Note: this guide only works for the Chromebooks that have a x86 processor (the Intel Atom). If your Chromebook has an ARM processor you might want to check this other guide: https://chromeos-cr48.blogspot.com/2012/10/arm-chrubuntu-1204-alpha-1-now.html
After becoming a semi-finalist for the Google Apps Developer Challenge 2012 with my HTML5 Photo Viewer application I received from Google a brand new Samsung Chromebook! I have tried the Chrome OS for a bit and I think it’s awesome those people that need a PC exclusively for browsing the web, writing e-mails and occasionally videochat. But if you have followed my blog, you know that I want to get the most out of my hardware (and you probably do too)!
It turns out that you cannot boot whatever you want from the USB drive. The Chromebook will complain that it is not a valid ChromeOS installation drive. This means that without opening the case and tinkering with the hardware you cannot install Windows or boot a regular Linux image. We can however make a new partition, copy an existing installation of Linux to it, make a copy of the ChromeOS kernel and modify the partition table to make it the default boot partition. The following steps are based on the instructions I found on this page. I included some more details and modified the installer script to make a few extra security checks.
- Turn off your Chromebook.
- Open the lid to the left of the Chromebook logo. There is a small switch that can be turned on or off. Use a small clip to switch it to enable developer mode.
- Turn on the Chromebook. At the blue screen where you are asked to recover ChromeOS, press CTRL+D. This will boot the computer in developer mode.
- Select a WiFi connection, then press CTRL+ ALT + → (two keys to the right of the ESC button).
- From the console, log-in with the user chronos.
- Type sudo su to gain privileged access.
- Enable the developer firmware by typing:
- The computer will reboot. Repeat steps from 3 to 6.
- Type wget https://www.pierotoffanin.com/chromebook/x86-chrdebian.sh
- Type sh x86-chrdebian.sh
- Type the number of gigabytes you want to reserve for Debian. A value of 9 is recommended.
- After the system reboots, press again CTRL+D. ChromeOS will fix your partitions.
- Repeat steps 4,5,6,9,10.
- Wait for the script to download and install Debian. This might take a while (2GB of downloads).
- When the installation is over, press Enter to boot into Debian.
The username is user and the password is chromebook. The root password is chromebook/linux.com.
Enjoy your new awesome Debian Chromebook!
If you get sick of Debian and want to boot back to ChromeOS, open a terminal and type:
sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 0 -S 1 /dev/sda
If you want to boot back to Debian, simply open a console (as described in step 4,5,6) and type:
cgpt add -i 6 -P 5 -S 1 /dev/sda
If something goes wrong, do not panic! Prepare a USB drive to recover ChromeOS following the instructions provided here and start over: https://support.google.com/chromeos/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1080595
As long as you do not open the case there is no risk of damaging the computer.
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