Replace Your Chromebook BIOS with SeaBIOS

Do you have a Chromebook? Wish you could wipe out ChromeOS and install something else? Good news! You can now do so with the help of a modified BIOS (known as Sea BIOS). A lot of Chromebooks are supported by this modification – so many, in fact, that it would take quite a long time to list them all. Instead, head over to this page here and scroll down to find out if your device is supported.

seabios-supported-device-matrix

If your device is supported and is able to run the modified BIOS, you’ll need to do some things before it can be installed. Specifically you’ll need to disable read-only mode and enable developer mode, as well as remove any sort of hardware read-only switch that may be present on your Chrome device.

Enabling developer mode on a Chrome device is different depending on what you own. If you have a newer device, you’ll be able to enable it by pressing the Escape, Refresh and Power key all at the same time. If you have an older Chromebook, there may be a special button or key combination that needs to be pressed.

seabios-enable-developer-mode

When you’ve determined what combination of buttons to press on your Chromebook, you’ll be brought to a recovery screen. On this screen just press “Ctrl + D” on your keyboard. This will initiate the transition to developer mode. Be patient; this may take a while.

Since the ChromeOS file system is read-only by default, it needs to be set up for full read-write access. Open a terminal by pressing “Ctrl + Alt + T.” This will bring you into the Crosh prompt. From there, just enter shell into the terminal. This will start a Bash shell in which you’ll be able to enter commands into.

seabios-crosh-shell-terminal

Enabling read-write access is easy. Just enter this command:

sudo -s

followed by

flashrom --wp-disable

After this command has been entered, reboot your device, and the ChromeOS file system will be read/write.

Note: most Chromebooks have a hardware read/write switch or screw as well. You’ll need to figure out where that is and take it out, too.

Installing the modified BIOS is incredibly easy. Just press “Ctrl + Alt + T” to open a terminal window, and enter the following command:

cd; rm -f flash_chromebook_rom.sh; curl -L -O https://johnlewis.ie/flash_chromebook_rom.sh; sudo -E bash flash_chromebook_rom.sh

Once this command is run, the modified BIOS file will be installed. When it’s complete, just reboot your system.

seabios-bios-booting-hard-drive

Note: if you need to install older versions of Sea BIOS, check here.

seabios-bios-rom-archive

After your Chromebook starts up again, you will see a black screen that says Sea BIOS instead of a Chrome logo. This means that the installation was successful. if you want to revert back to the regular BIOS, just load ChromeOS back up, run the command above, and select the revert option. It’ll do the rest.

From here your Chromebook is effectively “jail-broken.” Of course, this means it’s possible to install alternative operating systems. Just install it to a USB flash drive, and plug it in to load it up. Sea BIOS by default will load USB first. Enjoy!

Chromebooks are usually counted out and considered to be “not real computers.” The simple fact is that most Chromebooks have compelling hardware with incredible battery life. With the right amount of modifications they can be incredibly useful Linux computers.

How do you feel about replacing your Chromebook’s BIOS? Is it worth the risk? Tell us below!

Image Credit: Chromium.org