It is possible to configure a WiFi enabled Raspberry Pi using only a Chromebook. This can be done headless (no monitor required) and results in a Raspberry Pi with WiFi and ssh enabled so that you can control it from your Chromebook.

Requirements:

  • Chromebook
  • SD/microSD Card Reader (built in to many Chromebooks)
  • Raspberry Pi with integrated WiFi
  • Raspbian OS image .zip file downloaded to the Chromebook
  • Chromebook Recovery Utility, an App provided by Google
  • Text, a text editor App for Chrome OS

Connect the SD/microSD card to your Chromebook.

Launch the Recovery Utility and click the gear icon in the upper right hand corner. Select the Use local image menu option.

Use a local image with the recovery utility
Use a local image with the recovery utility

When prompted, navigate to your downloaded copy of Raspbian OS as a .zip file. The Recovery Utility can use that as-is without needing to extract the raw img file.

The Recovery Utility will beging writing Raspbian to the SD/microSD card.

Writing Raspbian to the card
Writing Raspbian to the card

After writing is complete you should see boot and rootfs partitions appear in the file explorer on your Chromebook.

Use a text editor like Text on the Chromebook to create two files. I find it is simpler to save these files to your Chromebook, and once they are ready, we can copy them to the Raspberry Pi.

The first file should be named ssh, and does not need any content at all. It can be entirely empty.

The second file should be named wpa_supplicant.conf. The wpa_supplicant.conf file should look like so. Update the country as appropriate for you, and the ssid and password information as well.

country=US
ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
network={
    ssid="My Wifi"
    psk="password 12345"
}

Copy the ssh and wpa_supplicant.conf files to your boot partition. There are special Raspberry Pi-specific linux scripts that run when you boot the Raspberry Pi for the first time. These scripts will automatically detect the files we placed on the boot partition and 1) enable ssh and 2) configure WiFi for your Pi.

I created those two files locally on my Chromebook then simply copied them to my boot partition.

files required for headless booting
files required for headless booting

You should now be able to boot your Raspberry Pi headless, with no screen, and connect to it wirelessly over ssh from your Chromebook after waiting several minutes for booting to complete and for the Pi to connect to WiFi.

The last piece of the puzzle is determining the IP address of your Raspberry Pi. On a home network, you should be able to access the DHCP tables on your router to see what IP address your Pi was given and connect as you normally would over ssh.