Acer Chromebook Linux Installation

Chrombooks are becoming popular. It makes a decent netbook if installed with a mainstream Linux distribution. The Acer C7 is just a rebranded Aspire One AO756-2461. Because Chromebooks use a special BIOS that can’t boot a normal Linux, a special version of Linux shall be required such as an ChrUbuntu for a modified Ubuntu. In general these links are worth reading before taking any action:

There is a nice blog on liliputting describing general steps and explains the reason in non-geek language.

Entering developer mode

To begin with installing Ubuntu, you need to hit “ESC + refresh + power” (or turn a switch behind the battery on earlier versions) to invoke recovery mode. On recovery screen you press “Ctrl-D” to enter developer mode, or wait 30 seconds for a normal boot. The developer mode enabling process will end with a few beeps then reboot. On the last reboot it will load a developer OS and erase the user data. The whole process takes about 5 minutes.

When developer mode is enabled, on every power-on or reboot it shall show a prompt for you to disable developer mode. At this prompt, you can always hit “Ctrl-D” to continue boot into developer mode, or wait for 30 seconds till it boots into developer mode.

Once developer mode is entered, run “crossystem dev_boot_usb=1” and reboot once you’ll be able to boot from USB drives with Ctrl-U.

To leave Dev-mode programmatically, you can run “crossystem disable_dev_request=1; reboot” from a root shell.

An unrelated note: Holding just Refresh and poking the Power button hard-resets the machine without entering Recovery. This hard-reset has some chance to trash your stateful partition, so use it with care.

Load the Developer-mode BIOS

In order to boot an operating system other than Chrome OS, you’ll need to make sure you’re running the developer mode BIOS. Here’s how to do load it.

  1. Turn on the Chromebook.
  2. If you haven’t already logged in with your username and password, you’ll see the setup screen — connect to your WiFi network. Alternately you can hook up the Acer C7 to a wired network using an Ethernet cable.
  3. Do NOT login! Instead, while you’re at the login screen, press CTRL + ALT + fwd arrow key (the key in the top row that lets you go forward through web pages — its also marked as F2 on the Acer C7).

This will bring up a command prompt, where you should enter the following:

localhost login: chronos
chronos@localhost $ sudo bash
localhost chronos # chromeos-firmwareupdate –mode=todev

After a moment, your firmware will be updated and you’ll have developer mode BIOS enabled.

Installing Ubuntu 12.04 with ChrUbuntu

The Acer C7 features a large hard drive. The installer will ask you to choose between 5 and 293GB for your ChrUbuntu installation. This will repartition the hard disk, so choose as much space as you want to be able to use for Ubuntu. The rest will be available to Chrome OS.

The next step is to go to and follow Lee’s steps 2 through 11. When you’re done, the computer should boot into Ubuntu 12.04.

How to choose which OS to boot 

At this point you should be running Ubuntu. But if you turn off or reboot the computer, the next time it loads it will bring you back to Chrome OS. Here’s how to choose which operating system loads at boot.

In Ubuntu, open a terminal window and type the following to make Ubuntu the default:

sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 5 -S 1 /dev/sda

If you’re asked for a password, the default username and password are both “users” (without quotes).

You can also do that from Chrome OS. Just hit Ctrl + Alt + F2 (fwd arrow) again from the login screen to bring up the command prompt.

You can also switch the default OS back to Chrome OS by entering the following command, either in an Ubuntu terminal or at the Chrome OS command prompt:

sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 0 -S 1 /dev/sda

In order to exit the Chrome OS command prompt, just press Ctrl + Alt + F1 (back arrow) to return to the login screen. From there you can reboot.

And if you’re asked for a login when you get to the Chrome OS prompt, just enter “chronos” (without quotes).

You can return to Chrome OS the default by disabling Developer mode.

Bear in mind, every time you reboot, you’ll have to deal with the OS verification screen before the operating system loads… so say goodbye to your speedy 20 second boot speeds. If you don’t want to wait 25 seconds for the warning message to go away, you can speed things up by hitting Ctrl + D, but booting still takes longer once you’re in developer mode with OS verification turned off.

Lee’s Steps

  1. To get started, make sure your Chromebook is in developer mode and has a developer BIOS installed. See Google’s instructions for the Cr-48, Samsung Series 5, the Acer AC700, or the 2nd generation Samsung Series 5 550 and Chromebox Series 3 depending on your model. Samsung and Acer owners should pay special attention to the Developer BIOS instructions.
  2. Reboot your Chromebook but do not login. Make sure you have a WiFi or Ethernet connection at this point. 3G is not recommended. Press CTRL+ALT+=> (=> is the forward arrow where the F2 key would be on a PC). Do not use the normal CTRL+ALT+T method to get a shell. Use the CTRL+ALT+=> method while no one is logged in.
  3. Login as user chronos, no password is needed.
  4. As the chronos user, run:wget; sudo bash tnygaMake sure you have the command exactly right. tnyga is all lowercase letters and would sound like “tee in why gee aye” if you said it out loud (go ahead, try it!). If you get a “not found” error, make sure you have Internet connectivity.
  5. You’ll be prompted with some information about your Chromebook. You may need to run an additional command to install a developer BIOS on your Chromebook or, if you have a 1st generation Chromebook, you might be notified that a special non-official kernel will be used to allow 64-bit Ubuntu to run on your hardware. Press Enter to continue.
  6. The Chrome OS stateful partition where your data and settings are stored is just short of 11gb by default, the script shrinks the stateful partition to make room for ChrUbuntu. You can choose to give ChrUbuntu from 5gb up to 10gb in 1gb increments (Note: If you’ve installed a larger SSD in your Chrome device, your max number and recommended max will be larger). I recommend not going higher than 9 as 10 leaves Chrome OS with very little free space (less than 1gb). Once you’ve entered a number, your hard drive will be repartitioned. It may look like the Chromebook is doing nothing for 10-15 minutes but let it be, after awhile it will reboot and re-initialize the stateful partition. This process takes about 5 minutes and then the Chromebook reboots again and shows you the Welcome screen you got when you first turned on your Chromebook out of the cardboard box.
  7. Go through the Chrome OS setup process again until you get to the Google login page. You’ll need to have a WiFi or Ethernet connection again at this point. 3G is not recommended. Now follow steps 3 through 5 again. This time the script will see that you’ve already made room for Ubuntu and will start downloading the ChrUbuntu image and copying it to the SSD.
  8. There are 52 100mb files to be downloaded. Each is compressed so the actual download size ranges from less than 1mb in size to 90mb in size. The total size of all the files is about 1gb compressed and 5gb uncompressed so the download and install will take awhile. The files are named ubuntu-1204.binXX.bz2 (where XX is aa, ab, ac, ad, ae, af… ba, bb, bc… all the way to bz). If you want to see how big each piece is, take a look here.
  9. The script keeps track of which of the 52 files have been successfully installed so if you lose Internet connectivity, or the battery dies (you should be plugged in BTW), etc, just re-run Step 8 and it should resume where it left off.
  10. After all 52 files have been downloaded and copied to the SSD, the script will make a few more updates to your Cr-48 and then reboot.
  11. You’ll see ChrUbuntu start up! The username is “user” and the password is “user” if you need to make changes.
  12. Right now, you’re in ChrUbuntu but if you reboot, you’ll be back in Chrome OS. To make ChrUbuntu the default, run:sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 5 -S 1 /dev/sda(password is “user”). It should be possible to run this from ChrUbuntu or Chrome OS.
  13. To make Chrome OS the default again, either turn off Developer Mode, or run:sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 0 -S 1 /dev/sda

About minghuasweblog

a long time coder
This entry was posted in All, Desktop, Hardware and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Acer Chromebook Linux Installation

  1. Pingback: Chromebook Verified Boot and Recovery | minghuasweblog

  2. Mark Boydell says:

    BTW, the trackpad is crazy on the plain vanilla option so the following is a must:

    sudo nano /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf

    after MatchIsTouchPad “on” insert this:
    Option “FingerLow” “4”
    Option “FingerHigh” “10”

  3. I’ve setting up to Chrubuntu as default s.o but its still in developer mode… But can I leave of developer mode and the device will run chrubuntu as default s.o??

    or if I leave developer mode chrome os will run as default again.

    I dont wanna press ctrl + D every reboot :/

  4. Pingback: Fedora on Acer C7 Chromebook | minghuasweblog

  5. Thanks for writing this awesome article. I will come back for sure to
    check your future articles!

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