Convert Acer C710 Chromebook To Linux Mint 19.3 Mate PC

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bc1x
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Convert Acer C710 Chromebook To Linux Mint 19.3 Mate PC

Post by bc1x »

INTRODUCTION

Practically every time you log into your Chromebook, Google reminds you that it is no longer supported. They want you to buy a new Chromebook. Google is richer than Croesus, therefore you do not feel the need to add to their coffers. Your device continues to work well, but there is a concern about security, due to the lack of updates. The solution is to replace Chrome OS with Linux Mint 19.3 Mate. The Mate (South American beverage, not the British slang for a buddy) version is a middle-of-the-road option; not too skimpy on features, nor too overwhelming with bells & whistles. The model C710-2847 has a 320 GB hard drive, which makes it an ideal candidate for a fully functional PC.

Unlike a Windows device, you can't simply plug in a bootable medium to install Linux Mint. The firmware must be changed first. The Acer C710 does not have a slot on the flash chip for Legacy Boot; therefore it is not possible to install LM alongside Chrome OS, as a dual-boot. Legacy Boot is a safer choice than Full ROM (which enables the replacement of Chrome OS with LM); but with the hardware limitation, there remains only Full ROM. Additional explanation of firmware will be given in the next section.

The transformation is lengthy, requiring your uppermost attention & care. It is unnecessary to have a background in Computer Science to be successful. Just go slowly & follow the instructions precisely.


PREPARATION

I. Firmware

It is vital that you read the pages & understand the contents of the MrChromebox.tech website thoroughly. Faulty understanding of flashing may lead to the inoperability of your Chromebook. MrChrombox has a tutorial on unbricking & an unbricking service; but it would be kinder on your Coronary Arteries, if the flashing is executed correctly from the beginning. Your first task is to replace the Chrome firmware, coreboot & Verified Boot, with Full ROM (UEFI). It is impossible to install LM without replacing the Chrome firmware.

II. Write-Protect Jumper

1) Before you can flash the Full ROM, the write-protect jumper must be disabled. The location of the jumper is sandwiched between the CPU & the cooling fan and found directly above one of the RAM slots. Go to this webpage, scroll down to mid-page, click on the first image for an enlarged view of the jumper location.

2) Remove the battery, press the power button for about 4 seconds to discharge all the electricity; then place both hands on a bare metal surface to get rid of the static electricity, if you don't have an anti-static bracelet.

3) This video, starting at 2:52, shows how to disable the jumper with a little piece of Aluminum foil.

4) Alternatively, MrChromebox's method is to place a drop of solder at the base of the jumper. If you don't have a soldering kit, nor any soldering experience, use the Aluminum foil technique.

III. Linux Mint 19.3 Mate .iso

1) Execute the download & verification in a Windows device, if you are new to LM. Download the 19.3 Mate 64 bit .iso from here.

2) Click the "verify your ISO" link, then the 19.3 green square, lastly the "sha256sum.txt" link. Copy the SHA-256 checksum for 19.3 Mate 64 bit.

3) Install this utility.
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i) Browse for the 19.3 .iso
ii) Uncheck the MD5 & SHA-1 boxes, because you don't need those sums.
iii) Click the "Copy SHA-256" box & wait for the sum to appear.
iv) Paste the SHA-256 sum from the LM website & click the "Verify" box. There will be a confirmatory message if there is a match.

IV. Bootable SD Card

1) Use an 8 GB SD card; because it's less error-prone in Rufus & after firmware flashing, the Tianocore Boot Menu is more likely to detect it.

2) Download Rufus & run this utility on your Windows Desktop with File Explorer, closed.
i) Rufus will be able to detect the SD card.
ii) Browse for the 19.3 .iso by clicking "Select".
iii) Partition scheme: GPT.
iv) Target system: UEFI (non CSM).
v) File system: FAT32.
vi) Click "Start".
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vii) Choose DD image mode & click "OK".
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vii) In the next dialog, click "OK" about deleting existing files on the SD card.
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viii) When completed, the "Ready" progress bar will be 100% green. There will be no "Finished" or "Success" message.


INSTALLATION

I. Developer Mode

In order to to flash the UEFI, it's necessary to boot into Developer Mode, which is less secure & where things can go wrong if you are not careful.

Before entering Developer Mode, backup up all your files & write down your browser add-ons; because they will be deleted after entering Developer Mode. Importing Chrome bookmarks into Firefox is possible, but I am unaware of how to synchronize preferences & add-ons.

If you prefer to use the Chrome browser instead; bookmarks, preferences & extensions will be synchronized.

1) With the power off, while holding down "esc" & the Refresh button (F3) together, press the power button until the screen is lit.

2) At this screen, press ctrl+d to bypass it.
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3) At the "Turn OS Verification Off" screen, press enter. Verified Boot is one of the Chromebook's security features that you no longer need.
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4) At the "OS Verification is Off" screen, press ctrl+d to bypass it.
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5) It will take about 5 minutes to boot into Developer Mode.
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6) Once in Developer Mode, there will be a different background, unlike your personalized image, which had been deleted along with all of your other files. Enable an Ethernet or a Wifi connection. Sign in to your account. If you log out & back in, you will know that you are still in Developer Mode when the "OS Verification is Off" screen appears. Press ctrl+d to bypass it.


II. Flashing

1) Press ctrl+alt+t to open a terminal, type "shell" & press enter.
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2) Open another tab as you would in your browser & navigate to the Firmware Utility Script.

3) From the 3rd paragraph, copy this script:
cd; curl -LO https://mrchromebox.tech/firmware-util.sh && sudo bash firmware-util.sh

4) Return to the crosh tab & paste (ctrl+shift+v) the script after the dollar sign, then press enter.
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5) Choose 3 to install the Full ROM.
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6) In the next dialog, type "y" to continue & then "U" for UEFI.
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7) Answer "Y" to create a .rom backup file, insert a USB flash drive & indicate the number of that drive. Insert only 1 flash drive to avoid confusion.
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8) Remove the .rom backup, when prompted & press enter. Although not specifically shown in the next image, the utility will install a custom coreboot & the Tianocore Boot for Acer C710.
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9) Press enter for the main menu, type "P" to exit the utility & turn off the Chromebook.

If you find this utility to be crucial to your conversion effort, don't forget to donate on the MrChromebox homepage.


III. 19.3 Mate Installation

1) Insert the 19.3 Mate SD card, then power the Chromebook on.

2) At the Tianocore splash screen, press esc to enter the Boot Menu, then select SD card.
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3) At the LM Boot Menu, choose the 4th option, "Check the integrity of the medium". If there is any error, there is no point continuing with the installation. If the integrity check returns no error, press any key, which will return to the LM Boot Menu & choose the first option, "Start LM 19.3".
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4) To correct a defective SD card:
i) Shutdown & remove the SD card.
ii) Open MiniTool Partition Wizard in Windows.
iii) Highlight the SD card partition & click "Delete Partition" in the left sidebar.
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iv) Click "Create Partition".
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v) Change the file system from NTFS to FAT32, determine the partition size & click "OK".
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vi) Click "Apply" & "Yes", then "OK".
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vii) Create another bootable SD card with Rufus, insert it & choose the first option in the LM Boot Menu. Connect to the Internet & attach a mouse.

5) Double click "Install Linux Mint".
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6) Select language & keyboard type.
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7) Install 3rd party software.
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8) Select "Erase disk & install Linux Mint". Allow the application to partition the hard disk automatically. Unless you know how to partition a hard disk, it is best to leave it to GParted.
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9) Indicate your time zone.
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10) Complete the "Who are you?" section.
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10) It will take about 15 minutes more to complete the installation.
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11) Upon completion, click "restart" & remove the SD card. The device should boot automatically into 19.3 Mate.


IV. Post-Installation Tasks

1) The installed libinput driver does not work with the Cypress APA trackpad (Acer C710 touchpad), therefore the synaptics driver must be installed.
i) Install the "xserver-xorg-input-synaptics-hwe-18.04" driver with the Synaptic Package Manager.
ii) To make the synaptics driver the default, construct the "chrome.conf" file with this text:
softdep chromeos-laptop pre: i2c-i801 i2c-dev post: cyapa
iii) Place the file in in the /etc/modprobe.d folder. Ignore the warning. If you heed the warning & do nothing, the touchpad won't work.
iv) Restart 19.3 Mate to put the changes into effect.
v) Fine-tune your Cypress trackpad by going to Menu->Control Center->Mouse, then click the Touchpad tab.

2) When you first log into LM, the Update Manager icon (which looks like a shield) in the System Tray, will have a blue circle with a white "i" in the middle. This means that there are updates to be installed. The green check mark means the Update Manager is up-to-date. Click the icon to open the Update Manager & install about 20 updates. Click "Refresh" until there are no more updates to be installed.
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3) Go to Menu->Control Center->Firewall->Status & turn on the Firewall.
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4) Copy your Chromebook files to your home folder.

5) Right click on the Desktop background, then click "Change Desktop Background". You can choose the pre-installed backgrounds or click "add" to pick one of your own images. To get a better fit of the new background, choose a "Style".
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6) Menu->Control Center->Appearance, change color & style of the window borders & folders.
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7) If you find the Login Screen a bit too minimalistic, you can change it.
i) Make a new folder; in our example, it's named "nature", with this command:
sudo mkdir /usr/share/backgrounds/nature
ii) Go to usr/share/background/cosmos, copy the "background-1.xml" file to the nature folder.
iii) Copy (as superuser) pictures to the nature folder.
iv) Open the Login Window in Control Center.
v) Click the thumbnail image in Background.
vi) Change the path back to background & open the nature folder.
vii) Select a picture & click "Open" on the bottom.
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8) Configure Firefox.
i) To change from the Mint homepage to the FF homepage, type "about:home" in the search bar, then drag the FF icon to the homepage icon.
ii) Click the "hamburger"->Preferences, to set up General, Home, Search, Privacy & Security items.
iii) Click the "hamburger"->Customize, to add items to the Toolbar, add toolbars & themes.
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9) Configure Thunderbird. In the setup dialog, enter your name, email address & password. TB will automatically configure the IMAP & SMTP servers. If you are unable to log in, check the server settings at your Internet Provider's website & manually configure TB.
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10) To pin applications, go to the Panel, Menu->Applications, right click on desired application & click" "add to panel".

11) To change the position of Panel icons, right click the icon to bring up the menu; click "unlock", "move" to re-locate icons, then click "lock".
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12) To autohide Panel, right click on an empty area, click "Properties" & select "autohide".
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13) To increase the transparency of the Panel background, -> "Properties", click "Background" tab & move the slider.
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14) To change the time to a 12 hour format, right click date & time in the System Tray, ->"Preferences" & select the format.
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CONCLUSION

With the metamorphosis of your Chromebook into a 19.3 Mate PC, which is a marvelous feat; you will have the pleasure of exploring all its niftiness.
Now, don't you feel as rich as Croesus? ImageImageImage
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