For a long time, Chromebook users who also need access to the Android Debug Utility (ADB) and Fastboot for Android devices were left with one option: Crouton. Now, however, both ADB and Fastboot are included in Chrome OS. Here’s how to access them.
First: Your Device Needs to be in Developer Mode
First things first: ADB and Fastboot are technically considered “developer” tools, so your Chromebook will need to be in Developer Mode before you’ll be able to access them. Just to make it clear, we’re not talking about the developer channel here—every Chromebook can be put into a sort of “unlocked” mode that allows for deeper system access and tweaks. This is called Developer Mode.
Fortunately, enabling Developer Mode is pretty straightforward and simple. There is one caveat, however: it will powerwash your device, so you’ll have to start over. The good news is that it’s a Chromebook, so this really shouldn’t take that long.
If you’re cool with that, hit up our guide on enabling Developer Mode. That should get you rolling and ready to go in a matter of a few minutes.
Second: Get Your Crosh On
In order to use ADB and Fastboot on your Chromebook, you’ll need to use something called Crosh—short for “Chrome Shell.” Think of it as a sort of lightweight terminal just for Chrome OS.
There are a couple of ways to access Crosh. To open it in a full browser window, just hit Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard.
If you find yourself using Crosh fairly often, however, and would like it in a popout window (like a “real” terminal) there are two extensions you’ll need: Secure Shell and Crosh Window. With both installed, you’ll have a Crosh entry in your app drawer that launches Crosh in a nice, tidy little window. Personally, it’s my preferred method of using Crosh.
With a Crosh window fired up, you’re ready to rock and roll. You can’t just jump straight into ADB and Fastboot, however—you’ll need to enter one command to get a shell window first. Type the following:
The prompt should change to read “chronos@localhost,” after which ADB and Fastboot should both be available to use like normal.
Optional: What if it Doesn’t Work?
When I first tested this out, I couldn’t get it to work. ADB could see my Android devices, but it never requested access. Turns out Chrome OS still runs an old version of ABD/Fastboot (because Google, right?) so you’ll need to update it.
But that’s where the problem comes into play: you can’t just update ADB and Fastboot like on a normal computer. There is, however, a solution. If you have an Intel-based Chromebook, a script exists that will update ADB and Fastboot to the newest versions, as well as move them to the “correct” location. After that, everything should run fine.
The script itself is pretty straightforward, and all the instructions are posted on the GitHub page. We suggest reading through them before you start so you know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes. Everything is also open source, so if you’d like to look through the code, you can do that too.
With ADB and Fastboot updated and moved, both commands should work flawlessly. I tested this on a Pixelbook (i5, developer channel) by flashing a stock ROM onto my Nexus 6 and it was perfect.
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