Kyle Graehl home

finally using my pixel!

The other day I stayed home nursing my tennis back and had left my work computer (a macbook pro) at work, so I had to make do with my secondary computer, a chromebook pixel I picked up at Google I/O.

I really liked the hardware of the machine and when I first got it I tried crouton but was annoyed that the touchscreen didn’t work very well in X11. You have to run ChromeOS’s fancy window manager system (called Aura) and a special Chrome browser build to enjoy all the benefits of the multitouch screen.

I did manage to settle on a development environment that suits me alright.

Little known tip. Shift-Control-plus and Shift-Control-minus do a GLOBAL zoom in/out. If you want more screen real estate quickly then you can use your tiny display as if it were a full 2560 monitor. Super useful!

First of all, enable developer mode. Then follow crouton instructions to setup your linux “VM” (a chroot actually) at crouton.

I recommend setting a chromeos root password as well as using encryption for your chroot for added security. (otherwise any other local user would be able to inspect the data in your chroot, which means anyone with physical access would be able to look at your shit pretty easily)

Now you’ll want a terminal: hterm/crosh window

Open your terminal (ctrl-alt-T in Chrome) and open the developer tools, and go to the javascript REPL. Disable the audible bell

term_.prefs_.set('audible-bell-sound', '')

If you’re an emacs user, you’ll want to set some other options ( found from hterm FAQ )


That makes emacs alt-backspace actually delete a word.

term_.prefs_.set('font-size', 13)

I found the default font size of 15 to be too large.

Now you’ll probably want to use tmux because it’s such a pain to bring up more terminal windows inside your chroot.

# inside your ~/.tmux.conf
# allow scrolling through history buffers
set-window-option -g mode-mouse on
# I use C-b a lot inside emacs, so 
# rebind tmux to use C-t, which I never use
unbind C-b
set -g prefix C-t

If you want to use an X11 program from aptitude ( say you download an MKV using jstorrent and want to use VLC to watch it), you can do so using the useful “host-x11” command that prints out some environment variables that you can set and then run the program in the current X server. Best to put it in your ~/.bashrc

eval $(host-x11)

I’m not used to using terminal emacs (have used emacs with the gtk interface for a long time) and I end up opening a lot of separate emacs processes. Copy/paste between them is a pain, so I ended up using some clipboard functions to allow copy/paste (remember to “apt-get install xsel”)

I am sometimes wondering if the fan is turning itself on too aggressively and harming my battery life. /sys/devices/virtual/thermal has a bunch of devices. I would like to try manually disabling the fans on occasion. But I’ll hold off on that

If you use an SSH passphrase, Another nice thing to put in your ~/.profile would be a keychain. apt-get install keychain and then you won’t have to type in your ssh key (your SSH key does have a passphrase, right?)

keychain --attempts 3 -q ~/.ssh/id_rsa
. ~/.keychain/$HOSTNAME-sh
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