Liberating a Dell Chromebook 11 3120 with GalliumOS/Linux

Published: 2022-10-15
Last Updated: 2022-10-23

I recently picked up a Dell Chromebook 11 from eBay for only $35 for a project I'm working on. I specifically wanted a cheap, lightweight, and low-end machine that could run Linux and stumbled upon GalliumOS.

GalliumOS is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Xubuntu designed specifically for ChromeOS devices. Although Xubuntu wouldn't be my distro of choice, this is a fantastic project and a great means to breathe new life into low-spec ChromeOS machines, unshackling them from the chains of Google. It's important to note that GalliumOS's most recent release was 3 years ago (Dec 2019). After flashing the Corebook firmware, you could easily install something like Xubuntu or Arch Linux with XFCE (which is what I eventually did), but there are some configurations that need to be done post-install such as binding the ChromeOS function keys. Below are the steps I took to enable developer mode, flashing the coreboot firmware, installing GalliumOS, and my concluding notes.

Keep in mind that this process does completely remove ChromeOS from the machine. It also requires a USB drive for the GalliumOS installation image, another computer to write the image, and a screwdriver. This whole process took under an hour.


Enable Developer Mode

Flash Coreboot Firmware

The next step is to flash the coreboot firmware. provides the coreboot firmware for ChromeOS devices as well as the firmware utility script.

Install GalliumOS

The installation process is like most other Linux installations and is pretty straight forward. I did encounter an installation error, but it was resolved when I selected to NOT download updates during the installation process.


In terms of performance, it's far smoother than I expected and much better than ChromeOS in terms of stutter, software availability, and customizability. Regarding the physical quality of this laptop, it's quite bad - especially the trackpad. I'm also disappointed at the lack of a Super/Mod key. But I can't complain since this is a $35 Linux laptop that has better battery life than my Thinkpad.

GalliumOS w/ XFCE, Kitty, Newsboat, Ranger, and Rofi

I'm really impressed at how easy this process was and the end result. I've decided to make donations of a few bucks to both as well as the GalliumOS project. However, as mentioned above, I decided to switch to Arch Linux install with XFCE.

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