Install Ubuntu chroot on your Chromebook

I recently got a Chromebook Pixel 2015 LS. It is a very nice device. Chromium OS is great but a power user like myself wants a little more functionality out of this beautiful machine.

Fortunately it’s not too difficult to get an Ubuntu chroot running side by side with chromium. The Google developers have made a script to automate the process.

Below is my experience installing an Ubuntu Trusty chroot on my chromebook 2015 LS.

Prepwork

  • Enter developer mode:
    Press ESC, Refresh, power simultaneously (when the chromebook is on)

    • Every time you power on the chromebook from now on you’ll get a scary screen. Press CTRL-D to bypass it (or wait 30 seconds)
    • If you hit space on this screen instead of CTRL+D it will powerwash (nuke) your data
      A scary screen will pop up saying the OS is missing or damaged. Press CTRL D, then press Enter when the OS verification screen comes up.
  • Wait several minutes for developer mode to be installed. Note it will wipe your device to do this.

Install Crouton

Now that we’re in developer mode we will use a script called crouton to install an Ubuntu chroot (thanks to lifehacker for the guidance.)

  1. Download Crouton:  https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton
  2. Press CTRL ALT T to open terminal
  3. Type ‘shell’ (without quotes) and hit enter
  4. sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t touch,extension,unity-desktop,keyboard,cli-extra -e -n unity
    1. Note the arguments are suited to my needs. You will want to read up on the documentation to decide which options you want, i.e. desktop environment
  5. Install this crouton extension to integrate clipboard (in conjuction with the ‘extension’ parameter above)

General points of interest / lessons learned

  • Don’t enter the chroot and type startx. It will hard freeze your chromebook.
  • You don’t need to blow your chroot away if you want a different desktop environment, simply install desired environment on your existing chroot
  • To switch between chroots pres Ctrl + Alt + Shift + F2 or F3 (back or forward arrows on top row, not to be confused with the arrows on the bottom right of the keyboard)

High DPI

High DPI screens are a pain to deal with. Here are my tweaks:

  • Go to System settings / Displays / Scale for menu and title bars. I like 1.75
  • Alternatively you can change your resolution. If you mess up and X won’t start properly, delete ~/.config/monitors.xml (thanks to askubuntu)
  • Use the setres script to enable other resolutions in the display manager
    • setres 1440 960
  • Firefox fix tiny text:
    • go to about:config and modify layout.css.devPixelsPerPx, set to 2

Other tweaks:

  • Make trackpad match Chrome:
    • System settings / mouse and trackpad / Check “Natural Scrolling”
  • Remove lens suggestions:
    • Install unity-tweak-tool, notify-osd, overlay-scrollbar, unity-webapps-service
    • Run unity-tweak-tool and uncheck “search online sources” from the search tab
  • Move docky bar to the left:
    • sudo apt-get install gconf-editor
    • Press Alt+F2, enter: gconf-editor and in this configuration editor, navigate to “apps -> docky-2 -> Docky -> Interface -> DockPreferences -> Dock1″
    • On the right side there are some properties with their corresponding values, including the position of the dock which you can change from “Bottom” to “Top/Left/Right” to move Docky to the upper part of the desktop.
  • Install Mac OSX theme
  • Install elementary OS chroot

Garbled mouse cursor when switching between chroots

Sometimes the mouse cursor would get all weird when switching between my chroots. The fix is to install the latest Intel drivers within your chroot.

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common python-software-properties
sudo add-apt-repository https://download.01.org/gfx/ubuntu/14.04/main
wget --no-check-certificate https://download.01.org/gfx/RPM-GPG-KEY-ilg -O - | sudo apt-key add -
wget --no-check-certificate https://download.01.org/gfx/RPM-GPG-KEY-ilg-2 -O - | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

That’s it.. for now 🙂


 

Update 07/27/2015

I discovered that creating chroots was taking a very long time due to the mirror being chosen. I discovered the -m parameter of crouton which allows you to specify a mirror of your choosing. My updated setting is thus:

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t touch,extension,kde-desktop,keyboard,cli-extra -e -n unitykde -m http://mirrors.xmission.com/ubuntu

If you happened to do a CTRL + C to cancel an existing chroot install that was going slowly, you can simply append the -m parameter above along with -u -u to resume with the updated mirror:

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t touch,extension,kde-desktop,keyboard,cli-extra -e -n unitykde -m http://mirrors.xmission.com/ubuntu -u -u

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