Chromebook c720 results

Some time ago, I acquired a Chromebook with the help of all you kind readers.  Here’s a mini-report on how DragonFly works as a desktop.

The hardware: what I have is an Acer c720 Chromebook.  The C720p is the touchscreen model, and is equally well-supported by DragonFly.  A larger-capacity M.2 SSD (which is relatively easy to install) is the only real need, as the installed one is only 16G.  It’s easy enough to see what the laptops look like; it’s nothing fancy but it’s suitably light.

The software: There’s a wide-ranging and complete install/tweak guide for the c720 and c720p on the DragonFly site.  Note that it goes down to the point of even changing the keymap for the special keys on the keyboard.

Things I don’t like:

  • The mousepad needs a physical click, not a tap, which decreases accuracy.
  • There’s only 2G of RAM, and not expandable.  You will notice this if you tend to open a lot of tabs when web browsing.
  • I’ve had mousepad trouble, but I’m the only one reporting it, so I think it’s just bad hardware luck on my part.

Things I do like:

  • pkg is a godsend, making installation and upgrades almost effortless.  I’ve gone binary-only so far.
  • Many things Just Work – for example, the xfce4 battery plugin.
  • xscreensaver works great; even the 3D modules.  I don’t know why it entertains me so.
  • I haven’t run the battery out to make sure, but it looks like it would last a few hours.  Suspend/hibernate are not supported, but low power modes are.
  • There’s a lot of multi-touch shortcuts built into the touchpad.

It’s an excellent BSD laptop, for light use, at low cost.  The next step up would be into Thinkpad territory, which raises the cost or increases the age – and may not be as consistently supported.


10 Replies to “Chromebook c720 results”

  1. Billy Larlad says:

    Thanks for the update. As somebody who misses netbooks, I guess I’ll file this away somewhere in the back of my mind.

    Is the lack of suspend support a quirk of the particular machine or a problem area in Dragonfly generally?

  2. Anonymous says:

    A number of Thinkpad laptops are actually quite well supported and you can get say a second hand x230 these days for very reasonable prices. It is a powerful laptop with lots of features. If you want a larger screen the T420 is a nice laptop and probably the T420s (thinner version of the T420 with USB 3.0) work equally well.

    I think the team mentioned some time ago that doing suspend/resume is rather difficult to get right. I think however, if/when it is implemented, that supporting it on a few Thinkpad models or the c720 would make a world of difference for those that really use laptops full time and travel with them constantly. Having to shut down the laptop when getting ready to board a flight or what not gets to dig into work time. OpenBSD supports suspend/resume rather well on Thinkpads. FreeBSD can do it somewhat on older Thinkpads (problems with USB ports after resuming are still tricky).

  3. Suspend/resume tends to be something you have to implement on a per-machine basis. That is (I suspect) why it works on some older thinkpads for FreeBSD, but not newer ones, and not other laptop types. You have to invest a lot of time because it can’t be done once and carried over.

    OpenBSD supports Thinkpads well because they’ve thrown a ton of time and effort into troubleshooting it on that specific hardware setup – but that is because of the combination of developers who really want that support, have time for it, and have the hardware for testing it all coming together at the same time. There’s nobody with those resources working on DragonFly right now. (or most other not-commercially-supported operating systems)

  4. Matt Dillon says:

    We have had several people reporting touchpad trouble with the driver. I’ve had issues myself, usually when the laptop is sitting on a table with the power plugged in and not sitting in my lap. At the moment I don’t know what the cause is.

    One thing you can do is try removing the related module loads from /boot/loader.conf and load the modules manually in /etc/rc.local, and see if that improves.

    You can simulate left, middle, and right mouse button clicks using three fingers on the touchpad. Place two fingers down, then tap the third finger (left, middle, or right side of the two fingers). The touchpad physical button is annoying. You can do slider action with one finger on the right side of the pad. Note that the touchpad is not the best hardware in the world, so the three fingers have to be vertically offset a bit for the touchpad to properly recognize that three fingers are down.

    I’ve been thinking of adopting changes based on FreeBSD’s port of our driver, which uses more of a mac-like interface. I should note again that the touchpad hardware is not the best in the world, which is why I didn’t try to implement 2-finger operations (too many mishits).

    In anycase, there is definitely something missing from the driver, the linux driver works a bit better but I don’t know why. The I2c protocol is pretty simple.

    The touchscreen works quite well, with fewer issues. The only current issue I know of is that the hardware seems to go to sleep when not used for a while (e.g. ~30 minutes) and it takes some finger pokes to wake it up again.


  5. Matt Dillon says:

    Oh, one final thing. For people using the laptop regularly, if you notice any whole-system freezes and you are using the AUTODEEP setting for cpu C states to reduce power, that could be the cause. Try not using it or forcing it to only go to C2.


  6. Anonymous says:

    What about correctly aligning the partitions on the SSD. How did you do that?

  7. Correctly align the what with the what?

  8. fappymcmasturbate says:


    did you get sound to work straight ‘out of the box’ when installing xfce, or did you have to tinker with anything?

  9. I had to kldload snd_hda, if I remember correctly.

  10. fappymcmasturbate says:

    alrighty, will look into it and try again when i get home. thanks

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