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Hackers Dual-Boot Chrome OS With Ubuntu Linux on CR-48 148

Posted by timothy
from the this-sounds-delicious dept.
jbrodkin writes "Google's Chrome OS makes Web surfing an incredibly pleasant and secure experience, but most of the knocks against it relate to what it can't do — namely, nearly everything traditional desktop operating systems like Windows, Mac and Linux can. The easiest solution might be dual-booting, allowing users to choose either Chrome OS or a Linux distro at startup. Google's Chromium project site is now hosting instructions for booting Ubuntu Linux alongside Chrome OS. The process is cumbersome but indicates that dual-booting Chrome OS should be possible — and hopefully a bit simpler — once Google releases commercially available netbooks in mid-2011."
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Hackers Dual-Boot Chrome OS With Ubuntu Linux on CR-48

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  • This is hacking now? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:12PM (#34582134)

    Following fairly simple instructions posted on the official chromium site is now hacking?

    • by metrometro (1092237) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:16PM (#34582178)

      Following fairly simple instructions posted on the official chromium site is now hacking?

      If by hacking, you mean adapting a technology to the needs of the users, rather than the stated purposes of the creator, then yes, that's in the finest hacking tradition.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        So I hacked my espresso machine this morning when I made a double shot?

        After all I followed the simple instructions from the people who made it.

    • by Gerzel (240421)

      I wonder why can't you create an OS where only part of it boots up for websurfing like Chrome OS and you can fire up more to get more features?

    • by 2.7182 (819680)
      Newsflash - after the internet came into vogue, hacking has meant to commit "computer" crimes.
    • The buzzword plague strikes again, and cheapens another exclusive geek term :(

  • by cosm (1072588)
    Year of the mainstream Linux derivatives.
  • by Microlith (54737) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:15PM (#34582160)

    The assumption being made here is that any commercially available hardware running ChromeOS will be in any way as open as the Cr-48 is. I suspect it will be far more like the G1/Nexus* hardware vs. every other Android based handset, in that Google provides you an easy out while all of the 3rd parties put extra effort into keeping you inside the box.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      There are other android devices that are like that, but yeah most of the big names attempt some amount of lockin.

  • Wow, really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordLimecat (1103839) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:16PM (#34582172)
    People are being given free ChromeOS laptops for the purpose of testing ChromeOS, and theyre going to throw Ubuntu on there (and thus presumably stop testing ChromeOS)?

    Seems kind of cheap, why dont you just buy your own laptop, or actually TEST the one youve been given?
    • Re:Wow, really? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by metrometro (1092237) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:18PM (#34582196)

      Testing the boundaries of the cage is among the OS tests I care most about. Already, we know it's superior in this respect to, say, an iPad, which isn't dual booting a damn thing.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I think it can dual boot android, or at least it is very close.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Of course the iPad is not a laptop. I'm not certain if there are many UMPCs/keyboard-less tablets that allow you to easily replace the operating system. From what I've seen, those things are seen and marketed as versatile but limited appliances while laptops are marketed as full-fledged portable computers.

        So yeah, it's unsurprising that you can dual-boot this and the iPad not.
      • Having one operating system do everything you need is not less superior than needing two operating systems to accomplish the same task.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Because it shows that, given a sample of users that might actually use a device loaded with ChromeOS, a fair number of people will be geeks and tinkerers who will do things not expected by the vendor. Especially if this is "the future of computing" as so many people blather about, people not interested in being stuck in a tiny box will try to find their way out.

      • by Lennie (16154)

        The silly thing is here, it's a technology preview/beta test/whatever and thus it might not be the same as normal hardware.

      • Im sure they knew this, theyre not dense. It doesnt really help them to say "btw Ubuntu works great on this laptop"; the purpose of demo laptops is to try ChromeOS and find what issues it has, not to rip the OS off and do something completely different.

        I mean if Google had just wanted to give you a laptop to dick around with, they wouldnt have given you one with EFI and a boot loader that needs to be tweaked to run ubuntu.
    • by bem (1977)

      I'd mod you up if I had the points.

      I'm actually using the cr48 for -everything- at home. That's what I agreed to, so that's what I will do.

      My only cheat is to ssh out to read mail. (It was rooted for a while, but I got bored of that... don't really need root to ssh out .. just ctrl-alt-T, and use the ssh in crosh... good enough for mutt.)

    • Most times the act of trying something, to see if it works, has more value than the result itself. In this case though, I agree with you, I'd be too excited to play with the little machine :)

    • by Nyder (754090)

      People are being given free ChromeOS laptops for the purpose of testing ChromeOS, and theyre going to throw Ubuntu on there (and thus presumably stop testing ChromeOS)?

      Seems kind of cheap, why dont you just buy your own laptop, or actually TEST the one youve been given?

      One of the things you agreed on when apply to beta the CR-48 is that you will use it as your main computer.

      I thought that was funny because on my main computer I play Everquest 2, amoungst other video games, and I'm pretty damn sure I won't be able to do that on a CR-48.

    • I can guarantee you that I will have absolutely no interest in "Chrome OS" but would be willing to buy a cheap netbook from Google -- as long as I can put a decent operating system on it. There is nothing wrong with this and it's an important and valuable service to the community when testers check whether alternative operating systems can be installed on the hardware running Google's latest attempt to do take away their users' control over their own data.

  • by markdavis (642305) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:17PM (#34582182)

    >"The easiest solution might be dual-booting"

    How is "dual booting" a solution? If I load Linux on a machine, then I already have access to web surfing under Chrome/Chromium, Firefox, or whatever.... in addition to anything else I want to do. I think if one finds they want to load Linux "dual boot" on a machine running Chrome OS, that makes Chrome OS a "FAIL" because the user really doesn't want to just run a web browser.

    I agree with the other articles- there is no need or demand for "Chrome OS". If you want open, fast, free, flexible, use Linux on the machine. If you want to run lots of commercial software, games, etc, run MS-Windows on the machine. If you want both, run Linux and load MS-Windows in Virtualbox, or dual boot the two. Otherwise, Android seems like the best "solution".

    • by lindseyp (988332)

      Completely agree. I'd mod you up if I had points.

      Who in the world would dual boot a machine just to use a web-browsing-specific OS?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KublaiKhan (522918)
        Because for some usage you may not -need- full functionality, and could benefit from the very-fast boot time and snap resume that the chrome iteration offers.
        • by markdavis (642305)

          Not sure how long it takes to boot ChromeOS. But this Mandriva 2010.1 Linux system is about 10 seconds. Granted, it is not a netbook. But my EEE 1000 netbook boots Unbuntu 10.04 Linux in 18 seconds. Both are pretty darn reasonable for full functionality.

          Otherwise, give me my 4.3" Evo Android phone or perhaps a 10" non-X86 tablet running Android 3.0...

          • The Intel team behind what has become MeeGo Linux made an Eee 900 boot Fedora in five seconds. This took advantage [google.com] of the SSD in the 900, but there are a number [debian-adm...ration.org] of generally-applicable things you can do to speed up boot times; it's as good an excuse as any to compile your own kernel.

            I know everyone secretly wants to compile their own kernel for fun and profit. Chicks dig it.

        • I can see Chrome OS as a field solution where the hardware is cheap enough to be throw away. The fact that in a pinch, a techie could bump it up on Ubuntu to have the extra features at a cost of speed would make it a nice plus. I know people that break a laptop a year because of how they handle it when off the desktop. They can't switch down to netbook or other device because they need the visual real estate of a good sized screen.

        • consumer electronics devices like smartphones are 'always on', except for movie theatres and planes!
          Applying this principle to a new class of Googly iPad-killers, boot times are irrelevant.

      • "Who in the world would dual boot a machine just to use a web-browsing-specific OS?"

        Uhmmm .... that is almost enough to blow my mind. They wouldn't . They would boot into Linux when they wanted to do more than just browse the web and email.

        • by Machtyn (759119)
          To carry the explanation farther... consider boot to full usability speeds. If ChromeOS is ready to use in 8 seconds or less, but Linux takes twice that long, I'll go ChromeOS if my only intention is to browse a few sites.
    • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:57PM (#34582590) Homepage

      "How is "dual booting" a solution?"

      For the same reason that Peter Paul makes Almond Joy and Mounds [coolest-ho...stumes.com], or people dual boot Windows and Linux: Sometimes you feel like a nut [microsoft.com], and sometimes you don't [distrowatch.com] ;-)

    • by greymond (539980)

      I completely agree.

      My laptop runs Fedora right now which is what I use for work, writing and web browsing. I have a partition set aside for Windows because I like to play some PC games, primarily WoW, LOTRO, DDO and STO (mostly WoW, though I write about MMO's in general so I kind of have to check in with them...anyway...)

      With my current setup I fail to see why I would consider ChromeOS as a possible third boot, or for anything really.

      Now, if ChromeOS came out of the box and ran things like OpenOffice, GIMP,

    • by bgarcia (33222)

      I agree with the other articles- there is no need or demand for "Chrome OS".

      You're thinking about Chrome OS the wrong way. Chrome OS allows for very cheap laptops. The cr-48 uses an Atom CPU, but the real beauty will be when ARM ChromeOS machines are sold, booting off a little 8GB flash drive. We're talking about ubiquitous < $200 laptops.

      Yes, the technically competent will prefer to install a complete Linux distro on such a machine, but the average user won't. But the average user WILL buy a "Goo

      • so don't buy a portable without a touchscreen!
        By 2012, expect an avalanche of convertible touchscreen netbooks as MS and OEMs unite against the iPad.

    • by dudpixel (1429789)

      Linux (or win xp) on the 1st generation of netbooks is not fast. chrome os may be able to run on even lower-spec hardware and still acheive decent speeds, thereby providing a net-focused laptop to a lot more people.

      Lets wait and see shall we?

    • Same thing when I think about Linux. I want to play games, so I need Windows. Now, I could use Linux for other things and dual boot to Windows for games, but then I can just use Windows for everything and not need to reboot my computer unless there is some problem. If Linux only has a subset ow functions that Windows has I might as well use Windows.

      Same here - it looks like Chrome OS is just the Chrome browser as an OS. I can just use Chrome on Linux or Windows and get the same result but I would still have

    • by Joe Tie. (567096)

      On one hand, I agree. On the other, there's a legion of mac users who'll insist that they're still using 100% apple when they dual boot into windows to play games.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:17PM (#34582184)

    Google's Chrome OS makes Web surfing an incredibly pleasant and secure experience, but most of the knocks against it relate to what it can't do — namely, nearly everything traditional desktop operating systems like Windows, Mac and Linux can. The easiest solution might be dual-booting, allowing users to choose either Chrome OS or a Linux distro at startup.

    The easiest solution for people who need the power of a full traditional OS but want to be able to have the Chrome experience would be to just boot Ubuntu with the Chrome browser. If you take one desktop and maximize Chrome on it, you can easily toggle back and forth between the regular Ubuntu experience and Chrome.

    Since Chrome OS is essentially Linux stripped down to what is necessary to support the Chrome browser + the Chrome browser, dual-booting Chrome OS and a full Linux distro, while it might be useful in a very small set of circumstances, seems to mostly be the hard way to achieve, well, almost anything you might want to achieve by doing that.

    • by markdavis (642305)

      I totally agree with your posting except for the assumption that the *easiest* solution requires Ubuntu. There are other full Linux distros just as easy (or more) to use/install and just as powerful (or more).

      • I totally agree with your posting except for the assumption that the *easiest* solution requires Ubuntu. There are other full Linux distros just as easy (or more) to use/install and just as powerful (or more).

        Yah, sure, "Ubuntu" in GP really stands for "the most appropriate Linux distribution for the things you need outside of Chrome".

    • by rta (559125)

      A better question even is why dual boot at all (as a user)? Nowadays what I care most about is the documents and tabs I have open.

      I could probably remedy this with some utilities for session saving/restoration... but dual booting is a clunky solution for a user and it's especially unnecessary w/ the rise of virtulisation over the past few years. Want a different OS for some tasks or "just because"? Get another gig of ram and run a VM.

      Getting a new/different OS to run on some hardware is cool, but mult

    • by Lennie (16154) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:46PM (#34582490) Homepage

      The whole idea of ChromeOS is that it is automatically updates OS, with your settings and everything saved 'in the cloud' and the only personal things that are saved locally are cache files (as I understand it, what is locally saved is encrypted and what is replicated to the cloud is just the encrypted data. So there is nothing for anyone else to see. So you need to use your username and passprase to decrypt it). The 'web apps' from the 'app store' are connected to your account.

      If the hardware breaks you just login to an new device and everything should be 'there', ready to use.

      I think that is something else then what Ubuntu is.

      • You're not quite right, though, because for example in my installation of Ubuntu the home directory and everything else needed is backed up automatically by Jungledisk (basically a point and click installation and setup). If my machine fails, I can get a new one, install Ubuntu on it, restore, and that's it.

        Sure, restoring might take a bit longer than logging into the "Google cloud", but in turn my data is encrypted, I have full control over it, and I can always access and work on it no matter whether my In

        • by Lennie (16154)

          I don't mind the idea behind ChromeOS.

          As long as I (and anyone else) can run their own cloud (read: home server or hosted by a provider) where the updates are downloaded from and the data is automatically copied to.

          This is just HTTP upload/download or something similair anyway.

          I already have my own "Firefox Sync"-server (read: a simple password protected HTTPS-webserver with some PHP-code and a sqlite database).

          • by Lennie (16154)

            Ohh, yeah, ChromiumOS is open source by the way. So that doesn't sound like it will use a prorietary format. Just a plain normal encryption method, I would guess.

  • by alvinrod (889928) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:38PM (#34582382)
    I imagine that by the time the final hardware is ready, it's going to be a lot more locked down. There's always been some speculation that Google may subsidize the cost of these devices and make it up on ad revenue. If that's the case, they're not going to want people to supplant ChromeOS in favor of something else.

    If they're unsubsidized, why bother buying a ChromeOS device? Just install ChromeOS on a netbook/notebook that you already have.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by KublaiKhan (522918)
      To give to grandma, so she can have an email appliance just like the one she used to have that hooked up to the TV and the phoneline, back in the late '90s.
    • If they're unsubsidized, why bother buying a ChromeOS device? Just install ChromeOS on a netbook/notebook that you already have.

      Aside from the Chrome OS (branded OS available only with hardware) vs. Chromium OS distinction -- and while this concept may be foreign to some people who use slashdot -- most computer users aren't interesting in installing an operating system other than the one that comes with their computer.

      • by Microlith (54737)

        while this concept may be foreign to some people who use slashdot -- most computer users aren't interesting in installing an operating system other than the one that comes with their computer.

        Using the ignorance of the average user as an excuse to engage in excessive lock down is hardly justification, especially when the lock down takes the perspective of the user being an enemy equal to that of a hostile 3rd party. At best it is justification for strong security defaults, but should always offer an accessi

      • by andyr86 (1942246)
        I think your making the assumption that the majority of users should be locked in due to their knowledge of technology. Neglecting that, IMO, the vast majority want to grow into their technology and have it open up as and when they have the knowledge and confidence.
        • I think your making the assumption that the majority of users should be locked in due to their knowledge of technology.

          I think you need to reread GP, including the quote from GGP included in it that makes clear what it is responding to. I'm not arguing anything about users being locked in, I'm making an argument about why there is value to the average user to having devices with Chrome OS preinstalled, in response to a suggestion that having Chrome OS available to install onto devices that don't come with that OS is enough.

    • I have never heard of this speculation you speak of. I'm sure Google sees the inherent value of not locking hardware / a platform down, as it encourages easy evolution and new technologies.

      If they _do_ lock it down, it would signal the end of the Google as we know them.

    • Assuming Google chooses to subsidize ChromeOS devices, and assuming that ChromeOS devices are capable of running Linux, what fraction of Verizon/AT&T/T-Mobile/Sprint customers is going to supplement/replace ChromeOS with Linux? I can't believe it's going to be a significant number
  • I read it backwards at first. I thought they were making ChromeOS work on machines that already had Ubuntu on them.

    Ah well.

    It's probably not that hard... There are instructions on how to compile it for USB booting and virtual machines. (I got VM to work, but not USB for some reason.) But the VM is horribly slow on my Linux machine.

  • The problem with this is that people will then dual boot Windows (XP, 7) and ChromeOS and will then end up just defaulting to Windows all the time... That is what happens when you give people the option in my experience. Google (or the folks who can hack ChromeOS) should perhaps enable different desktop environments, i.e., log out of ChromeOS and log into gnome. That should be possible right?
  • Of course Google wants you to figure out how to get the dual boot working as well as you can. Then you can post it on the Internet, then they can read how you do it, then they'll figure out how to better lock the system.

    From the instructions, it looks like they think that you can only put Ubuntu over their kernel because they don't support initrd. They want to find out if that is the case before releasing the commerical models. I'm going to guess if you need to use their kernel, from there they can make

  • I think Chrome OS needs to be focused on something that would make it unique and useful... not trying to replace the desktop.
    Chrome OS would make an awesome instant-on boot loader replacing GRUB, LILO, or Windows Boot Loader.
    Surf the web while your OS of choice boots in the background.

    • I think Chrome OS needs to be focused on something that would make it unique and useful... not trying to replace the desktop.
      Chrome OS would make an awesome instant-on boot loader replacing GRUB, LILO, or Windows Boot Loader.

      I think that the number of people for whom that would qualify as either "interesting" or "useful" is much smaller than the number for which Chrome OS with its current focus would meet those descriptions -- but Chromium OS is open source, so feel free to fork it as a bootloader and make your own splash in the market.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:51PM (#34582532)

    Crippleware has its place, and I hope Google sells (other people) a metric shitload of these things so I can get a (used) one for almost nothing after (inevitably) enough people buy them expecting them to be a "regular compyooter".

    Here's an archive of sorts for some niche products of yore and a reminder of the business models they served:

    http://www.linux-hacker.net/cgi-bin/UltraBoard/UltraBoard.pl [linux-hacker.net]

  • Here's an idea: strip out all of Google's big-brother code and make the OS a back-end for a virtual machine that can be started and destructed at will, with a browser window as the front-end. If the OS encapsulates everything that can be used for the purposes of surfing the web, why can't it be instantiated and then started from the same point every time? It could be used as a way to ensure complete privacy.

  • Goes by expressgate on Asus products boots in like 5 seconds and it dual boot linux and windows.

  • by Jaktar (975138) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @08:36PM (#34582926)

    1. Get ChromeOS laptop
    2. Dual Boot Ubuntu
    3. Realize Ubuntu does everything ChromeOS does and more
    4. Never boot into Chrome again
    5. Profit???

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:20PM (#34583240) Homepage Journal

    If a virtualization host can be installed first on the HW, why dual boot? Why not just run both Ubuntu and Chrome OS simultaneously? If you can share the clipboard, "Chrome OS" could be just what's for browsing, and Ubuntu is really your OS for doing more serious (interactive) work on what you find while browsing. Indeed, if the two could share a desktop, it might not even look like two OSes, but rather just one with two personalities.

  • by keeboo (724305) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @10:24PM (#34583634)
    From the installation instructions:
    ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso

    So this CR-48 is just a x86 notebook with a custom firmware. I was expecting something based on ARM instead.
    Meh.
  • I installed Chrome OS Linux (0.9.576 RC) on my old 7-inch EEE 701.

    Not so impressed. I had expected Google to make something really slim and easy, almost only for webbrowsing. Instead, everything just seems to be OpenSuse rebranded as Chrome OS. Even the bootloader says it boots OpenSuse, not Chrome. Audio didn't work out of the box. It forgot my wireless password on reboot.

    Back to Ubuntu 10.10 I think.

  • by John Sokol (109591) on Friday December 17, 2010 @03:05AM (#34584876) Homepage Journal

    Then we could run Ubuntu in a VM under Chrome.

  • I think it's rather telling about a product when it's not even out yet and people are already trying to circumvent it's OS because it doesn't do what's desired...
  • I run Chromium OS on an old Thinkpad X41 running of a tiny micro-SD USB memory stick. Want Chromium OS? Boot with the USB stick in, ready to rock in about 10 seconds. Want Ubuntu? Pull the USB stick, boot normally.
  • by pslam (97660) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @05:59PM (#34610724) Homepage Journal

    This neatly demonstrates what's wrong with Chrome OS: Google forgot the hardware, as usual.

    The fact that you can run Ubuntu on it without any hassle is exactly what's wrong. Chrome OS only makes sense if it: makes the hardware cheaper, makes the battery last longer, and lets you optimize the form factor (as in, more compact).

    It makes sense it's tested on a machine which is way overspec for what they need, but it makes absolutely no sense to demonstrate the platform on it. It should have been something more like: an ARM, a tiny amount of storage (less than they have now), half thickness, half the battery (lower power consumption), and much more compact. This is just a netbook dressed up with a different OS. It should have been a new OS enabling more precisely targeted hardware. That seems to have been lost.

    So I can't see why anyone would buy a device with Chrome OS on it, or convert one to it. If this was on hardware that was significantly cheaper than a netbook/laptop, people would buy into it. But this - an Atom and the associated mess of components with it - is going to be the same as everything else. So nobody will understand why they should buy a netbook that only browses.

    And that's the theme from every reviewer, blogger and journalist: they don't get it. In it's current form, it just doesn't make any sense.

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