A Few Notes About the Lenovo N42
The Lenovo N42 is an older Chromebook with a lackluster 14" display and 4GB Memory. My N42 has a 16GB hard drive. I recently installed Gentoo on the N42. It was mostly uneventful, but the N42 does have a few quirks.
- Open up the N42 and remove the screw to allow writing over the BIOS so you can install Coreboot. The case is a tad difficult to pry off. Thankfully I did not break it.
- Use the excellent script provided by MrChromebox to flash coreboot.
- The Gentoo installer didn't recognize the keyboard. I plugged in a USB keyboard and started the SSH server to do the install remotely.
- Since I only have a 16GB hard drive, I used a binary kernel to save a bit of space. I also used a very small (512MB) swap partition. I mentioned this on #gentoo and received some stern warnings about the small sized swap. I can always plug in a USB drive if I need more swap space.
- To get sound working, copy asound.state to /var/lib/alsa.
- To get some of the funky Chromebook keys working, add the layout referenced on the Gentoo wiki.
- Coreboot looks for an EFI bootloader named BOOTX64.efi. It needs to be in /boot/efi/EFI/BOOT/ (I don't remember exactly, but this will get you pretty close to a booting system).
Why Bother with the N42?
- It was fun. These days I exclusively use Thinkpads. Generally Thinkpads just work. It was fun getting the N42 to work.
- The battery life is amazing. I wish my old X60 had the N42's battery life!
- It runs very cool.
- Someday, I hope to be able to lug it with me to a coffee shop. It is was cheap (I paid $45 on eBay) and I am not too worried about damaging it.
- Seems to be built for a child and will withstand some abuse.
What I do not like about the N42
- Terrible chiclet style keyboard
- Mediocre dispay
- Tiny hard drive
No need to lament the N42's shortcomings. I appreciate the N42 for what it is: a cheap Chromebook :P
contact: nme at nedson.net