This guide includes all the tasks necessary to successfully install Linux on the Flip.
I was looking for a device that would let me do very simple tasks on the go:
- writing text and code with a text editor
- occasional web browsing
- enough power to run a local Apache MySQL PHP stack
- reading ebooks, PDF documents
- watching locally stored videos
It meets all of requirements I was looking for:
- ability to run Linux
- less than 13" screen size
- decent battery life, 3 hours +
- 1080 full HD display
- aluminum case
- USB-C charging
- inexpensive > $300
Cherry on the cake:
- back-lit keyboard
- 64 GB flash storage
- 4 GB of RAM
- quad core cpu
- 2-in-1: laptop, tablet (+tent)
- sdcard reader
My must have requirements were dictated mostly by the need to have a nimble portable device which I would use almost only during my 2 hour train commute with occasional off-desk use around the house. I already have experience with setting up a Acer 14 Chromebook with Linux for my wife and kids to use so that was my initial pick for myself but the deal breaker was the use of a non USB-C charger, a standard I seem to be using now everywhere, and size. Being at 14" it's almost on the edge of being too big for travel.
In the process of a research and elimination based on the above list of what I was looking for in a laptop I narrowed it down to exactly one: Asus Flip C302C Chromebook. It met all my wants and needs on the paper with some extra ones like being a 2-in-1 device with a touchscreen and amazing quality build. I love the keyboard as well, feels as great as my 2012 Macbook Pro. I got a used one on eBay for $300.
Remove the Write Protection Screw
The Write Protection Screw on the Asus Flip C302C Chromebook is located on the motherboard. The back cover has to be taken off, which is very simple. All it requires is a T5 and small head Philips screwdrivers.
Undo all the screws marked. All visible screws are size T5.
There are two hidden screws covered by the rubber stands. They are regular Philips type.
Once the cover is off the screw can be located under a piece of black sticky tape right in the middle of the motherboard.
To expose the screw gently remove the tape and unscrew it.
The screw doesn't seem to be structural, nothing has come undone or loose so far.
To finish this task, reverse the procedure by putting the cover back on.
Bonus: Fix Touchpad Slack
I bought the Flip used on eBay. It was in a great shape, almost brand new looking, with one small exception: touchpad slack or a sinking touchpad. Someone must have pressed too hard on it physically forcing it down causing it to have too much slack before a click. Huge pet peeve, I had to fix it.
Turns out the fix is very easy and universal across many devices. All the sources for a fix I came across boiled down to three easy tasks: disassemble, adjust the internal touchpad support height, reassemble. Others had great success by using electrical tape but in case of the Flip a small physical adjustment was all that was needed to correct it.
To disassemble, simply follow the easy steps from the above. With two extra steps being lifting the battery out of place and unscrewing the touchpad (2 small Philips screws). No need to disconnect any ribbon cables, they allow enough slack to work on it.
Carefully wiggle the touchpad out of the chassis, it's not difficult. Once the touchpad is out of the way carefully adjust the metal protrusion with a set of small pliers. Mine needed about 0.5 mm of adjustement. I made a mistake of bending it too much initially, which resulted in a complete loss of clicking feedback once everything was assembled back in place. So it may be a matter of trial and error until the proper clearance is achieved.
Another way to get this fixed can be by adding a couple of layers of electrical tape on the touchpad side where the clicker is. But electrical tape is not rigid so the result and longevity may vary.
The sounds doesn't work via the built-in speakers and the audio out 3.5 mm jack. It works only via Bluetooth.
It's a known issue currently without a short term solution available.
I personally don't care. I use Bluetooth headphones on the go anyway and it's not a primary home machine so the lack of sound is not missed.
~Once in a while it doesn't recover from sleep properly and the cursor won't work on all controls. It happens maybe once in 10 sleep on/off cycles and it's most likely a Mate desktop manager issue. I haven't dug into it and since it doesn't bother me I'll ignore it.~
Update: the above is no longer a problem. I suspect is was either XScreenSaver, which I disabled and replaced with MATE built-in screensaver tool, or perhaps a bug was fixed. Either way no more login prompt lockups. It had nothing to do with the hardware.
Flashing a new firmware is very simple. Follow the instructions on the following pages linked below.
Put it in developer mode: https://mrchromebox.tech/#devmode
Enter the shell and run the firmware utility to install the full ROM firmware: https://mrchromebox.tech/#fwscript
The machine is now ready for a regular Linux install.
Don't install CentOS (or RHEL). Out of the box the touchpad and WiFi doesn't work. I gave it a try just for the sake of trying it and noped out quickly.
Sadly, OpenBSD did not recognize the built in eMMC disk storage during the installation process. Too bad, it would be nice to run it.
Any Ubuntu, Debian, or Fedora spin should most likely work just fine.
GaliumOS works 100%, that's what I run on the Acer 14" Chromebook and it's great.
The Flip is running Fedora 30 with MATE desktop.
Update: Clear Linux
Clear Linux on Flip Benchmark