable the screensaver, as it has issues in Chrome OS. To do that, open the icon 12GB Filesystem by right clicking it, then choose Applications, then Settings, then Screensaver and in the box that comes up, choose Mode and from its dropdown list, Disable Screen Saver. I had to use a plug in mouse to get that part down. The touchpad had me dancing all over the place in XFCE. You are still in Developer Mode, remember, so it will take an extra 30 seconds to boot up, but when you get to the Developer Mode message, you can speed it up by hitting Ctrl+D. From the developer guide: "Why Ubuntu? Is there another way? The answer is yes, you can for sure target something else, like kde, in crouton, but for dual booting, the developer guide says:

Ubuntu Linux (version 12.04 - Precise)
Most developers working on Chromium OS are using Precise (the LTS version of Ubuntu). It is possible that things will work if you're running a different Linux distribution, but you will probably find life easier if you're on this one. Please note that Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) is known not to work.
And finally, I called Google to inquire about using an Ethernet adapter. The one that works with Chromebooks, including the Pixel, is the Linksys by Cisco USB Ethernet Adapter, 300M.

OK. So that's a list of everything I found. Enjoy your own adventure. No doubt some of you will be more expert than I and have done this already. If you know better methods or you see needed corrections, just let me know, please.

_________
1 Notes: If you want XFCE, which is what most people find works well:

sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce
If you have a touchscreen, like you are fortunate enough to have a Chromebook Pixel, LifeHacker says type this instead, so you get touch screen support:
sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t touch,xfce

  


My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj | 162 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Thread
Authored by: artp on Sunday, July 07 2013 @ 11:02 PM EDT
"Eror" -> "Error" in Title Block if possible, please.

---
Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Comes Goes Here
Authored by: artp on Sunday, July 07 2013 @ 11:04 PM EDT
For those intrepid souls who are still transcribing documents
from the "Comes v/ MS" lawsuit.

See link above for "Comes v. MS" for details. Post
transcripts as ASCII with HTML markup included.

---
Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Thread
Authored by: artp on Sunday, July 07 2013 @ 11:09 PM EDT
Hhmmm...

No Chromebook, No Linux, no Microsoft, no Acer, BestBuy or
Samsung, no Google, no Secure Boot, no security (follows from
Microsoft...) ...

Everything else is fair game!

---
Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Thread
Authored by: artp on Sunday, July 07 2013 @ 11:10 PM EDT
With URLs, please!

---
Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 01:00 AM EDT
You might want to take a look at the Raspberry Pi to experiment with.

--W. H. Heydt

[ Reply to This | # ]

My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 01:12 AM EDT
"sudo startkde"

Would that mean you are running the entire KDE desktop as
root? If so, very bad idea.

If not, carry on and well done!

[ Reply to This | # ]

My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Authored by: Nivag on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 01:25 AM EDT
You might like to try the Mate Desktop Environment - it is like GNOME 2, but it
has the useful bits added back in that GNOME 2 dropped. http://mate-desktop.org

When GNOME 3 came out, I found it was a 'Triumph of Fashion over Functionality',
so I fled to xfce. Now I use Mate.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Small correction
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 03:26 AM EDT
Chromebook is NOT Android laptop. it's streamlined and
simplified regular Linux distribution - with X Window System
and everything. that's why it was so easy to run KDE under
it.

Android laptops do exist but they are totally different
beasts and it's not easy to run KDE on them.

Note that ChromeOS slowly but surely removes traditional
Linux components which means that at some point it may
become impossible to run "traditional" Linux in chroot. Not
any time soon, though.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Small correction - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 03:49 AM EDT
  • Small correction - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 06:23 AM EDT
  • Small correction - Authored by: PJ on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 05:46 PM EDT
    • I have both - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 10:29 PM EDT
My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 06:56 AM EDT
>Plus I worried some donkey would accuse me of pushing
Samsung products, since we've been covering the Apple v.
Samsung patents wars.

Just playing devil's advocate ....

It could be inferred that - by deliberately not choosing a
Samsung - you are actually endorsing apple; I understand
asses (I know you said donkeys, but I think you're being too
polite) with these sort of inferential powers have made
appearances earlier.

[ Reply to This | # ]

So pleased that it worked for you :-)
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 07:30 AM EDT
The Pixel looks beautiful but I can't justify that kind of
expense ATM :-)

Here's hoping that other OEM take the ball and run with it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Chromebook - KDE Tutorial
Authored by: the_flatlander on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 07:46 AM EDT
Am I allowed to marvel... I know, I know, Ms. Jones, you've *always* been
clueful... but you've come a long way over the past decade... now you're writing
tutorials on using new hardware with our familiar open source tools? Oh. My.

Too much fun.

This is probably the very best part of the Open Source Movement; it's strength
and it's appeal: It can empower anyone and everyone.

The Flatlander

Does anyone know? Are there drivers available to put SCO UNIX, (whatever they
call it these days), on a Chromebook? [smirk]

[ Reply to This | # ]

My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Authored by: JamesK on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 07:57 AM EDT
{
and with the Samsung, it only had wireless
}

I had the same problem with my Nokia N800. I got around that with a an Asus
WL-330gE portable access point. I could connect it to an Ethernet port and then
use WiFi. I now have a D-Link DAP-1350, which does 802.11n and use it with my
tablet.

---
The following program contains immature subject matter.
Viewer discretion is advised.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Excellent $199 CA thanks for sharing
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 08:01 AM EDT
Congratulations, the pad problem is not an XFCE issue is a
driver / config problem, probably you can find how to fix
it, but if you are happy with KDE stay with it.

In theory the specs must be
Intel Celeron Dual-Core 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM and 320 GB HDD 11.6"
LCD LED backlight 1366 x 768, (HD)GPU Intel HD2000

It is a bargain for 200 USD, and with any Linux runs as
hell.

Chrome OS is Linux but it does not use X-Windows, crouton
does, and installs it. I think in a near future it will use
Mir. And from Crouton you can even use Steam.

It is a shame that there is no AMD version as their GPUs are
much faster than Intel ones, at the same price - CPU+GPU -.

But it is the best choice anyone can meke for their money -
that is why they are selling more over the net - 199 USD at
google play store - than at shops that would earn much money
if they can sell you a expensive an worst MS or OSX
preinstalled machine.

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My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 08:23 AM EDT
I've been running Ubuntu (<a href="http://chromeos-
cr48.blogspot.com/2013/05/chrubuntu-one-script-to-rule-them-
all_31.html">actually chrubuntu</a>) for perhaps 6 months on
my Acer C7 Chromebook. It works great, though is obviously
a little different from what pj did.

At least with chrubuntu, there's a little problem with
installing via chroot'ing, in that it means the system
libraries being used aren't always consistent with the
libraries needed by programs you get from the Ubuntu
repositories. In other words, if you install a new program
from the repository, even though it automatically installs
all the libraries needed, the program may still not work
because the actual libraries being used are the ones that
came with chrubuntu and not the new ones that have been
downloaded. Or at least, that's my understanding of why the
problem occurs.

But that's the only problem I encountered. All things
considered, the C7 works great as a $199
Ubuntu laptop.

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My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 10:30 AM EDT
I also recently went to a local Best Buy and found both
chromebooks on display on an endcap as you enter the
computer section. Samsung now has an entire section of Best
Buy. I went for the Samsung model because it was newer.
$10 for a usb/ethernet adapter. It also has a sd card
reader and usb ports. I put Fedora 18 on an 8g sd card and
booted to that. Very simple to do, along the same lines you
detailed. Unfortunately it was recently stolen. I replaced
it with an Acer Aspire M5. It runs Windows 8 on UEFI. You
can also run Legacy Bios and install Linux. I chose to use
the UEFI and installed OpenSuse 12.3 on it and the UEFI
allow me to go in and authorize it's bootup in UEFI. Pretty
simple to do once I did some reading and understood a little
bit about UEFI. This was my first encounter with it.

john

[ Reply to This | # ]

Other options are more expensive but
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 11:16 AM EDT
I haven't seen people putting on the distro's I want to use,
so that knocked out Chromebooks as an option for me. I do
have a (few) Raspberry Pi's and can get one of those droid
phone laptop bodies. My other two thoughts are either one
of the preinstalled sellers (Zareason or System 76), or
buying one of the "build it yourself" laptop companies that
let you order a plan laptop (like Sager).
If they get a way to get any Linux distro on there, then the
2nd generation Acer, with twice the memory and a 320gb hard
drive, is what I would be buying in a minute (about $50 more
then the low end model, and I can hook it to an external
monitor when I want better resolution and am not traveling
with it).

[ Reply to This | # ]

My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 01:04 PM EDT
PJ,

Thank you. I've bookmarked this page for when I get a chrome book.

I've noticed on Ubuntu that the .thumbnails folder tends to grow.
Don't know if that is the case with KDE. You have to show hidden files
to see it. With 'only' 16 gig, you might need to track it.

Clickymaker not signed in.

[ Reply to This | # ]

well done
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 02:01 PM EDT
Excellent write up PJ. The Chromebooks make a nice little take every where
laptop that if it breaks or gets stolen, its not the end of the world. Very
nice especially if you have private cloud resources to use with it. Most of the
chromebooks should have good Linux support as the 3.10 kernel (I believe)
included a bunch of drivers just for them.

There is a talk at OSCON about putting coreboot on the chromebooks and running
linux if anyone is going/interested.

http://www.oscon.com/oscon2013/public/schedule/detail/28506

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UEFI secure boot--any experience out there?
Authored by: xtifr on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 03:45 PM EDT

Ok, if even Debian, with its notoriously slow release cycle, now supports installation with secure boot, is SB really that much of a problem any more?

Honest question. I got my latest computer just a couple of weeks before Debian 7.0 was released, so I started my install with 6.0, which didn't support secure-boot installations, so I turned it off before installing. But I really had to think long and hard about it, because technically, secure boot seems like the sort of thing that could be really useful, at least in theory. Having the BIOS check the signature of my kernel before booting is something I'd really like.

In fact, if it weren't for the fact that UEFI/secure boot requires a different partitioning from legacy BIOS mode, I'd probably be experimenting with secure boot even now.

So I'm curious about people's experience using Linux with one of the newer distros that support secure boot. Not rumors and speculation--I can find those all over the internet, and they're drowning out the hard data and actual results in my searches.

(I almost put this under off-topic, but the thread starter said "no secure boot", and this does at least touch, tangentially, on the main topic, so....)

---
Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for it makes them soggy and hard to light.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Somewhat disappointed about your UEFI statement.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 08 2013 @ 06:15 PM EDT
Can I say I'm just somewhat disappointed you chose a "more
closed" platform over UEFI/Secure Boot?

On Chromebooks, you can't have both "secure boot" and "your
own OS".

On x86 UEFI, you can have both "secure boot" and "your own
OS".

By choosing Chrome OS, you've chosen a hardware platform
that eliminates secure boot once you disable it in order to
install Linux (or any OS). On UEFI systems, you technically
do not even have to disable secure boot to install many
Linux OS's (those that have their loader signed by M$), but
you can even sign your own loader/kernel with your own keys
and live on a Microsoft-certificate free machine (and while
it's often hard, you can do this without booting Windows
once).

All UEFI manufacturers are required to make this possible
for the end user in their EFI Bios setups.

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Chromebooks are nice, BUT ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 09 2013 @ 04:36 PM EDT

I actually considered getting one and bought a Raspberry Pi instead. (Actually, two of them.) I am using one of them (albeit not right now as I type this) as a laptop computer, having purchased an HD display (22" variety) because I can't really read the tiny screens that come with the smaller Chromebooks these days. And I like to have a real keyboard on which to type and a real mouse with which to point.

Yes, I know there's a difference between having a desktop computer and a laptop computer, but the customization possibilities of a Raspberry Pi seem endless. I have already successfully installed LibreOffice, LaTeX, LyX, maxima, Wireshark, and all kinds of other things on one of these devices using a 16 GB SD class 10 RAM card, and still have plenty of space for other things, including an ssh server, a remote desktop, several compilers, etc. And if I ever run out of space, I just have to plug in a powered USB hub and I can put on as many storage devices of whatever size I want or need.

Plus, I'm never afraid to do brain surgery on the Pi. All I have to do is pull out the RAM card, make an image of it on another storage device if I want a full backup, and insert a completely different RAM card into the Pi, and voilà - - I have a completely different computer, possibly with a completely different Linux distribution.

I did overpay a bit for my monitor, but I think it is a good one with full HD video support, and I can use it with other computers. The Raspberry Pi itself was $39.95 and was available locally. I had an HDMI cable already, so that cost me nothing. The 16 GB SD card was about $15.00 locally. I bought a keyboard and an optical mouse locally for less than a total of $10.00. And I went ahead and paid an extra $15.00 for a beefy power supply (the type that charges your phone probably is good enough because only 1/2 an Ampere is needed, but I went ahead and got the 1.5 Ampere variety instead to allow the ports to be fully powered.) I also spent $9.00 for a nice, raspberry-colored plastic enclosure. I don't have a ruler handy, but I would say the whole enclosure is 4 inches x 3 inches x 1 inch. If you wanted to, you could stick the whole computer on the back of the monitor using adhesive-backed Velcro. In fact, you could stick SEVERAL of them on the back of the monitor, if you wanted. Then, of course, you need a standard Ethernet cable to connect the thing to the Internet to do browsing, email, and software downloads and updates. You can always add a WiFi dongle later if you want for about $15 or $20.

Which raises the question, why even bother exchanging SD cards in a single Pi, when you can get two or three Pi's and extra SD cards without breaking the bank?

I have even been pleased with the speed of these things. They are not going to beat a powerful laptop or desktop computer, but generally, for my work, they don't need to do so. And the manufacturer of the boards even tells you how to overclock it *and* provides a utility for setting the clock speed!

I can't begin to convey how happy I am with this device. There's even a whole set of pins available for a GPIO port, if you want to take advantage of them. And, with some few exceptions (not applicable to me), the software is either free as in "freedom" or as in "beer," and in almost all cases of interest to me, both.

Your mileage may vary, of course, especially if you really need a laptop with a built-in display and keyboard. But for me, this is Nirvana, because I can actually see what I am doing on my display and type and move a mouse in the manner in which I am already quite accustomed. And, when I want to or need to, I have access to a terminal and the command line.

The only problem is, the local discount computer/computer parts store can't seem to keep enough of these boards in stock -- they almost fly off the shelf these days. But they are making more space for these and other similar items, so if you want a small computer and/or the parts to build a small robot, you can get them now. Easily.

Oh, and if the Raspberry Pi doesn't suit your need, perhaps a Beagle Bone will. I don't have one of these myself, yet, but they are alleged to be about twice as fast as the Raspberry Pi and come with a version of Linux already resident on the board, so you don't need to download a disk image onto an SD Ram to make it work. They don't seem to have as many ports built on board as a Raspberry Pi, however, which may make them less convenient if you just want to put together a simple computer. (I would like to know whether anyone else has any comments on this.) The Pi comes with a power port, a slot to plug in a SD Ram card, a HDMI connector, an Ethernet port, TWO USB-2.0 ports, an audio output, and a standard concentric video output for your old analog TV, if you want or need that.

In any event, I find the Pi to be a perfectly acceptable substitute for buying a computer that can run Linux without going through any of the trouble of having to dual boot anything or try to preserve a second operating system. And there's no UEFI problem to worry about.

[ Reply to This | # ]

My Excellent $199 Chromebook Adventure ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 11 2013 @ 07:55 PM EDT
Thanks for posting this detailed description. I found it useful.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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