How to Install Linux on a Chromebook

 HP Chromebook 14 G01 675403

The HP Chromebook 14, with its 14-inch screen, 1.4-GHz Intel Celeron 2955U processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB SSD, is a capable companion. It offers an inexpensive means of computing well in virtually any Wi-Fi environment. However, the Chrome OS isn’t for everyone. Costing $299, you can turn a Chromebook into an inexpensive PC running Linux. 

While it is cheap and geek to put a Linux operating system on a Chromebook, it is nonetheless a complex process and not for the feint of heart. But by following these steps, it is doable to install Ubuntu. You’ll want to start by checking out Chrubuntu: One Script to Rule Them All! The trick is to start with a Linux install script that is compatible with the processor in the Chromebook like this one created by Google employee Jay Lee.

MORE: Chrome OS Guide

Note: This install script results in a dual-boot setup and not a hot-key virtualization. It requires a bit more use of the terminal, but if you’re even considering installing Linux, you’re probably comfortable with that.

1. Back up any personal data or documents you have stored on the Chromebook’s internal drive as it will be erased during this process. 

2. Enable Developer Mode on your Chromebook by turning it on as normal and pressing ESC + Refresh and tapping the Power button once. This actually begins a Recovery Mode which will include some alarming screen messages. The first will have a large orange exclamation point with this text: “Chrome OS is missing or damaged. Please insert a recovery USB stick or SD card. (note: the blue USB port will NOT work for recovery)” It’s okay. Just Click CTRL and D and then press Enter to carry on.

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 You’ll get a 30-second countdown to change your mind and then the computer will start Preparing for Developer Mode. This will take several minutes and erases any data on the Chromebook’s solid state drive.

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3. Turn on the Chromebook, but do not login. Then connect to a network via Wi-Fi. 

4. Press Ctrl + Alt + –>. This will take you to a command prompt on a black screen. 

5. Log in as user chronos. No password is required. 

6. Type curl -L -O http://goog.gl/s9ryd; sudo bash s9ryd . This is case sensitive.

7. Enter how much space you want to dedicate to this; a number between 5 and 9. Your hard drive will then be repartitioned. Once started, you’ll need to wait several minutes of watching white text fill a black screen as the Linux files are downloaded. Sometimes the installation will appear to have stopped but will start up again. Be patient and wait for the prompts before pressing any buttons. Your Chromebook will reboot.

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10. Repeat steps 2 through 6. You’ll be prompted to reboot.

11. Type User as the password for the User default in Ubuntu 14.04. If you reboot now, it will come into Chrome OS.

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12. Click Ctrl + Alt + –> and type the following: sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 5 -S 1  ?dev?sda . That will make Ubuntu your default OS. To reverse that to Chrome, type the following: sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 0 -S 1 ?dev?sda.

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  1. ChromeShine Says:

    Just got a Toshiba 13.3″ Chromebook. Pretty cool little laptop and a clean OS. I find no reason to change a thing from the Chrome OS.

    I do have Ubuntu on an older hp laptop – it’s fine too. There is nothing really so great however about it as compared to the new Chrome OS. But then again I like to try them all out — even the misadventures with Win 8 :o

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