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Revision as of 07:21, 10 March 2016 by Matt Devo (talk | contribs)

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The stock/factory firmware on some Chromebooks and Chromeboxes contains a legacy boot payload (RW_LEGACY) capable of running Linux out of the box; however, many ChromeOS devices, particularly those with BayTrail/Braswell CPUs, do not include this capability stock and must use a 3rd party firmware update in order to run GalliumOS (or any other OS).

Three types of custom firmware updates are available, which can fix factory firmware bugs and/or add the ability to boot Linux to those models that otherwise cannot:

    • Updates/replaces the stock legacy boot payload (SeaBIOS) included on many models that supplements the ChromeOS / secure boot payload
    • Leaves all stock functionality intact, including the white "OS verification is OFF" screen
    • Allows device to dual-boot GalliumOS alongside ChromeOS
    • Does not require disabling the firmware write-protect
    • Carries zero risk of bricking the device
    • On some models, includes bugfixes and enables additional functionality
    • Replaces the ChromeOS payload with a legacy boot payload (SeaBIOS)
    • Bypasses the white "OS verification is OFF" screen
    • Requires the firmware write-protect screw to be removed
    • Removes the ability to run ChromeOS natively, creating a small risk of bricking your device
    • Leaves the “REFRESH + POWER” functionality of the stock ROM intact
      • If you engage this key sequence, device will reboot and try to run ChromeOS Recovery (which will fail)
      • This process will repeat on every boot until you disassemble the device and briefly disconnect the battery
  3. Full Firmware / ROM
    • A complete firmware image which replaces the hardware init component (coreboot) and payload components (BOOT_STUB, RW_LEGACY) of the stock firmware with updated and/or customized versions of coreboot and SeaBIOS
    • Removes the white "OS verification is OFF" screen
    • Removes the ability to run ChromeOS natively, creating a small risk of bricking your device
    • Offers the best support for booting all OSes besides ChromeOS (including Windows).
    • On many models, adds full hardware support for virtualization (vmx / VT-x)
    • Fixes many bugs and/or idiosyncrasies associated with the stock firmware (but potentially adds new ones)

Check Hardware Compatibility and the appropriate Support page to determine the status of your model.

There are several custom firmware options available, depending on your Chromebook/box model class, and the features you require:

Link ARM Pineview Sandy/Ivy Bridge Haswell Broadwell Bay Trail Braswell notes
CoolStar No No No Full Firmware (Chromebooks) Full Firmware (Chromebooks) No No • Fixes factory firmware bugs
• Boots Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows!
• Install Guide: Haswell, Broadwell
Firmware build scripts No No Full Firmware, BOOT_STUB (all) Full Firmware, BOOT_STUB, RW_LEGACY (all) RW_LEGACY (all) BOOT_STUB (all) No • Fixes factory firmware bugs
• General purpose firmware for Linux
• Single script works for all supported models
• Firmware build scripts/configs not published
MattDevo No No Full Firmware (Chromeboxes) Full Firmware (Chromeboxes), RW_LEGACY (all) Full Firmware (Chromeboxes), RW_LEGACY (all) RW_LEGACY (all) No • Fixes factory firmware bugs
• Headless boot support for servers
• PXE booting support
• Supports integration of Kodi Media Center
Firmware source/build scripts and payload source

Additions and corrections, please let us know: