If you’ve ever wondered whether you can get more out of your Chromebook, you’re not alone. Chromebooks are excellent, versatile devices. In fact, they have many hidden possibilities waiting for you to explore.
As you explore your Chromebook, be sure to explore Chromebook Developer Mode, which unlocks your device’s capabilities.
What is Chromebook Developer Mode?
In a nutshell, Chromebook developer mode is: a similar process to rooting your Android device or jailbreaking your iOS device. Developer mode allows you to run commands, install different software or operating systems, and customize your Chromebook.
However, like rooting or jailbreaking, enabling Chromebook Developer Mode can pose a security risk. You have more control over your Chromebook, but there is a small cost involved. In addition, if you enable developer mode, you will wipe your device. While this isn’t a deal breaker (you can back up your device ahead of time), it’s another consideration.
Developer mode is not the same as switching to the developer channel. The Developer Channel is a Chrome OS update option that allows your Chromebook to receive regular updates from the development stream, some of which may not work correctly. While the Chromebook Developer Mode gives more access to the Chromebook.
Pros and Cons of Chromebook Developer Mode
There are several reasons why you may or may not want to enable developer mode. Before making a decision, consider the following pros and cons of Chromebook developer mode.
Benefits of Chromebook Developer Mode
One of the biggest pluses of Chromebook developer mode is the ability to install different software or even a different operating system on your Chromebook.
For example, if developer mode is enabled, you can install a Linux operating system in addition to your regular Chrome OS installation. When you start up your Chromebook, you have the option to use Chrome OS or Linux, depending on what you need to do.
Some Linux distributions do not work with Chromebook hardware. However, those that do allow you to use the Chromebook as a Linux device. Of course, the latest versions of Chrome OS also include the Linux Beta, which allows you to install and run Linux programs natively.
One of the best options for a lightweight Chromebook Linux distro is GalliumOS, which is specifically designed to play well with Chromebook hardware.
Similarly, you can install apps on your Chromebook from outside the Play Store (if your Chromebook is Play Store compatible).
Chromebook Developer Mode also allows you to run more advanced commands from within the Chrome OS developer shell, known as Crosh. Press . to open Crosh CTRL + ALT + T† You will come to a terminal where you can enter commands to complete a huge range of functions. With developer mode enabled, those potential features increase further.
Cons of Chromebook Developer Mode
The downsides of developer mode start with security. Enabling developer mode removes some security features from Chrome OS and can make your Chromebook vulnerable to certain attacks.
The main problem that arises from this is that, since enabling developer mode is similar to rooting your Android device, an attacker can execute commands as if they were you. The other change is that your Chrome OS installation is no longer validated before the operating system boots. As such, you cannot know if any changes have been made.
The risk of Chrome OS and Chromebook malware is low. But the security risk is an important consideration.
Another drawback of Developer Mode is the ease with which you can re-wipe the data on your Chromebook. You wipe your device initially to enable developer mode. But after enabling developer mode, it is very easy to erase your data again by mistake. Each time you boot the machine into developer mode, you can disable developer mode with a single press of the space bar.
Finally, enabling developer mode may void your Chromebook warranty. While voiding your warranty is not a good idea, you can always remove developer mode to restore the warranty. So while this may be a problem for some, it is not the same as losing your data or creating a security risk.
Oh, and you’ll notice that the boot process is slower when developer mode is enabled. At every boot process you have to press CTRL + D to boot the system, as the Chromebook reminds you that “OS authentication is up” FROM.The verification screen takes 30 seconds to clear if you don’t press the key combination.
Do you need to enable developer mode on your Chromebook?
If you like to tinker with your hardware, or just want to install a different operating system on your Chromebook, you should give Chromebook Developer Mode a try. However, for most people, developer mode has no real effect. It doesn’t make your device faster, it makes it asset less secure, and you can accidentally erase your data.
Keep in mind that enabling developer mode will erase your Chromebook in the process. Before starting the process, back up all your data to a separate storage device. You can recover your data once developer mode is active.
Looking for more Chromebook commands? Check out our top tips for experienced Chromebook users!