In my last post I showed how it’s possible to run IGEL OS on a Chromebook by booting the device from an IGEL UD Pocket boot device. While this is great to run IGEL OS on a Chromebook, preserving the original ChromeOS and being able to dual boot based on changing requirements, there might be situations where you would want to convert your Chromebook hardware into a persistent mobile IGEL Thin Client booting from the internal storage of your device. Here is how to get this done.
Chromebooks are designed as secure devices not being able to boot from external USB media by default and only allowing ChromeOS as their operating system. In part I (Running IGEL OS on Chromebooks – The IGEL UD Pocket approach) I showed you how to alter the firmware of your device to allow booting from USB. If we want to replace the installed ChromeOS on the internal storage with IGEL OS and automatically boot into IGEL OS without any user intervention and security prompts, we need to add a couple of additional steps.
As outlined in part I it’s still needed to put your device into Developer Mode, which allows us to install an alternate firmware. Now the difference here is, that we have to completely flash the firmware and replace it with the Full ROM Firmware (Option 3).
Unfortunately you will not be successful because the default firmware of your Chromebook usually is write protected. Note the FW WP: Enabled in red, preventing us to Install/Update Full ROM Firmware, Set Boot Options (GBB Flags) , Set Hardware ID (HWID) as well as Remove and Restore ChromeOS Bitmaps.
Depending on your Chromebook brand and model there are different write protection method used by the vendors. Most of them requiring you to open your Chromebook and tinkering with screws, jumpers or switches on the mainboard. In my case Acer is using a screw to write protect the firmware on the device. To find the write protection screw, jumper or switch you might want to have a look at https://mrchromebox.tech/#devices.
After removing this screw the firmware will become writeable and we can flash it with the ChromeOS Firmware Utility.
Be careful and know what you’re doing. If something goes south you might brick your device! Obviously those steps will break your warranty and you’re doing it at your own risk!
If everything works as it’s supposed to, you will end up with an alternate firmware on your Chromebook allowing you to boot from USB without any warnings. This is what we need to boot the device from USB and install IGEL OS to the internal storage of your device.
Press ESC for Boot Options/Settings and you will be able to select your USB boot media.
Go to the Boot Menu and select your USB media to boot from. In our case we need to prepare a USB media with the IGEL OS Creator to install the IGEL OS to the internal storage of the Chromebook.
To prepare the IGEL OSC media, download the OSC zip file from the IGEL website (at the time of writing this, the latest version was OSC_11.03.500.zip). Extract the zip file, we need the ISO file from the archive. To burn this ISO to a USB media I usually use a great free tool called Rufus (available from rufus.ie).
Make sure to use the DD feature of Rufus to create your boot media, else you won’t be able to boot from your USB stick.
From here it’s what you know already. Just boot your Chromebook from the IGEL OS Creator USB media and install IGEL OS to the internal storage of your Chromebook.
That’s it – enjoy the probably cheapest but still quite performant mobile thin client, running IGEL OS!