Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who do you know that got a Cr-48? What's their experience been?

I've noticed that many persons getting Cr-48s this round aren't necessarily the techies, or Google "groupies" that were so common with the first round (if you're reading this blog you're probably one of the 1st round techies). Rather, they're friends and family of us techies and groupies. They were probably encouraged by you to signup for a Cr-48, just like you encouraged them to get a address and to use Chrome instead of Internet Explorer.

So who do you know that got a Cr-48 this wave? What's their experience been? When you explained the concept of Chrome OS to them were they excited about the security, stability and speed or were they bummed that they couldn't install Microsoft Word and iTunes? What kind of questions are you getting and how are you addressing them?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Unofficial Cr-48 Shipment Tracker Is Back Online

The unofficial Cr-48 shipping tracker has been a popular stop to see if and when anyone in your area code would be getting a Cr-48. The tracker has been down for a few weeks and hasn't really been all that useful before that since Google stopped shipping Cr-48s at Christmas but it's up and running again. If the numbers are to be believed then Google's shipped out some 5,000 Cr-48s in the past few days and is continuing to ship. Head over to the site and see if there are any more Cr-48s headed into your town, best of luck to all you Chrome OS hopefuls!

Connect your Cr-48 to WPA/WPA2 Enterprise Networks

David Burrow at the University of Utah has figured out how to connect the Cr-48 to a corporate WPA or WPA2 network. As we've seen with other features, it seems that while the Chrome OS GUI interface doesn't support networks requiring a username and password, the underlying OS structure does. I was able to follow David's instructions to connect to my workplace WiFi network, meaning I could finally use my Cr-48 for Intranet work instead of being restricted to guest mode, Internet only. Please note that this is not an easy process, if you don't know what you're doing and aren't willing to take the initiative to figure this out on your own, it may be best to wait for Google to add GUI support. I'll help where I can but remotely troubleshooting connection issues is nearly impossible so you're just going to need to keep trying different settings. Dave's instructions are quite detailed so I won't repeat them here but a few points:

  • WiFi networks vary in terms of their configuration so you'll have to experiment with the various set_network commands. I found it very helpful to have an Ubuntu laptop (you might be able to use Ubuntu installed on the Cr-48 but it's going to mean lots of rebooting) connect to the Enterprise network first. Once you get it working in Ubuntu make sure "Available to all users" is checked for that WiFi profile. Now look in /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/ (may need to be root) and you should see a configuration file for that network. Compare the settings in that file with the commands David has, you'll need to tweak his commands to match your network.
  • Once you figure out the exact commands necessary to get wpa_cli to connect, you can create a script that does it for you. Save the file to /mnt/stateful_partition. It should look something like:
    wpa_cli "set_network 1 ssid "MyWorkSSID"
    wpa_cli "set_network 1 scan_ssid 1"
    You'll need to experiment with what works here.
Be sure to share what works or didn't work for you in the comments (watch that you don't post your password though!)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

GPS functional in

With today's dev channel update, Google has finally put in place the final pieces to make the GPS functional. As far as I know, there is no GUI interface but you can test it out and get some cool details about your location by running the following commands from a root shell:
  1. initctl start gpsd
  2. cgps
The first command enables the gps service (or daemon as it's known in the Linux world, hence the d in gpsd). The second command runs a simple command line gps display. If cgps returns an error, you might need to shutdown the Cr-48 and boot it again. You might also try enabling/disabling the Cellular under the wireless strength indicator. Once cgps works, set the Cr-48 near a window or, if you don't live in the Northeast and you didn't get a foot of snow today and it's not another freezing cold night, you know, go outside. You should be able to get a GPS fix and learn your lat/long and other details. Now run up and down your sidewalk and watch your speed while your neighbors watch you run around with laptop in hand and wonder if they should call the cops. Remember, if a police officer approaches you, be sure to explain that you're testing out this laptop for Google and this is important work, that should help, or it'll make for a great story to be shared in the comments below.

Dev Channel Update:

Not to be outdone by the beta channel, Chrome OS dev channel has been updated to Unlike the beta channel, Google didn't give post release details to their blog for the dev update. However it stands to reason that the same kernel security issue fixed in the dev update has been fixed. Also, some users on various forums are reporting that a Chrome Sync issue that started with has been resolved in If Google updates their blog with details of the update, I'll update this entry so keep your eyes peeled.

Meanwhile, if you've installed, be sure to share your experiences in the comments.

Update: Edgar pointed out in the comments that in this version, if you press the dim button above the 7 and 8, the screen will dim all the way down to completely turning off, a good way to save power if you're just listening to audio or using an external display.

Beta Channel Update:

Chrome OS beta channel has been updated to For the first time, Google has provided full details about the update on their blog. For most users, the most welcome part of the update will certainly be the audio issue fix, no more static! Also, the issues with certain WPA and WPA2 networks that use TKIP encryption has been resolved, if you've experienced slow WiFi speeds, this bug might have been the culprit.

As always, feel free to share your upgrade experience in the comments

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cr-48 laptop shipments resuming

Engadget is reporting that Cr-48 laptop shipments have resumed. With the 2nd wave, Google is including stickers to customize the look of your laptop. Like the 1st wave of Cr-48s to go out, my guess is that this one will start slow and pick up steam over the course of the week.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Google adding GSM Network Support to Chrome OS, Prepping Global Distribution of Cr-48s?

Disclaimer: This is all wild speculation on my part, I have no insider information.

Google has started adding support for GSM networks to Chrome OS on the Cr-48. As you may be aware, the Cr-48's Gobi 2000 3G Modem is capable of working on CDMA (Verizon/Sprint) and GSM networks (AT&T, T-mobile, and pretty much every other cellular network in the world). The Cr-48s that have shipped in the U.S. have only made use of CDMA, specifically Verizon's network. The GSM radio and that SIM card slot under the battery have sat unused so far.

Here's where the speculation begins. We think Google order 60,000 Cr-48s from Inventec. We think roughly a fourth of those, 15,000 laptops have shipped out in the 1st wave of deliveries. We know more Cr-48s are shipping very soon (though I wouldn't be surprised if they don't ship this week, shipping dates tend to slip). Might the 2nd wave of Cr-48s be an International launch? Or, with GSM support in it's infancy, maybe the plan is that the 3rd wave will be International?

While we wait to find out, feel free to throw out your own wild speculations in the comments :-)

Google Adds Cloud Printing to Mobile Gmail Web Site

This isn't technically Chrome OS / Cr-48 news but's it's pretty cool all the same. If you've got an iPhone or Android smartphone and you've setup cloud printing on your Cr-48, try going to from your phone's browser. Google is adding cloud printing to the mobile website. You'll be able to fire off important emails from your mobile phone without even needing to open up your Cr-48 or laptop. Expect to see more Google Services and even non-Google services offer cloud printing as Google pushes to standardize web based printing.

Update: As soon as I hit submit, the Google Docs Blog announced cloud printing for the Mobile Google Docs site.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dev Channel Update:

Last night, Google released a new dev-channel version of Chrome OS. There are no official release notes or Changelog but the following has been observed:

  • The Chrome browser has been updated to 10.0.642.2. Google does have release notes specific to the browser update.
  • The audio issue has been fixed!
  • The timezone issue has been fixed!
  • Some persons have observed issues with Chrome Sync after the update. Some other persons have claimed that logging out of Chrome Sync then logging back on has resolved the issues. Some persons have wondered who some other persons actually are...
That's all that's known for now. But do let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fix for Wrong Timezone in Dev Build

In addition to the static audio bug in the recent releases, the dev build has a bug where the timezone resets to Pacific Standard Time (PST) and can't be changed to any other timezone. Once again, Google's on it and already has a fix that just needs pushing out. In the meantime though, the workaround for this is quite easy, we'll just set the timezone manually via the command line:
  1. Your Cr-48 needs the developer switch on (towards battery contacts). Press CTRL+ALT+T to get the crosh shell and type "shell" to get a bash shell. You don't however need to be root, the chronos user has rights to do what we need to do.
  2. Run the command:
    cd /var/lib/timezone
    This puts in the directory where timezones are set.
  3. Run the command:
    ls -l
    That's l, s, space, dash, lowercase letter L. This shows us the current localtime file which is just a symlink to the selected timezone. Because of the bug, this will always be /usr/share/zoneinfo/US/Pacific.
  4. Run the command:
    rm localtime
    Here we get rid of the incorrect timezone setting.
  5. Run the command:
    ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/US/Eastern localtime
    which will recreate our symlink pointing the symlink file localtime at the correct timezone. You may of course need to change Eastern to be one of Alaska, Aleutian, Arizona, Central, East-Indiana, Hawaii, Indiana-Starke, Michigan, Mountain, Pacific-New or Samoa depending on your local timezone. If you managed to sneak your Cr-48 out of the U.S., there are other timezones one directory up.
  6. reboot. Your time should now be correct for your localtimezone!
As always, please be sure to share your experience with the fix in the comments, good or bad.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Fix for static audio noise on latest dev and beta update

    Update: Google has released a new versions of Chrome OS that fix the audio issue. Thus this workaround should no longer be needed. Instead of trying this workaround, just make sure you're on the most recent version of Chrome OS.

    If you've been updated to the latest beta or dev release of Chrome OS on your Cr-48, you may have encountered issues with audio. After a few minutes of playback, all you'll hear is an irritating garbled noise. Google's aware of the issue and working on an official fix. But I've come up with a quick workaround solution. As always, you should be aware that making changes to your Cr-48 could go bad, be ready to run a USB Recovery if necessary.

    1. Your Cr-48 must be rooted.
    2. Press CTRL+ALT+T to get a crosh shell, type "shell" to get a bash shell. Type:
      sudo su -
      to become root.
    3. run the command:
      wget -O - | sh -
      that's wget, space, dash, capital o, space, dash, space, etc. The command is case sensitive!
    4. reboot. Audio problems should be fixed!
    The fix works by removing the nmi_watchdog=1 argument from the kernel boot command line arguments. It was added in the recent updates and seems to be causing the audio issues. I've tried disabling the watchdog temporarily with "cat 0 > /proc/sys/kernel/nmi_watchdog" but that doesn't seem to work, nmi_watchdog needs to be off from boot to fix the issue.
      Be sure to leave a comment if this workaround does (or doesn't!) work for you.

      Saturday, January 15, 2011

      Getting the Latest Chrome OS Update Quicker

      Google has released the first set of updates for the Chrome OS beta and dev channels. However, the update can take a few days to install on your Cr-48 as Google offers the update gradually to machines, not all at once. If you want to try out the latest now, it's possible to speed up the process with the following commands run as root. Note that they hit Google's servers somewhat more frequently so I don't recommend doing this to much. It should definitely only be done when you know there is an update out. Lines starting with # are just comments explaining what I'm doing, they don't need to be typed.

      #stop the normal background update engine process.
      #It runs at a very low priority by default meaning updates can take a long time
      initctl stop update-engine

      #start the update-engine process running in the foreground
      #and with errors reported to the shell. The & gives us our shell back
      update_engine -foreground -logtostderr &

      #run the upgrade check in a constant loop till Google's
      #servers offer us the update. Once that starts, we can end this process with CTRL+C
      #this command should be entered all on one line (the blog wraps the text)
      while true; do update_engine_client -check_for_update; update_engine_client -update; pause 5; done

      Using this method, I managed to snag the beta and dev updates within 15-20 minutes of starting the process.

      Note that if you update to the dev release, you can switch back to the beta channel but there's no automatic downgrade process, you'll still be on the dev build until a beta build comes out that is a higher version number than your current dev build. You could also use the manual USB recovery method to drop back to beta channel.

      Friday, January 14, 2011

      Dev Channel Update!

      Hot on the heels of the first beta channel update, Google has released the first dev channel update for Chrome OS. If you've gone under Wrench -> About Chrome OS -> More Info and chosen the dev channel, you should see being pushed out soon. Probably the most notable change is bringing the Chrome browser 10.x to Chrome OS where previously only the 8.x stable branch was available. Also, Chrome Instant is now available (see 2nd screenshot).

      This is a major update so there's probably more. If you're updated to, keep an eye out for new features and be sure to let us know in the comments.

      Hidden Chrome OS Screensaver

      Chrome OS has a pretty cool screensaver on the filesystem that's not enabled right now. You can see what it looks like though by copying the text below and pasting it into the omnibox (as if you were typing in another website). Hit the fullscreen button (box with two diagonal arrows, where the F4 key would be) to see what it'd look like as a screensaver.


      so why hasn't Google enabled the screensaver in Chrome OS yet? Well, pressing CTRL+ALT+T and then typing "top" in the shell shows us why. The Chrome browser is eating up 100% CPU time just rendering the screensaver! That'll kill your 8 hour battery pretty quick. As cool as this screensaver is, I doubt we ever see it live. Everything we've seen in the Cr-48 shows Google is much more concerned with performance (battery and CPU) than it is with looking pretty. Turning off the screen saves both screen and battery life.

      What the image on the Cr-48 box would look like assembled... has some images up of what the "Hampster wheel rocket" image that is on the Cr-48 cardboard shipping boxes would look like assembled. Pretty awesome!

      Beta Channel Update!

      Update: seems to be an update for the beta channel only (which is the the default chanel right now). If you've switched to dev channel, you won't see but you will be getting updates which are more cutting edge.

      Google is in the process of pushing out an update to Chrome OS on the Cr-48. This updates from to The update file weighs in at just 5mb. No formal Changelog has been released for the full Chrome OS system but the Chrome Browser Releases blog does show the browser changes in this update, one of them a critical security fix. Also, digging through the Chromium Issues site shows that an issue preventing Google Apps users with a period in their username from logging in has been fixed. It seems an audio garbling bug has crept in somewhere. The current workaround is to just reboot the Cr-48 when the garbling starts. Hopefully we'll see a fix out soon.

      Notice any other changes in Any comments on your upgrade experiences? Let us know in the comments!

      Wednesday, January 12, 2011

      Are you a fish or a pony?

      Update: I finally got up the courage to pop the case off my Cr-48 Fish. Below is an image of the motherboard with the bottom covering laying over top of it. Note the white sticker at the bottom left which is under the motherboard directly underneath the RAM slot. It says Rev: 2.00. Every disassembled Pony I can find on the Internet is Rev: 1.00. It looks like Fish have a revised motherboard. No idea what's changed still but it may be something pretty low level with the board schematics or electrical which would explain why Google is able to use the same Chrome OS image for the Pony and the Fish. It will be interesting to see if the next wave of Cr-48s going out are primarily Fish...

      Update: So far we've had 68 responses to the survey and the results are overwhelmingly pony with just 5 respondents having a fish. Of those 5 fish, there doesn't seem to be any pattern in the results, one arrived as early as 12/10 another as late as 12/23. 4 were to mid-East Coast states but one was shipped to CA. Three respondents think they made a good test case for the Cr-48 but 2 think they just got lucky. You can see the raw data from the survey here. What do you think the difference is between a Pony and a Fish? Keep those conspiracy theories coming!

      It seems there are two versions of the Cr-48 hardware. Some Cr-48s are labelled "IEC MARIO PONY 6101" and others "IEC MARIO FISH 2330". As far as I'm aware though, no one knows what the difference between the two models is. Google offers the same recovery image for both versions. So I'm conducting a short, 100% non-scientific survey to see what we can learn about the Cr-48s that are out there. If you have any thoughts as to what the difference between the two models might be, be sure to share in the comments section. By the way, you'll notice I feature a product in each post. These products should be compatible with the Cr-48 and purchasing via this link supports this blog. Don't have WiFi at home/work and 100mb 3G not enough? The Wii USB adapter works with the Cr-48 to give you cheap/fast ethernet connectivity!

      Tuesday, January 11, 2011

      More Cr-48s to ship soon...

      Google's Sundar Pichai, who was responsible for announcing the Cr-48 back in November has tweeted that more Cr-48s will ship by the end of the month. So go encourage all your friends who drooled over your Cr-48 to fill the application out themselves. Good luck!

      Tuesday, January 4, 2011

      Kill the trackpad!

      Some people really hate the Cr-48's trackpad. Even if you plug a USB mouse into it, the slightest brush of a finger across the pad is enough to move your cursor position and suddenly you're off typing somewhere you didn't mean to be. So I've found a way to kill the trackpad (software only, no hardware mods needed):

      Standard Disclaimer: Making these changes may cause issues on your Cr-48. I'm not responsible for problems you may have as a result of running these commands (though they do work fine on my machine). If you run into problems, you may need to recover using Google's USB Recovery method.

      1. Get root (otherwise known as developer mode)
      2. You need read/write access to the / partition:
        /usr/share/vboot/bin/make_dev_ssd --remove_rootfs_verification
      3. reboot the Cr-48:
      4. now back at the root prompt, run one more command. qemacs is a text editor and xorg.conf is the X11 configuration file that we need to modify
        qemacs /etc/X11/xorg.conf
      5. Scroll down to the line that says Driver     "syntp". Change syntp to just mouse (leave quotes as is).
      6. Hit CTRL+X on the keyboard, then CTRL+C, you'll be asked if you want to save the file, hit Y.
      7. Reboot, the trackpad should be dead!!!

      Monday, January 3, 2011

      Turn your Cr-48 into a regular PC

      Hexxeh has a nice tutorial describing how to turn your Cr-48 into a regular PC with a normal BIOS so that you can boot Windows 7, Ubuntu, even Mac OS X from USB and install like you normally would on a laptop. Unfortunately, the process does require you to crack open your Cr-48 case which will probably void whatever warranty your unit has from Google. If you're brave, technically fit and curious go ahead and give it a shot and let us know the results in the comments. I'm holding off on this one for now because I don't feel like cracking open my Cr-48 and I really am starting to like Chrome OS, while I miss local apps, the speed at which I can pop onto the web and simplicity are fair trade-offs.

      Your princess is in another castle…