By the way, Chromebooks are cheap and is a fantastic platform to experiment with coreboot/de-intel-ME. Acer C720s are $100 right now.
There are 2 spererate tasks: Flashing coreboot and De-blob'ing Intel ME. If you just want to try coreboot with the Chromebook, then you can do it with software and don't need an external programmer. All you have to do is just remove the BIOS write-protect screws - MrChromebox's website is a great resource. If you need to de-blob the chromebooks, then you'd need an external programmer, such as a Raspberry Pi.
As a shameless plug, I have released a tool so one doesn't have to be an electrical engineer and/or a Linux expert to flash many Chromebooks/Thinkpads with a Raspberry Pi . You don't really have to have a breadboard to flash the Chromebooks like you do with the Thinkpad in the article. Also, the cool thing about it is that it prepares the image on your x86 computer so you literally don't have to configure the pi and get/compile stuff afterwards. I didn't know that the X200 needs a patch. I will integrate the x200 support into ezpi4ME so people don't have to manually patch and wait for it to compile on the Pi.
Edit: I noticed OP has a blog post complaining about Acer 720s having problems. It hasn't happened to me, at least with MrChromebox's firmware. I did have problem with John Lewis' firmware builds, though.
OP here - I've since been able to install 64 bit Debian on my C720, still not sure what the original issue was.
I also tried to compile my own C720 coreboot and flash that, but ran into problems. The X200 was way easier :) I may follow up with another C720 post if I get that working.
I think to most people, the idea that one can have coreboot by just messing with the software seems appealing. From what I understand, one always need an external flasher for the Thinkpad while you don't with Chromebooks. So that's a huge factor in accessibility in favor of Chromebooks.
>I also tried to compile my own C720 coreboot and flash that, but ran into problems.
I actually didn't compile my own version of Coreboot. I guess at some point I'd have to trust someone. But it feels very funny to me that I trust a random guy on the internet nicknamed MrChromebox to do the right thing instead of Intel. But then, even when I compile my own firmware, I have to trust thousands of other people who work on Coreboot to not have performed any underhanded tricks, my compiler to be free of defects, etc. "Reflections on trusting trust" hits home hard. I think all in all it does sound like that "having software/hardware we can control when we want to" (aka Stallmanism) is a more realistic goal than "better security."
For the ezpi4me project though, I tried to make the scripts as simple and easy to understand as possible, so you do see all it does. This is one project that I completed recently that I'm quite fond of, especially given I haven't been very productive and inspired to do things for a while :)
Remember to buy the older generations so you don't have to deal with 1.8V chips (read the FAQs in the link above). I haven't figured out the 1.8V stuff yet.
The Acer C720 is extremely cheap and very well supported. I'm personally using a Dell Chromebook 13 7310.
I remember those having all kinds of driver issues and weird custom hardware that hamstrung efforts like this...
You can do the coreboot firmware without the ME mod entirely within the Chromebook itself without needing a Raspberry Pi as an external programmer. Only when you want to eradicate the ME do you need the Pi.
Hardware wise: It's Ivy Bridge. You can flash an Ivy Bridge with Raspberry Pi+Flashrom because its chip is 3.3V.
Most important bit is a SOIC8 Pomona 5250 clip and some wires to connect it up properly. I ended up soldering some right-angle headers onto my CHIP so I can do other things besides SPI programming with it.
This post is making me give it another shot soon.