If you’ve ever wondered if you can get more out of a Chromebook, you’re not alone. Chromebooks are a great all-round device. Moreover, they have many hidden possibilities waiting for you to explore.
If you’re exploring your Chromebook, you should explore Chromebook Developer Mode, which unlocks the capabilities of your device.
What is Chromebook developer mode?
In short, Chromebook developer mode is a process similar to rooting your Android device or jailbreaking an iOS device. Developer Mode lets you run commands, install various software or operating systems, and customize your Chromebook.
However, just like rooting or jailbreaking a device, enabling Chromebook Developer Mode can pose a security risk. You have more control over your Chromebook, but it comes at a small price. Additionally, enabling developer mode will erase data from your device. While this is not a hindrance (you can back up your device ahead of time), it is another consideration.
Developer mode is not the same as switching to the developer channel. Developer Channel is a Chrome OS update option that allows your Chromebook to receive frequent updates from the development stream, some of which may not function correctly. Whereas, Chromebook Developer Mode provides more access to Chromebooks.
Chromebook Developer Mode Pros and Cons
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.
Pros of Chromebook Developer Mode
One of the biggest perks of Chromebook Developer Mode is the ability to install different software or even a different operating system on the Chromebook.
For example, with developer mode enabled, you can install the Linux operating system alongside a regular Chrome OS installation. When you download a Chromebook, you have the option to use either Chrome OS or Linux, depending on what you need to do.
Some Linux distributions do not work with Chromebook hardware. However, those that allow the Chromebook to be used as a Linux device. Of course, the latest versions of Chrome OS also include a beta version of Linux, which allows you to install and run Linux programs natively
One of the best options for a lightweight Chromebook Linux distribution is GalliumOS, which is designed specifically to work 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 complex commands from the Chrome OS developer shell known as Crosh. To access Crosh, press CTRL + ALT + T. You will be taken to a terminal where you can enter commands to perform a wide variety of functions. With developer mode enabled, these potential features are further enhanced.
Cons of Chromebook Developer Mode
The disadvantages of developer mode start with security. Enabling developer mode removes some of the security features of Chrome OS and may leave your Chromebook vulnerable to certain attacks.
The biggest problem with this is that since enabling developer mode is like rooting your Android device, an attacker can run commands as if they were you. Another change is that your Chrome OS installation will no longer be validated before the operating system boots. Thus, you have no way of knowing if any changes have been made.
The risk of malware for Chrome OS and Chromebook is low. But the security threat is the main consideration.
Another downside to Developer Mode is the ease with which you can re-erase data on your Chromebook. First, you wipe your device to enable developer mode. But after enabling developer mode, it’s very easy to mistakenly erase your data again. Each time you boot the machine into developer mode, you can turn off developer mode with a single press of the spacebar.
Finally, enabling Developer Mode may void your Chromebook’s warranty. While voiding your warranty isn’t a good idea, you can always delete Developer Mode to restore your warranty. So while this is a problem for some, it is not the same as losing data or creating a security threat.
Yes, and you will find that the boot process is slower if developer mode is enabled. Each boot process requires you to press CTRL + D to boot the system, as the Chromebook will remind you that “OS check is disabled.” The confirmation screen will clear after 30 seconds unless you press the key combination.
Should developer mode be enabled on my Chromebook?
If you love tinkering with your hardware, or just want to install a different operating system on your Chromebook, you should try Chromebook Developer Mode. However, for most people, developer mode has no real effect. It doesn’t make your device faster, it actively reduces its security, and you could accidentally erase data.
Just remember, if you’re going to turn on developer mode, it will erase your Chromebook in the process. Before starting the process, back up all of your data to a separate storage device. You can restore your data as soon as Developer Mode is launched.
Want to learn more about Chromebook commands? Check out our top tips for advanced Chromebook users!