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How to install Linux on a Chromebook

Jim Lynch | Aug. 20, 2015
Chromebook sales have been red hot on Amazon, with various models regularly getting great reviews and comments from Amazon customers. But not everybody is in love with Chrome OS. Some folks prefer to run Linux and Expert Reviews has a helpful how-to that will guide you through the install process.

Nathan: "I bought an Acer C720 two weekends ago with the sole intention of putting Linux on it. With a NewEgg pricematch, I paid just under $215 at Microcenter including sales tax. I had an old netbook that I needed to replace.

Installing Arch wasn't hard. You do have to void the warranty in order to do so since you have to remove a write protect screw from the motherboard. It's not hard to do. Then you enable developer mode and change some settings to the firmware defaults to SeaBIOS instead of ChromeOS. From there, it's simple to boot to a USB install drive and it's pretty much a normal linux installation from there.

The keyboard isn't great. I'd describe it as "mushy", but I've gotten used to it and it's not so bad, my old netbook just had a pretty good keyboard. There's a "search" key that's registered as a super (windows) key in Linux. I swap that with left ctrl since I normally have caps lock as an extra control. The F1-F10 keys are at the top but printed as shortcut keys (brightness, volume control, etc). You can leave them as function keys and use the super key to activate the shortcuts, or vice-versa. There are a few ways you can set up hotkeys such as these. Other than that, be aware there's no insert/delete/pageup/pagedown/home/end keys. Again, you can configure shortcuts that map to these if you like. Even with all of these problems I got used to the keyboard pretty quickly and program on it happily.

Other than that, the machine performs incredibly well. The CPU is fast, it runs KDE4 well, I have plenty of software installed and have used only about half of my available space. I get occasional GPU freezes, but that's not a common issue and I'm pretty sure there's a way to fix it, I just haven't tried much yet.

I get about six hours of battery life depending on screen brightness. The screen itself is very bright, I'm very happy with it.

All in all I highly recommend."

Chocolatemeowcats: "Have you tried TLP with your c720? I get way more than 6 hours."

Xphx: "Today I removed ChromeOS and installed Ubuntu Trusty (this is basically the only distribution that does not make you want to rip your hairs out during the setup process) on my Acer CB5. It's a 13" Chromebook with a good build quality, a Tegra K1 with 4GB memory and a 32GB eMMC. Linux works just as you would expect it to, ChromeOS cannot be started anymore after this installation (until you reset to factory defaults).


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