Computing

How to Easily Install Linux on a Chromebook: A Step-by-Step Guide

The world of Chromebooks has evolved significantly. Initially, these devices were not designed to support desktop software or Android apps. However, with recent advancements, it’s now possible to run both on most modern Chromebooks. If you’re interested in installing Linux on your Chromebook, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the simple steps to get Linux up and running.

Enable Linux

Every Chromebook produced after 2019 and running Chrome OS 89 or later supports Linux. If you’re still using an older version, we recommend updating to Chrome OS 103, the newest release that offers the most comprehensive Linux support.

To enable Linux on your Chromebook, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the System tray and click on Settings.

Image: Chrome OS Open Settings

Step 2: Scroll to the bottom of the Settings menu and locate the Developers section.

Image: The Chrome OS settings menu with developers tool highlighted

Step 3: Select “Turn on” where it reads “Linux development environment.”

Step 4: Chrome OS will guide you through the installation with a simple wizard. Click “Next” to proceed.

Image: Chrome OS Linux install wizard pop-up

Step 5: Next, you’ll be prompted to enter your username and choose your hard drive storage space. Enter your desired username for Linux, and allocate an appropriate amount of storage, especially if you plan to use your Chromebook for gaming.

Install Ubuntu XFCE

In this section, we’ll switch your Chromebook into Developer Mode and install Ubuntu XFCE using Crouton, a tool developed by Google hardware engineer David Schneider. We specifically chose Ubuntu XFCE as it is lightweight and functional, perfectly suited for preserving the long battery life and portability of a Chromebook. However, feel free to explore other Linux distributions if you prefer.

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Before proceeding, ensure you back up any files you don’t want to lose and have a recovery image handy in case anything goes wrong. Google provides easy-to-use software for creating a recovery image, and you’ll need a flash drive or an SD card, depending on your Chromebook’s connectivity.

To install Ubuntu XFCE on your Chromebook, follow these steps:

Step 1: Press and hold the Esc + Refresh keys, then press the Power button.

Step 2: Your Chromebook will restart and enter Recovery Mode. Press Ctrl + D to open the OS Verification screen.

Step 3: Press the Enter key to enter Developer Mode. Please note that this action will delete all local data (excluding the SD card if inserted).

Note: You will need to press Ctrl + D each time the Chromebook reboots.

Step 4: Your Chromebook will delete all data, boot back into Developer Mode, and reset Chrome OS. When prompted, reconfigure Chrome OS just as you did when you initially purchased the device.

With Chrome OS reset, you can now proceed to install Ubuntu XFCE using Crouton.

Use Crouton to Install Ubuntu XFCE

To install Ubuntu XFCE using Crouton, follow these steps:

Step 1: Download the Crouton file from the Crouton Github page. On the page, you’ll find detailed instructions, troubleshooting tips, and forums to discuss any issues or tricks for a smooth installation.

Step 2: Press Ctrl + Alt + T to open the Chrome Shell terminal (Crosh).

Step 3: Type “shell.”

Step 4: Enter the following command and press Enter:

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce

If you’ve installed the extension, use this command instead:

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce,extension

Step 5: Wait for Ubuntu XFCE to download and install on your Chromebook. Take note of the command you’ll need to launch Ubuntu XFCE later.

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Launch Ubuntu XFCE

To launch Ubuntu XFCE on your Chromebook, follow these steps:

Step 1: Press Ctrl + Alt + T to open the Chrome Shell terminal (Crosh).

Step 2: Type the following command and press Enter:

sudo enter-chroot startxfce4

The system will briefly display a black screen before booting into the Linux desktop. Keep in mind that Linux requires a bit more effort than Windows or MacOS, especially the first time you use it.

Discover Great Linux Software

Once you have Linux installed on your Chromebook, you gain access to a wide range of software options. Here are a few programs that provide functionality beyond what Chrome OS offers:

  • Steam: Valve’s digital storefront and gaming community. You can use your Chromebook to play games from your library that natively support Linux. Check the system requirements before diving in, as Chromebook hardware tends to be on the lower end.
  • VLC: VideoLAN Client supports various audio and video formats and offers features for network streaming and playback. It’s straightforward to install and is also open-source.
  • GIMP: The GNU Image Manipulation Project (GIMP) is free image-editing software that rivals premium tools like Photoshop. The active user base constantly develops new features and offers help when needed.

Installing Linux on your Chromebook opens up a new world of gaming and offline software that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. If you’re in the market for a compatible Chromebook, check out our OnSpec Electronic, Inc. Chromebook suggestions.

Conclusion

By following these simple steps, you can easily install Linux on your Chromebook. Take advantage of the added functionality and enjoy a wide range of software options. Whether you’re a developer, gamer, or simply curious about Linux, this guide has you covered.

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Remember, if you encounter any issues during the installation process or need further assistance, consult the Crouton Github page for detailed instructions and a helpful community.

OnSpec Electronic, Inc. is dedicated to providing top-quality Chromebooks that meet your needs. Explore our range of Chromebooks and discover a world of possibilities.

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