Revival of an old forgotten Netbook with Chrome OS and Arch Linux.

I’ve always wanted to take a deeper look at the whole Chrome OS paired with a full-featured Linux thing, especially since there are some very interesting Chromebooks around [1][2]. There’s also an old Samsung NC10 gathering dust in my cupboard. Let’s get it started!

1. Install Chromium OS

  • Head over to chromeos.hexxeh.net and grab a Chromium OS build. Put it on a flash drive and boot your machine according to the site.
  • Log into your Google Account.
  • Press CTRL+ALT+T to launch a crosh shell. Run install. Password ‘facepunch’. Wait a few minutes. Beware that your whole /dev/sda will be formatted!

IMG_1496

2. Install Chrome OS

  • Login. Again launch a crosh shell and execute following 3 commands (password still is ‘facepunch’):
    shell
    sudo su

    bash <(curl -s -L http://goo.gl/8v1ZkV)
  • Now things are getting a little funny. You have to select a recovery image of a Chromebook which specs are closest to your machine. This list was helpful to me, because my Intel Atom CPU doesn’t work with any 64-bit image. I chose the oldest one: 41 – Cr-48. This will take a few minutes.
  • If your machine fails to boot afterwards, repeat steps 1 & 2 and try another image. Good luck!

IMG_1507

3. Install an Arch Linux Environment

Chrome OS is fast and pretty. I enjoy using it. But at least 10% of my time I’ll need mighty tools like VIM-LaTeX, gnuplot, GIMP and alike. In the year 2015 Ubuntu is horrible, therefore I want to use Arch Linux. Croagh is a fork of crouton which achieves exactly that. Do as described on the github page:

  • Launch a crosh shell, execute shell.
  • Download and extract chroagh:
    cd ~/Downloads
    wget https://api.github.com/repos/drinkcat/chroagh/tarball -O chroagh.tar.gz
    tar xvf chroagh.tar.gz
    cd drinkcat-chroagh-*
  • Create the rootfs:
    sudo sh -e installer/main.sh -r arch -t gnome-desktop
    There’s a rich choice of targets in case you don’t want to run Gnome (e.g. xfce4).
  • Start the Chroot either with:
    sudo startxfce4 or
    sudo enter-chroot
  • You can now live-switch between Chrome OS and Arch Linux pressing CRTL+ALT+F1 and CRTL+ALT+F3.

That’s it! The performance is quite okay, but not much better than you would expect of a laptop bought in 2009. The lightweight OS and fast resume and boot times would maybe make me using the NC10 again, if the fans wouldn’t be broken. The thing is loud.

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