Ubuntu is just a keypress away with crouton

Last weekend I tried another Ubuntu approach on my Samsung Chromebook. On the same blog where I found the ChrUbuntu trackpad fix, Craig provides instructions on how to run crouton. What’s crouton: it’s a ‘Chromium OS Ubuntu Chroot Environment’ originally found here.

The advantage of this method over the dual-boot method is that dual booting is not required! Instead, one can install linux to an SD card, launch X, and then switch between ChromeOS and Ubuntu with Ctrl-Alt-Shift-Back. And if you can master this key chord, Emacs commands are just one step away :p

So, I followed Craig’s instructions and setup XFCE as my window manager. However, I am still going to keep ChrUbuntu and my dual-boot for the time being. First let’s look at what’s cool about crouton:

  1. Swap between ChromeOS and Ubuntu without rebooting.
  2. apt-get install emacs works and installs emacs23 no problem. (I haven’t figured out how to get emacs24 on this device yet…)
  3. Ubuntu and ChromeOS can share files together by mounting your ChromeOS directory into the Ubuntu chroot environment. (See bottom of this post)

Here’s what didn’t work for me:

  1. I did not like XFCE. It was my first experience with this window manager and I had a few issues that I could not easily fix: the resolution was set too high and I could not seem to change it and I could not switch the super key to ctrl in XFCE. Using ctrl on the home row is a blessing and curse. It is SO NICE to use that nice big button for something useful besides caps lock, but on the other hand, it drives me bonkers to type on the default keymap… ARGH!
  2. Something odd was going on with my SD card. After a reboot, all that was visible was “lost and found.” So, I just reformatted my card back to its regular self.

I may try this experiment again, but I might pick KDE as the target not xfce. But since I already have the dual-boot setup, there is not much motivation for me to change at this moment. If you don’t have Ubuntu running at all on your Chromebook, it may be better to start with the crouton approach since you don’t have to re-partition your internal drive at all.

14 thoughts on “Ubuntu is just a keypress away with crouton

  1. I just found out that alt+tab does not work on Ubuntu 12. When I tried the setting on, alt+tab just makes my computer crap out. 😦

    1. That doesn’t sound fun. Although worse would be if it crapped out anytime you’d try to copy or paste 😉

  2. Hi, I am using the KDE target in crouton, quantal install (-t kde -n quantal). I had to reboot the acer c7 once, and after that it worked just great. I always have a KDE session running in parallel with ChromeOS. I am running skype and a lot more in (K)Ubuntu … quite sweet! You just need to remember to _disable_ any _power management_ in KDE (right click on the battery icon)

    1. Ok, cool. The dual boot is finally starting to be annoying 😉 Did you install to an external SD or to the internal drive?

  3. I’ve been playing with a dual boot for a couple of days and like you I got annoyed with it. I’ve just installed crouton with xcfe and unity on a 16gb Class 4 SD card (from my camera!) and it’s working fine! So smooth you can’t even tell that ChromeOS is a keystroke away! Performance would be even better on a faster card I guess. I’ve managed to get Software Centre installed in Unity but can’t install anything yet! But still, pretty impressive all on an ARM Chromebook for £224!!

  4. I’ve run both chrUbuntu and crouton on my Samsung ARM and I think crouton is a much better solution, at least for the ARM. I’m running off a 32GB Sandisk SD card and via chrUbuntu it was a bit slow (to boot and response time) and I had to do a lot out of the box to get it usable, ie install XFCE.

    Using crouton (great tutorial by Craig, especially for those who don’t have the technical knowledge for all the terminal stuff such as myself) I find I don’t really have any problems. Performance is outstanding and the stuff that is bugged out in Linux works just fine after a keystroke and back to Chrome OS. Heck, its less trouble to switch between the two then to use workspaces!

    1. It was included in the Ubuntu distro I downloaded. I don’t remember doing anything special to get it installed.

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