In May 2017 I wrote about installing Linux on a Chromebook which works really well. With Linux I meant GalliumOS a Xubuntu derivative, with added fixes and features specifically for Chromebooks. Although it was working really well, the experience wasn't all that pleasing and I ended up not using the device all that much.
Lately I've been using Solus and Ubuntu, both with the Budgie desktop on my main machines. In comparison to GalliumOS, these both look a lot better and give a very rich desktop experience. When cleaning my workspace, I came across my Chromebook, and wondered if either of these distributions would work on it. Since I wasn't using it anyway I figured I would give it a try.
Like described In my original post, I replaced the original firmware of the Chromebook with one created by Mr. Chromebox so I figured, I might check if their have been any updates. To my surprise a lot of updates took place and I went ahead and installed the latest version with the nice and easy to use script provided here. In a GalliumOS terminal I entered the described command
cd; curl -LO https://mrchromebox.tech/firmware-util.sh && sudo bash firmware-util.sh and selected Install/Update Full ROM Firmware. This ran very quickly and updated the firmware to the latest release right from inside the terminal.
Ubuntu Budgie 17.10
After downloading the .ISO a bootable USB drive was created by using Etcher, very easy and straight forward. A reboot of the machine resulted in automatically booting into the Ubuntu installer. There are plenty of tutorials on the web on how to install Ubuntu, but it is basically a Next > Next > Finish experience these days.
My main concern with switching to Ubuntu or Solus on the Chromebook was performance and compatibility.
Performance is nothing to worry about, after booting the first time, my CPU was idling at about 10% and about 750MB of memory was in use. My go to applications all installed just fine and run very well. Like with GalliumOS don't expect great performance but that is not because of the OS, the hardware is the limiting factor but very usable for normal daily tasks.
The Out of the Box experience was great, WiFi, audio, bluetooth and trackpad all worked flawless.
Only the function keys at the top of the keyboard weren't mapped right, they became F1 ... F10. With a quick search on the web I found How do I remap keyboard keys for Ubuntu. The page even has a script specifically for Chromebooks which I used and that mapped all my keys the right way.
Look and Feel
With Ubuntu Budgie installed, the machine is much more usable to me. I like the way it looks, it performs well, the menu is great, software availability on Ubuntu is amazing and I now actually prefer using this device over my 2009 MacBook Pro which runs Solus 3. To be honest I did change the look and feel from a theme perspective to what Solus looks like, because I don't like the Dark look that Ubuntu Budgie comes with.