Laptops Running Zorin Linux on an old Asus C302 Chromebook


Sharing my experience of running Linux on an old Chromebook.

Last year around this time itself, I got a used Chromebook from this forum. I was a bit apprehensive about it, didn't really need another laptop, but had always wanted to try a Chromebook. I had also done some reading and found that if I didn't like Chrome OS, I could install Linux on it. The device being sold also looked pretty impressive. It was an Asus C302c. It had an aluminium body, a gorgeous touchscreen, and had very good reviews regarding build quality.

I got the device in June and used it for a while. Chrome OS was... Chrome OS. Highly locked down, barely any software you could install. There was play store but most mobile apps don't work well in a laptop form factor. I tried installing firefox by enabling developer mode, but it was slow, slow as in it couldn't run youtube videos. After the initial phase, once the novelty wore off, the device just went into a corner. I kept thinking of installing Linux, but developed cold feet because there were warnings saying it could brick the device.

Finally, around November, after the device hadn't been touched in months, I decided to go ahead. I downloaded Gallium OS, removed the write protect screw, wiped the device, and installed Gallium. Everything went smoothly and it worked right away. No tweaking required.

However, I soon discovered that development had been stopped on Gallium. It was outdated and quite buggy. The touchscreen didn't really work, as in, it just worked like a touchpad. It was useless. Screen rotation was also gone. And since Gallium had been abandoned, there was no hope of anything improving. The device once again got relegated to a corner, being taken out only occasionally when I didn't feel like using my PC and my main laptop was being used by my wife.

Finally yesterday I decided to go ahead and replace Gallium with something else. I first tried Lubuntu. While it worked, it wasn't that good. I immediately started facing issue with app installation and the look and feel wasn't appealing. Within hours, I decided to replace it Manjaro with Cinnamon. It looked gorgeous and was smooth. Unfortunately, once again, I couldn't get the sound working. So I finally went ahead installed Zorin. And I finally hit jackpot.

Zorin looks Gorgeous, completely modern look and feel, despite being pretty lightweight. Sound wasn't working, but I found a script which I ran and it worked, it hardly took 5 minutes. Auto rotation also works in tablet mode. Unfortunately it turns the screen upside down, but it's still usable. Just rotate the screen opposite of how you want it, lock the orientation, then use. Touchscreen works like a touchscreen, not like a touchpad. I can tap and scroll, and it doesn't move the mouse cursor.

Above all, despite having only 60 GB of storage and 4 GB of RAM, I hardly feel much lag. It's of course not the fastest experience, but it's perfectly usable, much more than a Windows machine on 8 GB RAM. I also have about 43 GB free space after installing some basic applications.

So after dragging my feet for almost a year, I finally converted it to an actual usable laptop.

Thanks @Rajiv Sri for the great device.
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It's a great achievement Gaurav. Happy that you figured that out. I thought of loading Linus distro on it but the warnings were scary on the forums. Applause