Are you a mobile programmer interested in a low-cost, lightweight option for hacking on the go? In this post, I describe how to Linux-ify the Samsung Chromebook 3, available now on Amazon for just $200, with GalliumOS, a Linux distribution designed specifically for Chromebooks.
Not all Chromebooks are compatible with GalliumOS, make sure your hardware is supported before starting. I ordered a Samsung Chromebook 3 from Amazon for $200. It had relatively favorable reviews online for the price point and appeared well-supported by the GalliumOS team. Whichever model you choose, record its Hardware ID and Processor from the Hardware Compatibility wiki. For example, Samsung Chromebook 3 has ID CELES and an Intel Braswell processor.
There are two primary options for installing GalliumOS onto your Chromebook:
This post walks through the steps required for option 1. I imagine I will eventually settle on option 2, but as this is my first Chromebook ever, I want the ability to use ChromeOS from time to time before deciding I can do without it. Since we will not need to wipe ChromeOS, the GalliumOS installation only requires access to the Internet, no external USB drive is necessary.
We must first enable Developer Mode which will allow us to update the firmware (required for most processors) and partition the harddrive for GalliumOS. Enabling Developer Mode will erase local data on ChromeOS so back up everything you want to keep (data in the cloud won’t be affected).
Depending on your Chromebook model, a firmware update is required or at least recommended. We will let MrChromebox.tech take care of this for us.
shell at the prompt.
cd; curl -LO https://mrchromebox.tech/firmware-util.sh && sudo bash firmware-util.sh to run the MrChromebox Firmware Utility Script (Note:
-LO contains a capital O, not the number 0).
Install/Update RW_LEGACY Firmware option.
We will use chrx (Chromebook Unix) to install GalliumOS on our Chromebook. It can actually install many different Linux distros, but GalliumOS is its default.
cd ; curl -Os https://chrx.org/go && sh go and follow the instructions to completion. For what it’s worth, I chose to allot 9 GB to GalliumOS (the default).
chrx to configure our GalliumOS installation. The following command contains my configuration options, so don’t copy and paste the following command without modifying it:
cd ; curl -Os https://chrx.org/go && sh go -v -U neal -H voyager -Z America/Los_Angeles -p admin-misc.
voyager with user
America/New_York, respectively; see tz database time zones for a complete international list), and
admin-misc package, which installs
vim immediately after installing GalliumOS; see packages for more possibilities. This final step is just a convenience, we could just as well
sudo apt-get install each one from within GalliumOS once it is up and running.
Welcome to GalliumOS! Before you forget, change your password to something more secure: open the Xcfe Terminal from the menu bar and enter
Anything! Well, not anything, but you have a fresh Linux install running on your Chromebook which you can configure to your liking. I start off by installing all the programs I rely on, the essentials, and then modifying the look and feel of the OS to fit my preferred aesthetic. The following steps are entirely optional, they’re just what I do on a fresh GalliumOS install.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y git make build-essential pandoc wget \
curl dconf-cli gnome-terminal zsh ruby ruby-dev \
python2 python2-dev python2-pip python2-venv \
python3 python3-dev python3-pip python3-venv
f.lux warms the computer display to ease your eyes.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nathan-renniewaldock/flux
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install fluxgui
Gogh makes it very easy to customize the GNOME terminal color scheme (does not work on the Xcfe Terminal native to GalliumOS). Run
wget -O gogh https://git.io/vQgMr && chmod +x gogh && ./gogh && rm gogh