Better firmware for the C720 Chromebook

Acer’s C720 Chromebook is my favorite armchair computing platform — at least since I installed Fedora on it last May. Well, now it’s even better: it has been reflashed with the most excellent custom firmware from John Lewis.

Updating the Chromebook’s firmware with Mr. Lewis’s custom ROM couldn’t be easier: he provides a simple script shell script that verifies the hardware you’re using and then installs the appropriate ROM for that machine.

Google’s decision to use open source coreboot with a SeaBIOS payload (the same BIOS used by the KVM hypervisor) as the firmware for its Chromebook hardware provided the opportunity for independent developers to create custom ROMs that could be loaded in place of Google’s own, essentially turning the device into a good, old-fashioned laptop able to run any Linux distribution (or Windows). Given that opening, John Lewis has created firmwares for over a dozen Chromebook models.

While I’d been able to upgrade my C720 over-the-wire using Fedora’s fedup utility, its custom Google firmware prevented booting from a usb stick with any version after Fedora 20. That has complicated system recovery and caused me to put off any thoughts of re-imaging.

John Lewis’s custom firmware changes all that. After flashing with the latest full version of the firmware I can now boot the latest versions of several distributions, including Fedora 22.

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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).