Converting a Chromebook to Linux

My wife recently upgraded to a newer Chromebook, leaving a Samsung Chromebook without anything to do. It was not too fast on the internet and its small screen did not work well with her eyesight. However, its small form factor and lightness made it a nice laptop to carry around. I heard of installing Linux on Chromebooks, and after a little research I chose ArchLinux | ARM as the distribution that seemed light weight enough for this old hardware but full featured enough that I could expect to be able to use some of my favorite tools with it.

The installation instructions for this particular Chromebook are well written and when followed provide you with a GUI-less base installation of ArchLinux. I installed the OS on an SD card, so the ChromeOS still exists on the internal storage and I can boot back to ChromeOS if I wanted to.

Wanting to take it further, I was left guessing what to do next. However, this webpage provided everything I needed to get a well configured Linux laptop up and running with the MATE GUI environment.

Full screen videos played in Chrome, which I was able to install as well as Firefox, played back beautifully.

Additionally, after installing the Java JRE I was able to get TurtleArt installed.

Cowsay was important to get running, and there is a package to fulfill that need. The package manager, pacman, makes installation of new software pretty easy as long as a port to ARM7 exists for this particular laptop.

With a little editing I was able to get both LightLogo and LogoTurtle running on the laptop, too!!

Suddenly, this laptop had many of the tools that I like to play with in school! It went from an end of life Chromebook that did not keep up with the changes Google made online to a very capable Linux laptop. 

There were a couple packages that I could not get working yet, namely RedShift (to change the color temperature of the screen at night, reducing the blue light it emits), and UCBLogo. Packages exist for both but the fiddling I did produced no results, yet.

Update: UCBLogo was working, I just was trying to launch it with 'ucblogo' instead of just 'logo.' I can't wait to dive into this this summer.

Redshift works, but the graphics card on this laptop does not honor its gamma shifting.

A package for Scratch 1.4 exists, which is great since Flash does not run in Chromium or Firefox so Scratch 2 does not work.

If you have access to an older Chromebook I highly suggest trying out a Linux installation on your older hardware. You will breathe new life into the laptop! I hope to turn mine over to a student or adult who lacks a laptop. It would be nice to provide them with a more secure, capable laptop that would perform well on the internet, for programming, or writing.