How to get ChrUbuntu and Crouton working together at the same time on a Chromebook

So, lately I’ve been doing checks on both ChrUbuntu AND crouton installations, and had to figure out how to have them both work together. So, here is the step-by-step, though I send you to some other locations to get the full installation instructions for those two.

1) Save anything you need to have backed up and set your Chromebook to the Developer mode. See here for how for your device: http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/developer-information-for-chrome-os-devices — this is going to wipe your drive clean as a whistle, so back everything up that is in your Downloads folder that you may need to keep!!!

2) I recommend you switch to the Chrome Beta Channel for a saucy Unity installation and also currently for everything else. This is to obtain the more recent kernels for better video driver support, among other things. Go into Settings, click Help on the left sidebar, then click “More info” and then the “Change Channel” button. This performs a powerwash, which won’t matter on a unit freshly placed into developer mode. Note: Powerwashes clear out old Crouton chroots entirely.

3) Install ChrUbuntu first! Go to http://chromeos-cr48.blogspot.com/2013/05/chrubuntu-one-script-to-rule-them-all_31.html and follow all the instructions there, all the way to the end. (Lots of folks get it installed and forget to read the part at the end showing how to switch between the two systems from ChrUbuntu to Chromeos and back again.)

I used the following for a c710 which also works with any ARM units:
(See this page http://chromeos-cr48.blogspot.com/2013/10/chrubuntu-for-new-chromebooks-now-with.html for the script for the Chromebook Pixel and the newer Haswell-based Chromebooks like the Acer C720 and HP Chromebook 14. )

Go with the speedy XFCE environment in raring (stable in Chrome Beta channel):

curl -L -O http://goo.gl/s9ryd;sudo bash s9ryd xubuntu-desktop 13.04

or go with the beautiful Unity environment in saucy, assuming you used the Chrome Beta channel again:

curl -L -O http://goo.gl/s9ryd;sudo bash s9ryd default latest

I will tell you that if the physical security of your data is very important to you, that ChrUbuntu is the better way to go as your permanent installation. Even with a Powerwash or especially if someone hits your spacebar and exits developer mode, a ChrUbuntu installation with its data intact is still there on its partition waiting for you to return to Developer mode again. Crouton installs are totally and completely wiped. If you save everything to the cloud diligently, this will not matter to you perhaps. But I lost a 2 hour interview recording done in Audacity in a crouton installation due to someone hitting that spacebar! 

4) Install Crouton Next! If you changed to the Chrome Dev channel earlier (but don’t till they fix the bugs – use the Beta channel!), change to the Chrome Beta Channel for Crouton installations. Don’t worry – the ChrUbuntu installation already took the cue from your channel setting earlier and installed its own copy of the kernel you selected. That doesn’t get changed by this move.

Follow the instructions here: https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton/blob/master/README.md

or see this article at my website: http://terrybritton.com/copy-and-paste-crouton-linux-on-chromebook-commands/

I highly recommend XFCE – Crouton FLIES with this. Otherwise, KDE or Unity both work with the Chrome Beta Channel kernel in raring and saucy.

sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t chrome,xfce -r saucy -n saucy

That puts your chroot into a folder named saucy, so it doesn’t get the default name of precise, which would be confusing! Start with:

sudo startxfce4


sudo startxfce4 -n saucy

5) So, now you have two installations, but the crouton installation turns off the developer mode needed to get back to your ChrUbuntu installation. So, use CTRL-ALT-F2 to get back into the Chronos shell, and type in WITHOUT logging in as chronos:

chromeos-firmwareupdate --mode=todev

(that’s two dashes before mode)

That’s it!

Here are the switch codes to go between ChrUbuntu and ChromeOS again:
To ChrUbuntu:

sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 5 -S 1 /dev/sda;sudo reboot

To ChromeOS:

sudo cgpt add -i 6 -P 5 -S 0 /dev/sda;sudo reboot

See the associated post,

Create Shortcut Aliases to Easily Switch Between Chrome OS and ChrUbuntu Linux

to make life easier for yourself!

6 responses to “How to get ChrUbuntu and Crouton working together at the same time on a Chromebook”

  1. Terry I LOVE your site, and your guides! It’s the best place to follow tutorials on. You’re great with showing sources also, which is useful.

    But I want to know, how will I install crouton and chrubuntu on a single usn 3.0 flash drive?
    Which commands will be different when installing them?
    I see that in your guide, this is for installation on the SSD itself.
    Would you recommend using a USB flash drive to install them both, knowing that the flash drive may be faulty and die someday?

  2. Ok I’m back with my results of installing this to a USB flash drive.
    The final result: Failure

    The process took over an hour to complete, I kinda felt bad for my new flash drive, going through to many writes.
    After it finished, I pressed ctrl U and my Chromebook just beeps and does nothing. This seems like a common problem. Not sure if this is fixable.
    I inserted my USB flash drive into my PC to see what partitions were created.
    What it did was hog up everything on my flash drive. It took all 29 GB and made it’s own EXT4 partition, leaving me with no room for Crouton.
    So with that, I’m gonna avoid Chrubuntu for now and just use Crouton as my source to use programs alongside ChromeOS. I’ll probably buy an SD card in the future for Chrubuntu.

    This is the command I used to install Chrubuntu:
    curl -L -O http://goo.gl/s9ryd;sudo bash s9ryd default latest /dev/sdb

    It was flawless during installation, but took long. Mainly because my internet is very slow.

    • Oh hell, that’s too bad. I had hoped that setting the number to a lower number when it asks would limit the amount of space it took on the USB drive, but apparently that only applies to partitioning an SSD or hard drive??

      It didn’t destroy the USB stick, I hope!!!

      The reason I’m using Chrubuntu instead is that someone (a guest) opened my computer with Crouton running and hit the space bar, wiping my drive and 4 hours of unrecoverable interview content. Never again. (Audio interview recordings, much too large to drop into the cloud…)

      Chrubuntu can survive the reset – you simply go back into Developer mode and use the cgpt instructions into the chronos terminal.

      I would not use latest, though – that gets 13.10 which is acting very odd lately.


  3. It didn’t ask me about allocating space from the start, so it just took the entire drive for itself. I heard that SD cards class 10 work well. I would dedicate one of those to a chromebook. The entire SD will be EXT4 though, so an 8 GB SD would be a good choice.
    Let’s see what you can learn from your experiences with a flash drive. Maybe Xubuntu works better. I chose Unity

  4. I installed it on a CR-48 and did NOT have to do the intiial setup, the user accounts were retained.The only issue I’ve got is that the buttons for my X-Notifier, Adblock, and Google Voice always appear as if they are depressed. It’s kind of annoying but so far stability is excellent and everything is 100% functional.

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