Fedora 20 on the Acer C720

Freedom from our Web Search Overlords!

NOTE: With the introduction of the 3.17 kernel to Fedora 20 this (November, 2014) month, much of what follows is history. The kernel patches described below are no longer necessary, although some of the configuration (for example to support quirks in the C720’s audio hardware) may be. I’m leaving this up to document the history of getting the C720 running on a current Linux O/S. Thanks to all who helped fill the gaps while the necessary kernel patches were being integrated, and to the kernel maintainers who finally made it happen.

[me@circe ~]$ lsb_release -ir
Distributor ID:	Fedora
Release:	20

Happiness is having a proper operating system on your go-anywhere Chromebook hardware.

Finally put Fedora 20 on my Acer 720-2802 Chromebook last night by following the directions in Fedora 20 sur l’Acer C720P.

Before starting I had prepped the system by putting the laptop into developer mode, and enabling both usb booting and the legacy BIOS. These were made persistent after removing the write-protect screw. The steps followed are covered in earlier posts here as well as in this Arch Wiki article (whose Discussion section once again reminds me of how powerful the wiki format can be).

Yannick’s above cited post to forums.fedora-fr.org is in French, but Google translate does a fair job of rendering the text into English (not perfectly, but passably — my French is now almost nonexistent but it wasn’t too hard to navigate). Translate does lose the formatting of the code in the scripts provided, so it’s best to copy it from the original.

[Yannick has posted Bug No. 1045821 for Fedora 20 on the modules needed to get the touchscreen/touchpad working]

My first try was with the Fedora 20 XFCE Desktop respin. About all I had to do outside the instructions given were to install wget and add “mem=1980M” to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX in /etc/default/grub (the system only has 2G RAM and was having trouble booting without my specifying a lesser amount of memory). I later upgraded to the Gnome desktop using a yum groupinstall.

To avoid having to hit CTRL-L every time I rebooted, I restored Chrome for its cros shell and set the firmware string indicated in the Arch Wiki piece (I won’t mention it here to encourage everyone to real the full article rather than rely on any summary here). Then I rebooted to my USB stick (newly formatted with the standard x86_64 Live desktop image) and installed Fedora.

Kudos to Google for including SeaBIOS in the Chromebook specification, thus making it possible to install and run any free O/S desired.

One thing I noticed after booting the machine up in Linux for the first time was that the network stack picked up the hostname I’d mapped for it on the DHCP server. ChromeOS never did that. Neither does Windows (reliably).

I departed from the previously cited resources when it came to mapping the special keys (which on Linux are set to F-1 to F-11). There, I followed this post to do the remapping completely within Gnome’s control panel keyboard configuration tool. Unfortunately a few custom key mappings (for Del, Home, End) are not working, but I’ll work some more on them as time allows.

All in all a fun project which will undoubtedly keep me off the streets and out of trouble.

NOTE: I had previously reproduced the text of Yannick’s scripts here, but given how they need to change with each new minor kernel version (we’re now up to 3.15), I’ve decided to remove them and refer folks to Yannick’s article on fedora-fr.org or his bug report to avoid leading anyone astray. Continued thanks to everyone in the community, most especially Yannick, for their help in making the C720 a now very useful little machine.

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About phil

My name is Phil Lembo. In my day job I’m an enterprise IT architect for a leading distribution and services company. The rest of my time I try to maintain a semi-normal family life in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. E-mail me at philipATlembobrothersDOTcom. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future (except where I quote others, who will need to accept responsibility for their own rants).