Crostini on Acer R13

Update 20190409: Activated Developer mode and installed Crouton again. It works perfectly for me.
Update 20190329: Got build 73.0.3683.88 four days late, Chrome OS 73, still no improvement.
Update 20190306: Got build 72.0.3626.122, problems remain.
Update 20190225: Got build 72.0.3626.117, problems remain.

Finally Crostini is available on the stable channel of ChromeOS for Acer R13 (elm platform 72). Unfortunately, the experience is still not what I had hoped.

I get a container as expected, but after a while problems start, it crashes and fails to start again. This is a way to destroy the virtual machine (termina) and the container (penguin) inside it.

crosh> vmc stop termina
crosh> vmc destroy termina
crosh> vmc start termina
(termina) chronos@localhost ~ $ lxc list
To start your first container, try: lxc launch ubuntu:18.04
+------+-------+------+------+------+-----------+
| NAME | STATE | IPV4 | IPV6 | TYPE | SNAPSHOTS |
+------+-------+------+------+------+-----------+

When I have done this, I can start the terminal app, it takes a while, and I get:

zo0ok@penguin:~$ uname -a
Linux penguin 4.19.4-02480-gd44d301822f0 #1 SMP PREEMPT Thu Dec 6 17:48:31 PST 2018 aarch64 GNU/Linux

That is good. I run apt-get update and apt-get upgrade successfully.

Trying to install a real terminal

However, when I try to install gnome-terminal “it” crashes.

(termina) chronos@localhost ~ $ [ERROR:utils.cc(50)] Failed to read message size from socket: Resource temporarily unavailable
[ERROR:vsh_client.cc(186)] Failed to receive message from server: Resource temporarily unavailable
crosh>

Both the virtual machine (termina) and the container (penguin) crashed. I can start termina again, but penguin is dead.

Yesterday, when running apt-get install, I got “Illegal instruction” repeatedly. I can make some semi-qualified guesses based on that:

  1. Something with the visualization/containerization layer is not working properly on ARM64 yet.
  2. The Debian guest OS is built in a way that is not compatible with my machine, at least not inside a container in a VM

I tried (as suggested in a message above) to set up Ubuntu instead:

(termina) chronos@localhost ~ $ lxc launch ubuntu:18.04
Creating the container
Container name is: set-kitten
Starting set-kitten
(termina) chronos@localhost ~ $ lxc list
+------------+---------+-----------------------+------+------------+-----------+
| NAME | STATE | IPV4 | IPV6 | TYPE | SNAPSHOTS |
+------------+---------+-----------------------+------+------------+-----------+
| set-kitten | RUNNING | 100.115.92.201 (eth0) | | PERSISTENT | 0 |
+------------+---------+-----------------------+------+------------+-----------+

Then it turned out to be necessary to use a little trick to set the password in Ubuntu, and log in as usual.

(termina) chronos@localhost ~ $ lxc exec set-kitten -- /bin/bash
root@set-kitten:~# passwd ubuntu
Enter new UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:
passwd: password updated successfully
root@set-kitten:~# exit

(termina) chronos@localhost ~ $ lxc console set-kitten
To detach from the console, press: +a q
Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS set-kitten console
set-kitten login: ubuntu
Password:

But again, apt-get update and apt-get upgrade works just fine. But when I tried to install gnome-terminal all looked fine for a while, until:

Setting up libcdparanoia0:arm64 (3.10.2+debian-13) …
Setting up libblockdev-loop2:arm64 (2.16-2) …
[ERROR:utils.cc(50)] Failed to read message size from socket:
Resource temporarily unavailable
[ERROR:vsh_client.cc(186)] Failed to receive message from server: Resource temporarily unavailable
crosh>

From here it got worse, and all I could think of was to start over again.

(termina) chronos@localhost ~ $ lxc list
+------------+---------+------+------+------------+-----------+
| NAME | STATE | IPV4 | IPV6 | TYPE | SNAPSHOTS |
+------------+---------+------+------+------------+-----------+
| set-kitten | STOPPED | | | PERSISTENT | 0 |
+------------+---------+------+------+------------+-----------+
(termina) chronos@localhost ~ $ lxc start set-kitten
Error: Missing source '/run/sshd/penguin/authorized_keys' for disk 'ssh_authorized_keys'

Back to basics

What if the problem is related to me wanting a GUI-terminal? I started over with a new default-penguin-container (using the vmc destroy termina trick I mentioned in the beginning). Unfortunately, when I did apt-get ugrade in my new penguin-system I have the impression that many things anyway were left since before, and apt-get upgrade crashed.

So I decided to:

  1. Powerwash the Acer R13
  2. First thing when it came up again, install Linux
  3. apt-get update
  4. apt-get uprade (CRASHED)

Trying with Archlinux

I gave an arch-container a try. Installing archlinux is as easy as:

lxc launch images:archlinux

I installed a few tools (ssh, git, nodejs) and that was fine. Then I tried to git clone a private repository. It got stuck half way, but Ctrl-C allowed me to restart and all was good. Then I installed some node-packages with npm install and I got the familiar:

[ERROR:utils.cc(50)] Failed to read message size from socket: Transport endpoint is not connected [ERROR:vsh_client.cc(186)]
Failed to receive message from server: Transport endpoint is not connected
crosh>

…that is, container, and virtual machine all crashed.

Other people…

It seems I am not alone according to this reddit thread (that I have also posted to).

Conclusion

Unfortunately , I must say that Crostini is not at all stable and useful on Acer R13, despite it is now in the stable channel.

At this point when I get very irregular crashes I must ask myself if there is anything wrong with my Chromebook. However, apart from Crostini I never had any problems with it. And for several months I ran it in Developer mode with Crouton, always rock solid.

The good thing is possibly that this should not be a major bug with architectural implications. If they (Google) have made it all this way with Crouton for ARM64 I don’t think they will abandon it. This will silently be fixed some day and forgotten.

So unfortunately, I can not recommend the Acer R13 (or any other ARM device) at the moment if you are interested in running Linux/Crostini on your Chromebook. Crouton should still be good, I guess, it was a while since I used it.

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