Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bodhi ARMHF Alpha for Samsung Chromebook

As I mentioned in a post last weekend, I've got my hands on the new Samsung Chromebook. The hardware in this device is simply awesome (full formal review forthcoming), but ChromeOS left me wanting a real operating system with non-cloud applications. Thankfully I've been working on Bodhi's ARM branch for awhile now and it proved fairly simple to get at least a base system up and rolling on the Chromebook (largely due to the fact that ChromeOS is Linux based).

Now, unfortunately the current install process for getting an alternative operating system to boot on the Chromebook isn't as easy as our Genesi images - but if you follow the instructions I provide below to the letter you should have Bodhi booting on your Chromebook in no time!

Please note following these steps WILL permanently delete all local data and configurations of your ChromeOS! It essentially restores the system to factory defaults.

Step 1 - Boot in Recovery Mode

Make sure your chromebook is off. Then hold the escape and refresh keys (where f3 should be) and power on the device. This should get you to a recovery screen - press ctrl+d followed by enter. The system should now reboot into recovery mode.

Step 2 - Get to a TTY with Internet

Once the system reboots in recovery mode it will take a few moments to get everything configured (this requires no user input, just waiting - so grab a snack). Once the system starts up select a wireless access point to connect to, but do not log into a Google account. Now that we have an internet connection you need to drop to a TTY. To do this press ctrl+alt+-> (The "->" key is where f2 would be on a standard keyboard).

For the username type chronos and then press enter - no password is needed.

Step 3 - Download and run Bodhi installer

From the tty run:

Followed by:
sudo bash HFG6a

Both of the above commands are case sensitive so make sure you type them correctly! After running the second command you will be provided with some information about your Chromebook - press enter to continue.

Step 4 - Choose how much space you are giving Bodhi

The installer will prompt you for how much space you want to give to Bodhi. Enter an integer amount for how many gigs you would like to give Bodhi. On the 16gig smartbook the most I would recommend giving to Bodhi is 9gigs (with the max being 10).  For reference the base Bodhi install occupies around 1.6gigs. Once you select an amount of space to give Bodhi the drive will be re-partitioned automagically and then your system will restart. When it starts back up again you will need to walk through the ChromeOS setup process once more - again get as far as the Google login screen but do not log in.

Step 5 - Getting the Bodhi Filesystem

Get to a TTY again by following the instructions outlined in step 2 once more. Then run the same two commands provided in step 3. This time the Bodhi installer will see your drive has already been partitioned and it will begin downloading the Bodhi Chromebook image which it will then install. Note that this will take awhile depending on your internet connection speed as a 300MB tarball needs to be downloaded and extracted. After it finishes installing your system will reboot and you will be greeted by the Enlightenment desktop!

User Information

Default username:

Default password:

The default user has sudo rights.

Getting back to ChromeOS

If you need to get back into ChromeOS after installing Bodhi on your Chromebook - don't worry it is still there. In a terminal client on Bodhi run:

sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 0 -S 1 /dev/mmcblk0

Once you are done with ChromeOS you can run the following in the ChromeOS TTY to get back to Bodhi:

sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 5 -S 1 /dev/mmcblk0

Getting Support

Please, please, please do not make a comment on this post asking for support with an issue you encounter with installing/running Bodhi on your Chromebook! Comments asking for support will be removed from this post. Instead please open a support request thread in the ARM section of our user forums. It is much easier to manage/search/solve issues in a message board format than a comments section.

Other Notes

In the current image the track pad is kinda fickle (tap to click doesn't work) and OpenGL support is currently non-functional. Other than that the image is very functional - I have been using it for my day to day activities for the last week now and I have been very pleased with the results. With that being said - please note I consider this an alpha quality release and as such Bodhi's ARMHF testing repos are enabled by default in the current Chromebook image.

One other thing to note is that the top row of keys acts as "function" keys (f1-f10) in Bodhi as though it was a normal keyboard. I personally use the volume up/down/mute keys often on my systems though - as such I have bound the alt key to act as a "function" key normally would on a laptop. Meaning alt+volume key will perform it's indicated action. Also - to make any noise come out of the speakers see this.

Closing Remarks

I would like to extend my thanks the author of this post who created a script for getting Ubuntu setup on the Chromebook. My own Bodhi install script is based directly on his.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. I assume that video acceleration is not working on Bodhi any more than it's working on other non-ChromeOS Linux versions on this hardware. If it became possible to get this hardware working completely with Linux, or maybe even with Android, this machine would be very tempting indeed.

    1. Agreed. Honestly though if I ever used my netbook(s) for gaming I'd be concerned - but I don't. E17 doesn't need 3D like most desktop to look great - so it really isn't a big deal IMO.

      The device works great with the Bodhi image for listening to music, surfing the web and writing stuff for school.

  2. Good stuff, thanks Jeff. I just want to ask you, gaming is not a big deal for me, too, but what about videos. Like movies or youtube in a browser? is it possible to run VLC?

    1. You tube videos run fine via html5 in the browser. I haven't tried VLC yet - but this hardware should be more than powerful enough to do video playback via VLC.

    2. unfortunately not. It is nowhere near powerful enough/well enough set up. It can run all video fine in the preview tool, but there is no sound. It is all very alpha. But that is what you get with an alpha :p

    3. I have a slightly different set up for using linux on my Samsung chromebook but my experience is that VLC has some issues with ARM currently. SMplayer works great though.

  3. Could the GPU drivers, as binaries, in Chrome be ported to Bodhi's build?

    1. Hopefully - something I am going to be looking into (open to help as well). It will depend on how Chrome video server is handled I would imagine.

  4. What model сhromebооk you use?

  5. Hey Jeff,

    Does Netflix work on this build by any chance? Also, thanks so much for your effort with this build. Once I get wifi up and running I'm sure it'll be my main OS :)

    1. Netflix does not/will not work on ARM Linux devices unless Netflix opts to support them (doubtful). The method we use for netflix on desktop systems uses Wine which does not work on ARM devices.

    2. This has changed somewhat in that Netflix works just fine on the Chrome OS side. It will still not work on the linux side though.

  6. Is ARM Bodhi Debian-sourced, or Ubuntu-sourced? I would prefer Debian. (I know Bodhi x86 is Ubuntu-derived.)

    Also, is there a good way to boot from SD card? I would expect that debootstrap/chroot would be all you would need to get started. However, I am too green/inexperienced to do it myself.

    1. Our ARM branch is based on pure debian. No SD card only install image for the chromebook to date, sorry.

    2. A suggestion: You know how Raspbian is available for the Raspberry Pi on pre-installed SD cards? Maybe you could raise a little cash for Bodhi by offering preinstalled SD cards for ARM Chromebooks? Just a thought.

    3. Not to be rude, but I *just* told you we don't have an SD card image.

    4. I realize that, I just wanted to provide a possible motivation to develop one. But I suppose there might not be enough demand to justify the time spent on it.


  7. Hello Jeff!

    I just started installation process on my chromebook - it is downloading *20130129*.tar.xz

    Is it the actual one? (Bodhi 2.3.0, April 2013)?

    Yours, Andrew

  8. This is very awesome and I would like to give it a try but I am curious how difficult it is to return the chromebook back to stock?

    Also would there be any way to have an install option that uses a system like Crouton instead? That is what I am currently using and works fairly well, but would much rather have Bohdi.