How I built a Rock’n laptop for $100.

First, I bought an ACER C720 on ebay for $100. This is a Chromebook and comes with the Chrome OS installed. After receiving the computer I took the Chrome defaults, setup my network, user name and learned about Chrome. I was stunned by the battery life and the speed. Both of which were amazing. OK – I had now reached the limits of what the computer could do. So, I started to want to load Linux so I could really use my new laptop.

So how do you do this?

There is an eternal debate on the web regarding ChrUbuntu vs. Crouton. Having just gone through the process I would recommend Crouton. Why? Although I did not think I would care, the ability to switch between OS’s is nice. Sometimes I just need web access and having Crhome OS available works great. Two browsers, two OS’s It’s fast!

Step 1 – Enter developer Mode

1. Hold down the Esc+Refresh, and whilst keeping them pressed, hit the power button. Once the computer restarts you will be in ‘Recovery Mode’. 2. Press Ctrl+D, which will bring up a prompt asking if you want to enter Developer Mode. Press Enter to proceed. 3. The Chromebook will start initialising Developer Mode – this may take some time. 4. When the setup is complete you will be faced with a screen that displays an exclamation mark and the phrase ‘OS verification is OFF’. From now on you will see this screen every time you turn on your Chromebook. If you wait 30 seconds your Chromebook will start automatically, or you can press Ctrl+D to boot immediately.

For an ASUS Chome Book

Step 2- Get Crouton

In Chrome, 1. Scroll down to “usage” and click on “Crouton” hyperlink. Download the crouton program to your “Downloads” folder. 2. From your Chromebook’s desktop press Ctrl+Alt+T to launch the device’s terminal. 3. Type “shell” and press Enter.

Step 3 – Install Crouton

The easy way (assuming you want an Ubuntu LTS with Xfce) 1. Decide on an environment and intall either KDE, unity, or XFCE 2. Run 1. sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce 2. OR: sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t kde 3. OR: sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t unity 3. Wait patiently and answer the prompts like a good person. 4. Done! You can jump straight to your new ubuntu session by running 1. sudo enter-chroot startxfce4 2. OR: as a special shortcut, 1. sudo startxfce4. 2. OR sudo startkde 3. OR sudo startunity 5. Cycle through Chromium OS and your running graphical chroots using Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Back and Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Forward. 6. Exit the chroot by logging out of your OS

Step 4 – Updates

1. Now we start the after installation changes. First, updates. 2. Go to terminal 3. Type “sudo apt-get update” ENTER 4. Type “sudo apt-get upgrade” ENTER 5. Type “sudo apt-get install” ENTER 6. Check Version number: Cat /etc/lsb-release 7.

Step 5 – Make life easier

1. There are several items that are difficult in the new environment and need to be resolved. 2. Open a terminal and type “sudo apt-get install update-manager synaptic“ 3. Work your way through this list next: 1. 2. Do NOT overlook the screen saver disable issue. 3. And this list: 4. Now, get the browser updated. 1. You may need Firefox (if you did xfce) otherwise skip to the Chrome install. 2. Firefox: 1. Go to a terminal and type “sudo apt-get update“ 2. then type “sudo apt-get install firefox“ 3. Chrome 1. Use firefox to open find the Chrome download. Install the Chrome browser. 2. Log in and make sure Chrome works. 5. DropBox 1. Install dropbox by using Chrome to go to the Dropbox site 2. Download and install Dropbox 3. I setup up custom install because the files are shared between OS’s in the “Downloads” folder. 1. Setup dropbox for the “/home/[yourname]/downloads/dropbox/” folder 2. I used selective install to limit my files due to disk space. 6. Install Skype next: 1. You will need Pulseaudio volume controls. 1. Download and install from the package manager “pavucontrol” 2. Using Chrome Browser, go to 7. Install unetbootin 1. use your synapti to install the linux version of unetbootin. This is so you can create new linux distributions! 8. Install gParted. A great disk formatting tool. 9. Consider a video player, VLC or Kaffeine. 10. Install Pavu voume control.

Step 4 – Install Libre Office/PDF Viewer

1. Go to the Synaptic Package Manager. If the GUI does not work in the launcher then: 1. Open terminal 2. Type “gksudo synaptic”

2. Type Libre and check the select the right items

3. Install Okular for viewing PDF files 1. In package manager go ahead and search for Okular. Click and install. 4. Check APPLY to install the above packages.

Step 5 – Checklist

As of now we have a web browser (Chrome), file storage (Dropbox), and office applications (Libre Office). You should be fully functional. Of course, a printer is nice. This about kicked my butt. However, I got it to work, somehow.

Step 6 – Some clean up items

1. As previously noted purge xscreensaver. 2. My synaptic would not start without using terminal. To fix the menu launcher: 1. Open terminal Ctrl+Alt+T and execute this command: 2. gksudo gedit /usr/share/applications/synaptic.desktop 3. With the file open, change find this line: 1. Exec=synaptic-pkexec 1. And change it to: 2. Exec=gksudo synaptic 4. Save file and exit the text editor. 5. I browse to the file. Second, I right click and open with gvim. Next, move to the line and press “x” to delete. Use “a” to append. When done press                 escape to return to the command line. Finally, type “:w !sudo tee %” this will save the read only file. 6. Now synaptic is fixed.

1/16/2015 – So after using Libre Office for a while I discovered some issues.  First, my spell checker was not working. Exit Libre Office and use this command:
sudo apt-get install myspell-en-us

And, you made need times new roman font:
If, for some reason, Liberation fonts are not satisfactory to you, install the mscorefontspackage
sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Times New Roman is part of that package, and will be recognized one you restart your LibreOffice.

A few other notes, sometimes an install goes bad.  Do this to reactivate the package manager: sudo dpkg –configure -a

Regarding the EULA for the microsoft fonts, use the [TAB] and [Shift]+[TAB] to move focus to the “OK”.  Use enter to select it.

Step 7 – Install a printer.

The short version — install CUPS, install Brother printer driver and setup for IPP with the IP address of the printer.  This makes it work every I included the below as reference.   1. I have a Brother printer and there are no options in the Ubuntu version installed. 2. I first downloaded the Brother printer drivers and followed the instructions. Mistake! Wait and get CUPS working first. 3. This link will get you close: 4. I have added to the above, pasted the instructions and tried to help. 5. First, you need an editor. Go to Synaptic and install ViMproved. 1. You will need to hack your way through your own understanding of VI. 6. This aligns with the above: 1. Install cups and related packages: 1. Open terminal. 2. Type: sudo apt-get install cups system-config-printer-gnome 2. To get a working lpr command, also install cups-bsd (similar to above) 3. Add yourself to the lpadmin group: 1. Open terminal. 2. Type: sudo adduser lpadmin 4. init scripts don’t work right in crouton so we need to start cups somehow. One way is to edit /etc/rc.local and add: /usr/sbin/cupsd 1. This took me the longest….make sure you go to synaptic and install the vi GUI version of the editor (makes life easier). 2. Open file manager 3. Change to /etc/ 4. Find the file rc.local and right click it. 5. Choose open with “GVIM” 6. I think “a” will insert a line. Add the required text. To save the file use the following command within the editor: 1. “:w !sudo tee %” 5. start manually 1. sudo /etc/init.d/avahi-daemon start 2. sudo /etc/init.d/cups start 6. because the printer gui run from applications – system – printers doesn’t run with the correct permissions, run $ sudo system-config-printer. I’m sure this could be corrected by updated the permissions on some config file, but running sudo works 7. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions to install the printer at this point. 8. Finally, log out of your crouton and back in. You should now be able use Printer Settings to configure your printer. 9. Lastly, for a network printer – what settings? 1. PD is an old standard, IPP is newer. Ubuntu uses the Common UNIX Printing System (“CUPS”) to handle printing. CUPS uses the Internet Printing Protocol (“IPP”) as the basis for managing print jobs and queues. Other protocols are also supported (LPD, SMB, AppSocket a.k.a. JetDirect), some with reduced functionality. LPD/LPR is still commonly used and works quite well but it doesn’t provide much control for users on the printer settings per print job. Both the LPD and JetDirect/AppSocket protocols can be used over the Internet today, however neither of these protocols provides authentication services, access control, and all of the document management and formatting (including printer-specific commands) must be handled by the machine sending the document. IPP is preferred as it uses bidirectional communication which gives you more feedback and control. Some printers may not support IPP. 2. Choose IPP when doing “find network printer”

Last Step – What next? 1. Enjoy your low cost laptop!! 2. Tweak your settings. Make sure to change between both operating systems. 3. Do Over? 1. When you log into the red exclamation point press the space bar and wipe the system. Make sure you grab any files first because you will have a clean chrombook.

Chrome Chromebook Linux Linux Mint Crouton Chromium