The Chromebook Pixel can run Ubuntu, Linux Mint, other distros

Wondering why you might want to spend $1299 or more on a laptop that runs Chrome OS, an operating system based on a web browser? How about because the Chromebook Pixel‘s not limited to just running Chrome OS?

Googler Bill Richardson explains that Google packed a copy of SeaBIOS into the Pixel, making it easier to boot an alternate operating system on this machine than on any other Chromebook released to date.

Update: You can follow our guide for installing Ubuntu, Android, or other operating systems on the Chromebook Pixel. 

Chromebook Pixel running Linux Mint

Richardson post also provides instructions for downloading and installing Linux Mint on the Chromebook Pixel.

Basically all you have to do is enter developer mode on the Chromebook, download the disk image, copy it to an SD card or USB flash drive, and then reboot your system and choose to boot from the removable storage.

The Chromebook Pixel is designed to run Chrome OS, so not all hardware will be supported out of the box by other operating systems. The touchpad doesn’t work in Linux Mint yet, for instance. But Google is contributing upstream patches to the Linux kernel which means that soon you may be able to run any number of Linux-based operating systems on this premium notebook.

While I’m sure Google would prefer if you used Chrome OS on the $1299 notebook, many folks might find a laptop with a 12.85 inch, 2560 x 1700 pixel display, an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB or more of storage to be a bit more useful if it was running an all-purpose operating system like Linux Mint.

Richardson also points out that there’s a way to run Ubuntu Linux and Chrome OS side-by-side using chroot. In other words, both operating systems are installed side-by-side, and you can choose which directory to use as the root directory, thus switching between Chrome OS and Ubuntu.

via Chrome Story

  • The Calm Critic

    Which is why I’m gonna preach this like a broken record; Android + Chrome OS + a full forked upstream Linux source distro forked (or not forked) + complete rebrand = WIN. Especially more so on own branded hardware.

    The Chromebook meanwhile as an initiative to bring QUALITY AND AFFORDABLE cloud computing for the masses, shouldn’t relegate the term affordable down below quality and shouldn’t be designed to just profit ISPs/telcos more than its intended audience. This should be Google’s Chromebook team priority one.

    I mean why spend substantial amount of R&D costs to put this model out and then tell people that they can dual boot it, when there’s easily a motherload of well specced $400-500 systems right now that can deliver straight up single boot choices instead?

    Some googlers are getting their pay grades by getting high on something it seems..

  • Tim

    If everything isn’t working and stable then it’s still not worth $1299.

  • NathanExplosion

    > Wondering why you might want to spend $1299 or more on a laptop that runs Chrome OS, an operating system based on a web browser?

    Let me answer that question for you… Nope.

    The pricing of this device is a joke.

    • Krotow

      Agree. For this price Google should add at least 128 GB SSD onboard.

  • Kyle Platt

    Needs more ram. 8gb finally got my acer chromebook to stop reloading the pages all the time.

    • Krotow

      Jeez, people, what are you watching in your browser? Can’t get more than 2 GB in Chrome/FF on my environment.

      • Kyle Platt

        How much ram does your system have in it? If you only have 4gb then it’s going to limit the amount chrome and ff can use to around 2gb as windows eats 2gb just on its own.

      • Krotow

        4 GB RAM and Linux Mint 14 (64bit, Mate) onboard. System itself takes ~450 MB. Firefox with ~20 open tabs – ~700 MB. Of course, things change for pages with embeeded flash objects and video such as YouTube. Flash can easily take extra 700 MB and more. I dunno, why, but it is clear. And it is true for Windows too.

  • x I’m tc

    What about Windows 8?

    • ConnorL

      Now this would be interesting, a high PPI touchscreen Windows 8 based machine. This is what Windows based machines are missing….high PPI!

      • CyberGusa

        You don’t really need extremely high PPI except for tablets, since you usually won’t be viewing the screen close enough for it to matter for laptops and desktops systems.

        Also, regular desktops operating systems aren’t yet properly optimized for very high PPI and small screen sizes. So it’s not like there aren’t any compromises involved with going to very high resolutions at this point.

        While it’s not like 1080P is exactly low resolution either… Products like the MS Surface Pro, with 10.6″ screen, have a more than adequate 212.77 PPI (anything further than 17 inches would make this retina quality)… versus 239.15 PPI for this Chromebook that just brings that down to 14 inches from the screen for retina…

        In either case, putting your eyes right on top of the screen would ruin the effect… So it’s not like there aren’t still limits and what is considered high is really relative.

        While the same 1080P resolution on a 12.85″ display (same as the Chromebook) would still look retina at anything over 20 inches (171.43 PPI), mind most people use their laptops at over 2 feet from their eyes, and a 13.3″ would just increase that to 21 inches (165.63 PPI)…

        So it’s rather more interesting, IMO, that it offers a more squarish ratio, considering how prevalent wide screen ratios are these days.

      • Penn Taylor

        “most people use their laptops at over 2 feet from their eyes”

        For watching movies, maybe. For real work, the center of my laptop display is between 15 and 20 inches from my eyes, so the pixel density of this Chromebook isn’t complete overkill.

      • CyberGusa

        For watching movies people are usually even further away from the screen… unless watching a really small screen!

        The around two feet is for comfortable typing position!

        Really, you’d need to be either hunched over or have short arms to need to be closer… ergonomically, you shouldn’t be so close to the screen while typing and most people usually aren’t unless in a improvised position or just have poor vision and need to be closer to the screen.

        Remember, this isn’t really that small of a screen at 12.85″! So would be used much like a 13.3″ laptop would…

        While as pointed out, the Pixel’s resolution isn’t really that much significantly better than a 1080P screen of the same size! So the benefit for a laptop user is very small… We’re only talking about a inch or two closer for the retina effect.

        Besides, the graphics on the screen have to be optimized to make full use of it anyway.

        Like when the iPad first switched to a retina display, people had a tough time telling the difference at arms length because the graphics weren’t yet optimized for the resolution and at arms length the difference wasn’t really noticeable for most people.

      • x I’m tc

        It is never overkill. So called “retina display’s” are nowhere near retina. Even from a few feet away, it is still quite easy to tell when one pixel at full brightness is illuminated vs. two neighboring pixels at half brightness. When you can’t tell that, you have retina. Resolution needs to be about 10x what it is now for pixels to stop mattering.

      • x I’m tc

        Seriously. 1080P is still rare, which is ridiculous in a post-retina-MacBook world. 1080P is the bare minimum acceptable resolution on anything with a >10 inch screen. The days of noticing individual pixels should be over.

  • Cynical Bostonian

    Interesting linux machine, but still, no matter how cloud-centric you are, 32gb (base) storage will still be a royal pain in the ass.

    • Krotow

      Not a problem for me. My Linux workspace in work machine currently contains only 25 GB (Mint 14 + work project files + documents). I think, for most users actual work files will not take more, even less. All non-related files can be stored on external disk or network server.

  • Rico

    For and extra $200 I’ll buy a MacBook Pro and run these other OS’s in a VMware Player.

    • John Morris

      The Mac doesn’t have a touchscreen. On the other hand the Mac has a more normal keyboard. Neither have a proper input device for a good Linux experience.

      I mean of course three buttons, as on a Thinkpad with a pointing stick and three buttons, with or without the additional two button + pad.

  • James Arnett

    You should try your pixel running Ubuntu with the Unity UI. I have it on my ARM Chromebook and i prefer the experience to XFCE. I have the how to on the difference’s in install procedures on my website.

    http://chromebookparadise.wordpress.com/category/how-tos/