Chromebook Pixel can boot into Ubuntu and Linux Mint just like a

first_imgThere are plenty of reasons to not want to spend $1450 on the Chromebook Pixel, but most of them are an extension of the fact that Chrome OS hasn’t grown up enough to replace a traditional OS. Fortunately, Google’s new BIOS makes it easier to work around the native operating system than any Chrome OS hardware before it.The main appeal of the Samsung Chromebook and its ilk has been price. For $250, you could afford to pick one up and see if you were going to like it. You could give one as a gift to that family member who considered it a biological imperative to click on every link they came across, leaving you to scrub the shame off of their hard drive the next time you were over for a visit.It seemed, for a while, that the whole point of Chrome OS was to offer something for those who rely on the web exclusively. When offered with inexpensive hardware, this all makes perfect sense. When you offer that web-only experience in one of the most expensive (non-Apple) consumer laptops on the market, the least you can do is make it so power users don’t have to work too hard to get more out of that gorgeous hardware.Like all Chromebooks before it, the Pixel offers a Developer Mode. It’s triggered by a simple toggle switch which, if flipped, allows the user to sit outside of the Chrome OS sandbox and get creative. This version of Chrome OS takes things further with a semi-writable BIOS. Unlike all previous Chrome OS hardware, the Pixel offers a secondary BIOS that is not Read Only, and is accessible in Developer Mode. This means that installing other operating systems is as simple as booting from an SD card or USB stick with a Linux image and then installing, just like you would on any other computer that’s not “protected” with Secure Boot.So far, several users have taken advantage of this, and in a short while there were mostly functional versions of Ubuntu and Mint running on the Chromebook Pixel. You lose that luxurious trackpad until someone gets it working in Linux, but the rest of the OS works just fine.An alternative solution is to use Linux in a virtualized manner. Crouton is a tool developed by a Googler to allow for Ubuntu to exist virtualized, but allow you to use the alternative to Chrome OS as though it is running naturally. Crouton is specifically for Ubuntu right now, with a publicly available GitHub that explains in detail how to install and use this new OS on your Chromebook. Ubuntu will be given its own file system to run in, with applications that run in its own environment, just like a virtual machine.Remember: if you choose to use your Chromebook Pixel this way, you’re stuck in Developer Mode. This means that your Chromebook will take 30 seconds longer than usual to load every time you start it, because the boot sequence feels the need to take that time to remind you that you’re in Developer Mode. It also means that your laptop is less secure, in that a root exploit can grant any user access to the whole system. There’s no real way to escape this, and while it may seem like a small price to pay for full-fledged Linux on your Pixel, it is also a daily reminder that you’re not using the laptop the way it was originally intended.last_img read more

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