talkgroup

Install a new OS on my Chromebook Pixel

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i got it at google i/o in 2013. it is currently running factory chromeOS. i want to put a Linux of some kind on it.

  1. can it be done?

  2. what OS and what distro?

I have nothing to contribute to this, but you starting your list with 0 gets you like a million bonus points in my book.

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I’ve never owned one but ive read about people doing it.

The good thing about Chromebooks is that they actually run Coreboot, an free software firmware/bios. Google strips out the traditional PC compatibility payload but you can flash your own build of the firmware which adds it back. At that point you should be able to boo any traditional linux distro from USB by loading it’s netbook kernel and associated images. A rough guide by a gnome developer describing the proccess with Fedora be found here: How to turn the Chromebook Pixel into a proper developer laptop – Technical Blog of Richard Hughes

Wikipedia says that it’s got a vanilla i5 and atleast 32gigs of storage so any distro you like OUGHT to work once you get it booted and installed via the above method. I wouldn’t imagine you’d hit many driver problems, though some drivers might need binary blobs.

ALTERNATIVELY you could use a distro thats designed to coexist with Chrome OS or bootstrap Ubuntu/Debian into a partition on the device without firmware hijinks. I have however less knowledge of those things.

WARNING

I’ve never done this before YMMV.

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I’ve had good luck with GalliumOS (Xubuntu based) on another older Chromebook. Looks like the 2013 Chromebook Pixel is supported Hardware Compatibility - GalliumOS Wiki

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Currently reading MrChromebox.tech . This is all very unfamiliar to me and it’s slow going! =D

I think crouton is what I want? GitHub - dnschneid/crouton: Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment

Here’s more information specific to this device: Chromebook Pixel (2013) - The Chromium Projects

@judytuna how did this go for you?

Im getting a little tired of lugging my full Thinkpad X230 back and forth from home, to work, to class, to RPG sessions, etc, etc. Thinking of grabbing a $60 chromebook off ebay and putting Mageia on it, using the firmware from https://mrchromebox.tech for something a little physically lighter.

Just wanted to hear your experiences if you got around to it before I tried it.

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@trashHeap slowly! i’m still trying to figure out what’s possible, and haven’t even gotten to installation steps.

i’m currently on “answer this question: should i use some kind of dual-boot situation?”

I think I might take the plunge. The mrchomebox.tech site answered a lot of gaps in my brain where I was a little fuzzy and had dated knowledge. It also appears to have all the most modern firmware downloads for the kind of approach I was talking about back in February.

Will share my knowledge and experiences when it arrives from ebay. Theyve got some sub $60 Thinkpad 11e Chromebooks over there that I think will suite my needs nicely.

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Wow, those are really nice specs. Now I want one!

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Yeah. I had come up again on the PineBook queue recently. And was debating one for this niche, but I suddenly remembered the Chromebook angle. (Likely fresh in mind thanks to this thread).

These are likely more well supported by bog standard distros, possibly better performing and can be had for 2/3rds the price, if you don’t mind a few scuffs. Also judging by the official Lenovo hardware maitenance guide, the batteries look easily replaceable. Which I suspect isn’t true for a lot of Chromebook models, but I could be wrong.

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awesome!

i just read Your AirPods Probably Have Terrible Battery Life - The Atlantic . this is preaching to the choir, but just for my own notes:

But, of course, companies design for performance and sales, not life span. They make money when they sell more units, and they’re not financially responsible for disposing of products when consumers are finished using them. Nadim Maluf, the founder of the battery consultancy Qnovo, told me that a decade ago, he went to big tech companies telling them he could help them double the longevity of their products, by extending the life of the lithium-ion batteries they were beginning to use. “No one really cared,” he told me. “Extending product life wasn’t consistent with growth on the financial side.”

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When we get to warez of the hard variety, these are the data points I see missing in other places: how replaceable the battery, etc. You get that on fixup guides and databases, but not where we should have it handy: buying a new computer guides.

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i need to do firmware stuff.

then a side quest: see if this works!

photo: free spftware doundation business card form factor usb drive that says “INSIDE! GNU/LINUX INSIDE!”

i just found it in a box from my last move a year ago. lol

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Hrmm… I flashed the full coreboot build provided by the mrchromebox.tech site on a Thinkpad 11e and it seems mostly bricked.

I say mostly, in that I got it to briefly boot the new firmware, when I disconnecting it from battery power and tried just on AC. But haven’t been able to repeat it.

Im going to poke at it some more. Part of me insists that if it booted once it can do so again, there is just something funky in the chromebook power-up sequence im just not groking.

The other part of me is relieved after a night of picking away at one, that I picked a throw away sub $60 ebay chromebook for this experiment; and wants to take it a lesson learned just not to use chromebooks, even if to de-lobotomize them.

I also in theory have the equipment to get at the bios chip and reprogram it by brute force. But Lenovo made some of these internals harder to get to than I first realized, compared to the laptops I normally work with. Though, I don’t see much point for me in reverting the firmware back to ChromeOS at this poin either. Hrmm…

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Additional note: Other chromebooks with who encounter similar symptoms after following the same process are often deemed to be having some sort of TPM module failure. The recommended solution is to flash the bios the hardway.

Ah! So glad we were doing it the easy way so far! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I am afeared that Chromebooks are bigger, more wasteful mobile devices than phones, in design and deployment. T_T

Yeah I had previously decided never to touch these things, but got thinking that could be cool, relatively cheap low effort disposable google hardware reclamation effort. I was also kinda emboldened by my success with installing Coreboot on thinkpads. Chromebooks hypothetically were an even easier targetting for flipping. But it’s turning into a THING and I don’t want to chase them badly enough.

So lesson learned. What I really wanted was a Pinebook Pro which is coming out this year, luckily after Mageia 7 and its stable arm port.

Side Bar: Anyone following in my foot steps here, if you are afraid of bricking a Chromebook as I have done you should investigate the legacy SeaBios boot option. It is hypothetically less prone to bricking; though leaves much of the proprietary Chrome firmware intact. It also requires you to boot your OS with a special key combination on startup. Which is why I passed on that method.

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When I had a rotating pool of contractors for writing educational materials, and travel laptops for sales, Dell Chromebooks were a godsend. ~$200 a pop, and a lot of folks used them with monitors and keyboards as daily drivers.

Deploying them, I realized most folks don’t need more than what’s on offer there. Here’s hoping Pinebook pulls it off!

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I haven’t actually tried it yet, but FWIW Crostini (~GNU/Linux containers on ChromeOS) is really impressive. Unfortunately the Pixel 2013 isn’t supported but apparently about half of Chromebooks are, and all new ones will be.

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