How to move app files to an SD card in Linux Beta on Chromebook running ChromeOS 84

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My High School purchased HP 11 G7 EE Chromebooks for all of our students. Unfortunately, they skimped on the Storage and only got 8GB machines. I teach Computer Programming and 3D Graphics, so with the Covid 19 pandemic forcing us into an online mode I was afraid that I would not be able to use Blender and Visual Studio Code, etc. The good news is I have convinced the district to turn on the Linux Beta support on all the Chromebooks and have found the Linux versions of the software I need for my students. The bad news is the 8GB of storage is woefully to small. I really need to install the software to an SD Card.

An exhaustive search on Google had led me to believe that I could simply purchase SD Cards for my students and then copy things like the /USR folder to the SD Card, change the location in /etc/fstab, and reboot and I would be good. I installed rsync and tried to copy it with the -a option to preserve permission flags. I was met with a repeated long list of errors. Next I installed Midnight Commander and tried to manually copy the contents of /USR/BIN to my SD card also using the preserve attributes option. The files seem to have copied, but i had an error from every file saying that chmod failed due to lack of permission (“Cannot chmod target file “…” Operation not permitted (1)”).

I formatted the SD Card exFat because it didn’t work on FAT32 and I read that exFAT would solve it. I have verified that the directory on the SD Card has RWX permissions for the directories and files. I even tried just copying the large blender file to the SD Card and created a symbolic link with WRX permissions, but that made blender not run anymore.

It has been 20 years since I used Unix regularly and even then I was no power user. I am guessing that I am simply missing the required knowledge to see the solution. I am hopefull that someone out there with Linux expertise can point me in the right direction. If we can extend the storage with an SD Card for our windowed Linux, it will make a huge difference to not only my students, but thousands more throughout my district.

Thanks in advance!

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