[sf-lug] Big progress on launchpad's bug number one

Akkana Peck akkana at shallowsky.com
Mon Jan 7 19:06:50 PST 2013

Rick Moen writes:
> one reason I haven't looked closely is that, if someone gave me a
> somewhat hardware-anaemic Atom-based netbook preloaded with ChromeOS,
> probably the first thing I'd do is overwrite the preload with my
> preference in standalone (and genuinely open source) Linux distro.

Unfortunately, it's not as easy as that. At least, most of the
x86 Chromebooks have firmware that can only boot specific signed
kernels. You can install another distro, either instead of ChromeOS
or in a separate partition as a dual-boot; but it has to be a distro
that's capable of running with Google's signed ChromeOS kernels.
So you can't run something like Debian Squeeze that uses an older
version of udev, for example.

My impression is that ARM models, like the model under discussion,
are worse -- harder to bypass UEFI, harder to find a distro that
works with any given kernel. But that's just rumor and may be wrong.
I'd love to hear a firsthand account of someone installing a full
Linux distro on one. Looks like nice hardware! Wish they'd sell
it with a less restrictive BIOS.

But consider this: however annoying the ChromeOS restrictions are,
weaning people from proprietary office suites and into cloud apps
also makes it more possible for them to use Linux -- a real one,
not ChromeOS -- next time they buy a machine. It makes them more
OS agnostic, and may also make them more open to the idea of using
other cloud servers some day. So while I may chafe at the
restrictions and privacy implications of ChromeOS, I still see
Chromebook sales as a good sign for Linux. A small step, but it's
in the right direction.


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