Chromebook Unix
Shell
Latest commit c004cbd Feb 17, 2017 @reynhout new and updated hwids

README.md

chrx

Install Linux onto your Chromebook. Dual-boot alongside ChromeOS for maximum flexibility.

works on Most Chromebook models. See chromebooks.
installs Several Linux distributions. See operating systems and recommendations.

chrx.org
github.com/reynhout/chrx

status

Version 2.4 Add support for Fedora; Updated for Ubuntu 16.10; Installs GalliumOS by default. See changelog.

usage

Installing Linux via chrx onto a new (or freshly recovered) Chromebook is a two-phase process:

  • The first phase reserves space on your SSD or other storage device for the new operating system, and then reboots.
  • The second phase installs your chosen distribution, and configures the new system according to your selected options.

If you reinstall later, or switch to a another distribution, chrx will skip directly to phase two.

step-by-step

  1. Enable Developer Mode (process is model-specific; for Acer C720, press ESC+F3(Refresh)+Power), then reboot
  2. Load ChromeOS by pressing CTRL+D at the white "OS verification is OFF" screen
  3. Configure your Wi-Fi network if necessary, then log in (Guest account is fine)
  4. Open the ChromeOS Terminal by pressing CTRL+ALT+T, and enter shell at the prompt
  5. Update firmware, if necessary (required for Bay Trail and Braswell models, recommended for Broadwell and Skylake models, optional for Haswell models -- see chromebooks)
  6. Run chrx: cd ; curl -Os https://chrx.org/go && sh go (see options)
  7. Follow on-screen instructions to prepare your Chromebook for installation
  8. Reboot, then repeat steps 2-4 and 6 to install and configure your new system

options

chrx can accept several command-line options:

Usage: chrx [ option ... ]

Options
   -d DISTRIBUTION OS-specific distribution to install [galliumos]
                     galliumos, ubuntu, lubuntu, xubuntu, kubuntu, edubuntu,
                     fedora
   -e ENVIRONMENT  distribution-specific environment [desktop]
                     galliumos: desktop
                     ubuntu etc: desktop, minimal, standard, server
                     fedora: desktop, workstation, kde, xfce, lxde, mate,
                       cinnamon, sugar
   -r RELEASE      distribution release number or name [latest]
                     galliumos: latest, 2.0, xenon, nightly
                     ubuntu etc: latest, lts, dev, 16.04.1, xenial, etc
                     fedora: latest, 23, 24, 25
   -a ARCH         processor architecture (i386, amd64) [amd64]
   -m MIRROR       distribution-specific download mirror [${CHRX_OS_MIRROR}]
                     galliumos: ny1.us, va1.us, ca1.us, rb1.fr
   -t TARGETDISK   target disk (/dev/mmcblk1, /dev/sdb, etc) []
   -p PACKAGE      additional packages to install, may repeat []
                     kodi, minecraft, steam, etc, see chrx.org for more
                     (not yet supported on fedora)
   -H HOSTNAME     hostname for new system [chrx]
   -U USERNAME     username of first created user [chrx]
   -L LOCALE       locale for new system [en_US.UTF-8]
   -Z TIMEZONE     timezone for new system, Eggert convention [America/New_York]
                     America/San_Francisco, Europe/Amsterdam, Etc/UTC, etc
   -n              disable success/failure notifications
   -s              skip all customization, install stock OS only
   -y              run non-interactively, take defaults and do not confirm
   -v              increase output verbosity
   -h              show this help

  Default values are shown in brackets, e.g.: [default].

  If TARGETDISK is not specified, chrx will select the internal SSD.

packages

chrx can install additional software packages after installing your new operating system, using the -p PACKAGE option.

You can install any package in the Ubuntu repositories via this method, plus a few non-Ubuntu packages for which chrx has special handling, and some aliases for convenience:

  • minecraft installs Minecraft
  • steam installs Steam
  • kodi installs Kodi Media Center
  • chrome installs Google Chrome
  • admin-misc is an alias for "ssh tmux rsync vim"
  • dev-misc is an alias for "arduino geany geany-plugins ruby"

To install multiple packages from the chrx command line, you can repeat the -p PACKAGE option as many times as you need, or you can quote the argument, e.g.: -p "gimp blender inkscape".

examples

GalliumOS Desktop (latest), verbosely:

cd ; curl -Os https://chrx.org/go && sh go -v

GalliumOS Desktop (latest), plus packages:

cd ; curl -Os https://chrx.org/go && sh go -p "minecraft steam kodi"

Lubuntu Desktop (latest):

cd ; curl -Os https://chrx.org/go && sh go -d lubuntu

Ubuntu Standard, version 16.04, system name hal, first user dave, including some administrative tools:

cd ; curl -Os https://chrx.org/go && sh go -d ubuntu -e standard -r 16.04 -H hal -U dave -p admin-misc

advanced usage

You may choose to host or cache these installation files yourself. There are many good reasons to do so, especially if you'll be doing a large number of installations. However, setup can be somewhat more complicated, and instructions are outside the scope of this README.

To point chrx at your cache, just set the CHRX_WEB_ROOT environment variable before running the go script, like this:

export CHRX_WEB_ROOT="http://myserver/chrx"
cd ; curl -O $CHRX_WEB_ROOT/go && sh go

compatibility

chromebooks

status CPU family notes
Intel Haswell Firmware update available
Intel Broadwell Firmware update recommended
Intel Skylake Firmware update recommended
Intel Bay Trail Firmware update required
Intel Braswell Firmware update required
Intel Sandy/Ivy Bridge Requires SeaBIOS with Legacy Boot capability
Intel Pineview Requires SeaBIOS with Legacy Boot capability
ARM ARM support is very unlikely

If you do not know the CPU in your device, check here: https://wiki.galliumos.org/Hardware_Compatibility

operating systems

status OS distribution notes
Linux GalliumOS Derived from Xubuntu, developed specifically for compatibility and optimized performance on Chromebook hardware.
Linux Lubuntu A light-weight variant of Ubuntu, with the LXDE desktop environment.
Linux Xubuntu A light-weight variant of Ubuntu, with the Xfce desktop environment.
Linux Kubuntu Ubuntu with the KDE desktop environment.
Linux Edubuntu Full Ubuntu plus application bundles used in educational settings.
Linux Ubuntu The standard full Ubuntu distro.
Linux Fedora New 20161121!
FreeBSD Work in progress!

recommendations

Chromebooks perform best with lighter-weight operating systems and desktop environments, and they often require updated kernel drivers to support their new and tightly integrated hardware.

Selecting a distribution which meets these needs is therefore an important part of Linux-on-Chromebook happiness. While any updated distro will work for ordinary tasks, there are a few that stand out:

  • GalliumOS is optimized specifically for Chromebooks. It scores well on all metrics, looks great, and installs quickly. Some memory-hungry applications (e.g. Steam games) perform best on GalliumOS thanks to careful optimizations. GalliumOS is the default distro installed by chrx.
  • Lubuntu also scores and performs well. It uses significantly less RAM than other distros.
  • Xubuntu is another good choice. It's a bit heavier-weight than Lubuntu, but still performs very well.
  • Fedora comes in several "spins" (desktop environments, selected with -e ENVIRONMENT), some of which (lxde) are lightweight, and some of which (desktop (gnome), default) are heavier. A few sample spins have been added to measurements below.
  • I would not choose standard, full, Ubuntu for a Chromebook. It is perfectly usable, bit it's heavier and suffers in performance, without offering any important benefits. Memory use starts higher and increases much more quickly as you use the desktop apps (not reflected in measurements below). If your Chromebook model has 4GB of RAM, the performance differences are reduced but not eliminated.

sample measurements

distribution¹ disk space² RAM use³ install time⁴ recommended?
GalliumOS 2.0 2.5GB 291MB 9 mins
GalliumOS 1.0 2.8GB 287MB 10 mins
Lubuntu 15.10 2.7GB 227MB 18 mins
Lubuntu 16.04 3.1GB 185MB 19 mins
Xubuntu 15.04 3.0GB 360MB 22 mins
Ubuntu 15.04 3.5GB 440MB 28 mins
Kubuntu 15.10 4.2GB 613MB
Fedora 24 (lxde) 2.9GB 182MB 20 mins
Fedora 24 (cinnamon) 3.8GB 384MB 27 mins
Fedora 24 4.5GB 647MB 27 mins
  1. All distributions were installed with the desktop environment option, except where noted.
  2. Disk space can be reduced by removing unwanted packages. The number shown reflects the default install for the desktop environment.
  3. RAM use is measured after graphical login, connecting to Wi-Fi, and opening one window of the default Terminal program to run /usr/bin/free after a couple minutes for the system to stabilize. The number shown is an average of several tests, and variance is very low (2-3%).
  4. Installation time will vary greatly depending on your Internet connection, but the ratios should be representative.

test suite

"Working" is defined as:

  • system boots cleanly and quickly
  • installation remnants are cleaned up
  • swap and compressed RAM are enabled
  • proper drivers are properly loaded
  • trackpad works (standard & australian)
  • trackpad settings are usable
  • audio works, including after sleep/wake
  • wireless works, including after sleep/wake
  • function keys for backlight are functional
  • function keys volume control are functional
  • microphone input works
  • webcam input works
  • power management sleeps system when lid closed
  • power management wakes system when lid opened
  • no user configuration is required for basic use

This list might evolve. Your input is welcome!

evolution

chrx past

chrx began as an updated and enhanced version of ChrUbuntu, and still retains some original ChrUbuntu code (especially the disk partitioning bits).

chrx present

chrx has been used to install Linux on thousands of Chromebooks. Users and discussion can be found on /r/chrubuntu.

chrx future

I'd like to test on a wider variety of hardware, and to install other Linux distributions.

Support for FreeBSD is coming. See http://blog.grem.de/pages/c720.html if you can't wait.

alternatives

chrx is a command-line installer which requires requires no physical media or other preparation to install. It allows you to dual-boot, so you can choose Linux or ChromeOS each time you turn on your Chromebook. This is a flexible setup, well-suited for many users, but of course not all.

Consider these alternatives:

  • Crouton allows you to run ChromeOS and Linux simultaneously, instead of dual-booting like chrx or ChrUbuntu. This arrangement has a few drawbacks, but if you spend most of your time in ChromeOS and your Linux needs are limited, it should serve well.
  • The original ChrUbuntu has been tested on a wide variety of hardware. Unfortunately, it is now significantly outdated, and fails to install Ubuntu 15.04 and newer properly. 14.10 and older should install successfully via ChrUbuntu, but they will require significant additional configuration to work well. If your Chromebook is older and unsupported by chrx, give ChrUbuntu a try.

notes on security and privacy

Running code from the net is always an act that requires careful thought. chrx can be run directly from the net, and by default will download additional code via the same mechanisms. Any of these downloads could be misdirected or compromised. Downloading over an unsecured network (e.g. public Wi-Fi) raises the likelihood of such malfeasance, but it can never be fully eliminated.

If these are concerns of yours, you can mitigate your risks by auditing all of the code involved, comparing checksums of downloaded packages, and hosting local caches (see advanced usage).

Also, chrx "pings home" on every install to report success or failure. This ping includes no personal information, only data that might be useful for investigating failures.

Log entries created by these pings look like this:

17.x.x.x - - [01/May/2016:07:37:00 +0000] "GET /end_ok HTTP/1.1" 200 0 "-"
  "chrx/2.2.3 hw=PEPPY_C6A-V7C-A2C sw=linux,galliumos-desktop,latest,2.0,amd64" "-"

hw is a hardware ID that corresponds to your model of Chromebook (not a serial number).

sw combines a few of the command-line settings (or defaults) that you used to run chrx.

If this level of information sharing makes you uncomfortable, the behaviour can be disabled with the -n switch.

meta, obligatory

chrx is pronounced "marshmallow".

thanks

To Jay Lee for ChrUbuntu, to /r/chrubuntu for assembling links to tons of helpful resources, and to the dozens of people who found answers and solved problems before I even started looking.

changelog

  • 1.0 (20141223)
  • 1.1 (20150504): add support for Ubuntu 15.04
    • 1.1.1 (20150508): add "-r RELEASE" option; validate some input
    • 1.1.2 (20151005): update Ubuntu "trusty" to 14.04.3; add recognized HWIDs (PEPTO, LINK, SAMUS, LEON, PAINE, YUNA, SPRING, SKATE, FALCO, WOLF); always verify chrx.org certificates
  • 2.0 (20151025): add GalliumOS support; add support for Ubuntu 15.10; add detection and installation prognosis for all known ChromeOS devices; add "-d DISTRIBUTION" and "-e ENVIRONMENT" options; remove "-m METAPACKAGE" option; remove "-i IMAGE" option, make RELEASE smarter; work around systemd conflict; refactor code into functions to facilitate multiple distros and future operating systems
    • 2.0.1 (20151113): update core image pathname for GalliumOS
    • 2.0.2 (20151118): update some HWIDs
    • 2.0.3 (20151119): bugfix: issue #4, parted and partprobe removed from ChromeOS
    • 2.0.4 (20151120): bugfix: issue #5, "-r RELEASE" handling failing for some values of RELEASE
    • 2.0.5 (20151212): add first user to important groups; use generic coreimage for GalliumOS
    • 2.0.6 (20151214): bugfix: issue #7, add GalliumOS hwspecific pkgs properly
    • 2.0.7 (20151214): update detection for all known ChromeOS devices; improve prognosis descriptions
    • 2.0.8 (20160102): add CHRX_NO_REBOOT env var for use with https://github.com/MattDevo/scripts
  • 2.1 (20160103): add "-p PACKAGE" option to install additional packages
    • 2.1.1 (20160120): update URL for GalliumOS coreimage; make sure util pkgs are added
    • 2.1.2 (20160130): add parsing for "-r nightly" (GalliumOS only, installs nightly build); log chrx command line for debugging; add first user to groups more quietly
  • 2.2 (20160304): switch default distribution to GalliumOS
    • 2.2.1 (20160316): bugfix: issue #12, errors installing to external media
    • 2.2.2 (20160420): retry/resume failed image downloads; add new HWIDs
    • 2.2.3 (20160426): do not drop to shell before reboot; do not retry coreimage downloads; update steam install for xenial; update docs for Ubuntu 16.04
    • 2.2.4 (20160505): add Google Chrome to installable packages; add new HWIDs, update others
    • 2.2.5 (20160512): update Ubuntu base/core image URL (thanks arsfeld)
    • 2.2.6 (20160619): hide eMMC partitions properly (thanks gmykhailiuta); improve -r RELEASE handling for GalliumOS; add preliminary handling for running under non-ChromeOS
    • 2.2.7 (20160810): use version-dependent Ubuntu URL to match new Canonical schemes; update Ubuntu "trusty" to 14.04.5
    • 2.2.8 (20161002): add support for new GalliumOS hardware-specific pkgs: braswell, skylake, samus
  • 2.3 (20161121): add support for Fedora! thanks @jedigo!
    • 2.3.1 (20161208): Fedora: add -p support, add latest to auto-detection, add nonfree codecs (thx @jedigo); GalliumOS: use chrx GRUB config; all: add more hidden mmcblk0 partitions, update GRUB config
    • 2.3.2 (20161222): add first user to groups individually in case selected distro/metapackage/spin does not include all (fixes #30)
  • 2.4 (20161228): add support selection of mirror sites (GalliumOS-only)
    • 2.4.1 (20170129): GalliumOS: Fix LINK, add CHELL HiDPI pkg selection