‘How to turn a $314.57 Chromebook into a Fedora Linux Laptop/Tablet/Sketchbook‘ post was written on June 18, 2021 (less than a year ago) and is 18th with 847 views in my Stats section. This post is an update on that converted Chromebook, AKA ‘Sam’, a 12.2” Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 XE521QAB. For more info on the Chromebook testing I was doing last year check out the Chromebooks page.
Up until the past few days, ‘Sam’ had barely been used, I had tried to give it away several times, and the only real use it got was to be recharged & occasionally updating the OSes (Fedora ‘n CloudReady).
That all changed yesterday, i.e. ‘Sam’ is now a Porteus ‘Lappy‘ that has been used for hours the past couple of days, and is about to become one of my main Linux ‘Working‘ computers wid a focus on helping to prep ‘n format ‘n reformat Linux test drives…at first. Will be interesting to see how its flexibility as Laptop/Tablet combined wid a touchscreen display works out in my testing. Have never had so many options, in such a small package, available to me during Linux testing.
Porteus 5.0rc3 Cinnamon is what I use as my main secondary ‘n Linux ‘Working‘ OS, and it is due for the 5.0 stable release around the end of this month. Lightweight ‘n fast with the option for a Fulltime Linux Root User…that’s me. It came outta nowhere, basically, at the end of this past March and quickly became my #1a ranked Linux OS. Even earned its own Porteus Linux page in this time, and now owns its own ‘Lappy‘…well, as first boot option with Puppy Linux 9.5 as the second boot.
Couldn’t get any Linux Distro, other than CloudReady OS, to install or work right after installing onto the 32GB eMMC drive that came wid the Chromebook.
Embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) and solid-state drive (SSD) storage have a lot in common, including the use of NAND flash memory. However, SSDs almost always deliver superior performance and are available in far larger sizes for bulk storage.
eMMC storage is mostly found in phones, as well as some of the best cheap laptops. The “embedded” part of the name comes from the fact that the storage is usually soldered directly onto the device’s motherboard. eMMC storage consists of NAND flash memory — the same stuff you’ll find in USB thumb drives, SD cards, and solid-state drives (SSD) — which doesn’t require power to retain data.
CloudReady OS is too much like Chrome OS for my taste, and I have wanted to use that eMMC drive for something else…rather than let it go to waste as a mere storage drive soldered onto the motherboard.
Porteus not only wouldn’t install onto the eMMC drive, it wouldn’t even install on any drive or even open as a ‘Live‘ USB Porteus drive. Puppy Linux would install on a kitchen sink if you could figure out a way to hook up a monitor to the sink. Puppy Linux 9.5 makes a great secondary OS on the Porteus laptop, and the 32GB eMMC is like some kind of *HUGE* ‘Mansion‘ for ‘FossaPup’.
YUMI UEFI (multiboot USB creator)
YUMI UEFI (BIOS and USB UEFI Boot) was the solution. Basically, YUMI UEFI took the Porteus ISO ‘n reconfigured it to work on ‘Sam’ whilst ‘Under-the-YUMI-Umbrella‘. Right now it is installed on a 32GB microSD card in the card slot, but I can always move it to a bigger card if needed.
The Forum member said that the YUMI UEFI Multiboot was what he used to ‘catch that weirdo hardware/uefi corner-case that will tear your hair out.‘ 😉 And working wid a converted Chromebook can bring out all kinds of ‘weirdo hardware/uefi corner-cases‘!
Worked great, Porteus was now installed on ‘Sam’, but I still needed to get it tweaked ‘n in full operating condition to help wid my Linux testing!
What are Porteus Modules? Porteus Modules:
An introduction to modules
Instead of the traditional style of downloading a program and installing it, Porteus uses a file called a module which you activate (install) or deactivate (uninstall). Modules are similar to zip files in that they are compressed and they can contain multiple files and directories. The file extension of Porteus modules is .xzm. To activate a module you simply double click on it and it will be injected into the Porteus directory structure and all of the required files will be put in their place. To deactivate the module just double click on it again and all the files will be removed from the directory structure and packed back into the module. This makes installing applications very simple and you don’t clutter up your computer with thousands of rarely used files.
You can download modules and store them on your computer or flash drive. Sometimes a package has linux dependencies which are required on your system in order for it to work properly.
Modules that are placed into the porteus/modules folder will be activated automatically when Porteus boots. Modules that you only want to use occasionally can be stored in the ‘optional’ folder, and you can activate them on demand. Both of these directories are located in the ‘porteus’ folder which sits in the root of your storage device.
Many Linux Distros seem to be moving to modules or planning to. I still don’t know much about them, other than Porteus has done an excellent job of incorporating them into their OS, and I really enjoy working wid them.
YUMI UEFI works sorta like a Boot Menu. I could add more ISOs, e.g. Clonezilla & GParted as 2 utilities, and then add maybe Fedora 36 Cinnamon as another Linux OS. However, at this point I already have Porteus in it, and Puppy Linux on the eMMC drive so another OS is not needed. I may add Clonezilla and possibly GParted in the future, but Porteus already comes wid GParted so I am pretty set.
I just click on Porteus when YUMI boots up, and at first it just booted into a “guest” section. That had to stop, i.e. I am a Fulltime Linux Root User on all my computers, and don’t like the normal Linux annoying “Authenticate” popups or other ‘Pesky Passwords’.
Tinkered a tad until I found out how to boot into the root section:
MULTIBOOT (device) > multiboot > Porteus-CINNAMON-v5.0rc3-x86_64 > porteus > porteus-v5.0-x86_64.cfg and added login=root at the bottom.
Easier to find ‘n do in the standard Porteus installation, but it was still easy even under YUMI.
Next, I needed to start saving everything…
Since this installation is on a fat32 drive/partition instead of ext4, I needed to create a savefile Module. Again, this is not a normal Porteus installation, but reflects how flexible ‘n easy Porteus is to work wid.
- Note: These are pics from previous normal installations:
- Note: I actually created a Savefile name: ROOT in a 400MB size at Location: /mnt/mmcblk1p1 & then manually edited the YUMI grub.cfg file for Porteus. Porteus Forum member told me how and it worked.
ROOT.dat savefile Module created!
Adding App Modules
This was easy, since I already had LibreOffice 7.3 & Firefox browser & GIMP & Gnome Disk Utility Modules installed on another computer’s USB Porteus installation.
Plugged in my temp data USB ‘n copied all 4 Modules to it. Moved that USB to the Porteus installation on ‘Sam’ ‘n pasted them into the Porteus Modules folder. That activated them, but needed to reboot in order to get them working.
GOTTA LOVE those Modules!!!
Never thought it would be used much, after I finished converting it from a Chromebook, but it has been my #2 computer for two days, and it now has a very bright future ahead.
I can fold it into a tablet…fold it into a reversed ‘tent‘ that stands on its own…in tight quarters it has its own keyboard, touchpad and a touchscreen for really tight quarters.
Will add this post to the Porteus Linux ‘n Laptops – New Lappys ‘n Converted Lappys ‘n Barebone Lappys pages. Possible add it to the Buy Low or BYOC – ‘Build Your Own Computer’ page since it will definitely be a ‘Working‘ Linux computer.
LINUX IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES – you never know what you’re gonna get!