ubuntu 14.04 + Acer C720 Chromebook

Where Penguins and Daemons chill together in the warmth of the Sun.

Moderators: SecretSquirrel, notfred

ubuntu 14.04 + Acer C720 Chromebook

Postposted on Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:20 pm

Just thought I'd share my experiences of running 14.04 on my shiny new chromebook. I got this thing to replace my old Lenovo s205 which got a bit wet and hasn't dried out satisfactorily. Anyway since I was going to void the warranty by opening it up to fit a 128GB ssd I got one of the many nearly new 720s from ebay and a new ssd from amazon, total cost £220. For that fairly small amount of money I've got something that looks and behaves like an expensive ultrabook (if you squint a bit). The 1.4 celeron is an amazing little chip, subjectively it feels much quicker than the E450 in my lenovo, TBH it just clicking around the desktop and browsing the net feels as fast as my (old) i7 desktop though this is probably because the desktop doesn't have an ssd.

I'm not going to go into all the gory details, there are many howtos already out there. You can either install into a chroot inside chromeos (thought about this but figured there would be more breakage in the future going this way), dual boot (what I actually did), reflash the bios to completely remove chromeos (chance of bricking the laptop + power management is meant to be quite broken on the current version).

Here's very roughly what's involved...

Make a backup of chromeos.

Take the bottom off the laptop and swap out the ssd. (I found pushing in the base in towards the centre helped get it off without damaging any clips)
NB make sure you look very closely which way up the new ssd goes in, DON'T GO BY WHICH SIDE THE LABEL IS ON AS ONE HOWTO SUGGESTS! Look at the contacts on the connector, there should be 4 on the left hand side notch. It is possible to put it in upside down so be careful. I brought the exact same MyDigital ssd suggested by one howto and the label was on the opposite side from the one they had.

While the bottom is off, move the bios write protect screw over to the power enable screw (this lets you to make some changes to the bios and allows you to power it up without putting the bottom back on, be careful there isn't anything metallic on your desk! you can always put the bottom back on if you're a chicken)

Power the laptop back up and reinstall chromeos from the backup made earlier.

Put chromeos into developer mode.

Download and run the chrubuntu script to first automatically repartition the ssd and then install ubuntu (I understand you can change distro etc but I left it on the default ubuntu 14.04 64bit).

Once you're happy ubuntu is running OK it's time to make some bios changes so boot up is a little easier. By default you get a scary screen where you're steered towards putting the chromebook back into normal mode (which will wipe your install so you don't want to do it accidentally), you'd nornally press ctrl+d for chromeos or ctrl+l for linux. You can change this so developer mode can't be turned off and linux autoboots in 1 second. From the terminal in chromeos, switch to root and run set_gbb_flags.sh 0x489 then shutdown. (you can go back to the defaults by running set_gbb_flags.sh 0x0 but remember you need to remove that write protect screw before running this script)

Once shut down, move the bios write protect screw back into place, then reassemble and it's finished.

So what's bad:
Long boot time, (probably 30-40 seconds which is pretty bad)
Internal mic doesn't seem to work
Touchpad is a bit flaky (it's a clickpad and it doesn't deactivate the touch part so the curser tends to move around as you click other than this it's perfect)
Suspend seems to be broken.
No delete key (only backspace)
No caps lock (by default it maps to the super key SO IT'S REALLY HARD TO SHOUT ON THE INTERNET, maybe this is a good thing)
No function keys (like brightness, volume etc. It can be fixed but I'm not going to bother)
The keyboard doesn't have much travel in the keys, but maybe that's to be expected on a thin laptop like this.
I had to buy a usb3 gigabit lan adaptor as I sometimes need a cabled network connection.
When chromeos is in developer mode you can't use netflix

What's good:
Speed, besides the slow boot it's amazing :o
Battery life, I've actually had over 7 hours use out of a charge
Bluetooth and wifi work perfectly
webcam works
Price (there isn't anything even close to this thing)
Size and weight.
Plays the few simple games I've thrown at it on steam (Little street racers and world of goo, nothing heavy)


So if you're prepared to put up with the assorted annoyances it's a really, really nice little almost-ultrabook for peanuts.

I just wish someone like System76 would sell this as a proper product with all the rough edges smoothed off, even at double the cost of the chromebook version I'd still buy it.
Fernando!
Your mother ate my dog!
cheesyking
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2276
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:52 am
Location: That London (or so I'm told)

Re: ubuntu 14.04 + Acer C720 Chromebook

Postposted on Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:41 pm

What SSD did you get?
Glorious
Darth Gerbil
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 7877
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: ubuntu 14.04 + Acer C720 Chromebook

Postposted on Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:17 pm

Glorious wrote:What SSD did you get?

This one:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/128GB-MyDigital ... AA7ADDQM3M

In theory any NGFF (M.2) drive should work but apparently there's the potential for for problems with power management with some models.
Fernando!
Your mother ate my dog!
cheesyking
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2276
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:52 am
Location: That London (or so I'm told)

Re: ubuntu 14.04 + Acer C720 Chromebook

Postposted on Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:38 pm

Yeah, I was wondering. I have a C720 with ubuntu 14.04 on it too, I just didn't replace the SSD. Previously I was using an atom-based netbook with a 16GB SSD so I didn't really miss the space...

But now your post made me wonder if I should ;)

I also haven't had the courage to disassemble it and play with the write-protect screw. I just very carefully press ctrl-l on boot and very rarely do I ever turn it off. At some point I probably should make the seabios permanent, and putting a larger SSD in it might be enough incentive...

What howtos have you read? There are indeed a bunch out there, but as you've noticed sometimes the signal-to-noise isn't so good. Can you link to any that you find reliable?

Also, with pipelight you can indeed watch netflix on it. I've done it. :)

Anyway, I'm glad you made this post. I agree 100%. It's utterly incredible for the price and it blows my old netbook out of the water in every way, including power consumption. It's just slightly bigger, but it weighs less to compensate. I'm a huge fan. I wanted something to fill the now-missing niche of ultra-low cost netbooks, and this fit the bill almost perfectly.
Glorious
Darth Gerbil
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 7877
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: ubuntu 14.04 + Acer C720 Chromebook

Postposted on Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:18 pm

I must admit I was quite nervous about mucking around with that write protect screw but it really isn't that hard and I suspect the risks are actually quite low.
This page has handy info on making bios changes:
http://johnlewis.ie/how-to-make-seabios-the-default-on-your-acer-c720/

This page shows where the write protect screw etc can be located:
http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/developer-information-for-chrome-os-devices/acer-c720-chromebook

This pages describes opening it up:
http://www.androidcentral.com/how-upgra ... chromebook
however it's also the page with the duff advice about being able to go by which side of the ssd the label is on. Also I don't think his technique for prising the bottom off is very good. You don't need to jam anything in there, just gently push the base in and up and it pops off (well mine did anyway and I didn't break any of the clips).
Fernando!
Your mother ate my dog!
cheesyking
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2276
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:52 am
Location: That London (or so I'm told)


Return to Linux, Unix, and Assorted Madness

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests