Chromebook tips to get started

Just got myself (actually it’s for our Office Manager back in OZ) one of these Chromebooks while in Europe (since Google Australia with their absolutely hopeless hardware strategy do not seem to be able to ship any devices – Nexus 4 anyone ?) .

Since the first days turned out to be a bit of a frustrating experience, I thought I share some of the findings as I had a hard time finding much useful info on troubleshooting ChromeOS.

Wireless Connection (WIFI)

Do not use WPA (or for that matter WEP) connections with ChromeOS. I had extreme difficulties browsing webpages on the Chrombook. Some pages would load, some pages would not load at all. There seemed to be no consitency to it as some would load one day, but not another. Somewhere in the Google Groups there seemed to be people reporting issues with wireless connections using WEP. It turned out that the Wireless Modem Router (Telekom Austria supplied Pirelli PBS modem) where I was staying was set to WPA encryption only by default. Once I figured out how to set the unit to WPA2 (which these days should really be the default anyway) things started to actually work consistently. Check the sections below (specially chrome://diagnostics) to see how you can find out what’s going wrong.

However to save some trouble & frustrations, before you do anything make sure your Chrombook connects using WPA2 !


CTRL+ALT+T will launch the Chrome Shell which is a slightly odd and very cut-down command line shell. Other than a ‘ping’ utility and some debug tools there really seems to be only the ‘ssh’ command that would be very useful to connect to remote systems. Unfortunately the SSH implementation is quite unusual compared to my normal OpenSSH client.

Poking under the hood

  • Get diagnostic info: chrome://diagnostics/
  • Settings: chrome://chrome/settings/
  • Get hard-disk space: chrome://quota-internals/
  • Bandwidth used: chrome://net-internals/#bandwidth
  • Factory reset the unit: chrome://chrome/settings/factoryResetData
  • Complete listing of ‘chrome’ URL’s: chrome://chrome-urls/

Developer mode

To make some serious mods to the Chromebooks you need to boot into Developer mode. On the Samsung 303C ARM Chromebook this is achieved by holding ESC + Refresh buttons when pushing the power button to turn the unit on. Probably best left alone unless you know what you are doing.

Ubuntu – Google Mail (GoogleApps) as default mail client

Since Ubuntu 9.10 NetbookRemix has been released I am again finding myself using my trusty old ASUS EEE when on the road.  And  finally it seems I have found a vanilla Linux distribution that is reasonably responsive and works ‘out of the box’.

One thing I don’t need on the road (as a matter of fact on none of my equipment) is having to install & maintain some client/server mail client. Here is a workable solution to have your browser default ‘mailto:’ links to Google Apps.


System –> Preferences –> Preferred Applications

Ubuntu Preferences Screenshot


perl -MURI::Escape -e '$to = shift;$to =~ s/^mailto://i;exec("chromium-browser", "".URI::Escape::uri_escape($to) );' '%s'


perl -MURI::Escape -e '$to = shift;$to =~ s/^mailto://i;exec("firefox", "".URI::Escape::uri_escape($to) );' '%s'

Note: do not forget to replace ‘yourdomain.tld’ with your actual Google Apps domain

Here is the link to the original blog entry by David Davis (xantus77): (Kudos !)