Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How to Install Arch Linux on Asus Chromebox

Asus Chromebox

I decided to write down the instruction how to install Arch Linux on Asus Chromebox. I replaced my Raspberry Pi with Asus Chromebox as TV media box recently and such instruction will be useful in the case if I want to repeat installation.
I just want to warn - it does not create dual boot with ChromeOS and it just replaces ChromeOS with Arch Linux. I’m fine with such result, because I don’t need ChromeOS on my TV. XMBC is my choice for a TV media box.

1. Enable development mode and legacy boot

It’s an essential step to run Arch Linux live media from USB port. You can use following instructions from ChromiumOS Wiki.

2. Update firmware

The updated version of firmware contains the fix for booting from USB. Download from http://johnlewis.ie/asus-chromebox-SeaBIOS-new.bin
And run in ChromeOS shell:
sudo flashrom -w -i RW_LEGACY:asus-chromebox-SeaBIOS-new.bin

3. Set firmware boot flags

In order to enable legacy boot by default you need to set several boot flags. You need to disable firmware write protect. Please, follow the instruction from XBMC Wiki.
And run in ChromeOS shell:
sudo set_gbb_flags.sh 0x489
It enables 1 second boot wait time and legacy boot as default option. So there is no need to press CTRL-L to boot Arch Linux on each start of Chromebox.

4. Prepare Arch Linux live media

The one important tip: the latest version (May 2014) is failing to boot in x86_64 mode. So you need to get some older image. It is not a issue, you will get the latest version of packages during install with Internet connection. I got 2013 ISO image from here.
The instruction for preparing USB media is here.

5. Install Arch Linux

The Beginner’s Guide is a good start point for a novice. At the end you will get minimal Arch Linux environment. The next steps depend from your needs. Don’t forget to install SSH server to enable remote access to Chromebox.

6. Install XBMC (optional)

Install following packages to run XBMC as default Desktop Environment:
sudo pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit xf86-video-intel xbmc
That’s all and enjoy Arch Linux on your Asus Chromebox.


  1. Did you get the DisplayPort to work? I have tried Ubuntu but can't get a dual monitor setup to work.

    1. Unfortunately I don't have dual monitor setup.

    2. It was my DP to HDMI adapter. I had a passive and needed active. Chrome works with passive for some reason.

  2. do yuo have a guide on what you did to install? Whats steps you took on the installing arch side of things?

    1. As mentioned, I used Beginner's Guide https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/beginners%27_guide from Arch Linux Wiki. It was very straightforward for me.