Chromebook Unlocking / Laptop De-branding
The Chromebooks (Dell Chromebook 11s) are still locked by FUSD. Until they unlock them for us, we have been getting around the problem by reflashing their BIOS chips.
We have USB programmers and adapters necessary to do this. The process is outlined here: https://wiki.mrchromebox.tech/Unbricking
An ongoing project is to make a jig with the laser cutter and pogo pins, so that we can reach the BIOS chip from the front side of the motherboard.
Tested Linux Distributions
These chromebooks only have only 16GB SSD. We also are expecting to give these out to the public so we are trying to find light-weight but also user friendly linux distributions to recommend. A good option is to extend space with a usb drive, but we have been testing just with internal SSD.
So far we have tested
- MX Linux 23 - everything works (including audio) out of box. distribution is ~8GB
- Lubuntu (unknown version...was old) - everything works, including audio out of box.
- PeppermintOS - everything works (including audio) out of box
- debian 12 with LXQT - everything works (including audio) out of the box. 2/3 disk used after install
- Zorin 16.3 - tested, no audio output from speaker
- Alpine - tested, no audio output from speaker
- antiX 22 and 23 beta - lightweight but have not been able to figure out audio out to speakers
- Puppy - also no audio to speakers
- Debian 11 live with XFCE - no audio to speakers
- Arch Linux - audio OK with PipeWire. 4.4GB used including Firefox and LibreOffice
- Pop!_OS - 20Gb mini drive storage requirement (which is greater than chromebooks 16Gb), but runs audio OK from a live USB
- Void Linux with XFCE - no speaker audio
Dell Latitudes E6420
We are going through the Dell Latitudes and updating their firmware to latest version before giving out. As of Sep 10, 2023, half have been updated and are ready to be flashed with Linux and given out.
We are planning an event to try and refresh them/ get some creatives in the greater of omni commons generally in Sudo Room to de-brand these laptops with stickers/vinyl skins. We have some laser-safe vinyl that we can cut with our laser cutter. Most need a good cleaning, and some of their palm wrests are wearing down. We can create a laser template to make a skin over the palm wrest. Cleaning with soap or isopropyl seems to make the problem worse.
- USPIRG’s petition to extend the life of Chromebooks: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc-QGoW0UzE0t0oUsKzM6Xsxft1kHM-d6boyLS0UAGvwagUWA/viewform
- For more background see “Chromebook Churn”: https://pirg.org/edfund/resources/chromebook-churn-report-highlights-problems-of-short-lived-laptops-in-schools/
- And Fixit Clinic's efforts to keep already AUEed Chrombooks in service as general purpose computing devices:https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JSbGXhJFJeABWVOn1wO4M6bPT-gPBLV4oQ85xMyvYtM/edit