The Asus C200 Chromebook is a $249 laptop with an 11.6 inch display, an Intel Celeron Bay Trail processor, and around 10 hours of battery life. Oh yeah, it also happens to run Google’s browser-based operating system, Chrome OS.

Chrome OS is a fast, secure operating system designed to run web apps, keep your data synchronized across devices, and to let you run some apps and games even when you don’t have an internet connection. But sometimes you might want to do a little more… and you can.

All you have to do is enable developer mode: and that’s just about as easy to do on the Asus C200 as it has been on every other Chromebook or Chromebox released to date. Once developer mode is active, you can fire up a root shell, enable support for booting from USB, install Ubuntu or other operating systems, and do much more.

How to enable developer mode

Developer mode isn’t as secure as the normal Chrome OS environment, which is why it’s not enabled by default. But it takes about 10 minutes to enable developer mode, and for most of that time you don’t have to do anything but wait.

Note that the following process will wipe your data. While your bookmarks, apps, and other data are stored in the cloud, if you have any pictures, videos, or other documents stored on your Chromebook make sure to back them up.

Here’s how to enter developer mode on the Asus C200 Chromebook:

1. Press and hold the Esc and Refresh buttons and then tap the power button.

2. Your device will reboot and you’ll see a scary screen about not having an OS. Hit Ctrl+D when you see it.

3. Hit enter to turn off OS verification.

4. The device will restart and you’ll see a notice that OS Verification is off. Hit Ctrl+D again to proceed.

5. After a 30-second countdown, the device will wipe your data and reboot into Chrome OS. The process takes about 6-7 minutes.

6. Once that’s done, just connect to your WiFi network and login with your username and password. That’s all there is to it!

Note that from now on when you boot your Chromebook, you’ll see the OS verification screen. You can wait for it to go away on its own or hit Ctrl+D to skip past it.

Ever want to exit dev mode and go back to regular mode? Just re-enable OS verification from the boot menu. This will wipe your data again, but the process is much quicker and you’ll be back to normal in no time.

Running Ubuntu using Crouton

Want to add a little Ubuntu to your Chrome OS laptop? You could install it manually… but I find it’s a lot easier to use a script called Crouton which loads Ubuntu in a chroot environment.

Asus C200 Chromebook with Ubuntu

This means that Ubuntu will basically share resources with Chrome OS so that the WiFi, display, and other features should work out of the box with no modifications. It also lets you quickly switch between Chrome and Ubuntu — although I’ve found that the Asus C200 crashes if you try to switch from Ubuntu to Chrome and back again. The safest way to keep that from happening is to simply log out of Ubuntu when you’re done using it.

Here’s how to use Crouton to download and install Ubuntu. Note that the script will install Ubuntu 12.04 by default, but you can modify the commands to download a newer version or update Ubuntu once it’s installed.

1. Download the latest version of the crouton script to your Chromebook.

2. Hit Ctrl+Alt+T and then type “shell” without quotes to enter a shell.

3. Type “sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce” “sudo install -Dt /usr/local/bin -m 755 ~/Downloads/crouton -txfce” without quotes if you want to install Ubuntu 12.04 with the Xfce desktop environment.

4. After a few minutes of watching text scroll by, the script will ask you to enter a username and password. Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go.

5. Enter Ubuntu by typing “sudo startxfce4”

This will load the Ubuntu environment, allowing you to install apps including Firefox, GIMP, LibreOffice, and more.

As mentioned above, the safest way to exit Ubuntu without crashing your system is to log out. This will dump you back into the normal Chrome OS environment.

You can find more options at the crouton page at github, but here are a few ways to modify the command in step 3:

  • Run “sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r list” to see other, newer versions of Ubuntu, Debian, or other operating systems that you could install.
  • Run “sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t list” for a list of desktop environments and other targets

Then you can tweak the command from step 3. For example, here’s the command you would run to install Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr with the LXDE desktop environment:

sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t lxde

Note that the -t list doesn’t just show you desktop environments, but also other targets that you can install, including the XBMC media player, support for Chromebook keyboard special keys, or even the Chrome web browser: so you can run Chrome from within Ubuntu… on a Chromebook.

c200 dev mode

Want to replace Chrome OS with another operating system or partition the storage so that you can create a dual-boot setup?

You can enable legacy boot mode and the ability to boot from a USB drive. I’ve had limited success with this so far, but the steps should be similar to those outlined for the Asus Chromebox desktop at the Chromium website.

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24 replies on “Asus C200 Chromebook: Enabling dev mode, installing Ubuntu”

  1. Hi, could not find any solution online to boot an Asus C200 from a USB drive. Did anyone make some kind of progress on this?

  2. I used this guide to install ubuntu on my Asus C300 but when in crosh typing sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce I get the message:sh: Can’t open /home/chronos/user/Downloads/crouton Do you know what to do to continue and get this working?

    1. you need to type in ‘shell’ then type in the installation command.

    1. you need to bypass it by pressing ctrl+d then follow the instructions from then on

  3. I enabled Devmode and installed Crouton yesterday after getting a C200 and following your guide :-). But instead installed Ubuntu 14.04 (already supported) and LXDE using “sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t lxde” and didn’t have the problems switching between Ubuntu and ChromeOS. BTW using Ctrl-Alt-Back/Forward (instead of also pressing the Shift) to bring up the fullscreen console is a nice way to conceal the Chroot which is running and also not have ChromeOS catching the shortcuts intended for the Chroot (tab autocompletion in a terminal emulator works that way, not when starting from Chrome) 🙂

  4. Any more luck enabling legacy boot mode? I have a C200 and have been unsuccessful so far. Would love to access chrubuntu which is already loaded on mine or load OpenSuse or another…

  5. What’s with you “press” people?

    You can buy an Acer Aspire V5-131 REAL COMPUTER, running Linux, on Amazon for $279.00. 4GB Ram; 320 GB HDD; 11.6″ screen.

    Chromebooks are NOT computers.
    Don’t believe it? Go ahead and buy one. Then try to get some REAL WORK done.

    1. IMO, they are computers but limited in ability since its purpose is to browse the internet. I think it is more of a challenge to install a different operating system on it that makes them appealling to some.

      1. I think you are absolutely correct.
        You are the first commenter I’ve read who hit the nail on the head: “…but limited in ability since its purpose is to browse the internet
        That is THE purpose.
        Don’t buy one and expect printing to be one of those things it can do, since that’s one of the things you DO NOT have to worry about with a real computer.
        You buy a Chromebook? Worry.

        1. I read that one can print from a Chromebook but one has to have a Windows computer to setup the printer as a cloud printer. If one does not need to print items or one can download it to a flash drive to print elsewhere, using a Chromebook may not be a problem. There are those who are installing different operating systems on a Chromebook, which means they could print from it.

    2. I’m using a Chromebook and have a very expensive i7Laptop collecting dust on my Desk as I use the Chromebook for everything!, I can even play Halo on it when on remote desktop to my home desktop!, even if it is your only machine, it still will do 99.9% of anything my regular laptop does!, Real Work? as opposed to Fake work? all these machines are computers! OMG? they just use different operating systems? OS’s… I can even run Ubuntu or Mint on mine and some hackers are trying to get OSX to work on these types of hardware… What is it with people who hate Chrome OS? it is a strange thing as its almost a belief or ideologue “Thingy?” of that of software? it’s sorta when I hear an Apple Fanboy with glazed look on his face kneel down and pray east to the Apple headquarters mecca… such a strange thing we humans do? don’t you think?

    3. Oi. That machine runs Linpus, a Fedora based OS. Hate Fedora, always have, always will. Some users report the “loop” needed to install the OS (yes, it doesn’t actually come with a preinstalled OS, you have to do it. That is a pile of bovine crap.) blocks any other Linux being installed. That is another pile of bovine crap. Debian seems to have been installed by some others, though. You and I both know Debian takes more than a passing knowledge of Linux to configure properly, and sets you back to about 2011 as far as your software choices, unless you want to go all sid.

      A Chromebook is a better deal for an average user, an advanced user such as yourself can then install Ubuntu with Crouton. Best of both worlds. I wouldn’t buy this one though, can’t upgrade the SSD? Third pile of bovine crap. I keep thinking a Chromebook is in my future, but my Dell D620 from 2007 has 4GB of RAM, runs Linux Mint like a champ, and will take any OS I through at it. Except Snow Leopard, couldn’t get that Hackintoshed on here. That’s ok, as OS X is a fourth pile of bovine crap.

        Dave: this comment was NOT directed at or to you. It was meant to be a general comment, letting the general readership know that they have other options. I wasn’t thinking when I chose how to post it.
        PLEASE do not take it personally. Thanks.

        How about the Acer Aspire V5-131-2680.
        For $349.99–less than a lot of Chromebooks these days–you get 4GB upgradeable to 8GB; 500GB HDD; Win7 Home Premium. Install any Linux AND ANY BROWSER alongside Win7, and have a ‘universal machine’. If you really are a glutton for punishment, you can probably even install ChromeOS, too.
        Bluetooth, Ethernet, and HDMI. Non-glossy matte screen. 6.5 hour battery life; Intel 1.6 GHz dual-core Celeron.

        Oh, and I almost forgot: you’ve ALWAYS got ALL your programs and data ON YOUR VERY OWN COMPUTER. You can run anything you’ve installed ANYTIME, and never have to be worried about where your next internet connection will be. YOU CAN EVEN PRINT WITH NO HASSLE! How’s THAT for amazing.
        And get this: you can even run FireFox, or Opera!

        Of course, if BigGoofyGuy’s description fits you, you deserve a Chromebook.

        A Raspberry Pi has too much capability for you.

        1. But you CAN buy the “education model” which comes with 4gb ram and also a 32gb ss drive. It costs about $80 more, but worth it. I got it specifically to make the Linux environment a little less constricting.

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