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Will Fedora work on the new Chromebooks?

asked 2012-10-19 06:50:32 -0600

mattdm gravatar image

Google has announced a new line of ARM-based Chromebooks. I like the form factor and the 1366x768 display and SSD for only $250, but am not so excited about the locked-down Google OS. Will these work with the Fedora ARM secondary arch?

If they will work, how would I go about installing?

If they won't work, what would be needed to fix that?

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answered 2012-10-19 20:45:04 -0600

redpig gravatar image

updated 2012-10-19 20:52:35 -0600

Will these work with the Fedora ARM secondary arch?

I can't answer this part.

If they will work, how would I go about installing?

The first step is changing to developer mode and enabling USB/SD boot to make testing/iteration easy (later you can just install locally if you prefer). Then you'd need to prepare an image with a GPT that is Chrome OS firmware-friendly and use either a Chrome OS kernel image or create your own from your fedora kernel. After that, the kernel can point to your rootfs and away you go. (You could probably shove grub in the kernel partition too but that'd be a good bit more work.)

The nuclear option is to go all out and hack the hardware and put your own uboot on it.

As to Fedora kernel/userland support, I'm not sure if there are still some not-yet-in-mainline kernel patches on nor am I sure the current status of the userspace mali code, so I can only expect there to be some work to make it all run nicely even after getting the disk image to a happy place.

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answered 2017-03-04 17:34:42 -0600

sdgathman gravatar image

As mentioned previously, you have to switch to developer mode to play around - until you have learned enough and are confident enough to overwrite the google firmware.

Fedora 25 has dtb (device tree binary) support for a number of new ARM Chromebooks stored in /boot/dtb-<kernel_version>. The one I am working on (getting to boot fedora) is rk3288-veyron-speedy. I have an SD card (the premium SD cards are basically mini SSDs in performance - perfect for Chromebook formfactor). I created a GPT partition table with 2 ChromeOS kernel partitions and boot,swap,root partitions loaded with the Fedora 25 ARM distribution (copy the filesystems from the distributed DOS formatted image to the corresponding GPT partitions). The kernel must be wrapped with vbutil_kernel and an itb. I created rk3288.its and compiled to rk3288.itb with mkimage.

With nothing in the kernel partitions, Depthcharge (the boot system on new Chromebooks) says "no valid kernel found" (or something to that effect - I forget exactly. With a dummy kernel wrapped with vbutilkernel, it gets a black screen. With the Fedora kernel and itb rapped with vbutilkernel it get a black screen, then a white screen. So it is loading the kernel. Next, to see if I am missing any command line options...

I might also try using the chromeos kernel (current 3.14.0), but that has it's own problems.

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I followed the instructions on for booting the chromeos kernel with a new cmdline. Now it gets a black screen, white screen, flickers a few times, then goes back to black screen. The one glaring thing missing from that wiki or any of my attempts is how the initrd ever gets loaded. Should I append it to vmlinuz before wrapping with vbutil_kernel?

sdgathman gravatar imagesdgathman ( 2017-03-04 18:57:33 -0600 )edit

answered 2012-10-19 10:01:33 -0600

sten gravatar image

Have an upvote, because I'm interested, too. I think the reality is, we won't know how well it works until someone can lay hands on the device. All the devices on the current ARM page boot from an SD card, which you can simply yank out and overwrite with a Fedora image. I don't expect the installation process to be so easy on the Chromebook, but maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised.

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Asked: 2012-10-19 06:50:32 -0600

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Last updated: Oct 19 '12