Switching to GalliumOS on Chromebox

As convenient as it is to use ChromeOS, it is limited in terms of what it can do. I can’t run a PlexMediaServer, Python scripts, Server applications and more. On the other hand, no matter what you are trying to do, there’s an excellent chance that you can find an application on Linux. Enter GalliumOS. It’s a Linux distribution that includes specific optimisation for Chrome devices hardware.

GalliumOS focuses on providing a stable and well performing Linux system. I chose it over other distros (such as Ubuntu), because of the dedicated changes for Chrome devices.

  • Faster boot up
  • Based on Xubuntu, but looking much, much better
  • ChromeOS improvements and kernel fixes

Installing GalliumOS was relatively straightforward. The official guide is here. For me, I used a Legacy Boot and installed GalliumOS to a USB 3.0 SSD. I can still boot to ChromeOS on the original 16GB SSD. Here’s my separate SSD, which is a 2280 M2 Sandisk SSD, paired with a 2280 external USB 3.0 case. Speed wise was slower than expected. I get excellent writes at >200MB/s but reads are averaging 40-50MB/s. I have yet to figure out why though. Nonetheless, performance has been relatively smooth running GalliumOS from an external disk. I am using an Ext2 filesystem on my external USB, thinking it would help performance (no journaling).

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So we talk about applications – here’s some which I used frequently on my GalliumOS install:

  • Python (Home Assistant, Django)
  • Plex Media Server
  • Transmission

Since GalliumOS 2.0 is based off Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), you can generally get any of the usual Ubuntu packages and support.

Average power consumption of the Chromebox is approximately 10W. Based on Singapore Power latest tariffs of 19.27 cents per kWh, leaving a Chromebox on for a month would add about $1.38 to your monthly electricity bill.

How to hide ChromeOS partitions in GalliumOS

If you are irked by GalliumOS showing multiple partitions due to how Chrome handles ther internal SSD. You can hide it. Fire up a terminal and enter the following command.

sudo pico /etc/udev/rules.d/99-hide-disks.rules

In the pico editor, enter the following:
”’
KERNEL==”sda1″, ENV{UDISKS_IGNORE}=”1″
”’

Ctrl-X to save and exit.

Bind Windows Key to Open GalliumOS Menu

Go to settings -> keyboard and on the “Application Shortcuts” tab, click “Add”.
Use “xfce4-popup-whiskermenu”. and assign the Windows key to it. It registered as Super+L on my keyboard.

No display / Black Screen after Turning Off TV / Monitor

Well, not everything is perfect. I would get a black screen when I turn off the monitor or TV that’s connected to the HDMI screen. After some searching, it seems to be a Xubuntu bug, and the following does help somewhat. At times, after powering on the monitor, I still get a 1 pixel screen with my mouse cursor at the top right corner. I would just need to switch source (e.g. HDMI1 to HDMI2) then switch back for it to be OK.


wget https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+archive/primary/+files/xfce4-settings_4.12.0.orig.tar.bz2
tar xjf xfce4-settings_4.12.0.orig.tar.bz2
cd xfce4-settings-4.12.0
wget http://bug-attachment.xfce.org/attachment.cgi?id=6590
sudo apt-get install build-essential intltool libexo-1-dev libgarcon-1-0-dev libxfce4ui-1-dev
./configure --prefix=/usr --sysconfdir=/etc
make
sudo make install
sudo reboot now

Sean

Sean is a tech geek and star wars fan. He loves playing with new gadgets, writing little code snippets in Python, JS, and dabbling with Android programming from time to time, while keeping a lookout for the next biggest happening in the world of tech!

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