Thank You, John Lewis, Whoever you are.

IMAG0387A few months ago, my wife bought an Acer Chromebook 710 without realizing that well, it’s useless. Running Chrome OS made it perpetually tied to the Internet, and the Chrome OS is in firmware, so you can’t install a real, actual operating system. For those content to work totally within the constraints imposed by Chrome OS, it’s a nice little machine, $200 for a decent 16G solid state drive, 2G memory, and a dual core 1.66 GHz processor. But alas, all for naught, and no real way to redeem it with a lightweight Xubuntu installation.

Ah, but there is. This is the maker generation, and the Chromebook uses SeaBios, the open source firmware BIOS to end all BIOSes, and this nice Irish chap named John Lewis put together a super easy image that you can put on USB and use to flash the box as soon as you learn the Chrome OS developer mode secret handshake of doom.

So I did that, and that gave me a nice little Xubuntu box with no trackpoint support. Er, no. Full Ubuntu? No. Fedora? Yes! Fedora 20 gave me a fully functional box except…no, no, no!!! It crashes every time any sort of power down or suspend is attempted, and about 3 out of 4 attempts on boot. Well, that’s hardly a bargain, but I decided to run with it for a few weeks anyway, mostly to check out Fedora (pain in the ass–use Ubuntu) and the flat-topped keyboard style all Chromebooks and Ulrabooks now come with (eh, tolerable, I guess).

But this weekend, I visited the esteemed Mr. Lewis’s site and discovered he had announced an upgrade–and it looked like a simple–just run this script with power and Intranet connected–no hanshake of doom required! So did that.

Ubuntu still doesn’t recognize the trackpad, but now Fedora works perfectly. Every suspend/wake cycle completes successfully. Every boot works. No more hangs when playing YouTube videos. Sweet! I went out first thing this morning and bought an 8G memory upgrade. So now I have a fully functional writing powerhouse, running Fedora 20 in 10G of memory, with Scrivener, LibreOffice, and the usual utilities (still no Chromium, oddly, because it apparently doesn’t comply with the Fedora manifesto for commercial and narco-syndicalist purity–or something). I could not be happier unless this novel were to somehow suddenly complete and publish and negotiate foreign rights for itself. But honesty, what would be the fun in that?

The Acer C710 still has trackpoint problems, but these are static related, and I’m sure I can cure them with a little mechano improve. For his considerable trouble, I made a smal Paypal donating to John Lewis, and if you’d like to check out his work, you can find him here: https://johnlewis.ie/.

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