Enrolling Chromebooks can be one of the most time-consuming tasks for school IT admins, but there are a few things that you can do to make the process faster and work more smoothly. Although we couldn’t find any tools that can actually unbox Chromeboooks automatically, we did find a few that can automate the enrolling process and make your lives a little bit easier.
Rubber Ducky is a powerful keyboard emulation tool, which means that once you plug it into a Chromebook, it will trick the computer into thinking that you’re typing on it. What this means is that all of the busywork of enrolling Chromebooks, like entering a name, selecting a network (or entering a hidden wifi SSID), entering the password, and more can be fully automated by simply entering a USB into the device.
Plus Rubber Ducky is super fast — here is a school admin whose script started and completed a full Chromebook enrollment process in about one minute:
After you’ve configured the Rubber Ducky with your school’s network details, Organizational Unit (OU) structure, and a few other details, the Rubber Ducky will complete the entire setup process in about a minute. Although this process doesn’t take very long to do by hand on a single Chromebook, the Rubber Ducky can save you a ton of time when enrolling large numbers of devices at once.
Best of all, because it is a script, it will always setup every single device in the exact same way, minimizing the risk of user error.
The Rubber Ducky includes everything you’ll need to get started right out of the box, and as of the time of posting, costs just under $45.
How does Rubber Ducky work?
If you’re new to scripting, then Rubber Ducky is a great way to learn how the process works, and the syntax is pretty easy to understand. It looks like this:
REM ChromeBook Keyboard Key Sequence
REM Part One: Wifi Setup
While only a portion of what a full Chromebook provisioning script would look like, it’s already clear that this script will open the status area (with Alt + Shift + S), pause for 1,000 milliseconds (to let the window load fully), navigate to the Network button and click it, pause for another 1,000 milliseconds (to let the next window load), and ultimately enter the name of your wifi SSID.
Because most Chromebooks are identical at the initial provisioning stage, scripts like this are almost fully device agnostic, meaning that a single Rubber Ducky script can work on almost any Chromebook!
Chromebook provisioning scripts are easy to set up, and can be written in pretty much any text editing program that can save as a .txt file like Notepad or Sublime Text. Note that as the Rubber Ducky wasn’t designed specifically for this use it won’t include any premade scripts for you to use out of the box, but there are lots of great resources for Chromebook provisioning scripts on the Internet.
A fairly new product from the legendary Andrew Stillman and Amplified Labs, the Centipede works pretty much exactly like the Rubber Ducky — at a fraction of the cost. That said, the Centipede is a little bit more suited to the more technically inclined, as you will need to purchase and use an Arduino micro-controller (they recommend this one for about $9) to install Amplified Labs’ open source code onto. If you’re willing to learn how an Arduino works, the Centipede is a great way to get started, and they have an excellent support center and their support staff is ultra-responsive.
Like Rubber Ducky, the Centipede is super fast and most enrollments will take less than a minute. Here’s a video showing off how quickly it can enroll devices:
How does Centipede work?
Scripts for the Centipede are written using the website Codebender, an online code editor for Arduino controllers. Better still, Amplified Labs have written a great, customizable script for provisioning Chromebooks with the Centipede, although you will need to customize it for your own school and network. While the scripting language used for programming Arduinos and the Centipede look a little bit scary to scripting newcomers ...
… Amplified Labs has written a solid guide to getting the script set up correctly on their support center.
The whole process works like this:
- Customize your script on the Codebender website.
- Set up your Arduino controller with the provided drivers.
- Download the script to the Arduino controller.
- Plug the Centipede into an un-enrolled Chromebook, and be amazed how much faster it can type and click than a human.