Used Chromebook for few days

Some days ago I got Chromebook and have to say that device is amazing. Light, small and fast enough for conference laptop. During Linaro Connect I did some hacking on it with help from Olof Johansson and Andrew Wafaa (he brought Chromebook for me from Cambridge). I also used script from Jay Lee to get all information required to resize STATE partition and fit Ubuntu on internal storage.

Now I am running Ubuntu ‘raring’ on my Chromebook with XFCE as a desktop — all running from internal storage (16GB eMMC from SanDisk). So far I did not remove original Chromium from device as I keep it as a reference system to be able to compare what I got with how it works with system from Google.

So what works? Most of things — suspend/resume, wifi, bluetooth, sound, touchpad, usb ports, sd storage, camera. But why they should not work when I am using same kernel binary as Chromium OS does ;) So far did not yet came to rebuilding kernel — there were more important things to do first.

During Wednesday hacking evening I updated xf86-video-armsoc driver to X11 ABI 13 used by packages in ‘raring’ so I got 2D accelerated environment. Tried to find all sources required to build xf86-input-cmt driver but then got hint from Olof that “evdev” driver is enough — all it needs is small snippet of X11 configuration. And yes — it works but is not precise. Andrew told that he will try to build “cmt” driver for OpenSUSE so we will know how better it is.

What next? I have to create package for “cgpt” (GPT manipulation tool with support for Chromium OS extensions), tools and keys needed to sign kernel and kernel itself. Then some work would be needed for OpenGLES stuff but this can wait. I plan to upload everything needed into Debian and then request syncs to Ubuntu. From yesterday’s discussions I know which mailing lists I should go.

But I do not plan to cover everything. There will be no installation support from me. Users have to do it on their own cause there are several ways of getting other operating systems on Chromebook:

  • boot from SD card
  • boot from USB storage
  • resizing STATE partition to put system on internal eMMC (I did that)
  • removing Chromium OS completely to get more space for own system

Then there are also systems when user has developer firmware installed (that’s different that developer mode) or even setup where normal U-Boot is used as bootloader.

9 thoughts on “Used Chromebook for few days

  1. rjc

    I hadn’t tried hacking mine yet as I’m atm the moment I’m in need of a fully working portable machine with a stress on portability as my old iBook’s (G4) battery is not good enough and only lasts ~2h and the laptop itself became pretty much stationary.

    I have to admin that, not seeing Chrome OS before, I am quite impressed by it. It does most what I would require from it. … and the volume on those speakers ;^)

    So far the only problem I have encountered with the OS itself was inability to watch DivX/Xvid clips.

    Hardware-wise, I don’t like the fact that they blanked the SIM card slot with a bit of rubber which seems to be impossible to remove – in fact I don’t even know if the modem’s there and simply disabled or not at all.

    Also, one of the aforementioned speakers produses crackling sound but I guess that’s just my machine – probably will need to get it to PC World for a repair/swap.

    Thanks for the update Marcin.

      1. rjc

        Thought it might be one of those “included but disabled” “features” so popular nowadays.

        Thanks for a prompt reply.

  2. spych102

    Marcin, is adding USB to a Chromebook similar to adding it to a Pandaboard where you solder the pins to the board and then connect the USB plate to it?

  3. Mike

    Marcin, how does the experience compare to the original Samsung 550 chromebooks (running atom)? Did you have one of those? In my experience Ubuntu runs quite well on them, and so does chrome, but more horsepower and battery life are always appreciated..

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