Under $40 laptop - Coreboot Chromebook with GNU/Linux

BUt ChROMeOS iS LiNUx, ChRomBOoKs ARe WeAK… that’s you… that’s what you sound like

I want a cheap, light, long battery life, fanless laptop for school and travel. I love my thinkpads, but they are heavy and bulky with all the books I need to lug around. I see chromebooks on ebay all the time for under 40 bucks with shipping, sometimes under $30. So I thought, can this be done with ease?

Yes, but with some caveats. for ease you have to make sure it’s an x86 Chromebook, and mostly in the Celeron chipset. Still working on finding an ARM solution, Libreboot has c201 and coreboot can be done on almost all of them with effort… but a stable usable OS choice that is easy to install on device is not quite there (from what I have seen manjaro or Debian is pretty much it but are nor super easy to install)

I have been using a Dell 11 P22T with GalliumOS for 2 weeks now as a daily driver. While it does have some issues with the mouse once and awhile it’s pretty great over all. Having more that 10 tabs open in firefox can peak the CPU to 100%, but I have issues with having a ton of tabs open and need to stop.

Got my Chromebook for 30 bucks with shipping, it’s fanless but does not get hot even when watching youtube or Amazon Prime shows.

(I’ll post some pics here)

Links and info

Almighty Alrighty, lets get into it this. You can find all the institutions in videos or online but thought I would also put them here.

What we are going to do:

  1. Look at list of supported devices by MrChromebox
  2. Find info on write protection screw for Chromebook model here or search for it on Duckduckgo
  3. Enable Dev Mode on Chromebook
  4. Open the Chromebook and disable the write protection
  5. Flash bios
  6. Install OS
  7. Profit
  • First, find your Chromebook on MrChromebox website.
    Make sure one of the boxes is checked, if you are in the market to buy a Chromebook for this I would recommend making sure it has the UEFI Firmware box checked.

  • Now find where your write protection screw is. You can find info on Googles Dev info site here or just duckduckgo it for your machine.

  • Before we get to far into it, you need to enable dev mode. Simply press ESC+Refresh+Power, then when the recovery screen is up press CTRL+D. This will wipe the device and put it into Dev Mode, if you turn off your Chromebook before completing the bios flash you will have to press CTRL+D get passed the recovery screen.

  • Now open your Chromebook and loosen (no need to take it all the way out) the write protection screw, don’t put it all back together yet as you’ll want to retighten it when your done.

  • Boot into ChromeOS, open chrome and press CTRL+ALT+T then type ‘shell’. now in another tab go to mrchromebox’s ChromeOS Firmware Utility Script and copy the command and select 3 for full rom or 1 for legacy. Make sure to copy the original bios on a flash drive, this will be an option when your run the script. There is no going back to ChromeOS when this is done
    (well you can restore stock with the script as well, but if it bricks you have to do this via hardware)

  • For the OS, you can pretty much do whatever. For ease of use, GalliumOS is “built for” Chromebooks. You can do whatever to be honest. Gallium is built off of Xubuntu, with ChromeOS mouse drivers already there and the whole thing is “optimized” for running on your Chromebook.
    As you all know, you can do all this yourself on whatever distros you want, see the links for mouse drives and ideas for optimizations for Chromebooks.

  • Install and Profit.