Install Ubuntu 14.04 on a Chromebook

There are plenty of sites out there that give advise on this topic, unfortunately most of them are highly ad-infested to the point of being unreadable as well as only containing single bit rather that an overall picture. This is a collection of useful links to source materials as well as steps necessary to install.

Resource Links

Crouton Github: https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton – Thank you David Schneider for the excellent work !!!
Developer Info for Chromebooks: https://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/developer-information-for-chrome-os-devices

Put Cromebook into “developer mode”

  1. Back up any data as the process wipes the system
  2. Create a restore image for Chrome OS (install the Restore Image Chrome Extension for this task)
  3. Enter Developer Mode – hold down ESC and Refresh (F3) keys and press the Power button

Download Crouton Script

Download link for installer: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/dnschneid/crouton/master/installer/crouton

Installing Crouton

CTRL+Alt+t to open Cronos Prompt + type “shell” to enter proper bash shell.

To see the list of supported releases:
sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r list
To see a list of the supported desktop envoironments (target names):
sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t help
I generally install LXDE on ‘resource-challenged’ devices.

shell
sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r RELEASENAME -t TARGETNAME -e

The ‘-e’ at the end is optional to encrypt the chroot. Which is probably a good idea as the Chromebook in developer mode is completely open and allows any user to access. If you do not specify the Release it defaults to Ubuntu 12.04 (precise)

My default install would be:
sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t lxde -e

Removing Crouton

The proper way to remove the chroot environment created by Crouton is as follows

sudo delete-chroot CHROOTNAME

CHROOTNAME could be ‘precise’ or ‘trusty’ depending on the installed version and can be found by

ls /mnt/stateful_partition/crouton/chroots/

Run Ubuntu

Depending on your installed shell.
sudo startlxde

Replace with ‘startxfce4’ or ‘startkde’ or ‘startunity’ depending on your target release.

Installing Ubuntu on Toshiba Z930 Ultrabook

Since I have been really happy with the performance and mobility on the Toshiba Ultrabooks (see previous blog entries) I have now chosen to stay with a tried brand and uprgrade to the Z930 i7 model.

Unfortunately this now comes with added hurdles by our good friends at Microsoft in the form of UEFI and the pre-installed disaster that is Windows 8. Instead of totally wiping the system as I did with the Z830 model I decided to install next to Windows 8 as lots of people have reported problems with the UEFI bootloader and the BIOS if you start messing with the pre-installed partitions (specially the EFI partition).


EDIT (2013-06-10): It turns out that Ubuntu works just fine without the factory partitions (which I found out accidentally & not necessarily planned … see cautionary note at the end of this article). The important part is the “Fix GRUB bootloader” section below as the unit refuses to boot without that step. Hat tip and thank you to the boot-repair developers !


Install procedure

Resize Windows partition

I resized the Windows partition in the Windows Control Panel (after I spent considerable time actually finding the damn thing in that crazy Metro UI) and removed all the Windows Crapware that comes pre-installed with this thing (such as Norton Security, Microsoft Office and other annoying ad-ware). I decieded to use 200GB for the Ubuntu system leaving roughly 40GB for Windows.

Boot off the Ubuntu 13.04 USB
Keep F12 key pressed on power up to get the choice boot from USB. Choose “Try Ubuntu” (this is a good idea to see if you have any issues with Ubuntu) and then start the install process from the desktop.

Install Ubuntu

I used 5GB of swap space (10GB of RAM) and the rest of the free disk space as root partition, but you can use any layout you like) and installed Ubuntu.

Reboot

After first reboot I was sort of hoping to get a choice, but the thing booted straight back into Windows 8. Turns out you have to do some more work to get rid Windows 8.

Fix boot options

Go to the PowerOff options, and while holding the SHIFT key, click on Restart.

Window Troubleshoot Power Options

When the menu below appears, select Troubleshoot, then UEFI Firmware Settings.

Window Advanced Power Options

It will ask you to reboot to go to BIOS.

BIOS Changes

Disable “Secure boot” in the “Security” tab

Control Panel –> Power Options –> Choose what the power button does

Note: You need to click on “Change settings that are currently unavailable” and should see something like below.

disable fastboot

Uncheck the option that says “Turn on fast startup”

Fix GRUB bootloader

You need to boot from USB stick again (and choose “Try Ubuntu”). This might be avoidable if you change the BIOS settings before you install Ubuntu. Please leave a comment on this blog for other users if you can test this as I certainly do not want to go through this procedures just to test if the order can be changed. :-)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && (boot-repair &)

boot-repair

Check the options and follow the instructions given.

Source:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Boot-Repair
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UEFI

Reboot and you should be presented with the GRUB Boot Menu (which should default to UBUNTU, but still allow you to boot into Windows 8 for those who have masochistic tendencies).

Enjoy !!!

CAUTION (2013-06-10): Be careful when re-installing Ubuntu in a dual-boot configuration. Do not choose the option “Remove existing Ubuntu partitions & re-install” – manually delete and re-create the partitions instead. I found out the hard way that this option will REMOVE ALL EXISTING PARTITIONS. In my case that does not matter as I wasn’t planning to use Windows 8 at all. I just left it there as some people reported trouble booting when the partitions were removed. It actually means I just have just recovered 40GB of wasted SSD space. But if you want to dual-boot be careful with that option.

EDIT (2013-06-08): turns out there is a confirmed bug in the ACPI power management module on this unit. However thanks to Alexander Pevzner there is a temporary kernel module that fixes the issue.

Getting a handle on Ubuntu mobile power management

To get an idea on the current power usage and some suggestions on how to improve power-management ‘powertop‘ is a must-have.

sudo apt-get install powertop

Powertop Screenshot

For some more detailed suggestions this is a good start: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/PowerManagement/ReducedPower

Turning the Toshiba Z830 into a Ubuntu Ultrabook

ultrabook

EDIT: Here are some tweaks if you install 12.04 (Precise Pangolin).

Since I will have to do a fair amount of traveling in the next year I was in need of upgrading my trusted workhorse of Toshiba Qosmio F60 to a more portable option that will be easier on the shoulders during long travels. After doing some research into which of the major manufacturers offer the best support for a Linux based Operating System it came down to a final two: the Intel i7 variants of Samsung Series 9 and the Toshiba Z830.

Thanks to these sites for some useful content:

In the end it came down to Toshiba having full-size VGA, HDMI and Ethernet connectors at the rear of the unit (no need for carrying adapters) and getting a very decent price rebate for the Toshiba.

The first and only task in the included Windows 7 OS was to create a recovery USB drive using the Toshiba included utility (on the desktop). You need a 12GB USB stick (found out the hard way after buying an 8GB version with the unit on advice of the sales guy).

After booting from a USB stick created from the Ubuntu 11.10 ISO (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download) with Ubuntu Bootdisk Creator (or alternatively UnetBootin) I opted to wipe the whole SSD drive. If you are not sure that you want to stick with Ubuntu it might be safer to try running from USB or dual-boot.

Note: you need to use the USB3 connector on the right-hand side of the machine to boot (not the rear USB2 connectors). Press the F-12 Function key when turning the unit off and choose the USB Boot option.

It always gives me strange pleasure to wipe a pristine new machine from all the rubbish that manufacturers pre-install and start with a clean system that I can customise to my needs (without having redundant stuff cluttering the system and waste valuable resources).  So enjoy that part ;-)

toshy ultrabook

The Oneiric Ocelot (11.10) installation was extremely smooth. As predicted by the previous research all the hardware was detected automatically. Even Bluetooth and Toshiba Function keys (screen brightness and display switching) work without any tweaking.

I am currently looking into some SSD specific tweaks thanks to this article on ZDNET. I will post future updates on further experiences when it comes to battery-life and other day-2-day issues.

Update: I have made a tweak to improve disk I/O parameters to improve SSD performance

Disable the ‘elevator’ I/O scheduler in the kernel by editing the default Grub config (/etc/default/grub)

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash elevator=noop"

Looks like this unit is definitely a good option for people looking for Ubuntu Notebook / Ultrabook hardware. Well done Toshiba ! Now I just want a refund for the wasted Windows license….

Enjoy your OPEN Ultrabook !

Upgrade to Firefox 4 on Ubuntu 10.04

Since some older hardware (Toshiba Satellite A300 for example) has issues with the current version of Grub as well as the newer Kernel I still need to run 10.04 on some machines.

However since the 10.04 Repository still uses Firefox 3.6 you need to add a PPA repo to upgrade to Firefox 4.

Either go to Ubuntu Software Center > Software Sources and click the ‘Other Software’ tab. Press ‘Add’ and enter ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable

After adding the PPA you will be prompted to update your sources. Once done you can head to System > Administration > Update Manager to perform an upgrade

Alternatively you can do this via Terminal (Applications > Terminal).

add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable
apt-get update
apt-get upgrade