Chromebook Management and Wifi Networks: Devices vs. Users

I’ve recently had some experience adding 30 or so Chromebooks to a school network, complete with device management licenses, and so far I am, overall, impressed.

One thing that is actually pretty cool because you can actually set available and auto-connected wifi networks for managed Chromebooks based on what organization or suborganization they belong to. That said, I ran into an odd bit while setting up the wifi settings.

FIrst of all, most Chromebooks are wifi dependent, so when they’re first started up and enrolled, they have to be on a wifi network. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is just temporarily use or set up an “open” network.

Please note – I do mean enrolled. By default, if you want the Chromebook to be tied to a management license or system via Google apps for business (or education), you cannot simply sign into the Chromebook with an organization email address. Make that mistake and you need to wipe it back to factory settings. One option – if ordered directly through Google (with known MAC addresses) – you can to set up auto enrollment, and anyone signing in with an organization email automatically enrolls the Chromebook as well.

The option we took was to manually enroll the Chromebooks by hitting the key sequence CNTRL-ALT-e after attaching the chromebook to the open wifi network.

Once enrolled, sign in. Once it is online, the Chromebook starts picking up settings, including the aforementioned wifi settings.


Here we get into an oddity. In the network settings tab of the device settings (above) there are actually TWO sets of wifi settings that can be set or inherited at any level of the organization. Devices, and Users. You can think of “device” wifi settings as those that are available even when no-one is logged in. Since a new user needs to be on the internet to sign in for the first time, they either need access to an open network, OR valid wifi settings under “device” for a secure network provided via the management settings.

“User” wifi settings are used to manage what wifi credentials are pre-loaded and available to any user account that signs into that device. This can be an entirely different set of networks, or simply the same one that was used to log in.