Dave!

Dave, and yes, 3 laptops.

Volunteer Dave and I (and several online resources) spent the bulk of the day together rooting a Chromebook, which was donated to help start WPNA’s computer loaner library. As part of a tech initiative in collaboration with Women of WORTHington, we aim to launch computer training classes of varying concentrations… along with figuring a way to get free community Wi-Fi to our residents.

Stripping copper

Stripping copper

The first fun bit: Jumper the write-protect on the board. OK, with what? Not having that kind of teeny part laying around, and seeing there was nothing to use from inside an old desktop I cracked open, we had to get creative. After staring at it a second, I grabbed some excess CAT5e cable and tore out one inch-long wire. The idea: Put some copper down in the thing and hope it makes a sufficient connection. I made a lil’ loop, shoved it down in there, taped over the excess wire and closed the back cover.

rootin-03Eureka!! Write-protect disabled and Developer mode entered! Then, I made a mistake. You could say I zigged when I should have zagged. Say whatever you wish, the result was hours—no kidding, HOURS!—of scratching our noggins trying to think of what to do next. We were at a standstill. Long story short, nothing short of a miracle, we managed to restore ChromeOS and kinda start from scratch. Easy breezy from there. Sorta.

Success! (sorta)

Success! (sorta)

What did we learn? Take it slowly, do it on a Sunday, have absolutely nothing else time sensitive to get to IF you plan on goofing part of the process. Otherwise, it’s relatively simple. Y’know, the whole reason I wanted to do this is because a Chromebook is so completely limited and I wanted to open it up. The other thing is I was a bit upset that Google throws these things out in the world with relatively really good hardware and then puts such hardcore restrictions on what you can do with it. Side note: ChromeOS is a weirdo. Creating a restore stick not only made the thumb drive unusable for anything else afterwards unless wiped with a partition utility but it created FOUR partitions (one invisible). Then after successfully booting to an Ubuntu stick, the installer warned me I was about to erase 22 partitions. 22?! WHAT?!

Anyway, there are some tweaks still to do and it’s not ready for public use but the netbook is running pretty darn well. We’re looking forward to messing with more computers and building up a nice lil’ library. Excluding bulky desktops, please get in touch if you have an unused netbook or laptop laying around. Not too old, please 🙂