Formatting your Chromebook’s internal drive to run both ChromeOS and Linux requires a large enough internal drive and can be done even if you’re not a Linux expert.
Chromebooks are designed to be cloud devices and so the amount of local drive space is limited to 16GB or 32GB. My Chromebook only has 16GB of non replaceable eMMC storage but that’s still enough space to fit both operating systems. To avoid running out of space I recommend dual booting with a USB instead.
If you have or are purchasing a Chromebook with an internal SSD, you’re in luck because with a bit of elbow grease you can easily replace it for a larger one like this 256GB SSD. The toughest part of replacing the drive is disassembling your Chromebook which I demonstrate in this video, where I also show you how I removed write protection from my Chromebook.
For dual booting you don’t need to this but if you’re upgrading the SSD, it makes sense to remove write protection as well.
Once you’ve upgraded your SSD and restored Chrome OS, we need to make sure to enable developer mode.
Next we need to modify the BIOS so that the Chromebook is able to boot to Linux. For dual booting you should chose the RW_Legacy option.
Partition your SSD, download and install Linux
ChromeOS has it’s own particular partitioning layout and so we’ll need to shrink those partitions so that we can use the majority of the space of the internal drive for Linux. The easiest way to do this is to use chrx which partitions the drive, downloads your chosen linux distro and installs it for you from within Chrome OS.
chrx is easy to use, all you need to do is log in to ChromeOS, open a terminal window (Ctrl + Alt + F2) and get a shell (type shell and press Return). From there you can copy and paste the commands from the chrx website and the script will do the rest of the work for you.
This is a two step process:
The first step after entering the below commands, asks you how much space you want to free up on your drive for Linux. The Chromebook will reboot, and Chrome OS will repair it’s partitions (it’s safe to leave as little as 3GB for ChromeOS).
cd ; curl -Os https://chrx.org/go && sh go
The second step after logging back into ChromeOS and running the commands again is when Linux is downloaded and installed for you by chrx. The default commands install Gallium OS but you can also choose other options like picking a different distro, setting the hostname for your installation and choosing a username. You can simply add the options to the end of the default commands:
cd ; curl -Os https://chrx.org/go && sh go -d distroname -H hostname -U username
7 distros are currently supported and you can find more info about the options and using chrx at chrx.org. Once the install completes and the chromebook reboots, you need to press Ctrl + D to load Chrome OS or Ctrl + L to load Linux.
Thanks to chrx the process of dual booting ChromeOS and Linux is simple and straightforward giving you the benefit of Chrome OS as well as unlocking the Chromebook’s full potential with Linux.