Some integrations for running a crouton powered emacs session on your Chromebook
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Emacs for Chromebooks

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Chromebooks are web focused laptops that run a very cut down version of Linux. If you enable Developer mode you can install a set of scripts called Crouton which allow you to have a fuller Linux environment in a chroot. Normally people run a secondary X session on a different console in a sort of parallel setup. However it is possible for binaries to access the main ChromeOS X session although with some limitations.

This package is intended to allow running Emacs from such a chroot as a full-screen window in the main ChromeOS environment. You then bring up your emacs session by clicking the Emacs logo inside your browser.


You will need:

  • A Chromebook running ChromeOS
  • A crouton install with emacs in it
  • The latest Edit with Emacs from git (server and chrome extension)
  • This package


In the Chrome extension configuration page enable:

Allow clicking on Emacs icon to bring Emacs to foreground when no text area in focus

I have the following in my .emacs

(when (and (require 'chromebook "chromebook" 't)
  (set-face-attribute 'default nil :height 250)
  (when (boundp 'edit-server-new-frame-alist)
    (setq edit-server-new-frame-alist '((name . "Edit Server Frame")
					(fullscreen . 'fullboth)))))

I start Emacs in my crouton chroot with a command like:

host-dbus host-x11 emacs --daemon

Then when no edit area is in focus in my Chrome browser I can click the emacs link and up pops a full frame Emacs. Normal edit-with-emacs functionality works as well. Dismiss the frame with:

C-x C-c

There are a couple of hooks that can be used to disable the touchpad and remap the Search key to an additional control. These require the xmodmap and xinput utilities to be installed:

  (add-hook 'crmbk-frame-mode-hook 'crmbk-remap-search)
  (add-hook 'crmbk-frame-mode-hook 'crmbk-disable-touchpad)

what works

While the foreground frame is up you have no real access to the rest of the GUI as the native WM doesn't understand anything but Chrome. This is why full-screen mode is recommended. The extension will also poke the power daemon to ensure it doesn't go to sleep while Emacs has it's attention (as resume gets confused if Emacs is hogging the frame).

To Do

About the only thing left to do is cleanly handle when ChromeOS suspends. At the moment if the Emacs window is up when suspend occurs it may not show-up when the system wakes up. One option is to hook into the dbus notifications for an imminent suspend and delete the frame when it occurs. The system already pokes the dbus powerd interface to indicate activity but hooking into the listener is a little more involved.