Fun fact: So in 2020, Google announced that Chromebooks made then or later would continue to receive updates until 2028. Before then though, the typical Chromebook platform got updates for 3-4 years.

This means that we're currently in the middle of an influx of perfectly fine Chromebooks going out of support.

This means that it's pretty easy to get a lot of decent-if-underpowered Linux-capable laptops very cheaply.

So if you need to (e.g.) set up a kids' computer club with laptops, there you go.

BTW, be warned that Chromebooks vary a *lot* in terms of hackability and support for stuff like Coreboot. The existing firmware is *very* paranoid about the OS being tampered with and (as of 2014, anyway) would wipe my Linux installation if I ever looked at it funny.

I ended up installing a Coreboot variant (risking bricking the device) so it would become a normal Linux laptop but that won't necessarily work.

But whether that's possible depends a *lot* on hardware specifics.

That look really interesting. I might consider buying this instead of a rasberry pi, althought all of the cheapest option have surprisingly slow storage space.


RPi's are nice computers but they don't have a decent keyboard + mouse + screen + battery + case assembly available (at least, not for less than the cost of a basic laptop).

Chromebooks are probably inferior computers (well, depends) but they're designed to work as actual *portable* computers.

Although using a Chromebook as a console for a Pi.... Hmmm.

@suetanvil is there some ressources on which chromebook are "locked" this way ?

@suetanvil i've done a quick lookup on, i've should not order a ARM chromebook :-/

@oldsysops @suetanvil Nah, ARM chromebooks are great… but I've stayed with stock firmware on one of mine and almost-stock on the other, which means a special kernel build process.

It works pretty well, but if you use the downstream kernel don't expect GPU acceleration to work well, and if you use a mainline kernel then expect a bunch of other hardware to be broken.

(Or for the newest ARM (well, AArch64) Chromebooks just about everything would be broken while things find their way upstream)


(Disclaimer: my half-assed research from 8 years ago.)

Chromebooks all have a hardware interlock of some kind that can disable the firmware locks. (Mine required opening the case and bridging a jumper.)

The main issue is a) finding a reliable way to boot your preferred OS and b) getting drivers for the hardware on the new OS.

I initially had mine dual-booting and that worked but doing some really easy-to-do thing at boot time would cause the firmware to wipe everything.


Also, I got a lot of my stuff from here:

The guy is out of the Chromebook game now but his stuff is still up. Probably not relevant to recent hardware but maybe a source of links and/or ideas for how to proceed.


Also also, since I can't leave well enough alone:

A blog post from someone who installed GalliumOS (based on Xubuntu) on a Dell Chromebook 11 3120 by reflashing the firmware:

EBay seller currently selling them for US$50 each:

(Use at own risk; don't spend money you can't afford to lose on this.)

@suetanvil oooh. time to look for a cheap Chromebook to hack. @socketwench you with me on that?

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