8 votes

Sometimes you have to stick a screwdriver in it (or how to liberate a Chromebook in ten easy steps)

5 comments

  1. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    It's odd to complain about how the device isn't open when there is a write-protect screw on the motherboard precisely so you can disable the write protection. It doesn't look like there is any...

    It's odd to complain about how the device isn't open when there is a write-protect screw on the motherboard precisely so you can disable the write protection. It doesn't look like there is any unauthorized hack here?

    Chromebooks are also designed to support Linux in various ways like via dual booting or running Linux in a container. Device drivers are also more likely to be available for Chromebooks than other laptops.

    It seems like the Chromebook designers should get some credit for making sure all these cheap notebooks are being manufactured to run Linux fairly easily, even if that's not their primary purpose? It's rather unusual for consumer devices.

    9 votes
    1. tomf
      Link Parent
      This is so true. I've got a little Toshiba Chromebook 2 -- 13" or so running Gallium. It's from around late 2014. I got it off of ebay two or three years ago for about $120. It's got plastic body...

      It seems like the Chromebook designers should get some credit for making sure all these cheap notebooks are being manufactured to run Linux fairly easily, even if that's not their primary purpose? It's rather unusual for consumer devices.

      This is so true.

      I've got a little Toshiba Chromebook 2 -- 13" or so running Gallium. It's from around late 2014. I got it off of ebay two or three years ago for about $120. It's got plastic body that seems to be indestructible --- like a kid's toy. The screen is great, the audio is decent, I love the keyboard, and the trackpad isn't too shabby.

      I got it as my 'out on the town' laptop. If someone steals it, I couldn't care less. That being said, it's a great little laptop. I get about 8 hours of actual use. This isn't the fastest laptop, but browsing is fine and, for me, I spend most of my time in a terminal, so it's good enough.

      I think these little Chromebooks would be great for someone who is technical and wants to get into having a full-time Linux system, but doesn't want to dual boot or drop a lot of money on a system --- mainly as a hobby / learning device they can wipe without any doubts or fear.

      4 votes
  2. [2]
    hungariantoast
    Link
    It is pretty sad that even on new Chromebooks we still have to jump through these ridiculous hoops just to use the computer the way we want. My current laptop is a refurbished Dell Chromebook 13...

    It is pretty sad that even on new Chromebooks we still have to jump through these ridiculous hoops just to use the computer the way we want.

    My current laptop is a refurbished Dell Chromebook 13 that I bought years ago for $216. Considering how long I have had and used the device, it is probably the best tech purchase I have ever made, but I too had to go through a ridiculous and complicated process just to install Linux.

    Last year, I had to do it all over again for my grandmother's aging Chromebook, which is so old that Google/Acer refuse to continue supplying updates to it.

    Thankfully for my grandmother, I knew how to pry open and liberate her machine, saving her from having to spend hundreds of dollars just to use a different pile of silicon.

    4 votes
    1. skybrian
      Link Parent
      It seems like Chromebooks aren't built to last. They are only supported for six years at best, often shorter because Chromebooks with older chipsets are still sold as new for years after they're...

      It seems like Chromebooks aren't built to last. They are only supported for six years at best, often shorter because Chromebooks with older chipsets are still sold as new for years after they're outdated. It's a good idea to check the auto update policy to find out the expiration date before buying one. (Six years of updates is better support than you will find for most cell phones, though.)

      The ones I bought for my mother have eventually had hardware problems so they didn't even last that long. Still, if you got a better one, it's nice that they will still run Linux after their main use is done.

      3 votes
  3. ffmike
    Link
    It's worth noting that the GalliumOS web site is a trove of information on how to do all this stuff, and the community is (in my experience at least) helpful if you run into snags. I've got...

    It's worth noting that the GalliumOS web site is a trove of information on how to do all this stuff, and the community is (in my experience at least) helpful if you run into snags. I've got GalliumOS installed on a Lenovo 100S Chromebook that cost peanuts compared to my Macs, and it runs all the software I need to manage my (all too infrequent) ham radio contacts.

    TAILS also runs fine on this box, and simply requires enabling booting from USB. If I was looking for a cheap way to remain reasonably anonymous, that'd be it.

    4 votes