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How to install Remix OS on the ASUS C200M Chromebook

Written by Alain Sanguinetti no comments
Remix OS(http://www.jide.com/en/remixos-for-pc) is awesome, Chromebooks(http://www.google.com/chromebook/) are awesome, so why can't we just combine the two and add awesomeness on top of awesomeness ? Turns out we can, and it's worth every penny of it !

Be careful: you can brick your device (as I did)

Once SeaBIOS is installed, trying to go to recovery mode will brick your device forever.

What you need :

  • A USB key, the same size as the eMMC of your chromebook (maybe smaller works as well, I don't know, if think it does)
  • A second USB stick with a bootable live distribution of GNU/Linux, any will do, as long as you can boot it on your Chromebook
  • A Chromebook, I will talk about the ASUS C200M because this is what I have, but it should be suitable to most.
  • A computer with a GNU/Linux system on it. Because GNU/Linux rules.
  • The latest RemixOS iso. Find it here: http://www.jide.com/en/remixos-for-pc#downloadNow

Now with all that, the first thing will be to allow USB boot on our computer, then we will write the ISO to the USB stick, gentoo style, then we will boot up the RemixOS stick to try, then copy the contents to the Chromebook internal drive, then boot the Chromebook, then modify the bootloader.

This will erase all data from the chromebook and you won't be able to boot ChromeOS anymore.

First step to awesomeness

The first thing is to have a Chromebook which is able to boot on USB.

I used the information from the following site:

  1. http://www.davebennett.tech/enable-developer-mode-on-chromebook/ This page is self sufficient so I will not comment.
  2. For my Chromebook, which does not support USB booting, I had to do the following : https://johnlewis.ie/custom-chromebook-firmware/rom-download/. I safely ran the script and it did allow USB booting on my Chromebook, but this removes support for ChromeOS in my case, because it modifies the BOOT_STUB.
  3. Most important, I tipped John Lewis for his amazing work and to support future developments. I encourage you to do the same, if his script is useful to you.

This is it for the first part. Quite easy actually once I realised that I had to modify the BIOS of my Chromebook to boot from USB.

Second step toward awesomenessness : installing RemixOS using GNU/Linux commands.

The second step, is to install RemixOS on your USB stick. If you disgustingly run that bloatware call MS Windows, then you can run the installer that is shipped with the ISO, but I don't know if it works actually. I will explain to the fantastic people running only GNU/Linux software how to install the ISO properly on the USB stick.

The first thing is, don't use DD to write the ISO to your drive !

The second thing is read this info from the people at Gentoo: https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/LiveUSB/Guide.

We are going to do nearly the same thing.

So, in order:

  1. Format your USB stick, which will erase all data of course, with a FAT32 (maybe ext3 or ext4 works, I don't know) partition, anysize you want, I used the whole disk as far as I am concerned, use MBR style partition table. Don't forget to make it bootable.
  2. Mount your fresh new partition to /mnt/usb/, it should be something like "mkdir -p /mnt/usb/syslinux; mount -t vfat /dev/sdXX /mnt/usb", where XX are the identifier of your USB stick.
  3. Then, install syslinux to your USB stick. Depending on your GNU/Linux flavour, this can be quite different. I use ArchLinux so I use the information from their extraordinary well written wiki https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Syslinux#Manual_install. The difference was that I had mounted my usb stick partition to /mnt/usb, as in the Gentoo wiki. So, now you should have installed it in /mnt/usb/syslinux. Hourray.
  4. Now, mount the RemixOS iso, as instructed in the Gentoo page.
  5. Now, copy everything to the USB stick, as instructed in the wiki
  6. But now, do not move the isolinux stuff. Don't "mv -r /mnt/usb/isolinux/*" etc
  7. Do copy the isolinux.cfg from the isolinux folder to the syslinux folder and rename it to syslinux.cfg. Which is done: "mv /mnt/usb/isolinux/isolinux.cfg /mnt/usb/syslinux/syslinux.cfg".
  8. Now, crash your computer, run "rm -rf /*". I am joking, do not run this command !!!
  9. Instead just practice your command-fu by running "rm -rf /mnt/usb/isolinux/"
  10. At this point you can edit the syslinux.cfg to remove the "quiet" keyword if you want fancy geeky lines at bootup
  11. That's it, you should be able to boot it. Try and if it does not work, then, try to fix it: make sure syslinux is installed, the key is bootable, etc

This is the right time to check if it boots fine on your Chromebook using the Guest mode for example.

The dual USB sticks into the Chromebook part

This part is quite simple in fact: you just boot your chromebook using the Linux key, then you plug in your remix OS key, and you use dd to copy everything from your usb key to the internal drive of your Chromebook.

  1. Format your internal drive, make it the same file system as your key, and MBR style also.
  2. Then "dd if=/dev/sdX of=/dev/mmcblk0". Where X is the correct identifier of the USB stick with RemixOS on it and mmcblk0 is the identifier of your internal flash drive.
  3. "sudo reboot"
  4. Remove all the USB sticks and your computer should boot to RemixOS

The fun part, nearly the last part.

So, boot RemixOS and choose resident mode. It should perform some magic tricks and then boots properly, ask you for language, keyboard, etc. Do it once and only once, because otherwise you will be performing the same thing over and over.

The neat trick now is to boot up again on the Linux USB stick and to mount the mmcblk0p1 partition, and to modify the syslinux.cfg file. What you want to do is to write "DATA=/data.img" instead of "DATA= CREATE_DATA_IMG=1". And then, this is it.

Reboot to RemixOS resident mode, it should be really faster and write something like "upgrading" during bootup.

The last part

Have fun! I suggest you go to "f-droid.org", install the package manager, install Aurora (firefox developer edition), remove the back button (settings, experimental features), install VLC, etc etc etc.

Leave your ideas below on what to install! You can also link to my article if it was useful, it helps me with personal branding.

Remix OS on a chromebook

Rendez-vous sur la page "à propos" pour plus d'informations à mon sujet.

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