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“Oh you’ve got a MacBook as well have you?”

Is it an Apple product, is it a MacBook - no, it's a Chromebook!

Is it an Apple product, is it a MacBook - no, it's a Chromebook!

Striding confidently towards my desk with a satisfied look on his face, this is what my work colleague assumed. The expression on his face was one of welcome over to the Apple side, you have made a wise decision.

It was only to be followed by his jaw dropping when I replied “actually, it’s a chromebook”.

On a Friday afternoon earlier this year while other colleagues huddled around my desk I unboxed my new Toshiba Chromebook 2. I had arranged for it to be delivered to my work address and decided to show it off to get an idea of what the guys at work thought of it. You can read my review here.

Fast forward a couple of months to today and Ben Miller reminded me of that Friday afternoon. Who’s Ben you may wonder? Well, I wrote a ‘how to’ on wiping Chrome OS and installing Linux natively on the Toshiba Chromebook 2 and he left a comment asking whether I could get elementary OS working as well.

elementaryOSontheCB2Elementary OS, for those who haven’t heard, is a Linux distro that is based on Ubuntu 14.04. I think the following taken from their own website aptly describes it:

“What we focus on is how we can build an awesome operating system that anyone could use and fall in love with, whether they’re a first-time computer user or a seasoned system admin.”

This OS has been likened to Apple’s operating system and I thought installing it on the Toshiba Chromebook 2 would be a great way to emulate a Macbook (Apple fans, please, call off the dogs, I chose my words carefully – note the use of the word emulate!).

So off we go, let’s install elementary OS onto a Toshiba Chromebook 2 natively.

5 Comments

  1. Josh

    I more or less did the same thing as you, although admittedly I bought my Chromebook intending to install linux over the ChromeOS. I bought the 2015 model, and in and stalled ubuntu+xfce4. It’s pretty awesome. Especially since the 2015 version has a socket based SSD that can be replaced, so I installed a 256GB SSD. Let’s just say that the final specs I got for $400 are amazing relative to what else is out there.

    I actually have a Macbook Pro 15″ Retina, and while this el-cheapo linux laptop doesn’t replace the Macbook Pro for heavy lifting, I find myself using the smaller, lighter, and cooler to the lap chromebook formuch of my casual use. It’s that good.

    I posted a guide for the 2015 model here:

    http://www.pants.nu/~jmcminn/toshiba-2015-chromebook-linux.html

    Overall, I think the new model is easier than the Baytrail one for installing linux, albiet I have never attempted it on the Baytrail model.

    In any case, I can concur, that the Toshiba Chromebooks are plain awesome relative to the price point. I’ve actually looked at some “ultrabooks” that cost more than twice as much, and decided that I prefer the Toshiba Chromebook over them for various reasons. (now if I could just find a driver for the keyboard backlight 😉

    • Captain

      Well done on the guide Josh. I was gathering information about the new CB2 and was planning to write another how to. Your one covers all bases so I’ll probably just write a blog post linking to your guide instead.

      It would be so much eaiser if manufacturers would just make the hardware and let us the consumers decide what we want to install on it!

    • kem327

      Thanks for the tutorial. I had a few (small) issues getting Ubuntu running natively on my i3 chromebook 2, this tutorial was the best resource I found. One thing I found was that creating a usb boot drive from an ubuntu machine didn’t work. I *HAD* to use pendrivelinux on a Windows machine. Not sure why that was the case, but it was. Another (small) issue was configuring seabios to run by default so I didn’t have to hit ctrl+l (which is really necessary since if someone hits the spacebar on that boot screen they can cause you some headaches).

      In the interest of helping others, including the fascinating captain, I’ll share how I got my keyboard backlight working!

      Go here (https://github.com/raphael/linux-samus)

      follow the ubuntu instructions, and then find the section ‘brightness’ for details on how to use the script. Works perfectly for me– I’m typing this now on a backlit keyboard on Ubuntu running natively. My next project will be mapping the script to run from one of the top row keys and have it toggle the light on/off.

      • Captain

        Great to hear you’re up and running. Well done on getting the backlight working and for pointing other people in the right direction. It would be cool to do a video for installing Ubuntu on the 2015 CB2 but I don’t own one of these 🙁
        You may find this useful for the keyboard mapping

  2. Josh

    I don’t mind having to install my own OS over the end user presentation, but it would be nicer if that didn’t require opening up the case, pulling a write protect screw, flashing the BIOS, and various other obscure hacks. OTOH, in this case I wanted to open up the case to upgrade the SSD anyway.

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