How to implement Linux on a Chromebook (and because we should)
June 19, 2017 - chromebook
Chromebooks are one of a many secure inclination we can give a non-technical finish user, and during a cost point few can disagree with, though that confidence comes with a remoteness trade off: we have to trust Google, that is partial of a NSA’s Prism programme, with your information in a cloud.
Even those who put their faith in a company’s rusty “don’t be evil” mantra competence find Chromebook functionality limiting—if we wish some-more than Google services, Netflix, some other Web apps, and maybe a Android app store, afterwards you’re out of luck.
Geeky users peaceful to rivet in some entry-level hackery, however, can implement Linux on their Chromebook and unleash a Power of Torvalds™.
Crouton: Linux break for your Chrome salad
Crouton commissioned in reduction than half an hour on a 2016-era Acer Chromebook (buy here), and runs in a chroot corresponding with Chrome OS. The plan name is an acronym for “ChRomium Os Universal chrooT envirONment,” according to a witty GitHub README, and now supports Debian Linux and derivatives like Ubuntu and Kali Linux.
Trying out Crouton is easy, and value an evening’s tinkering. Enter developer mode on your Chromebook, that for many users means holding down a Esc and Refresh keys while drumming a energy button. Doing so will erase all internal information on your Chromebook (in a doubtful eventuality that we have any locally stored information on a cloud-focused device, granted). Hit Ctrl-D, Enter, and wait 5 mins or so for a Chromebook to wipe.
Once in developer mode, your Chromebook will offer a warning summary each time we boot-up that a device is now vulnerable. David Schneider, a Crouton maintainer, who works for Google though was incompetent to get accede to pronounce to Ars for this article, outlines a confidence trade offs on a Crouton wiki:
“Dev mode out of a box does several things that concede security, including disabling accurate boot, enabling VT2 [terminal], and activating passwordless base bombard access. This means even though Crouton, if you’re in dev mode, someone can switch to VT2, record in as base and supplement a keylogger that runs during startup, afterwards switch behind though we knowing. If you’re logged in, they can also entrance a unencrypted essence of your Chrome form and duplicate it elsewhere. If an feat to Chrome is found, accurate foot will no longer strengthen we from determined compromises. Essentially, dev mode by default is reduction physically secure than a customary laptop regulating Linux.”
You’ve been warned. Once in dev mode, enter your Wi-Fi cue and accept a EULA, afterwards name “Browse as Guest.” Head on over to Schneider’s GitHub repo and download Crouton, and follow a instructions.
Open a depot in Chrome OS. To do so, strike Ctrl-Alt-T in a browser, that will open
crosh, a native, stripped-down shell. Type
shell to get a genuine shell, and run
sh ~/Downloads/crouton to see implement options.
Crouton defaults to Ubuntu LTS 12.04. A essential first-time default implement competence demeanour like:
sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -e -t xfce
This will implement Crouton with a xfce desktop environment, with encrypted
(-e) filesystem and touchcreen
(-t) support. A full operation of distro images are accessible and can be specified with a recover
(-r) flag. If all you’re after is a Linux authority line, we can eschew X and implement a headless Linux complement regulating
-t core or
Alas, Crouton doesn’t check developer signatures, since bugs, creation it formidable to be certain your download hasn’t been MITMed. Hopefully this emanate will be bound soon.
Once installed, launch Crouton from Chrome OS by opening
crosh with a Ctrl-Alt-T, typing
shell, followed by
enter-chroot startxfce4. If you’re regulating an ARM Chromebook, you’ll be singular to F/LOSS program gathered to support that chipset, though Intel Chromebook owners can demeanour brazen to hours of daze personification Steam games. Numerous integration features make it easy to switch behind and onward between Chrome OS and your Debian-based chroot.
When your poignant other or school-age child final their Chromebook back, deletion your hackery is as elementary as disabling developer mode. At boot, instead of clicking by a Chrome OS warning page with Ctrl-D, re-enable normal mode by attack a space bar (see screenshot). This will clean your changes and revive Chrome OS, and send we running to Amazon for a Chromebook of your really possess to hack.