As I wrote two years ago, I started by replacing ChromeOS with HugeGreenBug's port of Ubuntu 14.04. This gave me almost exactly the UI I was then running on my desktop, so I was happy with one exception:
I'm still not used to the much bigger touch pad, and keep accidentally moving the cursor by touching the touch pad with the balls of my thumbs.This turned out to be a permanent irritation (but see below for what I should have done to fix it). Although the combination of the C720 and Ubuntu 14.04 gave sterling service for a long time, I started noticing an occasional crash. One of them was a very spectacular snow crash, which caused me to suspect a hardware problem. It was a day and a half before a trip, so I resorted again to Amazon's same-day delivery for a second C720. By the time it arrived all seemed well again with the first one, so I left with it and had no problem on the trip.
Now I had two C720s, so I could experiment with alternate Linux ports. I installed GalliumOS on the second one, and worked with it for a while. It was totally crash-free, being based on Xubuntu 16.04 was significantly more up-to-date, and it was certainly lean-and-mean. Derrick Diener's GalliumOS: The Linux Distro Specially Designed for Chromebook is a good review of GalliumOS.
But I just couldn't come to terms with the XFCE desktop and the way the touchpad had been configured to mimic the ChromeOS touchpad. I'd traded one irritation for two. Then I found Mark Solters' Ubuntu 16.04 on the Google Pixel 2, which reported:
I hit upon trying Linux Mint 18 “Sarah”, currently beta. This version of Mint is 16.04 based, and the installer boots on the Pixel 2!So I downloaded Linux Mint 18.1 "Serena" - Cinnamon (64-bit), wrote the .iso to a USB drive, popped it into the first C720 and powered up. The Mint live system came right up! I played with it for a while. Everything seemed to work, and the Cinnamon UI was a lot more to my taste than XFCE. Worth a try. After backing up my files from 14.04, I double-clicked on "Install Linux Mint".
After you answer the questions about keyboard and time zone and so on, the install starts with a worrisome long pause with the spinning cursor, but then things proceed normally with a progress bar. After it finished and I rebooted, I had a default Linux Mint system with 19GB of free space.
My next step was to connect to my WiFi network and
which updated 12 packages. I have no travel for the next month and a working if slightly irritating environment on C720 #2, so I can take the opportunity to clean things up and customize a nice fresh environment on C720 #1. For the programming environment I needed:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
- git - the LOCKSS Program is converging on gitlab.com and gitlab CE.
- emacs - which I still use for programming although I also use vi.
- The JDK, ant, libxml2-utils and junit - needed to build the LOCKSS software.
- TeX Live- still my favorite environment for writing papers.
- KeePassX - everyone should use a password safe.
- zoom.us - a program committee I'm on uses this for distributed meetings, it works really well.
Then I closed the lid, had a cup of tea, and opened the lid again. Things seemed to be working but, as I quickly discovered there was a problem. It turns out that the Mint kernel shows symptoms that appeared on Chromebook Linux wikis back in 2014:
- Suspend/resume works the first time, but the next time the screen locks but the processor keeps running indefinitely. Shutdown behaves similarly.
- And after a resume
/var/log/kern.logis continually spammed with messages from
resume error -19.
- C720 #2 with a working kernel and a userland I didn't like.
- C720 #1 with a broken kernel and a userland I liked.
Stage 1 was to get the GalliumOS fixes relevant to the suspend/resume issue into the Mint userland:
- Check out the CalliumOS config files for Haswell by:
git clone https://github.com/GalliumOS/galliumos-haswell
- Copy each of the files into its appropriate place.
- Create a file
/etc/apt/sources.list.d/additional-repositories.listcontaining the line:
deb http://apt.galliumos.org/ xenon main
- Copy the file
/etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/galliumos.gpgfrom C720 #2 to C720 #1.
- Run synaptic, reload, search for
linux-image-galliumos, mark it for installation, apply.
- Set the grub bootloader to display its menu by default so that if something goes wrong you can boot the Mint kernel using the "advanced options" menu item. Edit /etc/default/grub to read:
#GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0 GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT_QUIET=false GRUB_TIMEOUT=15
- Run update-grub to make the changes take effect.
- Reboot, and the system comes up:
$ uname -r 4.7.2-galliumos $
Three years ago redditor SuccessInCircuit posted List of fixes for Xubuntu 13.10 on the Acer C720. Some of these fixes still seem to be relevant:
- GalliumOS follows SuccessInCircuit's advice to optimize for the C720s SSD. So I edited the root file system entry in
/dev/mapper/mint--vg-root / ext4 discard,relatime,errors=remount-ro 0 1
- I find it necessary to disable the touchpad while typing. SuccessInCircuit says to do this with
syndaemon, but there is a better way for Ubuntu 16.04, installing a touchpad control applet in the tray:
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/atareao $ sudo apt-get update $ sudo apt-get install touchpad-indicator
- Brave souls have upgraded the M.2 SSD, reinstalled ChromeOS, then installed Linux, but I'm not yet up for that despite the lack of space.