MORE CHROMEBOOKS GETTING ANDROID APPS IN BETA CHANNEL

screenshot-2016-11-16-at-12-45-52-pmIt looks like the Chrome OS developers are sneaking updates for the Play Store into more Chromebooks. Likely added in the latest Beta Channel update, we are seeing multiple devices with Android App support in Beta via a quick little method that works easily.

We’ve covered the entire method before, but we’ll do it again for those of you who want to see it fresh.

It is important to note that the 4 devices we’ve confirmed this for all require a few extra steps to get Android Apps working. Changing to Beta on its own won’t yield any results. From what we can gather, if you check in your settings under ‘About ChromeOS’, you’ll see an ARC version right there with your Chrome OS version. See below:

screenshot-2016-12-04-at-9-08-47-am

If you are seeing that, the method we are about to outline should work on your device, so regardless of whether or not it is on the list of confirmed devices, give it a try. It seems that once this shows in settings, the necessary parts for the Play Store are in place and just waiting to be activated.

CONFIRMED MODELS

At this point, there are 4 models we have confirmed with this latest update. It stands to reason that many, many other Chromebooks have this update as well, but until we can confirm them, we want to stick to what we are sure of.

Here are the current 4:

  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • HP Chromebook 13 G1
  • Acer Chromebook 15
  • Acer Chromebook 14

HOW TO ENABLE ANDROID APPS

  • Transition to Beta Channel (Settings > About Chrome OS > More Info > Change Channel > Beta) – a reset will occur and your local storage will be cleared.
  • Transition to developer mode (if you don’t know how to do this, follow along here. It takes about 15 minutes.)
  • Open a Crosh tab (CTRL+ALT+T), type ‘shell’ (no parenthesis) at the pompt, hit enter, and then enter the code below exactly as you see it
  • Enter the code below exactly as it is written and hit enter after each line:
  • sudo su
  • sudo cp /etc/chrome_dev.conf /usr/local/
  • sudo mount --bind /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf /etc/chrome_dev.conf
  • sudo echo "--enable-arc " >> /etc/chrome_dev.conf

After this is done, close the crosh tab and log out and back in to reset the UI (don’t reset or power down). You should see the Play Store option in your settings now.

If/when you actually fully power down your Chromebook, you will have to re-enter the command line stuff above to enable Android Apps again.

As I’ve said above, we’ve confirmed this working for 4 Chromebooks, but there are likely a ton of others this will work on. If you give it a spin on another device and get it to work, let us know in the comments.

It’s starting to feel like Android apps in Stable aren’t too far away!

How to Enable Developer Mode on Your Chromebook

Put your Chromebook into “Developer Mode” and you’ll get full root access, including the ability to modify your Chromebook’s system files. This is often used to install a full Linux system with something like Crouton.

Developer Mode has other uses, too. You don’t have to install a massive Linux system side-by-side with Chrome OS. You could just modify a few files or boot your Chromebook from external USB devices.

The Warnings

There are two quick warnings you should understand:

  • Enabling (and Disabling) Developer Mode Will Wipe Your Chromebook: As part of the process of enabling Developer Mode, your Chromebook will be “powerwashed.” All the user accounts and their files will be removed from your Chromebook. Of course, most of your data should be stored online, and you’re free to log into the Chromebook with the same Google account afterward.
  • Google Doesn’t Offer Support For Developer Mode: Google doesn’t officially support this feature. It’s intended for developers (and power users). Google won’t provide support for this stuff. The usual “This may void your warranty” warnings apply — in other words, if you experience a hardware failure in developer mode, just disable developer mode before getting warranty support.

Boot to Recovery Mode

On the original Chromebooks, “Developer Mode” was a physical switch you could flip. On modern Chromebooks, it’s an option you need to enable in Recovery Mode. Recovery Mode is a special boot option where you can also reset your Chromebook to its factory default state.

To get started, you’ll need to boot your Chromebook into Recovery Mode. To do so, press and hold down the Esc and Refresh keys and then tap the Power button. (The Refresh Key is where the F3 key would be — the fourth key from the left on the top row of the keyboard.) Your Chromebook will immediately reboot into Recovery mode.

Note that the Power button may be elsewhere on your Chromebook. For example, on the ASUS Chromebook Flip, it’s not even on the keyboard itself–it’s on the left side of the device.

The Recovery screen says “Chrome OS is missing or damaged.” It isn’t, actually — this screen normally just appears when your Chrome OS installation is damaged.

Press Ctrl+D at the Recovery screen. This keyboard shortcut isn’t actually listed on the screen anywhere — you have to know it ahead of time. This prevents less-knowledgable Chromebook users from poking around and enabling it without knowing what they’re doing.

You’ll see a screen saying “To turn OS Verification OFF, press ENTER.” Press Enter to enable developer mode. This disables the “operating system verification” feature, so you can modify Chrome OS’s system files and it won’t complain and refuse to boot. Chrome OS normally verifies itself before booting to protect the operating system from being tampered with without your permission.

Booting With Developer Mode Enabled

You’ll now see a scary-looking message saying “OS verification is OFF” when you boot your Chromebook. The message informs you that your Chromebook’s files can’t be verified — in other words, that the Chromebook is in Developer Mode. If you ignore this message for long enough, your Chromebook will urgently beep at you to get your attention.

This screen is designed for security purposes. A Chromebook in developer mode doesn’t have the usual security features. For example, you could install a keylogger on a Chromebook using your developer mode access and then pass it along to someone. If they typed in their password, you could capture it and spy on them. That scary boot message helps keep typical users safe, guiding them through the process of disabling developer mode if they don’t know what’s happening.

To boot your Chromebook anyway, you’ll need to press Ctrl+D when you see this screen. That’ll let you quickly boot without hearing the annoying beep. You could also just wait a few more seconds — after beeping at you a bit, your Chromebook will boot automatically.

The first time you boot your Chromebook after flipping this switch, it’ll inform you that it’s preparing your system for Developer Mode. This may take 10-15 minutes — you can look at the progress bar at the top of the screen to see how much time is left.

Enable Bonus Debugging Features

When you reboot your Chromebook the first time, you’ll see the first-time setup wizard. On Chrome 41 and above — currently part of the “dev channel,” so you may not have this option yet — you’ll see an “Enable Debugging Features” link at the bottom-left corner of the first-time setup wizard.

This will automatically enable useful features for developer mode, such as the ability to boot from USB devices and disable root file system verification so you can modify your Chromebook’s files. It also enables an SSH daemon so you can remotely access your Chromebook via an SSH server and allows you to set a custom root password. Read the Debugging Features page on the Chromium Projects wiki for more details about the debugging features this enables.

This step isn’t mandatory. It’s only necessary if you want these specific debugging features. You can still install Crouton and modify system files without enabling these debugging features.

Using Developer Mode

You now have full and unrestricted access to your Chromebook, so you can do whatever you wanted to do.

To access a root shell, press Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal window. In the Crosh shellwindow, type shell and press Enter to get a full bash shell. You can then run commands with the sudo command to run them with root access. This is the place where you run a command to install Crouton on your Chromebook, for example.


If you want to disable developer mode on your Chromebook in the future, that’s easy. Just reboot the Chromebook. At the scary looking warning screen, press the Space key as instructed. Your Chromebook will revert to factory-default settings, erasing its files. You’ll have to log into it with your Google account again, but everything will be back to its normal, locked-down state.

Chromebooks that can run Android apps from Google Play

Android — and 1,000,000+ apps — on your Chromebook is awesome.

But not every Chromebook is going to get updated to have Google Play and Android apps. And most of the ones that will are in a long testing process.

We all hate waiting. And we all hate updates that break things. Google and the people who made your Chromebook are trying to make sure everything is good and keep the wait time to a minimum, but still — we all hate waiting!

Things are progressing. Here’s the current state of Android on Chromebooks.

This list was updated December 23, 2016.

Chromebooks with Android apps available in the stable channel

Make sure you have the latest version of Chrome and look in your settings if you don’t have a Play Store app. You can enable it there by checking the box.

Chromebooks with stable channel support waiting to unlock

These Chromebooks have Android app support in the stable channel, but it’s blocked until a final sign-off by all parties that it’s good to go. They will be officially supported soon.

  • Acer Chromebook 14
  • Acer Chromebook 15 (not all models yet)
  • HP Chromebook 11 G5
  • Toshiba 2 (2015)

Chromebooks with Android support in the beta channel

You’ll need to switch to the beta channel to enable Android support. Further instructions on switching channels can be found here.

Chromebooks with Android support in the developer channel

You’ll need to switch to the beta channel to enable Android support. Further instructions on switching channels can be found here. Be aware that the developer channel may be unstable and the opposite of what you’re used to from your Chromebook.

  • ASUS C301SA
  • HP Chromebook 13 G1
  • Samsung Chromebook 3

There are reports of blocked developer channel access to Android apps on the ASUS 300SA. We’re unable to verify if those are true.

Chrome devices that will be supported sometime in 2017

Acer

  • Chromebook 11 C740
  • Chromebook 11 CB3-111 / C730 / C730E / CB3-131
  • Chromebook 14 for Work
  • Chromebook 15 CB5-571 / C910
  • Chromebox CXI2
  • Chromebase 24

Asus

  • Chromebook C200
  • Chromebook C201
  • Chromebook C202SA
  • Chromebook C300SA
  • Chromebook C300
  • Chromebox CN62
  • Chromebit CS10

AOpen

  • Chromebox Commercial
  • Chromebase Commercial 22″

Bobicus

  • Chromebook 11

CDI

  • eduGear Chromebook M Series
  • eduGear Chromebook K Series
  • eduGear Chromebook R Series

CTL

  • Chromebook J2 / J4
  • N6 Education Chromebook
  • J5 Convertible Chromebook

Dell

  • Chromebook 11 3120
  • Chromebook 13 7310

Edxis

  • Chromebook
  • Education Chromebook

Haier

  • Chromebook 11
  • Chromebook 11e
  • Chromebook 11 G2

Hexa

  • Chromebook Pi

HiSense

  • Chromebook 11

Lava

  • Xolo Chromebook

HP

  • Chromebook 11 G3 / G4 / G4 EE
  • Chromebook 14 G4

Lenovo

  • 100S Chromebook
  • N20 / N20P Chromebook
  • N21 Chromebook
  • ThinkCentre Chromebox
  • ThinkPad 11e Chromebook
  • N22 Chromebook
  • Thinkpad 13 Chromebook
  • Thinkpad 11e Chromebook Gen 2 / Gen 3

Medion

  • Akoya S2013
  • Chromebook S2015

M&A

  • Chromebook

NComputing

  • Chromebook CX100

Nexian

  • Chromebook 11.6″

PCMerge

  • Chromebook PCM-116E

Poin2

  • Chromebook 11

Samsung

  • Chromebook 2 11″ – XE500C12

Sector 5

  • E1 Rugged Chromebook

Senkatel

  • C1101 Chromebook

Toshiba

  • Chromebook 2

True IDC

  • Chromebook 11

Viglen

  • Viglen Chromebook 11

10+ Commands Included In Chrome OS’s Hidden Crosh Shell

chrome-os-crosh-shell

Google’s Chrome OS includes a shell environment known as Chrome Shell, or “crosh” for short. Crosh includes several terminal commands that can be used on all Chromebooks, even if developer mode isn’t enabled.

Crosh includes commands for connecting to SSH servers, monitoring resource usage, debugging network problems, tweaking hidden hardware settings, performing hardware tests, and other debugging purposes.

Opening Crosh

To open the Crosh, press Ctrl+Alt+T anywhere in Chrome OS. The Crosh shell will open in a browser tab.

From here, you can run the help command to view a list of basic commands or run the help_advanced command for a list of “more advanced commands, mainly used for debugging.” We’ll cover some of the most interesting ones below.

ssh

Google provides an SSH client in the Chrome Web Store, but you don’t need to use it. You can use the built-in ssh command to connect to SSH servers without installing anything else on your Chromebook.

The ssh command is more advanced than you might expect. In addition to simply connecting to an SSH server, you can also use SSH tunneling to create a local proxy that allows you to tunnel your Chrome OS network activity over your SSH connection. You can also add private keys that you may need to connect to SSH servers.

chromebook-ssh-client

ssh_forget_host

The ssh_forget_host command displays a list of known hosts you’ve connected to with the SSH command and allows you to “forget” a host. The next time you connect to the host, you’ll be asked to verify its key fingerprint again.

top

Chrome includes its own task manager that shows you which Chrome tabs, extensions, and plug-ins are using resources. However, Crosh also includes the top command from Linux, which gives you a display of all the low-level processes that may also be using resources. Most users will prefer using Chrome’s built-in task manager, but the top utility does provide more information. It also displays some information you can’t find elsewhere in Chrome OS, such as your Chromebook’s uptime.

chromebook-top-command

ping

Yes, Chrome OS also has a ping command. Ping is an important utility for network troubleshooting, allowing you to see how long packets take to travel between your system and a web server and see whether any packets are being dropped. It works just like the ping command on other operating systems. Press Ctrl+C to stop the ping process or halt any other command in Crosh.

chromebook-ping-command

tracepath

The tracepath command functions similarly to traceroute, allowing you to trace the path packets take to reach a remote server. It’s another useful network-troubleshooting command, as it allows you to determine exactly where network problems are occurring between you and another networked device.

tracepath-chrome-os

network_diag

The network_diag command performs a short set of network diagnostic tests, saving the output as a .txt file you can view in your Chromebook’s Files app.

chrome-os-network_diag

sound

Chrome includes a command that can record audio from your Chromebook’s microphone and play it back later.

To record 10 seconds of audio from your Chromebook’s microphone, run the following command:

sound record 10

The audio will be saved as a file you can access from your Chromebook’s Files app. You can then play it back with the sound play command.

chromebook-record-sound-file

tpcontrol

The tpcontrol command allows you to fine-tune your device’s touchpad. Some of these options are available in Chrome OS’ settings window, but you can tweak many properties that aren’t available from the graphical interface.

chromebook-tpcontrol

xset m

The xset m command allows you to tweak your mouse acceleration rate. Chrome OS only has options for controlling the mouse’s speed in its graphical interface, so any fine-tuning of the acceleration rate — particularly useful if you’re using an external mouse that doesn’t work well with the default rate — must be done from here. The acceleration rate is configured in the same way you’d use the xset m command to configure acceleration rates on a standard Linux system.

xset r

The xset r command allows you to tweak the autorepeat behavior for when you hold a keyboard button down. You can select a delay before autorepeat starts and configure how many repeats occur per second. You can also disable autorepeat completely for every key on the keyboard or just disable autorepeat for specific keys.

chrome-os-xset

Developer Mode Commands

In developer mode, you also have the following commands available to you:

  • shell: Opens a full bash shell where you can run other Linux commands, including ones that can launch standard Linux desktop environments after you install them.
  • systrace: Start system tracing, allowing you to capture logs for debugging purposes.
  • packet_capture: Start capturing and logging packets.

chrome-os-developer-mode-shell


You’ll find other commands if you run the help_advanced command — everything from memory tests and a Bluetooth debugging console to commands that let you control the debugging level for different background services. Many of these options are only useful for Chrome developers.