ChromeOS Upgrade from Debian 9 to Debian 10 – aka Buster – Google Script crashed.

I have one of those Chromebooks, which allow a Linux subsystem to be installed, that subsystem being referred to in the Google world as “Crostini”. It takes the form of a Virtual Machine, which mounts a Container. That container provides the logical hard drive of the VM’s Guest System. What Google had done at some point in the past was, to install Debian 9 / Stretch as the Linux version, in a simplified, automated way. But, because Debian Stretch is being replaced by Debian 10 / Buster, the option also exists, to upgrade the Linux Guest System to Buster. Only, while the option to do so manually was always available to knowledgeable users, with the recent Update of ChromeOS, Google insists that the user perform the upgrade, and provides ‘an easy script’ to do so. The user is prompted to click on something in his ChromeOS settings panel.

What happened to me, and what may also happen to my readers is, that this script crashes, and leaves the user with a ChromeOS window, that has a big red symbol displayed, to indicate that the upgrade failed. I failed to take a screen-shot of what this looks like. The button to offer the upgrade again, is thankfully taken away at that point. But, if he or she reaches that point, the user will need to decide what to do next, out of essentially two options:

  • Delete the Linux Container, and set up a new one from scratch. In that case, everything that was installed to, or stored within Linux will be lost. Or,
  • Try to complete the upgrade in spite of the failed script.

I chose to do the latter. The Linux O/S has its own method of performing such an upgrade. I would estimate that the reason for which the script crashed on me, might have been Google’s Expectation that my Linux Guest System might have 200-300 packages installed, when in fact I have a much more complete Linux system, with over 1000 packages installed, including services and other packages that ask for configuration options. At some point, the Google Script hangs, because the Linux O/S is asking an unexpected question. Also, while the easy button has a check-mark checked by default, to back up the Guest System’s files before performing the upgrade, I intentionally unchecked that, simply over the knowledge that I do not have sufficient storage on the Chromebook, to back up the Guest System.

I proceeded on the assumption, that what the Google script did first was, to change the contents of the file ‘/etc/apt/sources.list’, as well as of the directory ‘/etc/apt/sources.list.d’, to specify the new software sources, associated with Debian Buster as opposed to Debian Stretch. At that point, the Google script should also have set up, whatever it is that makes Crostini different from stock Linux. Only, once in the middle of the upgrade that follows, the Google script hanged.

(Updated 10/25/2020, 22h55… )

Continue reading ChromeOS Upgrade from Debian 9 to Debian 10 – aka Buster – Google Script crashed.

It’s perfectly possible to run AppImages from within Crostini.

One of the assets which I have, is an Asus Chromebook, that has modest specifications (including mere 32GB of storage), but on which I did activate the Debian / Stretch flavour of Linux. I should also mention that this Chromebook has the Intel Celeron N3350 CPU, which runs the x86_64 instruction set. This latter detail is of some importance, as full compatibility with Linux will not be realized without it. Admittedly, the subset of Debian / Stretch packages that have been cross-compiled to ARM CPU binaries is limited, and what I’m about to describe in this posting will not work at all, on ARM CPUs (that were also the more-common CPUs for use with Android).

The virtual machine that runs Linux inside ChromeOS is also called “Crostini”.

One of the limitations which I’ve heard about Crostini is, that one cannot perform most loop-mounts in root mode. For that reason, there might be some misgivings about being able to run AppImage’s, because those require a user-space mount of a ‘SquashFS’ file system, and also require the existence of a kernel module to do so.

Therefore, I am most happy to report, that on my Linux setup, and with up-to-date Chrome 85…, I am able to run AppImage’s after all, that were meant for Linux, and for the 64-bit, Intel / AMD CPU family.

As an example, I was well-able to download the Kdenlive video editor, in the form of the Linux AppImage, and to get it to run under ChromeOS. I find that often, the video editing features available from Google Play / Android apps are way too limiting.

Thus, I am finding new ways to enjoy my Chromebook and its Linux subsystem. I would warn people though, that, before running AppImage’s, they install a somewhat complete set of Linux applications and libraries.


 

(Update 9/10/2020, 20h55: )

Continue reading It’s perfectly possible to run AppImages from within Crostini.

An observation about the new Chrome OS Smart-Lock and Instant Tethering features.

I own a Samsung Galaxy S9 smart-phone, and an Asus Flip C213 Chromebook. And, two relatively new features which Google rolled out are:

  • Smart-Lock: The ability to unlock the Chromebook, using the presence of the phone, and
  • Instant Tethering: It has always been possible to activate the Mobile Hot-Spot feature of the phone, assuming that a user has a plan that includes tethering, and then to connect the Chromebook (or other device) to it, in the form of a mobile, Wi-Fi Access Point. But, with Instant Tethering, the availability of the phone as a tether is supposed to be more quickly visible from the Chromebook, and theoretically, accessible with a single click.

What some people have reported is, that this feature does not always work 100%, even though the procedure was followed, which my readers can find in many other places on the Web, to set up the feature. I recently experienced as well that, on my first try, these two features were not working at all, when the Chrome OS version on my Chromebook was ’80.x’. Yet, even during the interval of my trials, an update to the Chrome OS version had presented itself, to version ’81.y’. And since the update, the features seem to work 50% of the time.

There was an additional step which can be taken, but should not be 100% necessary in this case, and which I took, which is outlined in this article:

https://www.howtogeek.com/fyi/chrome-os-instant-tethering-comes-to-more-android-phones-heres-how-to-do-it/

I will explain below, Why I changed the flag under:

chrome://flags/#instant-tethering

From ‘Default’, to ‘Enabled’. A reboot was required…

One reason these features may still not work 100% for me, could be the possibility of the phone going into ‘Deep Sleep’…

Continue reading An observation about the new Chrome OS Smart-Lock and Instant Tethering features.

An Observation About Chrome OS

There is a list of criticisms I could make about Chrome OS, but which I will simply skip for the moment.

I recently bought a new Chromebook.

I have an important piece of information – and praise – about Chrome OS. Its version of the Chrome Web browser – which is simply referred to as ‘Chrome’ – is capable of doing everything that full, desktop Web browsers can do, including, to install extensions from the Chrome Web store. This differs obviously from what the Chrome browser under Android did, which was only a small fraction of that.

Because of this, it’s unnecessary to install numerous Android apps, that just used to be front-ends of sorts, for services that were already available from Web-sites. Four apps which I did not need to install because I was just able to point Chrome to the relevant site, bookmark each site, and log in, are:

  1. Skype
  2. Netflix
  3. Amazon Prime Video
  4. Cineplex Store

And I’m writing this, even though there exist reports that the Android Netflix app runs fine under Chrome OS.

I’m sure my list will grow.

Dirk