Installing GalliumOS on Google Chromebooks

Installing GalliumOS (Gallium Operating System) is a great way to get rid of Google from your Chromebook in its entirety. If you check out the GalliumOS wiki pages, they will be of tremendous help. Please note that I’m a newbie to Linux and not an expert in any sense of the term; I’d promised some people I would note my steps in another Chromebook conversion and am hoping these notes will be of use to someone. It’s a journey with many valuable lessons to learn along the way.

Please note this essential disclaimer: I’m in no way responsible for any damage to anyone’s computers and using this tutorial is 100% your responsibility. I’m not liable for any problems or damage incurred. You wouldn’t be here and contemplating changing the OS on your Chromebook if you were afraid of losing your Chromebook; if you are afraid of irreparable damage, maybe this project isn’t for you. However, I’m loving GalliumOS and feel it’s worth the time and lessons learned. Please do read through this entire post before starting so you have an idea of the process prior to digging in.

First, you need to determine exactly which hardware you have in your Chromebook. This page (Hardware Compatibility - GalliumOS Wiki) will help you sort out which version of GalliumOS you need to download. Just as there are many distributions, or distros, of Linux, there are quite a few versions of GalliumOS and you MUST download and checksum the one that is tailored for your computer. I’m focusing on the Dell 3120, Chromebook 11, from 2015. The table on this page shows I must use Bay Trail and I must flash the firmware in order for this to work. This isn’t hard; you just have to follow the directions.

Please Note: If you do not already own a Chromebook and are looking for a used one to purchase, be sure it is able to be converted as shown on the list on the above page. Some Chromebooks simply are not able to convert to GalliumOS.

Once you know which version of GalliumOS you need, it’s time to download it to your computer and create a bootable flash drive. Be sure to double-check your ISO’s validity by testing the checksum. There are a couple of ways to create your bootable flash drive. The easiest way if you are already have a computer running Linux is to use the tool that is already on your computer (my Mint laptop, for example) by right-clicking on the ISO downloaded file and select “Open with Disk Image Writer.” For some reason, I had errors using this more direct method, so I used a Windows computer with Balena Etcher to complete this step without receiving errors. Once your flash drive is ready, set it aside for now.

Going by this video (Install Gallium Linux on Chromebook - YouTube) by Low Dough Tech Show, the next thing you need to do is take off the back of the computer and remove the Write/Protect screw; he shows you where to find it and how to do this. I learned to not replace all of the screws immediately because I had problems breaking the connection! I found I had to run my fingernail along the 4 channels at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock where the screw used to be; the copper segments of this circle were a little “smushed” together and the connection remained, even without the screw. I had the back off of that computer a half-dozen times before I caught on.

In order to change the operating system on a Chromebook, you need to enter Developer mode. To do this, with your Chromebook powered off, hold ESC and REFRESH, then push the POWER button. The “Refresh” button is where “F3” would be, in the row above the numbers on your keyboard, approximately between digits 3 and 4. You will see a warning screen; press CTRL + D to bypass this screen. You’ll see a screen stating you can turn OS verification OFF by pressing ENTER; go ahead and press ENTER. The next screen will show “OS verification is OFF.” Do not press anything; just wait. This process of auto-rebooting into Developer mode can take several minutes; don’t panic, just wait it out.

When the Chromebook boots into Developer mode, you can connect to the internet and open a browser window; go to because you need to update the firmware before loading your new OS. The instructions on the YouTube video are only very slightly different now as compared to updates to the MrChromebox site. Scroll down the page a little bit and you will see the script you must either copy/paste into a terminal on the Chromebook (Chromebook does support Linux terminal). To make life a little easier, the script for which you’re looking is:

cd; curl –LO && sudo bash

I’d strongly encourage reading these instructions at MrChromebox and do not make changes to your Chromebook that would break your heart if it goes wrong somehow. THIS IS THE POINT OF NO RETURN.

Once you have the script either copied, written down, or snapped a pic with another device, you need to open a terminal, CTRL + ALT + T. A terminal window opens; type “shell.” Next, PASTE or type in your firmware instructions from You should see a list of items, 1-6, and the “WP” to the left should be green. (If they are red, then something happened during your write/protect screw removal and you can’t proceed until this is cleared up.) Your choice needs to be “UEFI (Full ROM) Firmware,” which in my case is option #2. Entering “2” and hitting ENTER, the system will now ask you multiple times if you’re SURE you want to proceed because it will basically destroy ChromeOS (that’s fine, that’s what we’re doing). Keep answering yes by typing “Y” and ENTER. It will eventually also ask if you want to back up your current OS; I typed “N” for no because I want it gone.

It will step through the firmware upgrade; when complete, hit ENTER to continue. Next, type “r” and ENTER for it to reboot. Once your screen goes black, plug in your USB flash drive you’ve prepared. If you did everything correctly, you should see a black screen with a white bunny when it reboots.

Upon restarting, hit ESCAPE to bring up the boot menu. Choose “Boot Manager,” then “Change Boot Order.” Use the – and + signs to bring your flash drive to the top of the list, then save and exit. Reboot again and the computer should boot to GalliumOS from your flash drive. You’re almost there!

At this point, I would do two things: Be sure you’re not connected to the internet. I haven’t been able to install GalliumOS when the WiFi is active; I don’t know why, I just know the installation process has failed. You should not be connected because you haven’t yet set up your connection in GalliiumOS; I guess the point is do not connect yet.

The second thing is I would touch the GalliumOS icon in the left lower corner (or click it with your mouse if you prefer or your computer is not touchscreen) and type in “GParted.” Click on every single line item representing a partition (everything but “unallocated”), one at a time, and click the red trash can to delete each line. Once they are all moved to the “Pending” field and you have one large partition left called “Unallocated,” click on the green check mark and the entire set of partitions will be deleted, leaving you with an entirely clean installation, taking out all of the Google leftovers. You can set up partitions later if you choose.

Now, click on the Install GalliumOS icon in the upper left corner of the screen and step through the installation process (without connecting your WiFi). At the end, you’ll be asked if you want to reboot or keep testing. I’d just go ahead and click reboot; it will tell you when to “remove the installation medium” and it will start up on its own with your new GalliumOS, free of Chrome!

Lastly, what I have done is click on the GalliumOS start icon in the left lower corner and choose GalliumOS Update. Reconnect to the internet and enter your password from your installation and give it several minutes to update; you will have to type in the line as stated, “Yes, do as I say!,” for it to update. I’d run the Updater a couple of more times until it shows there are no more updates available.

You’ll find the “App Grid Software Center” from the start menu is very helpful. It shows the programs, apps, browsers, games, etc., that you can download directly from the Debian database.

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