GalliumOS Linux beta released for Chromebooks and Chromeboxes

In today's open source roundup: Download the first beta of GalliumOS for your Chromebook or Chromebox. Plus: Steam Machine launch means big discounts on Linux games. And why people love dark themes in Android

GalliumOS beta released for Chrome OS devices

Chromebooks have long been big sellers on Amazon, and so have their desktop counterparts Chromeboxes. But now there's a new Linux distribution called GalliumOS that promises to provide high performance and compatibility with these Chrome OS devices.

Beta 1 of GalliumOS is now available to download. The GalliumOS wiki has install instructions and a hardware compatibility list.

The GalliumOS wiki also has some information about why you might want to choose to use it instead of ChromeOS:

Linux can run many different types of applicatons. No matter what you're trying to do, an application exists for Linux. ChromeOS is very limited. Sure, NaCl (Native Client) brings the ability to run native code to ChromeOS, but that's a hack at best, and there's still no good software to take advantage of it. With Linux you can install any Linux compatible software, totally natively. Firefox, Transmission (BitTorrent), LibreOffice, Steam, VLC Media Player, Kodi Media Center, the GIMP, VirtualBox, and many more are available on Linux to do things that simply aren't possible on ChromeOS.

GalliumOS includes optimizations that eliminate system stalls and improve overall responsiveness.

Alternative kernel schedulers to prevent system stalls
BFS for process scheduling
BFQ for I/O scheduling
Removed some services to improve the boot time and reduce memory usage
Zram for swap, which is a much faster swap than to disk
Removed unnecessary kernel features/modules
Compton as the compositor for tear free compositing
Performs better than enabling Tear Free in the Intel graphics driver

Improved Powersaving

The kernel watchdog timer has been disabled.
Disabled HDMI polling (that doesn't prevent HDMI connections from working)
Reduced the minimum GPU frequency

Improved Touchpad

Integrated ChromeOS mouse driver provides a touchpad experience similar to ChromeOS

Faster boot up

Boot up time is faster than other Linux distros.

Built on Xubuntu

A fast, lightweight, beautiful, and fully functional desktop

More at GalliumOS Wiki

The GalliumOS beta announcement spawned a long thread on the Linux subreddit:

Snowdenofyesteryear: ”This is brilliant, you just sold me a Chromebook. Sidenote, are you looking for any kernel help? I'm a kernel dev and wouldn't mind pitching in. A list of TODOs would get me motivated.”

Lokothodida: ”It sounds promising, but I'd like some more information before trying it out. Flashing the BIOS to get the distro running has me a little on edge if I don't know the full gains. Are there any plans for screenshots and/or videos of use cases? Also, is it a distro that can be tried out in a virtual machine?”

LeekLaNerd: ”I did not have to flash my bios to get this working. Google recently updated some CB's with the Seabios payload already included to be able to boot from USB, while other require use of a script to first enable Seabios.

So all I did was properly "Burn" the iso to a USB stick by changing it to a .img and using win32diskimager (free software). Then I put the stick in, booted, and at the warning screen (with dev mode enabled) I press ctrl - L to boot into the USB live environment. From there you can just follow the installer if you want to replace ChromeOS, or just play around with the Live environment and make no changes!”

ColtonDRG: ”Depending on your Chromebook you might not have to flash the BIOS. You can install it in a VM if you really want to, but we never tested this, and you should not expect it to work at all. Our distro is for Chromebooks, not VMs. VMs are not a good thing to base your impressions of an OS on anyway because their performance is simply not very good. The goal of our distro is to make a Linux distro that just works on Chromebooks with very little hastle. You don't have to worry about drivers or any of that business.”

Dzeek: ”I'm interested in trying this on my Dell Chromebook 13. If I want to go back to ChromeOS how would I do that?”

LeekLaNerd: ”You can create a ChromeOS recovery stick by following Google's directions here.”

MystJake: ”This looks very neat, but I'm not sure if I want to completely abandon ChromeOS on my Acer C720.”

Reynhout: ”Fair enough. You can install with chrx if dual-booting would be an acceptable compromise.”

Formerstreetjunkie: ”How does this compare with Chromixium?”

Reynhout: ”As I understand Chromixium, it's about turning Linux into a ChromeOS workalike on standard hardware. GalliumOS is an optimized Linux distro for ChromeOS device hardware.”

More at Reddit

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