Installing Ubuntu/Debian and ChromeOS on Samsung ChromeBook Series 5

06 06 2014


I happened to get lucky to own a Chromebook as a gift from Google courtesy of Sam Dutton. To imagine how a simple request for Chrome Stickers as Swag(Swag is a word used by Google to mean the Googly stuff) , ended up to a couple of other GDGs and I receiving some Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks as Swag. No stickers but I sure did come back to Kenya with a Chromebook. Thanks Google and GDG

As a developer, I have always wished to own a super-light weight computer that can do assist me in all my needs. Why not get a MacBook Air? Have you seen the pricetag on it. So I had started saving up for one and I got the ChromeBook first.

I own a HP Probook 4530s running both Ubuntu and Windows 8 on Dual boot. Call it an act of having a Swiss Army Knife, having both OSs counts in my situation. So we are on Chromebooks and not my HP.

ChromeOS is built on top of the Linux Kernel and what a marvelous OS they have built. But for a developer I could not be able to transform it to my environment when running plainly on ChromeOS. So what next? Two Options.

  1. Installing CrUbuntu alongside ChromeOS
  2. Installing Ubuntu/Debian based using Crouton

Installing CrUbuntu alongside ChromeOS


At the time I got my Chromebook, the only way to do this was installing CrUbuntu which is a customized 12.04 32 Bit for the Chromebook. I tried the installation process managed hacking through and though I did it basing on my experience, I will not recommend this as the option to take while you want to exploit both ChromeOS and CrUbuntu.


  1. Got Ubuntu working finally
  2. Running Ubuntu on its own.

Down Side

  1. Very poor performance
  2. Low space since you get 8 GB for ubuntu and cannot access the rest that lives within ChromeOS
  3. Constant unresponsiveness due to hardware contraints

With such kind of downside I could not stand working with the machine, since performance happens to be an important factor when you are a developer. Also I couldn't stand using it with such kind of effects especially the unresponsiveness.

If you still want to install CrUbuntu there is plenty of resources I will point out that you can use.

  1. Raywaldo's Ubuntu on Chromebook
  2. Video illustrating the whole process

So what next? I opted to recover chrome and find another solution to this problem and found a tool called Crouton

Using Crouton

So Crouton is a tool that was developed by a Googler, David Schneider, It is for those, who would like to run straight Linux from there Chromium OS device and do not care about physical security. More

Getting into Developer Mode

While many own this devices, not many know that there is actually a developer mode. For sure, I didn't.

There are two modes

  1. Normal user mode
  2. Developer mode

More on Developer Mode is here

To get into developer mode depend on the device, I will talk about my Samsung Chromebook Series 5.


Getting into the Developer mode

After doing this, REBOOT and you will get a warning screen telling you that OS verification is turned off. Simply, press CTRL+D and you will boot into ChromeOS.

Developer Modes vary and you can check out here for the exact way to get into development mode for your device.

Install Ubuntu with Crouton

(i) Download Crouton

Download Crouton from here and make sure it is saved in your Downloads folder.

(ii) Install Ubuntu

Start the Crosh terminal with CTRL + ALT + T, then type "shell".

Crouton by default, install Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise). You can view a list of supported Ubuntu flavours by running

# sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r list

While using Developer Mode, you will not be prompted for a passoword while using "sudo" in the Chrome OS terminal. For this, encrypting the chroot with "-e" is highly recommended.

NOTE : For ARM chromebooks it is important that Unity only works on Ubuntu 12.04 . Reason being , only UNITY 2D works due to Xephyr lacking EGL support. It took me a week to figure this our since everything else kept breaking.

Ubuntu can be installed using Unity or Xfce

To install Ubuntu 12.04 with Unity (2D) enabling ecryption the following commands will be used

# sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r precise -t unity -e

To install Ubuntu 12.04/14.04/ using __Xfce enabling encryption the following commands will be used repectively

# sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r precise xfce -e
# sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty xfce -e

You have been able to set up xfce and Unity, this is not the end, you can install gnome(GNOME Shell), cinnamon, kde,lxde

The commands initiated will start the download and installation process on your chromebook. On completion, you will be expected to enter either a username or a password for your new Ubuntu installation

(iii) Start Ubuntu

To start Unity :

1.Enter CTRL + ALT + T to enter Chrome OS Terminal 2.type "shell"

# sudo startunity


To start Xfce : 1.Enter CTRL + ALT + T to enter Chrome OS Terminal 2.type "shell"

# sudo startxfce4

You can now switch in between Chrome OS and Ubuntu:

ARM-based Chromebooks
Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Back
Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Forward
x86-Based Chromebooks
Ctrl + Alt + Back
Ctrl + Alt + Forward


Ctrl + Alt + Refresh 

To simply exit Ubuntu Desktop , select Logout

I will next on write a post on what to do after installing Ubuntu on your Chrombook

This entry was tagged as ChromeBook Ubuntu ChromeOS Hardware

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