Acer Chromebook C720

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A short guide containing relevant instructions to get Gentoo running on a Acer C720.


Developer mode

In order get lower-level access to the hardware to install Gentoo, it is necessary to put the system into developer mode.

Follow these steps to gain access to developer mode:

  1. Reboot the system to the login screen, then do not login.
  2. At the login screen hold Esc+ (the F2 key) then press the Power button (top right).
  3. The machine should boot to a special recovery screen, when it gets there press Ctrl+d. The system will reboot.

Enable the legacy bootloader

  1. Presuming the system in a a powered down state, power up the unit.
  2. When the login screen appears, hold Ctrl+Alt and press. This should enter the developer console.
  3. Login by entering chronos at the prompt, and pressing the Enter key.
  4. sudo bash to gain a bash shell.
  5. crossystem dev_boot_usb=1 dev_boot_legacy=1
  6. Type reboot and then press Enter.
  7. The system will reboot again.

Loading bootable media

After downloading a 64-bit minimal installation CD, proceed to make it USB drive bootable with isohybrid. Copy the .iso image to a USB drive with dd:

root #dd if=/path/to/install-amd64-minimal-.iso of=/path/to/raw/dev/device/file
  1. Once the dd process is complete, insert the USB to a USB port on the Chromebook.
  2. If the Chromebook was powered down or waiting at the legacy bootload screen, restart the Chromebook by pressing the power button.
  3. At the recovery screen, press Ctrl+l to load legacy boot options.
  4. The SeaBIOS bootloader should appear prompting a press of the Esc key. Press Esc.
  5. Select the appropriate bootable device by pressing the associated integer number on the keyboard.
  6. The Gentoo ISO Linux prompt should appear. Press Enter to boot the minimal CD.
  • If the init process gets stuck, try adding edd=off to the kernel command-line parameters.

Once the init process completes the system is ready to receive a Gentoo install!

Create a backup of the current OS

It may be a good idea to create a backup of the Chromebook's installation on embedded flash disk (typically /dev/sda) before proceeding. If the Chromebook may be transferred to a new owner one day, the backup of the original OS could be restored. After configuring networking and enabling the SSH daemon, something like the following command should suffice:

root #ssh user@remote "dd if=/dev/sda | gzip -1 -" | dd of=chromebook_image.gz

This will send the entire contents of /dev/sda over the network to the current running directory. Be sure there's enough free space in the current partition to receive the file!

To restore the backup, boot the Gentoo minimal install CD again (or alternative live media) and issue:

root #dd if=chromebook_image.gz | gzip -d | ssh user@local dd of=/dev/sda


For installation instructions follow the MBR disk partitioning path in the AMD64 Handbook.

External resources