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Old 12-23-2013, 03:12 AM
Nick
 
Default Installing Debian On Chromebook Pixel

Hi folks,

I just created a wiki page explaining how to set up the Chromebook
Pixel on Debian. It'd be great if someone could take a look and
check that it's sane and good. I've been using Debian on this laptop
for a while now, and it works very well indeed.

https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/ChromebookPixel

Thanks,

Nick


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Old 12-23-2013, 03:15 AM
Nick
 
Default Installing Debian On Chromebook Pixel

Hi folks,

I just created a wiki page explaining how to set up the Chromebook
Pixel on Debian. It'd be great if someone could take a look and
check that it's sane and good. I've been using Debian on this laptop
for a while now, and it works very well indeed.

https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/ChromebookPixel

Thanks,

Nick


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Old 12-23-2013, 05:19 PM
Bob Proulx
 
Default Installing Debian On Chromebook Pixel

Nick wrote:
> I just created a wiki page explaining how to set up the Chromebook
> Pixel on Debian. It'd be great if someone could take a look and
> check that it's sane and good. I've been using Debian on this laptop
> for a while now, and it works very well indeed.
>
> https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/ChromebookPixel

I don't have a Chromebook. Therefore I don't consider myself well
versed in the subject. I can't test it out. But I have written
laptop pages for Debian before though so have some experience with
that end. Since no one else answered I wanted to give feedback.

I read through the wiki page you created and I am impressed. I found
it covered all of the information I could think of covering. It
provided good references to the issues. Thank you for making all of
that great information available. Good job!

It both motivated me that I should get an ARM laptop and terrified me
due to the battery loss dev-mode issue. I would like to ask about
that issue. Have you experienced a flat battery yourself and had to
go through the recovery process?

The posting by Bill Richardson said that the Chromebook 1) was not
bricked but needed ChromeOS recovery and 2) that dev-mode was stored
in "battery-backed CMOS". But battery-backed CMOS should survive a
main battery used to zero. Those are all new enough that a CMOS
battery shouldn't be dead year. Therefore a main battery used to zero
shouldn't seem to brick the unit. Is that not true on the Chromebook?

Bob
 
Old 12-23-2013, 11:27 PM
Nick
 
Default Installing Debian On Chromebook Pixel

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your feedback. Some responses inline.

Quoth Bob Proulx:
> I don't have a Chromebook. Therefore I don't consider myself well
> versed in the subject. I can't test it out. But I have written
> laptop pages for Debian before though so have some experience with
> that end. Since no one else answered I wanted to give feedback.
>
> I read through the wiki page you created and I am impressed. I found
> it covered all of the information I could think of covering. It
> provided good references to the issues. Thank you for making all of
> that great information available. Good job!

Great, glad you think so, thanks! I wasn't sure about linking to the
external guide for installing Debian, but it's so clear I thought it
was best.

> It both motivated me that I should get an ARM laptop

So firstly, the Chromebook Pixel isn't an ARM. Some other
Chromebooks are, but this one is x86_64. The exciting things about
this laptop for me are the screen primarily, and also the freeness
of the firmware [2] (though I lack the expertise to take advantage
of that, which is a pity as there are some changes I'd ideally
like).

> and terrified me
> due to the battery loss dev-mode issue. I would like to ask about
> that issue. Have you experienced a flat battery yourself and had to
> go through the recovery process?
>
> The posting by Bill Richardson said that the Chromebook 1) was not
> bricked but needed ChromeOS recovery and 2) that dev-mode was stored
> in "battery-backed CMOS". But battery-backed CMOS should survive a
> main battery used to zero. Those are all new enough that a CMOS
> battery shouldn't be dead year. Therefore a main battery used to zero
> shouldn't seem to brick the unit. Is that not true on the Chromebook?

The battery loss thing scares me too. It hasn't happened to me,
despite the battery completely running out on me quite a few times
(that was before I learned about the potential danger). All I have
to go on is the post I linked, plus a couple more [0] [1].

I read "battery-backed CMOS" as meaning the CMOS settings were
backed by the main battery. But perhaps I'm wrong. Either way
though, it's clearly something that has burned others (and you're
right, I can't imagine a non-defective battery lasting less than a
year), so it's worth being very cautious about.

Probably it's technically possible to flash different firmware onto
the thing, and Google have been fantastic about releasing firmware
code [2], so it may be fixable. But it's beyond my resources to fix
it, sadly.

Nick

0. https://plus.google.com/111049168280159033135/posts/4nkSEmGoVF4
1. https://plus.google.com/117057264318218846563/posts/hnVnjpF53zY
2. https://lwn.net/Articles/537791/


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Old 12-25-2013, 06:43 AM
Bob Proulx
 
Default Installing Debian On Chromebook Pixel

Nick wrote:
> > It both motivated me that I should get an ARM laptop
>
> So firstly, the Chromebook Pixel isn't an ARM. Some other
> Chromebooks are, but this one is x86_64.

Oh! Sorry. I had thought all of the Chromebooks were ARMs. Knowing
that it is and amd64 architecture isn't quite as exciting. :-)

> The exciting things about this laptop for me are the screen
> primarily,

Wow. 2560 x 1700 at 239 PPI touchscreen is quite impressive! I can
see the attraction. Even though it is widescreen it has some vertical
pixels.

> and also the freeness of the firmware [2] (though I lack the
> expertise to take advantage of that, which is a pity as there are
> some changes I'd ideally like).

Hmm... It uses the free Coreboot. That is nice too. But only parts
of it are free. Better than nothing to be sure.

> > ... that dev-mode was stored in "battery-backed CMOS". But
> > battery-backed CMOS should survive a main battery used to zero.
> > Those are all new enough that a CMOS battery shouldn't be dead
> > year. Therefore a main battery used to zero shouldn't seem to
> > brick the unit. Is that not true on the Chromebook?
>
> The battery loss thing scares me too. It hasn't happened to me,
> despite the battery completely running out on me quite a few times
> (that was before I learned about the potential danger). All I have
> to go on is the post I linked, plus a couple more [0] [1].
> 0. https://plus.google.com/111049168280159033135/posts/4nkSEmGoVF4

They cheated and didn't provide a battery to back up the CMOS!!?!

> I read "battery-backed CMOS" as meaning the CMOS settings were
> backed by the main battery. But perhaps I'm wrong.

No. You have it right.

Olof Johansson wrote:
> It's caused by the Pixel not having a coin cell battery, so the
> nonvolatile storage that's normally backed up by it is instead backed
> up by the main system battery. For a system that has been sitting and
> completely drained, the contents is lost, and with that the additional
> developer mode options.

But for many years battery backed up CMOS has used a CR2032 or similar
on the motherboard to keep CMOS nonvolatile and to run the hardware
clock. More recent systems use flash which is slow and can wear out
but is non-volatile without power. According to this the Chromebook
Pixel has neither. So if you truly lose main battery power then you
really lose everything.

> Either way though, it's clearly something that has burned others
> (and you're right, I can't imagine a non-defective battery lasting
> less than a year), so it's worth being very cautious about.

Not present. Wow. I can't believe they designed it without any
completely non-volatile storage of any kind. Although the mention the
TPM and it being slow to access. I would take slow over a full system
wipe any day. Would make me want to open the box up and find some
place to tuck a CR2032 into it somewhere and wire the power up to
whatever it uses for CMOS ram.

> Probably it's technically possible to flash different firmware onto
> the thing, and Google have been fantastic about releasing firmware
> code [2], so it may be fixable. But it's beyond my resources to fix
> it, sadly.

I read this:

Bill Richardson wrote:
> We may be able to fix that in future Chromebooks, but changing the
> verified boot security features generally requires a change to the
> read-only BIOS, which isn't possible with an update.

And so I think the machine can't be updated. In the old days we would
pop out the ROMs and replace them. I doubt that is possible here but
that is the type of thing that seems to be needed.

The machine has an SD card slot. The main storage is only 32G. I
think I would buy a 32G SD card and install it in the slot full time.
Use the internal storage just as a shim to boot over to a 32G SD card.
Then you would be safe.

Bob
 
Old 12-30-2013, 01:12 AM
Nick
 
Default Installing Debian On Chromebook Pixel

Quoth Bob Proulx:
> Wow. 2560 x 1700 at 239 PPI touchscreen is quite impressive! I can
> see the attraction. Even though it is widescreen it has some vertical
> pixels.

Yeah, I dislike widescreen as an aspect ratio a lot, and the 3:2
ratio suits me well. And the high DPI makes for some very pleasingly
crisp text. Mmmm.

> They cheated and didn't provide a battery to back up the CMOS!!?!
>
> > I read "battery-backed CMOS" as meaning the CMOS settings were
> > backed by the main battery. But perhaps I'm wrong.
>
> No. You have it right.

Thanks for rereading the links for me and confirming that.

> Not present. Wow. I can't believe they designed it without any
> completely non-volatile storage of any kind.

It is pretty bad, isn't it? I suppose it's just something they
overlooked, given that it would never be noticed with their primary
usecase (user boots Google signed operating system).

> Would make me want to open the box up and find some
> place to tuck a CR2032 into it somewhere and wire the power up to
> whatever it uses for CMOS ram.

That'd be a nice idea. Though opening the box up and digging around
for the CMOS ram bit would be non-trivial, not to mention (I
imagine) actually finding space in the case.

I'm taking it as an extra prompt to ensure my backups are regular
and complete. I like to think of the company I read about quite
recently who have bots designed specifically to cause certain parts
of their infrastructure to fail at random, to ensure that their
failover systems all work reliably (I forget the company or where to
find the reference, unfortunately). I'm just going to pretend that
Google created this bug deliberately to encourage me to get my
backup procedures completely solid

> The machine has an SD card slot. The main storage is only 32G. I
> think I would buy a 32G SD card and install it in the slot full time.
> Use the internal storage just as a shim to boot over to a 32G SD card.
> Then you would be safe.

At present the SD card mounting doesn't survive suspend properly
(needs to be umounted then mounted), so I'm not sure that this would
work. But it could be my specific kernel (well, the 3.10 series), or
something to do with me just calling pm-suspend straight, rather
than from a desktop environment, I don't know. Any thoughts as to
that? Should I document that (and the workaround I added to
/etc/pm/sleep.d) in the wiki page, do you think?

As I say, my solution is just backup lots and trust in my script
that shuts the computer down if the battery is below 10%. Not ideal,
but good enough.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Nick


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Old 12-30-2013, 03:12 AM
Celejar
 
Default Installing Debian On Chromebook Pixel

On Mon, 30 Dec 2013 02:12:39 +0000
Nick <debian-laptop@njw.me.uk> wrote:

...

> and complete. I like to think of the company I read about quite
> recently who have bots designed specifically to cause certain parts
> of their infrastructure to fail at random, to ensure that their
> failover systems all work reliably (I forget the company or where to
> find the reference, unfortunately). I'm just going to pretend that

You're talking about fault injection:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fault_injection
https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/fault-injection/fault-injection.txt

Celejar


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