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Get a reasonably cheap Unix server by converting a Chromebox to Ubuntu.

How I did it

I bought an ASUS Chromebox from Amazon for $160.

I followed the instructions on the Kodi page to install Ubuntu as a single boot image. In case that page goes away the key incantations are

  1. You must remove the screw to enable firmware update
  2. To run the ChromeBox E-Z Setup script, perform the following steps:
    1. Power on and boot to ChromeOS. Do not log in, but ensure a network connection is established.
    2. Hit [CTRL][ALT][F2] to open a command prompt ([CTRL][ALT][<--] for ChromeOS keyboards)
    3. Login with user chronos (no password required)
    4. Download and run the ChromeBox setup script using the following two commands (hit enter after typing each command):
      (in place of the <url> below use
      curl -L -O [http:// http://]<url>     
      sudo bash 3Tfu5W
    5. Follow the instructions to update your firmware and then reboot.
    6. Repeat step 4
    7. Now choose to install Ubuntu and Kodi in a standalone mode
    8. Reboot into Ubuntu

To get the BEEP command to work....  it boils down to un-blacklisting the pcspkr module in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf. (thanks to antiplex)