The HP Chromebook 11 is a thin and light laptop which runs Google’s Chrome OS software. But what if you want to break out of the confines of a browser-based operating system, access a command line terminal, repartition the storage space, or even install an alternate operating system?
Easy. Just enable developer mode.
Every chromebook that’s shipped to date has allowed users to switch to a developer mode which allows you to access settings and features that wouldn’t otherwise be available. The earliest models actually had physical developer switches. More recent chromebooks don’t have an actual switch, but you can enable developer mode by hitting a few keys on the keyboard.
Just hit Esc + Refresh and you’ll reboot to a scary screen that tells you OS verification is disabled. That’s the recovery screen. From there you can reboot into developer mode by pressing Ctrl + D.
Note that doing this will wipe all data from your device. Basically the HP Chromebook 11 will reformat your storage space and set you up with a fresh version of Chrome OS with developer privileges. Once you login with your Google account info, all of your settings, apps, and extensions will be re-downloaded, so there’s not much risk involved, but you will lose any files in your downloads directory, so make sure to back them up if you need them.
Also note that any time you reboot the Chromebook now, you’ll be greeted by the OS verification screen. You can either wait for it to go away or hit Ctrl + D to bypass it and boot into Chrome OS.
Open a terminal
Want to start mucking around once you’re in developer mode? Just hit Ctrl + Alt + T and you can open up a terminal windows. Type “shell” and you can start entering Unix/Linux style commands.
Boot from a USB drive
You can boot your computer from USB drive, but first you’ll need to enable support. Open a terminal window. Type “crossystem dev_boot_usb=1” (without the quotes), and hit enter. Then reboot your device.
Plug in your flash drive, and this time when you see the OS verification menu, hit Ctrl+U to boot from the drive.
This won’t work with any old USB flash drive running Ubuntu or another operating system. You’ll need to have a drive with software that’s prepared to run on this system — but the good news is there’s a much easier way to get Ubuntu up and running by using Crouton to run it in a chroot environment.
Exit Developer mode
With great power comes great responsibility… you can now mess up your device’s disk partitions. Want to remove the temptation and go back to a normal Chrome OS environment?
Just reboot the device, but this time when you see the OS verification screen follow the on-screen instructions, starting with hitting the space bar.
This’ll re-install Chrome OS and remove your developer privileges.