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Google Is Making It Easier To SSH Your Chromebook, Load Linux

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  • #11
    Originally posted by Luke View Post
    I suspect Google chose to go the hardware route as a defense against being locked out by Window 8 or its sucessors. OK, consider an environment where small laptops with Windows all become ARM. If Google didn't make their own deal to make laptops, that would kill Google, because ARM Window 8 or later hard-locks the bootloader against any other OS. I consider those machines to be paperweights.
    Even on x84 or x86-64, Google could not afford to risk Windows changing their "Windows certification" requirement in the future to prohibit rather than require disabling "secure" boot, nor risk Window changing the key to one they share with absolutely nobody like they did with the original Surface tablets on ARM.

    Google, like Steam, has to defend themselves against aggression by Microsoft, a notorious monopolist.
    +1, insightful

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    • #12
      If you actually read the Google+ thread, this new development doesn't make it easier to load Linux distros. It just makes it easier to boot ChromeOS images from USB.

      I recently got an HP Chromebook 14, mostly because it has 4Gb of RAM, and a Haswell (albeit Celeron, sigh) processor, and it was on sale refurbished. It boots fast and runs Ubuntu nicely via Crouton. An SDHC card adds storage for Steam games. It's all good.

      But I tried to load Linux via USB, using Seabios. Oh boy. USB images that load just fine on my desktop, will not load on this thing. Only older version of Ubuntu load. It might be an updated Seabios. But flashing a new Seabios would mean opening the case, removing some screw or using some sort of a jumper, who knows. It gets to the point where you celebrate Google for promoting coreboot, but you hope this whole ordeal would not be in place. Did I mention? In order to boot in dev mode, you need to do CTRL-L on each boot, and hope nobody in your household press spacebar when booting, which will delete everything on your SSD, and "Powerwash".

      Basically, Chromebooks _are_ getting friendlier for loading a full Linux, but this is still very rough, and it shouldn't be the case.

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      • #13
        Originally posted by Sonadow View Post
        They need to make it much easier to do the following things:
        Activate Developer Mode
        Press 2 keys while booting
        Remove Chrome OS and install Linux in its place
        Press ^U while booting with an installer image on sd.
        Disable the write protection on the firmware so that third-paty builds with updated Coreboot and SeaBIOS can be easily loaded
        Never ever do I want to see that. The write protection has a reason: security.
        Disassemble the Chromebooks and replace the ridiculously small-capacity SSD and stop soldering down key components like the WiFi card or RAM (put some pressure on the OEMs if you have to do so, and warn the user that doing so voids the warranty)
        My chromebook has eMMC, which is small, but enough.
        provide more documentation on how all of the above can be done
        Actually a lot is documented.

        The reality for me is that I am too lazy. I boot debian from SD card on my 5250 chromebook (I have 2 5250 based and one 5430 based). And I am too lazy to fix stuff.
        To get ahead real easy I just have to recompile the kernel, and update the boot records on my SD. So yes, all those replies I said are true (and as such I am really a bit surprised with the articles headline).
        So what do I really need: Have the right kernel source (as I have exynos as desktop and servers), the right firmware (not that hard), the right xkb settings (hard to find), and a way to install the proprietary chrome, as I do like it, but a lot of things don't need 30MB to work if I can just fire up an xterm.

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        • #14
          Originally posted by Ardje View Post
          Press 2 keys while booting
          Never ever do I want to see that. The write protection has a reason: security.
          I meant: there is a circumventable write protection. Disabling the write protection involves you actively opening up your chromebook.
          So if you really want, you can disable write protection. And this procedure is also documented.

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          • #15
            I love my Chromebook, not sure why people want to install Linux on that.

            It's made to be a cheap disposable device. Mine has no moving parts. Built-in SSH means you can remotely go in to your real system. So that's why it's better than any Windows laptop. Forget PuttySSH! Now you can have a different SSH connection in every tab! Pure heaven. Forgot how to do something? Open another tab, figure it out, copy/paste your commands. It breaks, gets stolen, buy a new one and SSH within 5 minutes. With nothing to install!

            Why do you want more space? You're not supposed to have anything on it. Which is why it's disposable.

            I'm not sure I'd ever want to SSH into the chromebook. It doesn't have enough power for me to want to run anything on it.

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            • #16
              Why? because not everyone can afford a $1,000+ macbook

              Originally posted by AndyChow View Post
              I love my Chromebook, not sure why people want to install Linux on that.

              It's made to be a cheap disposable device. Mine has no moving parts. Built-in SSH means you can remotely go in to your real system. So that's why it's better than any Windows laptop. Forget PuttySSH! Now you can have a different SSH connection in every tab! Pure heaven. Forgot how to do something? Open another tab, figure it out, copy/paste your commands. It breaks, gets stolen, buy a new one and SSH within 5 minutes. With nothing to install!

              Why do you want more space? You're not supposed to have anything on it. Which is why it's disposable.

              I'm not sure I'd ever want to SSH into the chromebook. It doesn't have enough power for me to want to run anything on it.
              Why? because not everyone can afford a $1,000+ macbook. Traditional unlocked netbooks are hard to find new because of Windows 8 and all those tablets, so a repurposed Chromebook may be the cheapest quick way of getting a small portable laptop that can run a Linus system. Most chromebooks are more powerful than my Pine Trail intil atom netbook I take on the road, yet that machine can handle photo and audio editing. It can even edit video from 720p or smaller source files, though rendering is at a snail's pace. It can't play 1080p video, though in a real emergency can edit it by stepping through frames until desired trim points are found, and can then move clips around and add transitions in kdenlive well enough. Will take nearly an hour to render a 1 minute video in 1080p, but Chrome OS can't do that AT ALL without the bandwidth to send the huge raw clips to a cloud editor. Also, I would not trust any cloud service with the kind of raw files I shoot.

              The big problem with really small machines, especially in 64 bit it seems, is getting a responsive desktop where everything does not take several seconds to open. I've had good results with IceWM, but in 64 bit found even MATE to be too heavy for Pine Trail. It handled prerelease gnome-shell in 32 bit OK back in 2011, so I suspect a 64 bit issue, possibly ram pressure (only 1 GB installed) or even swapping, may be the issue. Only reason for a 64 bit OS is to match the desktop and be able to pick up update packages on the road, that sort of thing.

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              • #17
                I also have faced with related problems connected to 64 bit OS. Such an OS in order to provide as with more opportunities, but sometime it seems that an OS with 32 bit is more suitable.

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