Everything You Need to Know About Chromebook Developer Mode

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Everything You Need to Know About Chromebook Developer Mode

Chromebooks are wonderful gadgets. A Chromebook is suitable for traveling business people, students, elderly residents, and anybody else who needs an easy-to-use and secure operating system.

However, they are not without drawbacks. If you possess a Chrome OS device, you’ve probably been annoyed with some of its restrictions.

Some of these restrictions may be circumvented by booting the device into Developer Mode. Is it, however, a good idea? Could the drawbacks outweigh the benefits?

“Perhaps,” is the response. It is dependent on your technological knowledge and how you want to utilize the laptop. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing Developer Mode.

The Cons of Developer Mode

It’s usually preferable to hear bad news first, so let’s start by looking at some of the disadvantages of enabling Developer Mode.

1. You May Void the Warranty

Developer Mode is not officially supported by Google. As the name implies, it exists to allow Chromebook developers to experiment.

As a result, if you do anything that bricks your system while Developer Mode is on, Google has every authority to refuse to fulfill the device’s warranty.

It’s one of the reasons why turning on Developer Mode isn’t as easy as pressing a button. You must go through a lengthy procedure.

2. You’ll Wipe Your Laptop

A Powerwash cycle is required as part of the process of activating Developer Mode on your system. It is one of the two primary methods for reformatting your device.

Everything on your laptop will be erased by the Powerwash, including all user accounts, personalized settings, files, and desktop backdrops.

data deletion
Image Credit: SvetaZi via Shutterstock

Of course, when you come back onto your device after the Powerwash, many of the applications and extensions will automatically reinstall themselves. Working through all of the settings and re-adding passwords for everything, on the other hand, is a time-consuming and unpleasant chore.

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3. The Operating System Is Less Secure

Chromebooks have established a solid reputation for reliability and security. They provide automatic updates to ensure that you are always running the most recent version of the operating system, all of your apps and web pages run in a sandbox mode, it has a verified boot process that checks for third-party tampering, and the OS encrypts all of your data whenever it sends something to Google Drive.

Enabling Developer Mode removes some of these features.

The most notable loss is the self-checking OS verification. When you boot up your system in Developer Mode, you’ll notice a large message alerting you to the problem. To continue without verification, you must hit Enter.

This is a symptom of a greater problem. Enabling Developer Mode grants you Chronos access. Although technically competent users may safeguard Chronos with a password, many regular home users do not know and will not learn how.

Finally, Developer Mode allows you to enable read/write rootfs. It isn’t enabled by default, but a bad program or hacker might turn it on without your awareness.

4. Slower (And Uglier) Boot Screen

Another area in which Chromebooks have earned a lot of attention is their startup times.

As I’ve reported in previous articles, it takes less than 10 seconds for my three-year-old HP Chromebook to boot up and load the browser homepage. Even Macs can’t compete with those kinds of speeds.

You may say goodbye to such quick starts if you activate Developer Mode. When you power on your computer, you must either press Ctrl + D or wait 30 seconds for the boot to finish.

Unfortunately, the Developer Mode warning screen is also rather unattractive; it bears little resemblance to the elegant Chrome logo boot screen that appears when you use the laptop regularly.

It’s certainly intentional, yet it’s still startling to behold. There are techniques to remove the default screen and replace it with your own message, but they involve significant technical expertise and are much beyond the scope of this essay.

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5. Accidentally Wipe Data (Again)

Another major disadvantage of the Developer Mode boot screen is that hitting Space will deactivate Developer Mode and restore it to standard mode. This will completely erase your computer.

Yes, you read it accurately. Simply hitting space during startup might result in the loss of everything.

Giving your computer to others to use presents a significant danger. It may be particularly troublesome if minors use your smartphone; they will most likely be unable to comprehend the gravity of the warning screen.

You must ensure that you regularly backup all of your data.

The Pros of Developer Mode

Tired of hearing bad news? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Developer Mode.

1. Linux

The primary reason most people desire to activate Developer Mode is to install Linux. Chrome OS, after all, is a Linux-based operating system.

But even Linux on Chrome OS comes with some caveats.

For starters, it is not simple to install for the common user. It’s simple if you’ve spent a lot of time dealing with Linux in the past. However, if you’re new to Linux, the instructions might be confusing. You must strictly adhere to a step-by-step procedure. If you fail to do so, you may need to reinstall Chrome OS from scratch using a USB stick.

Second, you don’t have access to the complete range of Linux distributions. Only a tiny portion of them have been specially designed for Chromebooks. Your choices are considerably more restricted if you wish to dual boot and switch between the two operating systems using just a key combination.

Finally, don’t expect all of the functionality on your Chromebook to “simply work” under Linux. There have been complaints of speakers physically melting after installing specific distros. You’ll need to know how to “hack” the operating system.

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All that said, installing Linux introduces lots of benefits.

If you don’t have an Android-enabled Chromebook, for example, it will allow you to use Skype. You can install office suites like as LibreOffice, developers can run Android Studio, other IDEs, and virtual machines, and you can view subtitled MKV video files stored locally.

2. Developers

You should activate Developer Mode if you are a professional developer or a hobbyist who wants to do some Chromebook code. After all, that is why it exists.

There are several developer use cases. Perhaps you’ve created your own operating system or Linux distribution that you’d want to install. Perhaps you’d want to utilize your Chromebook as a media server or set-top box. Perhaps you just need shell access? Developer Mode is your best buddy in all of these situations.

Remember that you may use the Chromebook’s built-in terminal to perform commands like these that all Chromebook users should be familiar with:

Do You Use Developer Mode?

I hope this post has provided you with some insight into the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing Developer Mode on your Chromebook.

As you’ve already guessed, most individuals don’t see the value in turning it on. The only significant exception is if you wish to install Linux. Even so, you should examine if Linux is required. Check out the complete guide to Chrome OS keyboard shortcuts if you want to get more out of your Chromebook as a regular user.

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