Remotely Control a Chromebook Running Crouton With Chrome Remote Desktop

I recently acquired a Chromebook for use at my university and to tinker around with. When it came in the mail, I immediately installed Ubuntu Mate with Crouton. For the longest time, I have been trying to figure out how to get Chrome Remote Desktop to work within Ubuntu Mate so I can remote in occasionally from my Windows PC. Every time I attempted to connect, it would just display a blank black screen.This proved more challenging than I anticipated, and I will save you the headaches and give you the solution.


First off, you want to make sure that you are using Google Chrome and not Chromium. Chromium did not play nice with Chrome Remote Desktop when I was trying to use it. I also was using Ubuntu 14.04 for this process, and it may or may not be different for other versions of Ubuntu.

DEBIAN PACKAGE

Before you get Chrome Remote Desktop, you must install the Debian package that corresponds to your Chromebook’s architecture. I believe the Debian package is what allows control of the device, instead of just controlling other devices.

  • Download the 32-bit or 64-bit Debian package. (Hint: If you do not know what architecture your device is, you can run “uname -m” in a terminal window. x86_64 is 64-bit, i686 and i386 are 32-bit.)
  • Running the .deb file should open Ubuntu Software Center, where you can install it.
  • Install it and ignore any warnings about it not being a good file.

WITHIN GOOGLE CHROME

Chrome Remote Desktop after allowing remote connections
  • Install Chrome Remote Desktop from the Chrome Web Store. (Note: This step should be done on all computers you plan on using for accessing/getting access to your other devices.)
  • After it is installed, open it. Under My Computers, press “Get Started”.
  • Press “Enable remote connections”.
  • It will ask you to enter a PIN. This PIN is used every time you try to connect to this machine remotely.

FILE MODIFICATIONS

Don’t you wish it was just that easy? Well, it isn’t. There are a few more things that need to be done to get the screen to appear correctly when remoting into your Chromebook.

.CHROME-REMOTE-DESKTOP-SESSION

  • Open a terminal window. (Ctrl+Alt+T)
  • run “sudo /etc/init.d/chrome-remote-desktop stop” just in case it is running. We’ll be modifying files that it uses, so it should not be running.
  • create a file at ~/.chrome-remote-desktop-session. This can be done using any text editor. I use nano, so I entered “sudo nano ~/.chrome-remote-desktop-session”. (Note: you can get nano by running “sudo apt-get install nano”)
  • This next step varies depending on what desktop environment you are using. I am using Mate, so I added the line “exec mate-session” to the file. If you use xfce, it would be “exec xfce4-session”
  • Save the file. (Ctrl+X in Nano)
  • That file basically makes Chrome Remote Desktop use the specified desktop environment instead of what it defaults to.

CHROME-REMOTE-DESKTOP

This next file needs to be modified to reconfigure Chrome Remote Desktop to work better on the Chromebook.

  • In the terminal, edit the file at /opt/google/chrome-remote-desktop/chrome-remote-desktop. Again, I use nano, so the command is “sudo nano /opt/google/chrome-remote-desktop/chrome-remote-desktop”.
  • Edit DEFAULT_SIZES and DEFAULT_SIZE_NO_RANDR to equal the resolution of the monitor you are remoting in with. My monitor is 1440x900, so I set them to that. These need to be changed, because CRD does not seem to like the default values (stupid, I know).
  • Save the file.
  • Run “sudo /etc/init.d/chrome-remote-desktop start” to start running CRD again.

ON REMOTE COMPUTER

Now we can check if the Chromebook is accessible. Go onto your other machine that you plan to access the Chromebook with and run Chrome Remote Desktop.

  • Select the Chromebook name listed under My Computers.
  • Enter the PIN that was set up earlier.
  • You should be golden!
Remote session of my Chromebook running on my Windows PC

There you have it. You just gave yourself remote access to your Chromebook and became a little more of a power user. Make sure to follow the Power User publication for more articles like this!

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