Turning Google against itself with The Ironic Chromebook

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I bought a Samsung Chromebook 3 for a QA job two years ago. Within two weeks, the screen could only display some version of the useless image above. I don’t know exactly how it broke, but there’s no denying that it did.

Because I had not purchased the $99 insurance plan for the $199 device, I couldn’t just return it to Best Buy. So I bought another one and finished the testing gig. But I still kept this broken one, and for a while ran it HDMI out to a TV. Like a very janky and more expensive Chromecast. I could have probably paid $40 bucks for a new screen and replaced it, but I didn’t really need it for anything and never got around to it.

Then, with the Chrome78 release, I tried running some Linux apps on Old B.O.B.. as I decided to call it. Merely to confirm that I could. That’s when it struck me — what if I could install Pi-Hole on this old Chromebook to defeat all of Google’s spyware and advertising for my entire network? That would never work…would it?

Well, turns out it does work! It works beautifully indeed!

After far too much messing around, I did finally get it working last night. According to the stats so far, a full 25% of the web traffic on my network was just from ads and trackers, all of which are now being bypassed. This does, in effect, speed up the network by that same amount. Dang!

There were no specific tutorials online about how to do this, as the GalliumOS derivation of Linux is not an officially supported platform for Pi-holes. But it worked for me, and here’s what I did:
  1. put the Chromebook in Developer mode
  2. installed & configured GalliumOS in a dual-boot mode (I may strip ChromeOS off altogether someday, but I’m in no hurry yet)
  3. installed & configured Pi-Hole as my DNS for the network (I may do the red pill DHCP version someday, but again, no rush)

And because I still had an old ethernet to USB3 adapter left from when I worked for YouTube (oops!). This machine is all Google, yet it is now being used to defeat Google for the 20 other devices on my network.

And for this, Old B.O.B. is now my new favorite computer.

Please use the comments to let me know if you find this as delightfully ironic as I do! :)

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