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Install Ubuntu Linux on the LG Chromebase

Published: 03-08-2015 | Author: Remy van Elst | Text only version of this article


Table of Contents


chromebase

I recently acquired the LG Chromebase 22CV241-W. It is an All in One typemachine with Chrome OS. The hardware, excluding the screen and lack of battery,is largely the same as the Acer C720. Of course I removed Chrome OS andinstalled a real Linux on it, of which you'll find instructions below. In mycase it is Ubuntu Mate. Arch Linux also works fine, but this was for someoneelse, so a more beginner friendly distro seemed to be a better choise. Thisarticle will cover the removal of Chrome OS and the installation of Ubuntu Mateon the LG Chromebase.

If you like this article, consider sponsoring me by trying out a Digital OceanVPS. With this link you'll get $100 credit for 60 days). (referral link)

Hardware

The specifications are quite good for an All in One of this price:

With the HDMI in port you can use it as an external display for another PC orlaptop. If you don't like Chrome OS or Linux you can just plug this in to yourPC or laptop and use it as a second screen.

The USB 3.0 port is on the side of the screen, the rest in on the back.

The hardware is more than enough to do basic Word processing, browsing, a bit ofLaTeX and Python programming. Which are exactly the things the machine was goingto be used for.

Software

By default the machine runs Chrome OS. That is a fine OS, well enough for basiccomputer usage for 90% of the population. It features all the stuff you'dexpect, in a browser. I have a Chromebook myself and I often use it on the gofor notes, email and basic browsing, since it is very light and boots in under 2seconds.

If you want to do other things than browsing, like using LibreOffice, VLC orother programs, you're out of luck with a Chrome[book/base/box]. It runs onlyGoogle-sanctioned software, which is just Chrome and a simple desktop shell.

Google however uses a lot of Open Source software in Chrome OS. The machine runsCoreboot as the BIOS. You do need to flash another version of Coreboot sincethis one doesn't understand the USB keyboard. That is covered later on.

You'll need a USB stick of at least 2 GB to install Ubuntu MATE from. You alsoneed to download the Ubuntu Mate ISO and write it to the USB stick. You can dothis with the Startup Disk Creator or by using dd:

# replace sdX with your device.dd if=ubuntu-mate-15.04-desktop-i386.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=1M; sync

The process is not that complicated:

Booting Recovery Mode & Enabling Developer Mode

You need to boot in to Recovery Mode before you can enable Developer Mode.Here's how to boot in to Recovery Mode.

recovery

Booting in to Developer Mode will wipe the Chromebook. All data stored isremoved, except for Chrome OS.

Flashing SeaBIOS

As said, you need to flash the SeaBIOS part of coreboot to make the USB keyboardwork.

Start up in Developer Mode, open a terminal (CTRL+ALT+T) and type shell.You're now in the shell.

Visit this site and read the documentation and FAQ.

If you've done that you've also found the command to flash the BIOS. It's hereas well for reference:

cd; rm -f flash_chromebook_rom.sh; curl -k -L -O https://johnlewis.ie/flash_chromebook_rom.sh; sudo -E bash flash_chromebook_rom.sh

If you've flashed the Bios you need to also enable Legacy Boot and USB Boot.Still in the shell, execute these commands to do so:

sudo bashcrossystem dev_boot_usb=1 dev_boot_legacy=1 

You can now reboot the machine with the reboot command. Plug the USB installstick in and when the big scary ERROR screen pops up, press CTRL+L (for Legacyboot). Press ESC and select your USB install disk.

Install Ubuntu MATE

The install is pretty straight forward. If you get the following error atinstaller boot:

error loading gfxboot

Then just type help and a RETURN, the installer will start up as you'd expect.

It is a normal Ubuntu install, so finish it and reboot. I wiped all thepartitions and created one big / ext4 partition.

Do note that you need to press CTRL+L at every boot to start up in Legacymode. NEVER EVER PRESS THE SPACE BAR TO RE-ENABLE OS VERIFICATION! You will needto make a Chrome OS recovery image, which will wipe the entire disk and yourLinux install.

If you want to solder in your device you can read here how to make the BIOSfully writable. Using the above BIOS script you can then totally skip the ChromeOS screens on boot.

After the install, reboot in to your new shiny Linux. Remember to press CTLR+Levery time you boot, and never press the Space Bar.

Tags: articles, chrome, chrome-os, chromebase, chromebook, coreboot, mate, ubuntu