Replace Your Chromebook BIOS with SeaBIOS

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:

followed by

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:

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

21 comments

  1. When installing windows 7 or 10, has a fix been developed for the keypad and track pad? As far as I know neither work after windows install, and you’ll need to use external mouse and keyboard.

    • A person called CoolStar Organisation, has made some custom ROM’s and drivers for Chromebooks to run Windows, however, that’s only for Haswell devices like the C720.

    • You will need to install keyboard and mouse driver on your Chromebook after you’ve installed Windows 10.

      Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbPquEPNQPs

      Go in to the video at about 12 minutes.

      Use the download links in the description of the video to download the drivers.

      Then, you can stop using an external mouse and keyboard and start using your keyboard and touchpad :D

  2. Daniel Anderson , are you upgrading to windows 7 or 10 ? If so you can roll the driver back to the previous version to resolve issue

    • That won’t work, unfortunately. Most Chromebooks do not have any Windows drivers, so the previous poster was largely correct in what he said about keyboard and mouse not working with Windows on a Chromeobook.

  3. Interesting idea, but I bought my Chromebook and Chromebox to be simple and reliable. I can install Crouton if necessary. I have two Linux machines, each with disks and RAM better suited to Linux than a Chromebook.

    A good article, but I will stay with ChromeOS and keep a fully functioning Chromebook I think.

    Enjoy!

  4. Okay, a few things about the article:

    1. The section that refers to making the ChromeOS “filesystem” writeable is completely wrong and erroneous – what you actually need to do/are doing, is disabling the write-protected region of the SPI chip. Added to which, the script runs that command and exits if it doesn’t complete, anyway.

    2. There’s actually a physical write-protect screw which needs to be removed so the above command will complete successfully. The screw’s location varies by device.

    3. The “Archive” section only contains Full ROM’s, not RW_LEGACY or BOOT_STUB’s. Also, it’s probably not a good idea to go telling people to flash them since the occasional one will brick peoples’ devices. Really, unless you know a very good reason why you shouldn’t, and also exactly which ROM you need, you should just let the script flash the appropriate ROM for you.

    4. If you have flashed a Full ROM, it’s not as simple as just choosing the “revert” option (which there isn’t one of anyway, there’re only options that refer to restoring to “stock”). You will also need to restore copies of your GBB_FLAGS, and RO_VPD regions (assuming you made backups using the script initially).

    I appreciate the exposure, but overall this isn’t a well written or accurate article.

  5. Does this wipe ChromeOS and other installed OSes? I am running Ubuntu with Crouton just now and only considering Seabios so I can run Live OSes from the USB.

  6. Is there a well-written and accurate article out there? (I’d settle for accurate if need be.) From what I read my C720 won’t ever get the ability to run Android apps, so I might as well install NixOS and start seriously learning it (and nix).

  7. The script worked fine on an Acer C730 (gnawty). Once executed options are given for RW Legacy or Boot_Stub. ChromeOS, Crouton & Ubuntu were all left intact as desired and I can now boot from a USB with a live OS.

  8. mon chromebook devient inutilisable. an reflacher stock chrome. il s’allumer tout noire. il na aucune ecran qui apparaitre. s.v.p aide moi

  9. dupervaljohnny

    mon chromebook DEVIENT inutilisable. d’un stock chrome reflacher. il se allumer tout noire. il na Aucune ecran Qui apparaitre. aide moi svp

  10. hey y’all!
    i am a college student. i thought a chrome book would be FANTASTIC for my classes. got it. played with it for 5 hrs and wanted to gag. i LOATHE chrome os. there is actually such a thing as TO idiot proof. chrome os is it.

    i’ve managed to get a version of linux up and running on it. THANK YOU JOHN LEWIS!! YOU ARE A TECH GOD!! :D

    i simply can’t stand chromium or chrome os whichever fiddle-dee-doo name they slap on it. it annoyed me so bad it made my teeth itch!
    i MIGHT consider putting windows on my LinuxBook at some point and i’d only do that if i needed it for some programs required for my classes.

    TY one & all!

    Cheers!

  11. i have an acer chromebook 14 EDGAR, install Seabios and all it’s fine, but when i try install windows 10 the system say me ACPI BIOS ERROR, any suggestion?

  12. Will I be able to completely restore Chrome OS and the original BIOS back at some point, say, after Windows is running?

  13. I also installed native linux on my CB (Edgar) but a problem I encountered john lewis stated also at his site is:

    Rendering (Grub2) Bootloader is ridiculously SLOW(!)
    Means: it prints char by char like on a C64 which results in boot-times > 1 minute.

    I read like nothing about this problem on the web. Am I the only one encountering this? Do I need to improve my Google-skills?

    I would appreciate someone that knows a fix for it, which – probably – may be John Lewis himself :-)

  14. “0warning: Failed to create the file flash_chromebook_rom.sh: Read-only file”

    How should I do ?

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