Convert chromebook to linux rig? (if you hate angry avoid me)

Morlock

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i own an acer chromebook 15 cb3-532. I am beyond fed up with stasi/google's bullshit. I don't like the dependency this thing has on the play store. i don't like how inherently insecure it (the play store) is. i don't like google. i don't like sergei brin. i don't like larry page. i don't like their smug attitudes, i don't like their behavior, i don't like their motives, i don't like them as human beings, and i don't like their faces. i sure as fuck don't like being told that i have to surrender my phone number because of google's bullshit concerns over "suspicious activity." i don't care if it's a phyrric loss (i.e., that they already know everything about me already, and know damned well what my phone number is). if they legitimately gave a fuck about what's suspicious, their whole business model would be obselete.

Does anyone know a relatively easy way to convert this thing into a legit linux rig? Not a crostini rig, but a legit, fuck you google, don't need you for shit, actual linux rig? In a straightforward way that a mere mortal with no linux experience can understand and implement? because I am soooo ready to tell google to go fuck itself.

Edit: if it's possible to convert this thing to a linux rig without being a coder, I would also love to hear suggestions on which flavor of linux to use, and arguments in support. I've heard everything from "oh use this security-oriented flavor of linux" to "no use a popular, open-source flavor like Debian because it has a zillion eyeballs on it all the time" so I honestly don't have a preference yet.
 
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Kardonxt

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You don't need to be a coder, but you will need to do research \ google and be willing to take apart the laptop so you can get to the motherboard to enable firmware flashing.

https://mrchromebox.tech/#home appears to be a good place to start. There are also reddit communities dedicated to this you will probably want to browse.

Doesn't look too hard if you like to tinker. If you are looking for a simple, click a few buttons & run a couple commands thing, you are probably out of luck.
 
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pendragon1

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whyd you buy it? yeah you can convert it, use google, try mint?
edit: see below
 
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travm

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avoid mint.
Use GalliumOS, it just works on most chromebooks
Disclosure - I use mint on my chromebook. It works, but.
 

travm

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So, the full length post.
Buy a 128gb mini USB drive (like thumb drive), the tiny ones.
Make sure its a metal one, the plastic ones get too hot and die. This will be your new HDD, the built in storage on chromebooks isnt large enough, and doing it this way you don't run the risk of bricking your laptop.
Follow the installation instructions on the GalliumOS Wiki, There are some semi-complicated steps to installing the modified bios. On my chromebook I have hit Ctrl+L on boot every time (unprompted) to tell it I want to boot from USB.

I'd be happy to help more if you need it, but the gallium wiki is pretty good, should be a walk in the park.
 

Morlock

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whyd you buy it? yeah you can convert it, use google, try mint?
edit: see below
It was a gift. But from what I gather, it's a total crapshoot if you can linux a chromebook; some it's easy, others hard, etc. As for why a chromebook, well, they are pretty cheap, relatively speaking.
 

Morlock

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So, the full length post.
Buy a 128gb mini USB drive (like thumb drive), the tiny ones.
Make sure its a metal one, the plastic ones get too hot and die. This will be your new HDD, the built in storage on chromebooks isnt large enough, and doing it this way you don't run the risk of bricking your laptop.
Follow the installation instructions on the GalliumOS Wiki, There are some semi-complicated steps to installing the modified bios. On my chromebook I have hit Ctrl+L on boot every time (unprompted) to tell it I want to boot from USB.

I'd be happy to help more if you need it, but the gallium wiki is pretty good, should be a walk in the park.
I probably have one laying around. If not, I should, so I can definitely do that. Thanks. And I may hit you up for that help. But I can usually handle semi-complicated.

Edit: is a micro SD card good enough? I just bought a 256gb SanDisk. But I guess maybe not, if the idea is to boot from USB...
 
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Morlock

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You don't need to be a coder, but you will need to do research \ google and be willing to take apart the laptop so you can get to the motherboard to enable firmware flashing.

https://mrchromebox.tech/#home appears to be a good place to start. There are also reddit communities dedicated to this you will probably want to browse.

Doesn't look too hard if you like to tinker. If you are looking for a simple, click a few buttons & run a couple commands thing, you are probably out of luck.
I can handle research, too. The first time I looked at doing this it seemed pretty daunting, but maybe I was just being a wuss, or maybe I'm just more motivated now. I'm definitely willing to open the case, and to do more than a few clicks - thanks for the reply.
 

pendragon1

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It was a gift. But from what I gather, it's a total crapshoot if you can linux a chromebook; some it's easy, others hard, etc. As for why a chromebook, well, they are pretty cheap, relatively speaking.
oh ok. can be, intel based one are the easiest one, i think. didnt ask "why chromebook", we have tonnes at work for students. they have their use/place. it was "why buy chrome if you hate google?" but i get it.
 

travm

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Edit: is a micro SD card good enough? I just bought a 256gb SanDisk. But I guess maybe not, if the idea is to boot from USB...
If your Chromebook has an SD slot you should be able to use that. I'd keep an eye (thumb?) on the thermals, my USB Flash gets screaming hot.
I would be very surprised if the custom bios was unable to boot from SD just the same as USB. Downside is you'll never be able to use your SD reader. In short yeah that should work.
 

jmilcher

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Even a 5+ year old cheap laptop would run loops around almost all chrome books. I’d sell that and get an older well supported Lenovo T series laptop and put Linux on it. You’d save time and hassle. And if you consider your time valuable, you’ll be saving money also.

Something like a t470 or t460 with 8 or 16 go of ram would do the trick. They are cheap to come by and are very very well supported by most Linux communities.
 

B00nie

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I wouldn't also bother with the extra hassle of a chrome book. They're very cheaply purpose made things.
 

chithanh

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You can enable developer mode in Chromebooks and then install a Linux distro running alongside Chrome OS, using crouton or similar.

It is also possible to modify the firmware to dual boot arbitrary Linux distros ("RW_LEGACY"), and even turn the Chromebook into a generic laptop ("Full ROM") which you can install any Linux distro on and completely wipe Chrome OS.

Suggested reading:
https://wiki.galliumos.org/Firmware
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Chrome_OS_devices
https://mrchromebox.tech/#fwscript
 

Morlock

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It's nice when a journey of a thousand steps fails on step #1; gets it over with quickly and painlessly. It's when step #999 is the point of failure that I get mad.

I'm leaning toward the suggestion of just buying a used laptop and installing linux. But then on second thought that's based on a naive assumption that installing linux on that would be any easier. For all I know it'll be [current situation] - [cost of used laptop].
 

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B00nie

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It's nice when a journey of a thousand steps fails on step #1; gets it over with quickly and painlessly. It's when step #999 is the point of failure that I get mad.

I'm leaning toward the suggestion of just buying a used laptop and installing linux. But then on second thought that's based on a naive assumption that installing linux on that would be any easier. For all I know it'll be [current situation] - [cost of used laptop].
It's not naive. Any modern distro installs easier than Windows. I recommend Ubuntu Mate for a beginner.

Your problem is that the developer shell is very limited, You need to start your installation by typing shell and then press enter, that way you will enter a full bash shell that has commands such as cd, then you can copypaste your commands successfully. It seems that whoever wrote your instructions either omitted this step or you didin't read carefully enough and just started copypasting on the first sight of a shell :D

The cd in the beginning of the commands you apparently copypasted will take you to the users home directory. The ; after the cd instructs the shell to move on to the next command and the curl command downloads a file (firmware util) for you.

Just be aware that messing with the firmware can brick your chromebook if you install the wrong firmware or the install fails for whatever reason, power is lost etc.

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/terminal-commands-chromebook/

All in all it's safe to say that if you start learning linux by starting to hack your chromebook, it's like starting to climb the himalaya backwards. You're not doing youurself favors there. Is the chromebook your only computer? If you have a windows box it's far easier for you to install linux as a virtual machine (virtualbox or vmware client) and start learning there. The advantage of a virtual machine is that you can take an image snapshot and then revert back to the working snapshot each time you manage to mess something up royally. That usually happens a lot on your first learning steps when you try to do things the windows way.
 
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travm

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Yeah, I checked the wiki instructions, they are a little confusing. Like most things when using linux there are multiple different ways to achieve the same result, and the instructions cover them all.
I would recommend using the RW_LEGACY firmware because it is much safer for newbies, and makes it easy to restore you device to stock. Also it does not require write protect removed. Read this; https://wiki.galliumos.org/Firmware specifically the RW_LEGACY Section. I checked and your device supports this. You can skip step 2A because RW_LEGACY doesn't require it. Specifically you must follow Step1 (including #5, as you are not updating the firmware with RW_LEGACY). When you get to step 2b #7 ensure you choose RW_LEGACY.
Remember every time you boot when you get to the "OS VERIFICATION IS OFF" screen you must hit ctrl+L. If you happen to re-enable OS Verification you'll have to repeat Step 1 (even if you've already installed linux and have been using it for months).

Hope this isn't more confusion.
 

jmilcher

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It's nice when a journey of a thousand steps fails on step #1; gets it over with quickly and painlessly. It's when step #999 is the point of failure that I get mad.

I'm leaning toward the suggestion of just buying a used laptop and installing linux. But then on second thought that's based on a naive assumption that installing linux on that would be any easier. For all I know it'll be [current situation] - [cost of used laptop].
As stated above the installation of any or most main stream beginner level Linux distros will absolutely install easily. In fact most of them have hardware that has been certified to run right out of the box, with little or no configuration needed by the end user.

I myself bought a T470 Lenovo laptop and had Mint running on it with no hassle. In fact I’d say it was less work than a Windows 10 install.

You’ve spent more time thinking and discussing the question, than you would just buying a known compatible laptop and installing Linux.
 

crashtech

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I'm going to pile on with another vote for a ThinkPad. Even an old t420 (Sandy Bridge) will run rings around any Chromebook aside from battery life. Even that can be fixed with a bigger battery. There's a T series on ebay for pretty much any budget.
 

jmilcher

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I'm going to pile on with another vote for a ThinkPad. Even an old t420 (Sandy Bridge) will run rings around any Chromebook aside from battery life. Even that can be fixed with a bigger battery. There's a T series on ebay for pretty much any budget.
Yes exactly. I actually still own a t420. Aside from an aging battery it’s actually a decent machine. Especially for the price you can get them.
 

SuperSubZero

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I haven't seen anyone discuss the specs of these things. It looks like the config is a Celeron, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage.

https://www.amazon.com/Acer-Flagship-CB3-532-Premium-Chromebook/dp/B06XD3LXXK

I am not sure how much "linuxing" one is gonna do on this. Another vote for getting a used ThinkPad, and give this thing to a kid or something (tho even my 9-year old daughter wouldn't have any use for this).

Just to veer to the periphery of the topic, I have a Pixelbook, *not* a $300 device (i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage, 2K-ish display). Google makes it easy to put it in developer mode for sideloading non-Store apps (which I do). There's a Linux 'mode' in ChromeOS, not sure if that $300 thing has it. https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/9145439?hl=en
 

travm

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I haven't seen anyone discuss the specs of these things. It looks like the config is a Celeron, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage.

https://www.amazon.com/Acer-Flagship-CB3-532-Premium-Chromebook/dp/B06XD3LXXK

I am not sure how much "linuxing" one is gonna do on this. Another vote for getting a used ThinkPad, and give this thing to a kid or something (tho even my 9-year old daughter wouldn't have any use for this).

Just to veer to the periphery of the topic, I have a Pixelbook, *not* a $300 device (i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage, 2K-ish display). Google makes it easy to put it in developer mode for sideloading non-Store apps (which I do). There's a Linux 'mode' in ChromeOS, not sure if that $300 thing has it. https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/9145439?hl=en
I run PCB CAD (KiCAD) and Embedded Controller development (Microchip MPLabX) on mine. Does spreadsheets, multiple chrome tabs, and PCBnew and ESchema all at the same time, no choke.

I'm not sure people are trying to run Crysis on linux.
 

SuperSubZero

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I run PCB CAD (KiCAD) and Embedded Controller development (Microchip MPLabX) on mine. Does spreadsheets, multiple chrome tabs, and PCBnew and ESchema all at the same time, no choke.

I'm not sure people are trying to run Crysis on linux.
I guess that's fine, even though KiCAD's own requirements page seem to indicate that's close to it's minimum requirements. I'm sure most folks on [H] will back the idea that "multiple Chrome tabs" don't really take much memory so that shouldn't be a problem.
 

travm

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I guess that's fine, even though KiCAD's own requirements page seem to indicate that's close to it's minimum requirements. I'm sure most folks on [H] will back the idea that "multiple Chrome tabs" don't really take much memory so that shouldn't be a problem.
I'm just trying to point out that Chromebooks running Linux can do lots. Don't forget I'm also typically running LibreOffice calc. Mplabx is on the requirement edge as well, but works fine.

Op has a Chromebook, wants or wanted to put Linux on it, at no point was he asking for advice on which laptop to buy for Linux.

If the op is still here, what is your typical use case?
 

B00nie

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I'm just trying to point out that Chromebooks running Linux can do lots. Don't forget I'm also typically running LibreOffice calc. Mplabx is on the requirement edge as well, but works fine.

Op has a Chromebook, wants or wanted to put Linux on it, at no point was he asking for advice on which laptop to buy for Linux.

If the op is still here, what is your typical use case?
The issue is not so much with using a chromebook but this guy is totally new to linux to start with and starting to hack firmwares is not exactly what I would recommend for a beginner :)
It requires at least some sort of basic understanding on what one is doing (like why the cd command is not recognized in the developer shell).
 

jmilcher

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I'm just trying to point out that Chromebooks running Linux can do lots. Don't forget I'm also typically running LibreOffice calc. Mplabx is on the requirement edge as well, but works fine.

Op has a Chromebook, wants or wanted to put Linux on it, at no point was he asking for advice on which laptop to buy for Linux.

If the op is still here, what is your typical use case?
Part of being in this community and asking for advice is receiving advice. And if the advice received makes more sense than the plan the op had and fits his needs, then so be it. I’m glad many times in the past 25 years people have given me advice and often times saved me time and money if I had an idea that didn’t make as much sense as for instance, getting better hardware for my needs on the cheap.
 

jmilcher

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The issue is not so much with using a chromebook but this guy is totally new to linux to start with and starting to hack firmwares is not exactly what I would recommend for a beginner :)
It requires at least some sort of basic understanding on what one is doing (like why the cd command is not recognized in the developer shell).
Exactly. And OP pointed this out. He wants the simplest solution.

imo the simplest solution is to buy a used laptop that has known compatibility with his distro of choice.
 

jmilcher

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Like GalliumOS on the chromebook he already owns?
If he’d like to look at that option I’m sure he can. Just like he can consider what I and multiple other members here echo’d in response also.
 

CrimsonKnight13

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I've done the whole SeaBIOS conversion on a Chromebook for my wife but she wound up not liking it (no longer own it either). Was a fun project for sure but there was so many headaches built into the firmware settings.
 
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