Gallium OS Review-For Better and Faster Linux Apps
Chromebooks are very popular nowadays because they’re budget-friendly and still manage to deliver reliable performance that caters to the needs of most users. They’re operated by Chrome OS from Google, which is based on Linux just like the Android OS.
However, Chrome OS doesn’t offer the complete Linux experience. This is why avid Linux users are likely to remove Chrome OS and install Linux instead. Nevertheless, because of the lower price tag, Chromebooks usually come with less than perfect hardware configurations that might not be able to support the latest versions of Linux OS.
This is where Gallium OS comes to the rescue. This custom-made OS is designed specifically to suit Chromebooks and provide users with the ultimate Linux experience that goes hand in hand with their user-friendly and affordable devices. Gallium OS is designed to outperform Chrome OS and in this Gallium OS review, you’ll learn everything about it.
What is Gallium OS?
Gallium OS is an operating system created for Chromebook. It allows users to run Linux apps or Android apps that might not be supported by Chrome OS. Running Linux on a Chromebook can turn into a nightmare due to the limitations of the hardware support. You might experience problems with the touchpad or with video acceleration which can hinder your performance.
Gallium OS is a distro that comes with all the needed tweaks and adjustments that are designed to maximize the operation and minimize the load on your hardware. It’s based on Xubuntu with the kernel optimized for the greatest possible speed, specially designed for x86 CPU lines. It will provide you with a lightweight and fully functional laptop.
Thanks to Gallium OS, users can enjoy an outstanding performance with minimal or no system stalls. It also comes with bug fixes to target the problems that usually affect Chromebooks and aren’t found in other standard distros.
Features of Gallium OS
As a lightweight and fast distro to Linux, Gallium OS comes with a few features.
- Improved boot time and minimum memory usage. This puts less stress on your hardware.
- Zram is used for a much faster swap.
- Alternative system kernel schedulers that will eliminate system stalls to provide users a seamless experience with no issues. At the same time, all the unnecessary services and kernel features are removed to reduce the load.
- Kernel watchdog timer has also been removed to extend the battery life.
- The GPU minimum frequency was reduced to extend the battery life and save power.
- The HDMI polling has been disabled, although it doesn’t prevent HDMI connections from working.
- Thanks to the integrated Chrome OS mouse driver, users can enjoy a satisfactory touchpad experience that resembles the one provided by Chrome OS.
- It uses lightweight compositor Campton with tear-free video playback without any performance issues.
How to Install Gallium OS on Chromebook?
Installing Gallium OS is easy if you’ve already installed Mint or Ubuntu. However, it requires making several physical adjustments to the hardware and flashing new firmware before you can actually get your Gallium OS to work. Nevertheless, even with the rather difficult machine preparation, installing Gallium OS is a rewarding experience for someone who uses lots of Linux and Android apps.
Chromebooks are usually locked down to Chrome OS. This means that you’ll need to flash your firmware before you can install Gallium OS. There are scripts that help you do that, but if you’re a beginner, things can get really tricky.
It takes time and users agree that this is not something that you can easily do if you don’t know your way around. However, once installed and ready to run, Gallium OS is responsive with no glitches or stalls. In addition to the fast and reliable touchpad, you’ll enjoy simple blue aesthetics for a conventional interface that won’t confuse you.
The hardware modification directions involve wielding a screwdriver to remove the bottom panel. Once you’re done, you can use Gallium OS as a full replacement for Chrome OS. You can also choose to use it as a dual boot, so you can use your lightweight Chromebook to explore the best of two worlds.
Checking Out Gallium OS
It’s important to note that Gallium OS doesn’t work with all Chromebooks. The older ones use Crouton to install other compatible Linux distros like Arch Linux or Mint Linux. The Gallium OS firmware doesn’t work with other distros.
Gallium OS Dual Boot
Gallium OS adds more flexibility to your computing experience by adding Android and Linux apps. It allows you to explore the full potential of your lightweight Chromebook with no system limitations. This way, a Chromebook can be the right tool for users who like to work away from the office because it’s lightweight and offers the full spectrum of Android and Linux apps.
Chromebooks are special due to their smaller footprint. With Gallium OS, you’ll enjoy the performance of much bulkier laptops that run on Linux for an affordable price.
What Does Gallium OS Offer?
After testing Gallium OS, it’s obvious that it offers the needed optimizations that overcome the problems associated with the Chrome OS. It’s designed to improve the overall system performance and responsiveness.
It runs the Xfce desktop which is a suitable choice for the lightweight hardware specifications of most Chromebooks on the market. It boots faster than other Linux distros; almost the same speed Chrome OS would boot on your Chromebook.
If you’re not satisfied with the available desktop appearance, you can use the multiple features and options to create a customized one.
The system gets regular updates that are designed to overcome any potential issues that might affect your experience as a Linux user.
There’s an information page available so you can check your Chromebook model along with its processor and see which ISO to install.
Installing Gallium OS comes with several physical challenges, but once you overcome them, you’ll be able to enjoy an outstanding Linux performance on your lightweight and user-friendly Chromebook. Moreover, you can reverse the operation and restore your Chromebook to Chrome OS.
However, going to the live session stage takes time and work. Undoing it will be a bit faster. That extra work you’re putting into transitioning your Chromebook is totally worth it if you want to experience the perks of the world of Linux and Android apps on a Chrome OS operated device.
If you’ve never experimented with the interiors and hardware of a laptop, then this might be a daunting task. Asking a professional or a friend might be the right solution. If you want to do things on your own, you should expect to spend several hours researching.
Save Your Data
You must save all your documents, audio, and video files before you start your Chromebook’s transformation. Your Chromebook will remove these files as it resets so they’ll be lost forever unless you’re careful. All the files stored on your Google Drive, DropBox or any other cloud account won’t be harmed.
Disable Write Protection
The most critical step would be to open your Chromebook and actually disable the write protection. Some Chromebooks don’t need this to be done, however, in most cases, you’ll need to do this. Once you do this, you’ll have to flash the new firmware so you can enable Gallium OS to run on your Chromebook.
The BIOS is write-protected on your Chromebook through physical or software methods. This depends on the kind of your Chromebook.
Most of the time, you can do this using a screwdriver on the motherboard. On some models, there are conductive stickers or jumpers. The only way you can assess the situation is to actually open your Chromebook and take a look at what is inside your device.
In order to make sure that you’re installing the right ISO, you should check the hardware compatibility chart offered by Gallium OS. By entering three elements, you’ll be able to determine the right version successfully. This includes the model, hardware ID, and processor. It will provide you with information about the right firmware replacement and write-protect location so you can start the transformation process.
To get more information about physically removing the write-protect, you can search the internet. There are lots of websites and tutorials that teach you how to do that with no issues.
Installing Gallium OS from USB
Instead of using a DVD to install the downloaded ISO, you can use a USB or SD card. Some USBs are a bit difficult to handle if you want to create a bootable partition. It’s recommended that you try with several USBs from different manufacturers until you find one that actually works. Remember that selecting a device means that it will be formatted. All the data on this USB will be lost.
Now you’re ready to switch into Developer Mode with your USB ready with the installed Gallium OS. Some Chromebook models don’t come with a function key so you should look for the refresh symbol.
➢ Don’t panic if your screen displays a message that your Chrome OS is missing. This is happening because you’re ready to install the Gallium OS.
➢ Enable the Developer Mode. This will erase all the data from your Chrome OS. It’s very important to make sure that your data is safe before you move onto this step.
➢ Follow the recommended confirmation steps.
This process will take time, but eventually, your Chromebook will display a message that it’s ready. By pressing “Let’s go” you’ll be able to run your Gallium OS. Once installed, your Chromebook will automatically boot into Gallium OS.
There’s an issue with Chromebooks with combination keyboard keys that don’t work with Linux. You can rely on workarounds for Gallium OS as this distro comes with 5 keyboard layouts that are specifically customized for Chromebooks.
For most users, Gallium OS can outperform Chrome OS, especially when there are too many open Chrome tabs. This will automatically affect your Chromebook’s performance and reliability.
Running on Firefox might be a better option once you’ve installed Gallium OS. Your Chromebook will run for a longer time because of this OS designed to optimize battery life. This distro is an excellent choice for users who prefer to work away from the office.
If you can find your way around the physical modifications, installing and using Gallium OS shouldn’t be a problem. Even if you struggle a little to put things together, the experience is totally worth it.
Installing Gallium OS feels like you’re using a new Chromebook with better specs. Even the most demanding applications will run with zero sluggishness providing an excellent user’s experience.
What are the Pros of Gallium OS?
Compared to other Linux distros, Gallium OS comes with lots of amazing advantages.
- It comes with a Chromebook hardware support. Lots of features like the touchscreen come ready to use out of the box, so you don’t need to do lots of modifications.
- You’ve got the option to dual boot. This will allow you to use Chrome OS alongside Gallium OS. It provides you with more flexibility for all your performance needs.
- Gallium OS, unlike other Linux distros, is designed with the Chromebook limitations in mind. This will include the limited RAM, storage and CPU features.
- Apart from the physical modification, this Linux distro is quite easy to install.
What are the Cons of Gallium OS?
Gallium OS is well-designed and is almost necessary for anyone who needs access to Linux apps. Nevertheless, it comes with a few disadvantages.
- The user interface isn’t the best looking. However, you can always install new themes if you need to.
- The physical modification part can be tricky, especially for beginners.
If you want to expand your Chromebook experience, you can always opt for installing the Gallium OS. In this Gallium OS review, it’s obvious that this Linux distro is straightforward to install, offering more flexibility as it can be used with Chromebooks as a sole Os or as a dual-boot on supported Chromebook models