Coreboot Tutorial

Bill Richardson (Google, Inc), Stefan Reinauer (Google)
Open Hardware
Location: E147 Level: Expert
Average rating: ***..
(3.57, 7 ratings)


Chromebooks are probably the most open laptops being shipped in the last 3 decades. Some of them even feature a new, open source, 32-bit embedded controller, replacing the proprietary 8-bit Ec of years past. They all feature GPL’ed firmware (coreboot) and a fully open secure boot implementation called V-boot. They are quite secure, but at the same time, quite open to hacking at the flip of a switch or push of a key sequence on power on.

In this tutorial, we’ll go into the architecture of Chromebooks, from the CPU pins on up, and teach you how to hack your Chromebook. You’ll need a Chromebook (they can be had for $200 or so) and a screwdriver. We’ll have crashcart hardware in case you brick your book so we can recover it. At the end of this tutorial you’ll have a state of the art but totally open laptop.


* Knowledge of how to install a distro/how to compile programs/how to build a kernel and install it helpful
* Chromebook with crouton or other chroot and development environment installed ahead of time

QUESTIONS for the speaker?: Use the “Leave a Comment or Question” section at the bottom to address them.

Bill Richardson

Google, Inc

Photo of Stefan Reinauer

Stefan Reinauer


Worked at SUSE for several years. Invented OpenBIOS, then worked on coreboot both before moving to Google and at Google. Many seminal inventions involving coreboot. More later as Stefan fills this out.

Comments on this page are now closed.


ronald minnich
06/09/2013 2:00am PDT

I still recommend the acer C7. $200. Very tear-into-able.

For ARM, yes, we will have a working ARM coreboot at that point.

For those with no hardware, the first part of the tutorial is going to be for QEMU. So, at minimum, bring a laptop with the full GNUBIN toolchain, and qemu installed, and you can at least work with that.

Jeff Mendoza
06/07/2013 9:34am PDT

Will the ARM Chromebook work for this tutorial? I’m planning on getting that one.

ronald minnich
05/15/2013 7:22am PDT

very hackable:

320 GB hard drive, for around $25 you can bump it to 16 GB. It has two memory slots.

I’ll have mine there, I upgraded it to a 200 GB ssd and 16 GB DRAM. It’s nice, but I don’t like the keyboard too much.

The only issue being that getting to flash, if you brick the bios somehow, is messy. But you can reflash from the command line with the bios we build and it should work. To make sure, I’m going to flash mine first :-)

Much easier to get to the flash, won’t take as much memory as the acer, but nicer in many ways:

but it’s much pricier. For the price of the samsung you can outfit the acer as I mentioned above and have money left over. That said, I have to repeat, many people dislike the acer keyboard. I like my samsung a lot.

Picture of mark gross
mark gross
05/15/2013 4:27am PDT

Can you recommend a few easy to hack IA chrome books. Some of the ID’s look like they could be harder than others to take a screwdriver too.


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