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How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Thanks to Linux support on Chromebooks, the Play Store isn’t the only place you can use to download apps. A lot of Chrome OS devices can run Linux apps, which makes them all that more valuable.

Installing a Linux app isn’t as simple as installing an Android app, although the process isn’t complicated once you get the hang of it. The good news is that when done correctly, you’ll feel like a computer wiz since there’s a bit of code involved.

First, check your Chrome OS version

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

The first step is to check your Chrome OS version to see if your Chromebook supports Linux apps. Start by clicking your profile image in the bottom-right corner and navigating to the Settings menu. Then click the hamburger icon in the upper-left corner and select the About Chrome OS option. The version of Chrome OS you’re running will appear.

If you’re running Chrome OS 69 or later, you can download Linux apps. If not, you’re out of luck. But in this case, make sure to check if there are any software updates available that may bump you up to one of the Linux supporting versions of the operating system. To do so, click the Check for updates button on the About Chrome OS page you should already be on and then let your Chromebook do its thing.

Alternatively, you can check our list of Chromebooks that support Linux apps.

Enable Linux on Chromebook

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Now that you’ve figured out that your Chromebook supports Linux apps, the next step is to enable Linux on your machine. It’s easy to do and won’t take a lot of time overall, although this depends on how fast your internet speed is as well as the power of your Chromebook.

Open the Settings on your Chromebook and select the Linux (Beta) option on the left side. Then click the Turn on button followed by Install when a new window pops up. Once the download completes, a terminal window will open. You can use this window to download Linux apps, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

How to download Linux apps on Chromebooks?

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. But before we get into exactly how to download Linux apps on Chromebooks, there’s one more thing to do. To make sure everything runs smoothly, you have to update your packages by entering the command below into the terminal window.

Once that’s done, you can start downloading Linux apps on your device. To do so, you have to use the command “sudo apt-get install app name -y”, in which you change the “app name” part with the actual name of the app. For example, if you want to download the popular image editor called Gimp, you would use the following command:

  • sudo apt-get install gimp -y

Once you enter the command into the terminal window, the app will be downloaded and placed in the app drawer along with your Android apps. You may need to look up the app name commands needed for the apps of your choice on a case-by-case basis, to ensure you’re installing the right apps. We have the best ones listed below.

The best Linux apps for Chromebooks

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

In addition to the already mentioned Gimp, there are several other great Linux apps available to download. We’ll let you discover them on your own, but to get you started and give you a little taste of what to expect, we’ve listed a few popular Linux apps below, along with commands you can use to download them.

LibreOffice: An alternative to Microsoft Word, LibreOffice includes a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a presentation tool, among other things.

  • sudo apt install libreoffice libreoffice-gtk3 -y

Transmission: This is a free BitTorrent client that allows you to download and upload files easily.

  • sudo apt-get install transmission-qt -y

FileZilla: If you want to move files from your device to a server, an app like FileZilla makes the process a lot faster.

  • sudo apt-get install filezilla -y

Evolution: If you want to use a desktop mail client instead of a web-based one, the Evolution Linux app is for you.

  • sudo apt-get install evolution -y

Audacity: This is an advanced audio editor and recorder that comes in handy when playing around with various audio files.

  • sudo apt-get install audacity -y

Which app was the first one you installed? Let us know in the comments! Also, feel free to check out our other Chromebook-related guides below.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Modern Chromebooks can now run Linux-based apps. Here’s how you can get that app not available in the Chrome web store.

Chromebooks can now run Linux-based applications, and while the feature is mainly intended for developers, it can benefit regular users, too. Here’s how to install and run Linux apps on a Chromebook.

Run Linux Beta on a Chromebook

The first thing you will need to do is run the Linux (beta) app on your Chromebook. Start by clicking the clock on the taskbar and choosing Settings (Gear icon).

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

When Settings opens, you should see “Linux (Beta)” in the left panel. Click it and then click the Turn on button.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Next, the Linux setup screen will display on your screen. Click the Install button.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

It will take a few moments while the setup process takes place. When it is finished, you will see a terminal screen that starts automatically.

Install Linux Apps from Terminal

To get rolling, you will want to update the APT package list to ensure you have the latest packages. To update APT, enter the following into the terminal window:

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

That takes just a moment to run. When it’s ready, you can now start installing Linux apps. Probably the most popular one you can get is called Gimp. It is an Open Source alternative to Photoshop. That is one area where Chrome OS falls short – its photo editing software.

To install it, enter the following code into the Terminal and hit Enter. When prompted, hit Y and then Enter.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Now, let’s try the popular Office alternative called LibreOffice. It’s a free and Open Source version of an Office suite. It contains a spreadsheet program, a word processor, presentation software, and a graphics editor.

To install it, enter the following command in the Terminal window:

After it’s completed the installation, you will find it in the app drawer. In fact, that’s where you’ll find all of the Linux apps you installed

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

GUI Front End for Apps: Gnome Software Center

If the command line isn’t your thing, you might want to try the Gnome Software Center. This is a graphical interface for apt and makes it even easier to install Linux software on your Chromebook.

To get it, enter the following command in the terminal and hit Enter:

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

After installing the Store, like other apps, it will show up in the app drawer as a Store icon. With it, you can search for software and install it with a click.

Keep in mind the Linux part of Chrome OS is still in beta. That means not everything is going to work all the time. Still, at the time of this writing, I am running Chrome OS version 81, which has come a long way since version 69.

Run all the Linux apps you want using Crostini on your Chromebook.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

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Chromebooks have been a game-changer for PreK-12 school systems, enabling them to purchase low-cost laptop computers for students, teachers, and administrators to use. While Chromebooks have always been powered by a Linux-based operating system (Chrome OS), until recently, there was no way to run most Linux apps on one. But that changed when Google released Crostini, a virtual machine that allows Chromebooks to run Linux (Beta).

Most Chromebooks released after 2019 and some earlier models can run Crostini and Linux (Beta). Check this list of supported devices to see if your Chromebook is on it. Fortunately, my Acer Chromebook 15 with 2GB RAM and an Intel Celeron processor is supported.

chromebook-specs.png

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

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Set up Linux (Beta)

After you sign into your Chromebook, “mouse over” to the lower-right corner of the screen where the clock is displayed, and left-click there. A panel will open with options at the top (from left to right) to sign out, shut down, lock, and open Settings. Choose the Settings icon.

chromebook-settings.png

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Look on the left side of the Settings panel, and you will see Linux (Beta) listed.

chromebook-linux-beta.png

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Click on Linux (Beta), and the main panel will change to present an option to launch it. Click the Turn on button.

chromebook-launch-linux-beta.png

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

It will start the process of setting up a Linux environment on your Chromebook.

chromebook-setup-linux-beta.png

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Next, you will be prompted to enter a Username and the size you want your Linux installation to be.

chromebook-linux-beta-username.png

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

It takes a few minutes to install Linux on your Chromebook.

chromebook-linux-beta-install.png

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

After the installation completes, you can use Linux on your Chromebook. The menu bar on the bottom of your Chromebook’s display has a shortcut to a terminal, a text-based interface you can use to interact with Linux.

chromebook-linux-terminal.png

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

You can use common Linux commands like ls , lscpu , and top to see more of your environment. You can install applications using sudo apt install .

Install your first Linux application

Being able to install and run free and open source software on a Chromebook can be a real winner for financially constrained school districts.

The first application I recommend installing is the Mu editor for Python. Install it by entering the following into your terminal:

It takes a bit over five minutes to install, but in the end, you’ll have access to a really good Python editor for students and anyone else who wants to learn Python.

I’ve had great success using Mu and Python as a learning tool. For example, I have taught my students to write code for Python’s turtle module and execute it to create graphics. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to use Mu with a BBC:Microbit open hardware board. Even though the Microbit connects to USB and there is USB support in the Chromebook’s Linux virtual environment, I couldn’t make it work.

Of late, software giants are incorporating Linux into their main operating system in one way or the other. Microsoft recently released WSLg on Windows 10 with GUI app support whereas Google introduced Linux on Chromebooks in 2018 and nicknamed it Project Crostini. In the last three years of development, Chrome OS has received support for GPU acceleration and microphone in Linux on Chromebook, USB devices, and sound. From general users, IT administrators to software developers & students wanting to learn to code, the addition of Linux on Chromebook has proven to be a boon. And in the next Chrome OS release, Linux is also going out of beta. So on that note, let’s go ahead and learn how to run Linux on a Chromebook in 2022.

Run Linux on Your Chromebook (Updated 2022)

To make it clear, all Chromebooks launched in 2019 and going forward will have support for Linux. And yes, it includes school-issued Chromebooks too. That said, school administrators can still disable Linux support from their end. If such is the case with your Chromebook then contact your school administrator to remove the restriction. Other than that, you don’t need to move your Chromebook to Developer mode or any other channel. Linux support is already present on the stable channel. Also, you can install Linux on ARM-based Chromebooks too so no worries on this front.

You can use the table of contents below to jump over to any section in which you’re interested.

Set Up Linux on a Chromebook

1. First off, open the Settings page by clicking on the cogwheel icon in the Quick Settings panel.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

2. Next, click on “Advanced” in the left pane and expand the menu. After that, click on “Developers”. If you have a school-issued Chromebook and the “Developers” menu is not available then contact your school administrator.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

3. Once you are in the Developers menu, click on “Turn on” next to the “Linux development environment (Beta)” section.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

4. A setup dialog will open up. Now, click on the “Install” button and proceed ahead to run Linux on your Chromebook.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

5. On the next page, enter your desired username for Linux and select “Customised” to choose how much disk space you want for Linux. I have total internal storage of 64GB so I have allotted 25GB. If you have a larger storage capacity and want to play games, develop programs on Linux, you should extend the storage even further.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

6. It will take a few minutes to install Linux on your Chromebook. After the installation is done, you can run Linux and start using the Linux Terminal on your Chromebook. You will find the Terminal app inside the launcher.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

How to Install Linux apps on a Chromebook

1. Before using Linux apps on a Chromebook, you should first update the Linux build to the latest version. As a good Linux practice, you should execute the below command in the Terminal as it will update all packages and dependencies. Just copy and paste the command in the Terminal window.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

2. Once Linux is updated on your Chromebook, you can go ahead and install an app. For example, we installed the GIMP image editor on our Chromebook and the installation went through without a hitch. To find more such apps, you can follow our list of best Linux apps for Chromebooks. We have included detailed instructions for installation. Post-installation, you will find Linux apps inside the launcher.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Share Files Between Chrome OS and Linux

1. Now that you have successfully run Linux on your Chromebook, you must know that Chrome OS and Linux have different file systems. So to access the local folders and files on Linux apps, you will have to move the files from Downloads to the “Linux files” section.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

2. In case, you don’t want to move the files to the Linux section all the time then right-click on “Downloads” and click on “Share with Linux”. Now, all files and folders under “Downloads” will be available to Linux apps.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

3. You can access Downloads from the below path directory. You can right-click on “Downloads” to add to the bookmark section. From now onwards, within Linux apps, you don’t have to manually navigate to the Downloads folder.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Enable Linux on Your Chromebook and Open The Door of Endless Possibilities

So that was our short article on how to install and run Linux on a Chromebook. The steps are quite easy and straightforward so you don’t need to change your update channel or make any changes to Chrome Flags. Simply, go ahead and enable Linux on your Chromebook by following the guide. And if you want to learn more such tips and tricks of Chrome OS, head over to our separate article. Anyway, that is all from us. If you are facing any problems while running Linux, comment down below and let us know the issue.

It’s easy to set up Linux, aka Crostini, on Chrome OS. First, go to Settings, expand the “Advanced” menu and go to “Developers”. Then “Turn on” Linux:

1: Enable Linux from Chrome settings.

Chrome OS will automatically download the necessary files and set up your Linux container. When it finishes, you’ll see a new Terminal app and an open terminal window. We recommend pinning the application to your shelf as a handy way to access your Linux container in the future. Right-click on the Terminal app icon and choose “Pin”.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

2: Pinning the Terminal app to the shelf.

Now your Debian Linux installation is ready to go! A good first thing to do is update the APT ⁠ repository index and install. APT is a command-line package manager for Debian, and keeping it up to date will ensure you’re always installing the latest versions of tools in its repository:

You’re now set up and ready to use the Linux container!

Sharing files to Linux

A simple way to access files in the Linux container is to make a copy. To do so, open the Files app, drag whatever directory or file you want to access, and drop it in “Linux files”.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

If you don’t want to make a copy, you can share directories, such as a project folder, from outside the Linux container with the Linux container. To do so:

  1. Ensure that Linux is set up.
  2. Open the Chrome OS Files app and find the directory you want to share.
  3. Right-click on the folder you want to share and select the “Share with Linux” option.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Note: When you right-click on a folder that’s already shared, you will see a “Manage Linux sharing” option instead of “Share with Linux”. This option will launch the Chrome OS Settings menu which is located at : “Settings” -> “Developers” -> “Linux development environment” -> “Manage shared folders”.

  1. Within the Linux container, these shared folders will be located at /mnt/chromeos. From the Terminal app run cd /mnt/chromeos .

Installing Linux apps and packages

Now that Linux is set up, it’s time to install your first apps! While you can always install apps and tools in the terminal via sudo apt install , Linux on Chrome OS supports double-click to install for .deb files (Debian software package) in the Files app, allowing you to download and install apps like you’re used to. Visual Studio Code, for instance, offers a .deb ⁠ package, that you can try this with. Once downloaded and double-clicked, you’ll see a prompt with information about the app you’re looking to install, along with the option to install the app!

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

3: Install prompt for VS Code.

Visual package management

If you prefer to find, install, and manage applications and tools through an application with a graphic user interface, you can install GNOME’s Software ⁠ app and PackageKit ⁠ . To do so, run the following:

Installing these will add two new applications, Software, which provides an app-store like interface for finding applications that can be installed from multiple sources, and Package and Package Update, which can be used for finding and updating applications, tools, fonts, and lots of other packages.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

4: Software running on Chrome OS.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

5: Package running on Chrome OS.

Restarting the Linux container

If you are troubleshooting an issue with Linux, it may be helpful to restart the container without restarting your whole Chromebook. To do so, right-click on the Terminal app in your shelf and click “Shut down Linux”.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

6: Shutting down the Linux container.

Once shut down, the applications should show up in the launcher, and choosing one will start up your Linux container again.

Security and permissions

Linux on Chrome OS runs inside a container, sandboxing ⁠ it from other web pages, applications, and the operating system itself. However, all apps installed in the Linux container share that same sandbox, meaning that they share the permissions of the Linux container, and they can affect each other.

For security reasons, many permissions, such as USB access or microphone access, aren’t shared by default. To ensure you have the correct permissions enabled, go to your device settings and enable them. As always practice appropriate caution with permissions and never enable more than you need. Whenever you’re interacting with Linux on Chrome OS, be especially mindful of user data in the container.

Backing up and restoring

Because Linux on Chrome OS runs inside a container, you can back up your environment and restore it; files, apps, and all. This allows you to set up your Linux environment once, then take it with you without needing to reconfigure it again! For detailed instructions on how to do so, see the Chromebook Help page on backing up and restoring your Linux container ⁠

Troubleshooting

For more help enabling or troubleshooting, please read the Chromebook Help page on setting up the Linux container ⁠ .

Recommended

Overview

An introduction to Linux on Chrome OS.

Access remote computers

There are a number of built-in and Google-approved ways to access remote computers.

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Linux on Chrome OS, sometimes called Crostini, allows you to run Linux apps for development alongside your usual Chrome OS desktop & apps. Linux on Chromebooks offers developers the best of both worlds. Built and designed with Chrome OS’ principles of simplicity and security, Linux on Chromebooks gives devs the freedom to safely run their favorite editors, IDEs, and thousands of world-class dev tools in one container.

Turning on Linux will install a Terminal that you can use to run command line tools. You can also install graphical apps like editors and IDEs that show up in the Launcher alongside the rest of your Chrome OS apps. Another useful tool, the Files app, makes it easy to create shared folders for moving files between the Chrome OS host and the Linux container.

  • Run the most popular developer tools
  • Set up an Android, Web, or Flutter development environment
  • Test Android or Web apps on your Chromebook or test on a separate device via USB or port-forwarding
  • Easy backup and restore of your Linux container

Once you have enabled Linux you can learn how to configure a productive desktop environment, build for Android or Web, and also work on games. We also have advanced guides to setup Flutter and other common Linux development tools.

Topics in this section

Linux setup

Instructions to enable Linux, aka Crostini, on Chrome OS for development.

Internals deep dive

Low-level technical documentation on running custom Linux containers on Chrome OS, including runtime features, security, their lifecycles, and device support.

Linux FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the Linux on Chrome OS container.

Glossary

Glossary of terms related to running Linux environments on Chrome OS.

Chrome OS developer news and updates straight to your inbox

Find the latest news, tips, releases, updates, and more on Chrome OS.

How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

Chromebooks have always been great at the basics like watching Netflix or checking email. Android apps brought a few more productivity tools, but Chromebooks are about to get a lot more useful with the addition of Linux apps. Plan on buying a Chromebook for yourself or a loved one during Black Friday? This guide will help you get the most use out of your new machine.

Products used in this guide

  • Amazon: Google Pixelbook – 128GB storage ($999)

Check your Chrome OS version

Installing Linux apps requires your Chromebook to be running Chrome OS 69 or later. If you’ve had your Chromebook for a while and want to be sure you’re on the latest software versions, here’s how to check.

  1. Click your profile picture in the lower-right corner.
  2. Click the Settings icon.
  3. Click the Hamburger icon in the upper-left corner.
  4. Click About Chrome OS.
  5. Click Check for updates.

Your Chromebook will make sure it’s on the latest operating system, and download a new one if necessary. When it’s finished downloading, just restart your Chromebook and you’ll be all done!

Enable the Crostini flag

Once your Chromebook is updated to the developer channel software version, you’ll need to change one of the Chrome flags. Flags are semi-hidden settings that let you try experimental features.

  1. Click on the address bar.
  2. Type chrome://flags and press Enter.
  3. Press Ctrl + F on your keyboard.
  4. Type Crostini in the search bar.
  5. You should see the flag titled Experimental Crostini. Click the checkbox, then select Enable.
  6. Click Restart at the bottom of the screen.

Turn on Linux apps

There are just a couple more steps before being able to run Steam and other Linux apps.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click the Hamburger icon in the upper-left corner.
  3. Click Linux (Beta) in the menu.

Click Turn on.

Click the Terminal icon.

  • Type sudo apt update in the command window. This will list the Linux components that require an update. Press Enter.
  • Type sudo apt upgrade in the command window. This will upgrade all the components that were just listed. Press Enter.
  • When that’s finished, type y to remove excess files. Press Enter.
  • With that, all the necessary parts of the Linux operating system are installed so you can just install .deb applications from the file browser.

    Download and Install an application

    With the prep work done, it’s finally time to install an application. Grab the necessary Linux installation file from your software vendor’s site — we’re using Steam for this guide.

    1. Once the installation file is downloaded, open the File browser.
    2. Click Downloads.

    Copy and paste the .deb installation file to the Linux files folder.

  • Click Linux files
  • Right click or two finger tap on the trackpad while your pointer hovers over the file name.
  • Click Install with Linux (Beta).
  • The program will install, and when it’s done, you can open it from the app drawer. That’s it!

    Our top equipment picks

    If you’re going to download a lot of Steam games or Linux programs, you’ll want plenty of local storage. Google”s Pixelbook offers just that, as well as a slick design, awesome keyboard and trackpad and enough guts to keep up with your most demanding tasks.

    The Chromebook for you

    Google Pixelbook

    Google’s own Chromebook is the best pick for hardcore Linux users.

    If you’re going to get a Chromebook, it should be one with the space and the guts for your favorite applications. The best keyboard, trackpad and screen in the business don’t hurt either.

    • $999 at Amazon
    • $1180.89 at Walmart

    Any modern Chromebook running the latest software will be able to install Linux apps. But the Pixelbook will provide the best experience for a few reasons: the main one is storage. 128GB of internal storage just means more room for your favorite programs and games. And the other internal specs will be up to the task of running those programs and games smoothly.

    Updated September 2018: This article was updated to reflect the fact that Linux apps are now available in the stable channel of Chrome OS.

    We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.

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    Other Chromebook Tutorials & Tips:

    Note: Not all Chromebooks have the capability to install Linux using the method in this tutorial. In order to see if you can install Linux on your Chromebook, open the settings and see if you have Linux (Beta) in the settings sidebar. If so, you can easily install Linux on your Chromebook.

    Follow the steps below to setup Linux on a Chromebook:
    1. Open the Chromebook settings and select Linux (Beta)
    2. Select Turn On
    3. Select Install to install Linux on your Chromebook
    4. Once the Linux Terminal opens, type the following command to ensure Linux is up-to-date on your Chromebook and hit enter.
    sudo apt-get update
    5. You can now install any available apps you want to install. Check below for a large list of apps and their install commands. In this tutorial we install Firefox with the following command.
    sudo apt-get install firefox-esr
    6. Once you have installed a Linux app on your chromebook, update the app by typing the following command.
    sudo apt-get upgrade
    7. You can now find the Linux apps on your Chromebook by opening the launcher.

    Install any of the following apps using the below commands:
    Firefox: sudo apt-get install firefox-esr
    Audacity: sudo apt-get install audacity
    GIMP: sudo apt-get install gimp
    LibreOffice: sudo apt-get install libreoffice
    FocusWriter: sudo apt-get install focuswriter
    Evolution: sudo apt-get install evolution
    FileZilla: sudo apt-get install filezilla
    Blender: sudo apt-get install blender

    #Chromebook #Linux #LinuxChromebook

    Disclaimer: Some of the links in this description are Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, Gauging Gadgets earns from qualifying purchases through affiliate links.

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    1. Overview

    Today we’ll be installing Ubuntu on your Chromebook, while preserving your original ChromeOS system.

    We will use a third-party script called crouton to install Ubuntu using a chroot, giving Ubuntu its own “pretend” root directory system on your machine. This lets you run ChromeOS and Ubuntu side-by-side, being able to flip between the two on-the-fly.

    What you’ll learn

    • How to put your Chromebook into developer mode
    • How to install Ubuntu in a chroot on it
    • Practical and entertaining uses for Ubuntu on Chromebooks

    What you’ll need

    • A Chromebook (Intel/ARM CPU)
    • Some basic command-line knowledge
    • At least 1 GB of free storage space

    crouton is not part of the Ubuntu project
    While we love the value that crouton provides, please note that crouton is a third-party script. It is not provided by nor supported by Canonical nor by the Ubuntu project. Updates to Chrome OS may also make Ubuntu installations inaccessible, as has happened in the past. Use of crouton is at your own risk.

    NVidia Tegra CPUs
    The Tegra CPU needs additional drivers not covered in this tutorial. We will add a tutorial covering this in the future (or why not contribute one?).

    Originally authored by Canonical Web Team

    2. Enabling Developer Mode

    By default, Chromebooks don’t allow us to use chroots out-of-the-box. We will need to put our machine into Developer Mode to grant us this power.

    Before Getting Started
    Placing your device into Developer Mode will wipe all data and user information from it. Since ChromeOS is an online-centric operating system, the vast majority of your data will be stored remotely, but make sure you’ve backed up everything important that’s local to your machine before you begin. This could include important data like any files you’ve downloaded, or locally cached passwords. The use of Developer Mode may void your Chromebook’s warranty.

    To get to Developer Mode, we need to first reboot into Recovery Mode. On most Chromebooks, you do so by turning the device off, then holding down the ESC and Refresh keys while you press the Power button.

    Once in this mode, press Ctrl-D . You will be prompted with an opportunity to “turn OS verification OFF”. Press Enter to do so.

    When you boot up your Chromebook, it will begin with a warning screen noting that “OS verification is OFF”. You will need to press Ctrl-D to continue. Your device will now transition to Developer Mode.

    Every boot thereafter will also begin with that warning screen, and a need to press Ctrl-D to continue. Do not follow the onscreen instructions to turn OS verification on, or you risk wiping your machine’s data and turning Developer Mode off.

    3. Installing Ubuntu with crouton

    Empowered with Developer Mode, we will download the crouton script at this link.

    Then we will open up a shell by pressing Ctrl-Alt-T , and then typing shell . Now we have a full bash shell at our fingertips.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    For a simple setup, we’re going to type sudo sh

    /Downloads/crouton -t unity . This will download the Ubuntu 16.04 packages with the default Unity desktop environment.

    You’ll see your terminal processing these packages one by one. This will take some time, so feel free to browse the web on ChromeOS, have a snack, or browse the web while having a snack.

    Alternative Installation Options
    Depending on the specification of your device, the Unity desktop may be too demanding to work well for you. If you want a more lightweight system, you can install LXDE or XFCE by replacing -t unity with -t lxde or -t xfce . GNOME fans can also try -t gnome instead. You can also encrypt your chroot with a passphrase by adding -e to the end of the installation command before excuting it. This will require that you type in the encryption password you’ve chosen each time you enter the chroot environment.

    4. Switching between OSes

    With the installation complete, you will be prompted to enter a username and a password. You will then be brought into a bare-bones Ubuntu setup.

    Pressing Ctrl-Alt-Shift-Back and Ctrl-Alt-Shift-Forward will rotate you between ChromeOS and Ubuntu. Logging out of Ubuntu will drop you back into the ChromeOS terminal tab that ran the system.

    You can get back to Ubuntu in future sessions by typing sudo startunity into your bash shell.

    5. Practical and fun uses for your system

    Like playing games? sudo apt install steam in a terminal gets you Valve’s Steam gaming client for Linux-based desktop gaming on your Chromebook. If you’re not a previous Steam user, you’ll need to register an account.

    Enjoy irony? sudo apt install firefox . Have fun running Firefox on ChromeOS!

    Want to browse for other ideas? sudo apt install gnome-software ubuntu-software gets you the Software tool for access to a wide variety of useful applications. Install LibreOffice for full office productivity, GIMP for desktop image editing, Audacity for audio editng, or Kodi for your multimedia enjoyment. If you’re a developer, install your IDE of choice and hack away!

    Really, practically anything you could run on a “real Ubuntu laptop” could be run here. Have fun!

    Step 1: Checking your Chrome OS version

    Before we actually move onto the step of installing Linux applications on our Chromebook, we must first check whether your Chromebook actually has the ability to support them. For running Linux applications, your Chromebook should have the Chrome OS 69 or later versions installed. To check the version that you’re currently running, open the Settings window, which can be simply be accessed from clicking on your profile picture icon (See the image below).

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Next select the Hamburger/ three-line menu icon found in the upper-left corner and choose the About Chrome OS option.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    If you see a Check for Updates sign, then it means your Chromebook isn’t running the latest version. To solve this, simply click on the button asking you to download the latest version. This will be followed by a request of asking you to restart your Chromebook. Please do so.

    Step 2: Turning On Linux Beta

    Once your Chromebook has been updated to the latest version, there is one more step to do before we actually begin to install Linux applications. This is to turn on the Linux Beta option found in your Chromebook which is a newly introduced feature that allows you to install and run Linux applications. Once again, open the Settings window and select the Hamburger/ three-line menu icon found in the upper-left corner. Now similarly, as done in Step 1, search for the Linux (Beta) option in the scroll down menu. See the image below.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    If Linux Beta, however, doesn’t show up in your Settings menu, please go and check to see if there is an update available for your Chrome OS (Step 1). If Linux Beta option is indeed available, simply click on it and then select the Turn On option.

    After this, you’ll get a prompt asking you whether you want to Install or Cancel the setting up of Linux Beta on your Chromebook. Please click on Install.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Depending on the specs of your Chromebook and your internet speed, the installation time can vary. When the installation will be complete, you’ll get a terminal window opened in front of you which would be an indication of having successfully installed Linux Beta.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    If after installation, however, the terminal window doesn’t open, then go to the search bar and under the Linux apps subfolder, you’ll have a Terminal icon present. Click on it to get the Linux Bash at your disposal.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Step 3: Updating your Linux

    Now you are ready to install Linux apps on your Chromebook. However, before we actually move onto the installation step, we must first check for any updates or upgrades that our Linux requires. This is because Canonical, the developers of Ubuntu, continually release new updates for Ubuntu which are designed to fix common bugs as well as improve the overall system performance and efficiency. With the latest update, Ubuntu will have most of the issues in the old version sorted out and will be able to run much more smoothly. To do this, enter the following commands in the terminal:

    Moreover, to check for any major upgrades available, run the following command:

    On Linux, this would have required you to type in your password when using the sudo command. However, there is no need to do so on your Chromebook.

    Step 4: Installing Linux Apps on your Chromebook

    With all the initial preparations out of the way, now finally it’s time to install a Linux application on your Chromebook. We’ll be using the command line to install our applications. The commands used here to install our applications will be the exact same as what we used in Ubuntu. Simply enter the following command and then press enter:

    Note: app name here indicates the name of the application that you’re installing

    Now you’d be greeted with a huge chunk of text which basically is indicating the downloading and installation of different components and dependencies of the application. Once the installation is complete, the terminal will return to its original green command prompt. To access the application you just installed, go to your list of programs installed and you’ll find your application present in the Linux apps subfolder.

    Let us show you an example. We’ll be installing LibreOffice which is an excellent open source alternative to Microsoft Office. For installation, as told before, simply open the terminal and enter the following command and hit enter:

    When the installation is done, simply exit the terminal and go look in your list of programs to find the different Libreoffice components installed under the Linux apps subfolder.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Voila, you can now edit your documents on a Chromebook with Libreoffice.

    Importance of having Linux Apps on your Chromebook

    With the technological field expanding at such a fast rate, Google’s introduction of Linux applications in Chromebooks is another feat worthy of being called a huge achievement as this not only diverges and opens up the possibilities of what Chromebook can accomplish but also helps in broadening its diversity of users. With the capabilities of running a diverse set of applications, Chromebooks have become something of a revolution in the industry and are continuously on the rise.

    About the author

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Zeeman Memon

    Hi there! I’m a Software Engineer by degree, Blogger by skills who loves to write about tech, develop websites & do SEO. You can reach out to me on LinkedIn.

    Linux is among one of the three most popular operating systems available on the market today. Its longevity, maturity, and security have made it popular for web servers, network operations, running databases, and scientific computing tasks that require huge compute clusters.

    It is also a cross-platform operating system, which means it can work on mobile devices, servers, desktops, laptops, and even gaming consoles. With all these to gain, it is only natural that people would want to install the OS on their Chromebooks.

    But can you install Linux on a Chromebook? And if so, how do you do it?

    Well, the short answer is yes, there are a few methods that you can install Linux on the device. The easiest is to use the Parallels Desktop software to create a virtual Linux environment. This post will focus on how to install Linux on a Chromebook without any issues.

    What is a Chromebook?

    Chromebooks are basically laptops explicitly developed by Google. They are different from other laptops because they run on the Chrome operating system. But the operating system is not the only factor that separates Chromebooks from regular laptops. It is a new breed of budget-friendly laptops that operate faster because they use lighter operating systems.

    Since it is a product of Google, the Chromebook runs on a grazed version of Chrome web browser instead of the popular operating systems like Windows and Mac. Just like the Chrome web browser, you need an internet connection to work on a Chromebook. This is because most of its applications run on the cloud.

    Chromebooks are generally easy to use, mimicking the feel of a Windows operating system. If you are a Windows or Chrome web browser user, a Chromebook will likely feel familiar.

    How to install Linux on a Chromebook

    The good thing is that, since the release of the new Chrome operating system, you can now install Linux on your Chromebook. Google has released a limited version of Linux that lets you use some of its features such as Linux command-line tools, a code editor, and IDEs (Integrated development environments) on your Chromebook.

    The Linux feature is turned off by default, and you have to turn it on from your setting to access it. To get to settings,

    • Click on time at the bottom right corner of your Chromebook.
    • Select the “Settings” icon, then click on “Advanced.”
    • Once there, select the “Developers” icon.
    • Locate the “Linux development environment.” Next to it, you’ll see a “Turn On” icon. Click the icon and follow the on-screen instructions.
    • The setup process can take ten minutes or more, and after it’s complete, a terminal window opens on a Debian 10 (Buster) environment.

    Installing Linux on a Chromebook using Parallels Desktop

    Now, it is important to note that the Linux features incorporated Chromebooks are limited in terms of features when compared to the original Linux OS. If you want to install the full Linux OS like Kali, which has more features than Debian 10 (Buster), then you’ll need to use a visualization software like Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS.

    Here are the three simple steps you should follow to install any Linux operating system on your Chromebook using virtualization software:

    Step One: Download and install the Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS from their official website if you don’t already have it on your Chromebook.

    Step Two: Set up the initial Admin console user, which will enable the Parallels Desktop license for the organizational unit. You also need to enroll the admin Chrome OS device where you will create a Windows to be deployed to devices.

    Step Three: Download a Linux ISO image file and create a virtual machine. Open the crosh terminal on your Chromebook and enter “vmc start .” This starts the installation process. Follow the Linux setup instructions to install Linux.

    Takeaway

    We’ve learned that Chromebooks are the new breed of cheaper and faster laptops that run on the Chrome operating system. To install Linux on a Chromebook, you can either activate Linux features from the Chromebook setting or by using virtualization software like Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS, which allows you to smoothly switch between the operating systems without having to reboot your device.

    Chrome OS is basically just Chrome and its extensions and web apps. But not every app can be used in a browser right now. Thanks to a little help from Google, you can even install Linux on Chromebook. Linux apps on Chromebooks have been around for a while now.

    If you’re new to Chromebooks, here’s how you can install Linux on your Chromebook.

    Install Linux on Chromebook

    Since Linux is officially made available by Google, you don’t have to jump through hoops to install Linux on a Chromebook. However, this option is only made available for developers, since most general people don’t really use Linux either way. If you’re familiar with Linux or want to give it a try, you can follow the simple steps below.

    1. Open Settings from the Chrome OS app drawer or from the Quick settings drawer.
    2. From the left navigation column, click on Advanced to expand it.
    3. From the expanded menu, select Developers.
    4. On the right, under Developers, click on the Turnon button next to Linux development environment.
    5. Click Next on the popup window.
    6. Enter a username for your linux installation and select a disk size. It’s best to leave it at the recommeded settings.
    7. Click Install when you’re satisfied.

    The installation will begin but it may take a while depending on your hardware. Once Linux is installed on your Chromebook, the Linux terminal will be automatically launched.

    Update your Linux Installation

    So you’ve installed Linux on Chromebook but before you do anything else, you should probably make sure it is up-to-date. Because most likely, it isn’t. Simply type or copy and paste the command below into the open Linux terminal.

    This will make sure you’re on the latest available version of Ubuntu for your Chromebook.

    Linux on Chromebook runs inside a container, as will all Linux apps you will eventually install. This prevents your Linux apps from interacting with the rest of the system and therefore, prevents potential boot issues that you might run into otherwise with your root privileges on Linux.

    Disclosure: Mashtips is supported by its audience. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

    The 7 best Linux apps to install on your Chromebook

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

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    Chromebooks––and the Chrome OS––have become incredibly useful thanks to Google’s frequent updates. Not only are they capable of running Android apps, but they can also run Linux, specifically Ubuntu via Crouton, which works like a shell. That means you’ll need to install and use Linux apps on your Chromebook after Ubuntu has been setup.

    Whether you’re new to Linux or a seasoned supporter, there is a huge collection of apps available and the repository only continues to grow. That means you may not even know some of the apps that exist. It’s especially problematic considering there is no GUI-based market or tool to download them, at least not initially. Instead, you must use a command prompt and syntax to call upon the Linux app through the apt-get tool.

    To help, we’ve compiled a list of the best Linux apps available for Chromebook.

    If you haven’t already, you’ll need to install and configure Linux on a compatible Chromebook before moving forward.

    Best Photo Editing Tool: GIMP

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Chrome OS is not the best for visual editing. There are some online apps you can use, but nothing akin to a full desktop tool. Photoshop is only available through something like CrossOver, for example.

    Linux offers GIMP, one of the best free image editors available. You may recognize it because you can also use the tool in Windows, and OS X. It is a comprehensive suite just like Photoshop that will require some hands-on time to truly understand.

    Best Video Editor: Kdenlive

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Editing videos is a big deal these days, whether you’re a YouTube content creator or you share your content on any of the other media and social network sites. Unfortunately, Chrome OS doesn’t have a full-featured video editor available, but Linux sure does.

    Kdenlive will provide you with a complete video editing tool, and it works great even on Chromebook.

    Best Coding Tool: Visual Studio Code

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Visual Studio Code is one of the best syntax and code editors out there with a huge selection of excellent features. It supports many popular languages, built-in debugging, support for Git, and has an integrated Terminal to boot. If and when something is missing you can usually add support thanks to optional extensions and themes. It’s regularly updated to fix bugs, performance and more, as well.

    Visual Studio Code installed to Linux on Chromebook can only access files and content in the ‘Linux Apps’ directory. If you want to work with a file from the Chrome platform––or you download a file using your browser––you’ll first need to move the content to the appropriate directory using a file manager.

    Best Office Suite: LibreOffice

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Microsoft Office isn’t available for Linux, so you won’t find it in Chrome OS. You could access it via a browser if you have a subscription to the web version, however, but that’s not always ideal.

    Being a Google ecosystem, you do have access to Google Docs, too. Yet, it always helps to have a little more variety. That’s precisely why it’s good you can find several alternatives for Linux, including WPS Office and LibreOffice.

    WPS is a solid choice, and it’s also relatively popular amongst Linux users. We chose LibreOffice instead though, an open-source productivity suite that works across a variety of platforms, not just Linux. It includes a word processor (Write), spreadsheet tool (Calc), presentation editor (Impress), and vector graphics editor (Draw).

    This install process installs both the LibreOffice suite and a Chrome OS Linux theme to match your operating system.

    Best Email Solution: Evolution

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    If you’re a fan of desktop email clients, Chromebook isn’t the most ideal platform for you. There isn’t much available, as most apps are web-based or online only. If you guessed that Linux has a good option, you were right.

    Evolution is a desktop-inspired client that offers email, calendar and contact tools all rolled into a single application. You can also create personal tasks with reminders, as well as memos or in-app notations if you will. Plus, it’s compatible with any POP or IMAP-based email account, including Gmail.

    Best Desktop Browser: Firefox

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    You can’t install Firefox on a Chromebook, at least not the desktop version. While there is an Android app, it’s not the same and the experience is sub-par.

    Luckily, Linux has a full desktop version of Firefox available, which you can install within Ubuntu.

    Best FTP Client: FileZilla

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    On a Chromebook, if you need to connect to a remote server to download or upload files––such as the root directory of a website you own––you’ll need to deal with some messy workarounds. A more convenient option is to download an FTP client via Linux, particularly FileZilla.

    You can drag and drop files to move between the platforms easily. You can also download content to your Chromebook to edit offline. If you have Visual Studio installed you can edit web and HTML files, too.

    Similar to Visual Studio Code, FileZilla via Linux will only be able to access files stored in the ‘Linux Apps’ directory. If you want to work with a file from the Chrome platform you’ll first need to move the content to the appropriate directory using a file manager.

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    Chromebooks can now run Linux-based applications, and even though the feature is mostly intended for use by developers, it can also benefit regular Chromebook owners. There are some tasks that websites and Android apps still aren’t great at, which is where Linux applications might be able to help.

    This isn’t a simple compilation of the best Linux apps, because plenty of those exist already. Instead, the goal here is to recommend solutions for tasks that cannot be adequately filled by web or Android apps. For example, serious photo editing isn’t really possible through the web, and options on the Play Store are limited, but Gimp is perfect for it.

    This guide assumes you have already set up the Linux container on Chrome OS. If you haven’t, follow the instructions here.

    You should also set your Chromebook’s Downloads folder as a shared folder from the Linux section of the Chrome OS settings, so your Linux apps can access Chrome’s files. Once you do that, the Downloads folder will appear in the file picker on Linux apps (if not, you can get to it from mnt > chromeos > MyFiles > Downloads).

    For years, one of the main arguments against Chrome OS has been the lack of a professional-level photo editor like Photoshop. While you can try to install Photoshop through CrossOver for Chrome OS, there’s something that will work much better: GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program).

    Thanks to Linux support on Chromebooks, the Play Store isn’t the only place you can download apps from. A lot of Chrome OS devices can run Linux apps, which makes them all that more useful.

    Installing a Linux app isn’t as simple as installing an Android app, although the process isn’t hard once you get the hang of it. The good news is that when done correctly, you’ll feel like a computer wiz since there’s a bit of code involved.

    First, check your Chrome OS version

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    The first step is to check your Chrome OS version to see if your Chromebook even supports Linux apps. Start by clicking your profile image in the bottom-right corner and navigating to the “Settings” menu. Then click the hamburger icon in the upper-left corner and select the “About Chrome OS” option. The version of Chrome OS you’re running will appear.

    If you’re running Chrome OS 69 or later, you can download Linux apps. If not, you’re out of luck. But in this case, make sure to check if there are any software updates available that may bump you up to one of the Linux supporting versions of the operating system. To do so, just click the “Check for updates” button on the “About Chrome OS” page you should already be on and then let your Chromebook do its thing.

    Enable Linux on Chromebook

    Now that you’ve figured out that your Chromebook supports Linux apps, the next step is to enable Linux on your machine. It’s easy to do and won’t take a lot of time overall, although this depends on how fast your internet speed is as well as the power of your Chromebook.

    Open the settings on your Chromebook and select the “Linux (Beta)” option on the left side. Then click the “Turn on” button followed by “Install” when a new window pops up. Once the download is completed, a terminal window will open that’s used to download Linux apps, which we’ll discuss in detail in the next section.

    How to download Linux apps on Chromebooks?

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. But before we get into exactly how to download Linux apps on Chromebooks, there’s one more thing to do. To make sure everything runs smoothly, you have to update your packages by entering the command below into the terminal window.

    Once that’s done, you can start downloading Linux apps on your device. To do so, you have to use the command “sudo apt-get install app name -y” in which you change the “app name” part with the actual name of the app. For example, if you want to download the popular image editor called Gimp, you would use the following command:

    • sudo apt-get install gimp -y

    Once you enter the command into the terminal window, the app will be downloaded and placed in the app drawer along with your Android apps.

    Best Linux apps for Chromebooks

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    In addition to the already mentioned Gimp, there are a number of other great Linux apps available to download. We’ll let you discover them on your own, but just to get you started and give you a little taste of what to expect, we’ve listed a few popular Linux apps below along with commands you can use to download them.

    LibreOffice: An alternative to Microsoft Word, LibreOffice includes a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a presentation tool, among other things.

    • sudo apt install libreoffice libreoffice-gtk3 -y

    Transmission: This is a free BitTorrent client that allows you to easily download and upload files.

    • sudo apt-get install transmission-qt -y

    FileZilla: If you want to move files from your device to a server, an app like FileZilla makes the process a lot faster.

    • sudo apt-get install filezilla -y

    Evolution: In case you want to use a desktop mail client instead of a web-based one, the Evolution Linux app is for you.

    • sudo apt-get install evolution -y

    Audacity: This is an advanced audio editor and recorder that comes in handy when you want to play around with various audio files.

    • sudo apt-get install audacity -y

    There you have it — that’s how you can run and download Linux apps on Chromebooks. Which app was the first one you installed? Let us know in the comments! Also feel free to check out our other Chromebook-related guides below.

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    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    If you’ve been using a Chromebook for some time you’ll most likely be aware that you can add the functionality to use Linux Apps. Not all Chromebooks do have the functionality, so you would have to check. You can check this by going to your settings area and look for something similar to ‘Linux development environment (Beta)’. You’ll notice Linux for Chrome OS is currently in Beta, but it offers a much better experience than it once did. You can now run Linux Apps in stable mode, which instantly makes them more accessible. This is because you can use Linux Apps without having to use the less secure developer modes available.

    If your Chromebook supports Linux Apps you currently need to enable this as an option. This makes sense because using Linux Apps requires you to set aside a specific amount of Storage Space. If you’re not intending on using Linux, you wouldn’t want the OS to automatically assign storage for you. One of the first things you’ll need to do when activating Linux is deciding the amount of storage to allocate.

    This is different to how you install Android Apps. To install an Android app you simply visit the play store and install the apps you need. Before you can install Linux Apps you first have to allocate some space for Linux itself. Once you’ve activated Linux any apps you install after that will use up some of the space in this allocated storage section. This means you may not necessarily know how much to allocate to Linux when activating this functionality.

    LINUX APPS STORAGE ALLOCATION

    Chrome OS suggests you allocate 7.5 GB of storage. This amount of storage should be fine for most people who are just wanting to have a look at Linux and not intending on installing too many apps. One thing you need to consider about Linux Apps is that you’re not really installing apps all the time. What I mean by this is a lot of the apps available are in fact fully functional Linux programs. An example of this is GIMP, which is a graphics program you can use on any Linux computer.

    These type of programs offer everything you’d expect from an advanced software package. This type of functionality is going to take up a lot more space than a basic app would need. A complete install of GIMP could easily take up about 500 MB. I’ve not really had much chance to use it, as I previously used Adobe Fireworks on my Windows PC. However, now I’ve moved away from my PC for everything other than video editing. I’m aware GIMP is a fully functional graphics program, so I’d expect it to take up a bit of storage space.

    Although I am currently using a Windows-based PC for video editing. I am aware you can find video editing software you can use on your Chromebook with Linux Apps. You can find out more by reading this article from About Chromebooks. I’m not prepared at the moment to learn a new video editor, so for now I’ll be sticking with the one I’m comfortable with. However, the reason why I’ve mentioned video editing is that it brings up something really important you also need to consider. Your saved files.

    SAVED FILES WILL TAKE UP STORAGE SPACE

    When you consider some of the apps you can use in Linux are Graphics, Music editing and Video editing software. The saved files you will be creating from these type of programs are going to take up a lot of room. This is especially true for video editing. If you’re intending to use Linux Apps for more than just casual use, and these type of programs are what you’d most likely use. Then you’ll definitely need to consider using more allocated storage space than 7.5 GB.

    Video files can take up a huge amount of storage space. One of the reasons why I tend not to keep many of my video files in the cloud. Instead, I’ve opted for backing up these files to my Network Drive. However, when you’re editing video files, which can take a few days depending on the type of video. You’ll have to keep a few copies stored on your computer. If I was using Linux Apps for video editing, then I’d most likely be looking at allocating at least 20 GB of space at an absolute minimum.

    YOU CAN CHANGE THE ALLOCATED STORAGE SIZE

    The great news is you don’t need to worry too much about only having one chance of getting the right storage allocation for your Linux Apps. This is because you do have the option of increasing the size of allocated storage at a later date. You simply do this by visiting the settings area and looking for Linux. This will allow you to either increase or decrease the amount of storage you allocate to Linux.

    It’s great to see you have the option of changing your allocated storage at a later date. The amount you allocate will be largely down to how much storage your overall Chrome OS device has available. This is one of the reasons why Chromebooks are now coming with more storage than they had before. If you’re unsure who much storage you need for your Chromebook or Chromebox. Then have a read of how much storage do I need for my Chromebook in 2021.

    Although Linux is still in Beta. I’m hoping we will see more interest in Linux Apps in the future. This is definitely something that is needed before we start to see more people make the switch to the Chromebook. If you’re interested in installing Linux but find the idea of using command lines intimidating. Why not watch a video I’ve created, which shows you how to install a Linux App Store on your Chromebook. It’s a much easier way of finding and installing apps without having to use a command line.

    You may also like

    Chromebooks are steadily gaining market share. With the arrival of Android apps to the platform, Chromebooks have become an ideal platform for a very large user-base, and Chrome OS is a very important piece of technology in the current consumer space.

    However, if you are a Linux user, you may need many utilities and tools to get the job done. For example, I run my own servers and manage them remotely. At the same time, I also manage my Linux systems and a file server at home. I need tools.

    Additionally, Chrome OS, as a result of being a Google product, has some restrictions. For example, there is no way to even download Creative Commons YouTube videos on Chromebook. What if I want to download Ubuntu or openSUSE and create a bootable USB drive? As much as Chrome OS is a Linux-based desktop, it does lack some features. So, you need what I call a “legacy” Linux desktop on your Chromebook. But wiping Chrome OS and installing a desktop Linux on it would mean losing access to millions of Android apps and games. What if you can get the best of both worlds? What if you can run a pure Linux distribution and Chrome OS, side by side, without dual booting?

    That’s exactly what Crouton does.

    Preparing your Chromebook for Crouton

    Crouton is supported on a wide range of Chromebooks. I tested it on my ASUS Chromebook Flip, and it worked great. Chromebooks keep all data and files on Google servers, so you don’t have to worry about taking a backup of your files as you have to do on other operating systems. However, if you have files on a local ‘Download’ folder, then you must take a backup as the next step will wipe everything from your Chromebook. Once you have taken the backup on an external drive, it’s time to create a recovery image of your operating system to restore it if something goes wrong or if you want to go back to the stock Chromebook experience.

    Install Chromebook recovery utility from the Chrome web store. Open the app and follow the instructions to create the recovery drive. It’s an easy three-step, click next process. All you need is working Internet and a USB drive with at least 4GB space.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooksFigure 1: Install the Chromebook Recovery Utility from the Chrome Web Store.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooksFigure 2: Then follow the easy to follow instructions.

    Once the recovery disk is created, unplug it and proceed with the following steps. You can also create a recovery disk from Linux, macOS and Windows PCs using the Chrome web browser. Open web store in Chrome browser and install recovery tool. Once installed, follow the above procedure.

    Change to developer mode

    If you have the latest Chromebook, you can easily enable the developer mode by holding Esc + Refresh keys and then pushing the ‘power’ button.

    It will boot into recovery mode, which will show a scary warning on the screen (this warning will appear at every reboot). Just ignore it and let Chrome OS wipe your data. The process can take up to 15 minutes, so don’t turn off your Chromebook.

    Once the system has successfully booted into developer mode, at every reboot you will see the warning screen. You can either wait for a few seconds for it to automatically boot into Chrome OS, or press Ctrl+d to immediately boot into Chrome OS.

    Now log into your Gmail account as usual and open the command-line interface by pressing Ctrl+alt+t.

    Once in the terminal, open Bash shell by typing:

    In another tab, open the Crouton GitHub page and download Crouton (it’s downloaded into the Downloads directory)

    There are many operating systems available for Chromebooks via Crouton, including Debian, Ubuntu, and Kali Linux.

    As is self-evident, not all distributions or releases are supported. If you are planning to install Ubuntu, it defaults to Precise release, which is quite old, so you may face issues with Crouton on some machines. I heavily recommend using Trusty release.

    To find which releases are available, run this command in the shell:

    To find which DEs are available, run:

    Let’s say you want to install Xfce, the lightweight distribution suited for the low-powered device, but you want to install Ubuntu Trusty. You would use this pattern:

    If you want to install the default Ubuntu distribution with xfce instead, use:

    The installation can take a bit longer because Crouton downloads the entire distribution over the Internet and installs it. In my case, it took more than 20 minutes.

    Once the installation is complete, it will ask you to create a username and password. Now you can boot into your Linux distribution with this command:

    Replace TARGET with your desktop environment. If you installed Xfce, the command to start it will be:

    If you installed Unity, run:

    The most interesting thing about Crouton is that it runs the desired Linux distribution simultaneously with Chrome OS, which means you can easily switch between the two operating systems as if you’re switching between two tabs of a browser. Using:

    switches back to Chrome OS and typing

    switches to Ubuntu Linux.

    Now you have a standard Linux distribution running on Chromebook and you can install any package that you want. Bear in mind that, depending on your architecture, some packages may or may not be available because not all Linux applications are available for ARM processors.

    That’s where the “best of both worlds” concept comes into play. You can simply switch back to Chrome OS and use applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and thousands of games and applications that are available through Android.

    At the same time, you can also access all the Linux utilities, whether it’s sshing into your server or using applications like GIMP and LibreOffice. To be honest, I do most of my consumer side work in Chrome OS; it has almost all commercial and popular apps and services. Whether I want to watch Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, I can do this on the same machine where I can also use core Linux utilities and manage my servers easily.

    That’s what I call the best of both worlds.

    Learn more about Linux through the free “Introduction to Linux” course from The Linux Foundation and edX.

    If you’ve been out of the loop, Google’s bringing Linux apps to Chrome OS. If you’re a fan of Chrome OS or Linux, this is a big deal. Chrome OS is gaining popularity and at least amongst the enthusiasts, it’s becoming a thing of its own. Chrome OS still lacks apps that can make it a true desktop OS competitor though. The absence of serious productivity apps is a roadblock. With Linux apps, Chrome OS can have that Photoshop alternative that doesn’t suck, for instance. It can have Adobe Premier alternatives that Linux users have been using for years. Maybe Google can even convince big names like Adobe to develop an app for Linux. In which case, it’s a win-win for everybody. You can even install Linux apps on a Chromebook powered by Chrome OS.

    Note

    Before you begin though it’s worth noting that Linux app support is still in beta. Graphics acceleration or sound does not work with Linux apps yet and obviously, things can be buggy. Moreover, Linux apps are not supported on all Chromebooks right now. You can find a list of compatible devices on Reddit.

    To use Linux apps, you’ll also have to switch to a Chrome OS development channel. Like the Chrome browser, at any given time, Google maintains four different versions of Chrome OS: Stable, Beta, Dev, and Canary. Everything except the Stable version is a development version. It has the least number of bugs if any. Canary, on the other hand, is the most experimental and least stable. The Beta and Dev versions are less buggy and can be used as daily drivers. You can follow this guide to switch to a development channel.

    Enable Linux app support on Chromebook

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Even after you’ve switched to a developer channel, Linux app support isn’t enabled by default. Enabling it only takes a few clicks though. Access the Chrome OS Settings by clicking on the gear icon in quick settings. Scroll down until you see the option for Linux apps and turn it on. If you don’t see the menu option, your device isn’t yet supported. When you’ve turned it on, you’ll be asked to install the Linux container.

    Without going into details, it’s a bunch of things that will allow Linux apps to be installed on your device and also provide you with the means to do that. Installation can take some time depending on your internet connection. Once it is done though you’ll see a Terminal window where you can start typing commands. The Terminal app icon is also added to your app launcher. We have some more Chrome OS tips and tricks to get a better experience on your Chromebook.

    Install Linux apps on Chromebook from repositories

    Most things on Linux happen through the command line, via the Terminal. So a Terminal is all you need to get your Linux apps up and running on Chrome OS. Many of the popular Linux apps are included in the software repositories of most Linux distributions. The Linux container on Chrome OS runs Debian 9. Therefore, anything on the Debian repositories can be easily installed as long as you know the exact package name. For instance, say you want to install GIMP, the Adobe Photoshop alternative that’s completely free. You can simply run the following command in the Terminal to do that.

    sudo apt-get install gimp

    If you want to uninstall it, just run this command.

    To update your system, and all the installed Linux apps, you can use this command.

    Install Linux apps on Chrome OS from third-party sources

    Android has the Google Play Store, but you can still install it from other sources via APK files. APK files are nothing but app packages for Android, Similarly, there are Debian app packages known as DEB and you can find plenty of those all over the internet. Once you have one, you can just open it normally with a double-click. If you’re somehow on an older version of Chrome OS, the File Explorer will not have support for opening .deb files. In that case, you can again use the Terminal.

    Install Flatpaks

    Like Debian packages, Linux distros also supports several other packaging formats but each format is restricted to a specific distro. Flatpak is one such packaging format developed to work across all Linux distributions. There are some apps that are available only as a Flatpak and can’t be found in the official repos or as a Debian package. While you can use Flatpaks on Chrome OS, its buggy and probably shouldn’t be used unless you have no other option. First, you’ll have to enable Flatpak support.

    sudo apt-get install flatpak

    Now add the Flatpak repository

    Reboot your machine and then install any Flatpak from the Flathub website. Every app on Flathub has command-line instructions at the bottom of the page. Just add sudo before every command.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    Install from Software Center

    You can also install a Linux Software Center on Chrome OS, which is like the Chrome Web Store but for Linux apps.

    How to set up and use linux apps on chromebooks

    When Chromebooks were first released, their principal customers were Internet enthusiasts who fancied the idea of using majorly web applications on Google’s Operating System for PCs. While Chrome OS is capable of running virtually any Android application, there are some tasks that are better completed on a Linux distro e.g. Darktable and GIMP.

    We covered an alternative Linux-centric App Stores to Google Play for Chrome OS not too long ago and today, I’ll show you the easiest way to install Linux (specifically, Ubuntu) on your Chromebook and switch between the OSes at your will with easy-to-remember shortcuts.

    1. Getting Started

    There are at least two recommendable methods of installing Linux on Chromebooks but my preference is using Crouton – a tool that uses the chroot command to run Linux distros on top Chrome OS without the need to reboot the system.

    1. Backup all your personal files because entering developer mode for the first time will wipe them together with your system data.
    2. Create a recovery image of your system so you can restore it if things go sideways (but they wouldn’t).
    3. Download Crouton from GitHub and save it to an external storage device. If you don’t have one then download it after you enable developer mode.

    2. Switching on Developer Mode

    1. Enter recovery mode by pressing and holding the Esc key, Refresh key, and Power button together.
    2. When in recovery mode, press Ctrl+D turn on developer mode.
    3. Press Enter and wait for your system to reboot. This will take 15 – 20 minutes.

    You will see an exclamation mark alongside a message that OS verification is off and a prompt to re-enable it. Ignore it and wait for your PC to reboot into Chrome OS.

    3. Installing Crouton

    1. Download Crouton from GitHub if you didn’t earlier on and save it in your download folder.

    2. Launch your terminal and run the command:

    3. Next, install crouton with the command:

    If you’re using the Crouton Integration extension then use this command instead:

    If your PC is a Chromebook Pixel, Asus Flip Book, or touchscreen then change “xiwi” to “touch” like so:

    Enter your username and password when Crouton is done installing.

    Run the following command to start Ubuntu:

    Instead of Xfce, you can install Crouton with LXDE, KDE, or any other Desktop Environment and the instructions are available in Crouton’s GitHub page.

    4. Perfecting Your DE

    The commands to switch back and forth between Chrome OS and Ubuntu are:

    • Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Back and Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Forward on ARM-based Chromebooks.
    • Ctrl+Alt+Back and Ctrl+Alt+Back on Intel-based Chromebooks.

    This Ubuntu version doesn’t come with its complete list of essential apps so you need to install them yourself with the following commands:

    • If you stick to using Xfce, disable its screensaver to avoid Chrome OS graphic issues.
    • Skip the developer mode message with Ctrl+D .
    • The downloads folder is shared between both Operating Systems.

    5. Removing Linux from Chromebook

    This one is easy. Press the spacebar while rebooting your system and when that exclamation with the re-enable OS verification prompt comes up, hit the space bar. This will uninstall Crouton and restore your Chrome OS to its single original state.

    If you would rather use the terminal to remove the Linux installation, run the commands:

    There you have it” A fully functional Ubuntu installation to run alongside ChromeOS that you can switch between with keyboard shortcuts.

    Drop your comments, questions, and suggestions in the comments section below.