Sunday, January 26, 2014

HOWTO: Bodhi Linux on the Acer C720 Chromebook

Early last week I acquired my latest tech toy an Acer C720 Chromebook:

I've been on kind of a Chromebook kick lately and I must say I love this Acer C720 even more than Samsung Chromebook. Why you ask? Well - the primary reason is the processor architecture. The Acer C720 is a traditional x86 processor, meaning you are able to easily boot alternative OSes on it.

This also means that under a Linux OS I am able to run applications like the latest Google Chrome browser, Google Hangouts (or Skype), Steam, and even Netflix.

I plan on writing a formal review of the C720, similar to the one I did for the Samsung Chromebook, later next month. Today however I would like to share how you can go about installing Bodhi Linux on the Acer C720 Chromebook.

Please note following these steps WILL permanently delete all local data and configurations of your ChromeOS!

Step 1 - Enable Developer 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 with developer mode enabled.

Step 2 - Enable SeaBIOS

After changing to developer mode, configure Chrome OS so that you can log in.

To enable the legacy bios:
  • Open a crosh window with Ctrl+Alt+T.
  • Open a bash shell with the shell command.
  • Become superuser with sudo bash
  • Enable legacy boot with:
crossystem dev_boot_usb=1 dev_boot_legacy=1

Step 3 - Create a Bodhi image for the C720

While the C720 uses an x86 processor, some of the hardware it uses doesn't have drivers in the mainline Linux kernel yet. Because of this you need to download a custom ISO image I've prepared for the C720 from here. You then need to write it to a flash drive using the dd command.

Change to the directory where you have downloaded the ISO image to and run:

dd if=bodhi-c720-chromebook.iso of=/dev/sdX

Where X is replaced with the drive letter of your USB stick. If you prefer a GUI tool or are using OSX/Windows to create the flash drive you can find detailed information on this process here.

Step 4 - Boot and install Bodhi

Plug the USB stick you prepared in step 3 into your Chromebook. At the startup screen press the key combination ctrl+l (that is a lowercase "L") to tell the system to boot from the legacy BIOS. Then press the escape key to select to bring up the boot menu, select your USB device from the list it provides.

From this point you can follow the normal Bodhi install instructions starting with step II.


When your Chromebook starts up you will need to press ctrl+l to boot into the legacy BIOS/Bodhi. Still looking for a work around to remove this step - if you know of one please let me know!

When I installed Bodhi on my Chromebook I wiped out all the Chrome partitions and gave Bodhi the full drive. I've not experimented with a dual boot setup. I don't really have a need for ChromeOS with how functional Bodhi is on this hardware.

The custom ISO image for the C720 differs from the normal Bodhi desktop release in a few ways. First is that it utilizes the 3.11 Linux kernel with a few custom patches to support the C720 hardware. Second is that it utilizes pulseaudio for the default sound system as alsa has a few issues. It has slightly newer Intel/Mesa drivers to support OpenGLES on the C720 by default. Finally, it comes with a custom E profile that has key bindings for Chrome OS function keys configured.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is the default desktop you will see on your Bodhi Chromebook install:

Finally, if you have any issues getting Bodhi setup/installed on your Chromebook I would ask that you please open a support request on our user forums as opposed to simply pasting a comment below.

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bodhi Linux powered Chromebook Raffle

Something you may not know about Bodhi Linux is that we are 100% funded by user donations. We do not plaster our home page or user forums with ad content like so many distros do. We are very thankful to all of the folks that donate to keep our package servers running. Towards the tail end of 2011 we raffled off a Dell Netbook to a random person who donated at least five dollars during a set period of time.

This idea was very successful and since a couple of years have passed we are going to give away some more Bodhi powered hardware to a random donor. I'm quite fond of my Samsung Chromebook and I recently announced how well our Debian based operating system runs on this device today.

We are going to give away at least one of these little guys to someone who donates to the Bodhi project during the first quarter of 2014:

To have a chance to win one of these wonderful netbooks simply head over Bodhi's donation page and donate at least 5 USD. For every 5 USD you donate your name will be entered once into the raffle at the end of March.

I would just like to say thank you to the open source community. Your continued support has allowed us to become one of the longest lived Linux distributions that features the beautiful Enlightenment desktop by default.

If you could please share this post on your various social networks so our giveaway gets more exposure we would be very grateful!

For those who care, the full tech specs of the Chromebooks we are giving away:

Screen Size11.6 inches
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Max Screen Resolution1366 x 768 pixels
Processor1.7 GHz Exynos 5000 Series
Memory Speed1333.00
Hard Drive16 GB eMMC
Graphics CoprocessorIntegrated Graphics
Wireless Type802.11 a/b/g/n
Number of USB 2.0 Ports1
Number of USB 3.0 Ports1
Brand NameSamsung
Item model numberXE303C12-A01US
Operating SystemBodhi Linux/Chrome OS
Item Weight2.4 pounds
Item Dimensions L x W x H11.40 x 8.09 x 0.69 inches
Processor BrandSamsung
Processor Count2
Computer Memory TypeDDR3 SDRAM
Flash Memory Size16
Optical Drive TypeNo
Audio-out Ports (#)1
Battery TypeLithium Polymer (LiPo)

~Jeff Hoogland

Sunday, January 12, 2014

HOWTO: Bodhi Linux on Samsung ARM Chromebook

The battery recently died in my old Asus Netbook which gave me some fire to finally get together a functional filesystem for the Samsung Chromebook I've had for a little over a year. I published a rough file system with install instructions here last December. Since then a few things have changed in the structure of ChromeOS and the install script/file systems needed some updates.

The following instructions install a Debian Wheezy based ARMHF file system with the Bodhi branded E17.6 desktop powered by the EFL 1.8.4

It is also worth noting that this updated installer script now supports installing the file system to an external media. When you run the second command in step three, simply provide an install target as the first argument (such as /dev/sda for a flash drive) and then press ctrl+u to boot tell the Chromebook to boot from an external media at start up.

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 - you should be asked if you want to install our stable or testing release.

At this point I would recommend using the Testing release because it offers fuller hardware support (such at 3D) and a newer Chromium version. I'd only recommend using the stable release if you need exactly Debian Wheezy as a base for some reason.

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


I am really happy with the state of this image. Audio works, screen backlight is functional, Chromium browser works, and Flashplayer works. Sadly opengles still escapes me, but I have no need to play games on my netbook.

Wrapping Up

As always, please do not post support requests here! Please direct them to the ARM section of our forums. I'd also like to say many thanks to Bodhi community member Seekamp for posting here about the many improvements he came across in the last year for Bodhi on the Chromebook.

~Jeff Hoogland