Flash Google CR-48 BIOS Without Luigi or Ubuntu
A while after Google started sending out the CR-48 netbooks, it’s write-protected security system was undoubtedly compromised. Shortly after Hexxeh created a tool called Luigi, which has actually been taken down since then due to a bug he’s found which causes the system to lose its original and unique BIOS. I personally feel he is over-reacting as hundreds, if not thousands of CR-48’s have had their BIOS flashed with his tool, and flashed back to a stock BIOS (albeit from a different CR-48 unit) and NONE of the units have been bricked to my knowledge.
I had a goal for the weekend to install a slimmed down (possibly embedded) copy of Windows 7 on my CR-48, simply because I don’t use it when it has Chrome OS on it. The lack of apps to install for specialized functions drives me nuts. While I had known Luigi had been down for months, I knew of a mirror that was brought up by jim2013. A friend of mine (James Kaczynski) used this mirror a few prior with no issues, so that was my plan as well.
Unfortunately when the time came, I realized the mirror was also down. Being the impatient person I am, I decided to look for another alternative. Everything I found involved installing Ubuntu on the device to run flashrom to write a custom BIOS.bin file. To be frank, I didn’t feel like doing a wget on Ubuntu and waiting all day for a download just to flash a tiny BIOS file.
I took a pretty risky move in trying my own way of flashing the BIOS without Ubuntu or Luigi, and while I admit that this isn’t something that should be done lightly at this point after Hexxeh’s warnings, but it does work, and can be used to install any OS on your CR-48 device. If you’re interested in how this is accomplished, just follow the steps below.
- You’re going to need to disassemble your CR-48 device. THIS STEP CANNOT BE SKIPPED. There is a small metal strip inside the case that touches a sensor on the motherboard of the unit. This protects against the BIOS being written over. To do this you want to remove all the screws on the case (circled in the image below). You’ll need a very tiny screwdriver for the small black screws, be careful not to strip them like I did or you may never get the casing off. You also have to remove the back two rubber feet (they’ll stick back on without issue don’t worry!) and remove the screws underneath as well. Once the screws are removed, start removing from the monitor hinges pulling upward carefully, work your way around to the side OPPOSITE of the power input, that side will come off very cleanly and allow you to avoid any breakage on the side with the input ports.
- After you have the case removed, go ahead and flick the developer switch ON as shown below. Set the netbook on a smooth surface (since it doesn’t have it’s bottom, make sure its nothing metal) and plug the device in and turn it on. The CR-48 should tell you that the verification of Chrome OS is turned off, let it sit at this screen for a moment and it will eventually start “erasing the stateful partition”. Let the process complete and reboot. Upon reboot you’ll be at the Chrome OS setup screen as if it was out of a new box. You’ll want to at least get as far as when it lets you select your WiFi network. Be sure you’re connected to the network before continuing!
- After you’re on WiFi, press Ctrl+Alt+Forward to drop to a shell.
- Enter the username as chronos with no password required.
- Now that you are logged into the shell, we need to download the BIOS file. issue the following command. wget http://www.techjawa.com/cr48bios.bin
- It’s up to you to backup your current BIOS, you can do this by the issuing the following command. sudo flashrom -r backup.bin
- It’s also up to you to BACK UP THAT FILE! Do something, copy it to your flash drive, boot into the CR-48 developer mode and email it to yourself or something. You’ll figure it out if you want it badly enough.
- After you’ve taken care of that, or not if you don’t care about restoring it, we need to flash the new BIOS. Just issue this command. sudo flashrom -w cr48bios.bin
- Wait for the process to complete, reboot, and that’s it. Now follow whatever guide you’d like for your specific operating system, and remember if you’re installing Windows 7, reset the BIOS to optimized defaults!
- Enjoy! And don’t forget to replace the cover and attach all the screws again!