How you can Install Linux on Your Chromebook 2021 Tips

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If you want to go beyond the extensions and Android apps that Chrome OS offers, there are a few ways to get Linux up and running to make your Chromebook more versatile.

Chromebooks are amazing little machines. Since they run a basic operating system with just a browser on top, they are often inexpensive, low-powered, and incredibly useful. However, if you want to go beyond the Android extensions and apps that Chrome OS offers, installing Linux is your best option.

By taking advantage of Linux-based applications, you can make your Chromebook much more versatile than it was before. However, installing Linux is not a simple process and you will need a few things before you begin. Here’s what you need and how to set it all up.

What do you need

In order for Linux to run on your Chromebook, in almost all cases, we recommend that you have a few things:

An Intel-based Chromebook. Technically, some of these methods may work on ARM-based machines, but you will be more limited in the applications you can run. To really unlock the potential of your Chromebook, you’ll want one that uses an Intel processor. Our favorites include the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, Dell Chromebook 11 (3100), and HP Chromebook x360 14c.

Some Linux chops. We can walk you through the basic steps to get up and running, but in order to use Linux, you will need some basic knowledge of how the operating system works, including the command line. If you’re still a beginner, you can get a lot of help from the Ubuntu forums and Linux subreddits.

A recovery disc. Before you start playing games with your Chromebook, I recommend installing the Chromebook Recovery Utility and creating a recovery disc. You will need a flash drive with 4GB of space or more; You’ll be glad to have it on hand in case something goes wrong and you want to reverse the process.

Nerves of steel. Google only supports one of these methods. The other two require you to put your Chromebook in developer mode (which creates a slightly less secure environment if you’re careless). No matter what you decide to do, proceed with caution and know that there is always the possibility that something will break. (Hence the recovery disc recommended above).

Are you still interested in moving on? All right, let’s do this.

Install Linux applications with Crostini

Google’s official method of installing Linux apps is called Crostini, though you might find it labeled Linux on your device, and it allows you to run individual Linux apps right on top of your Chrome OS desktop. Since these apps live inside their own little containers, it’s pretty safe, and if something goes wrong, your Chrome OS desktop shouldn’t be affected.

At Google I / O 2021, Google said that Linux will finally come out of beta after three years, so things should be pretty stable. Linux should work for all devices released since 2019, but if your device is older, there is an official list of supported Chromebooks.

To start Crostini, click on the clock in the lower right corner of the screen and select the Settings icon. Scroll down to the Linux development environment settings; If you don’t see it, your Chromebook is not supported and you will need to use one of the other two methods below. If you see this option, click the Activate button, then click Install on the next window to activate the feature.

Once you allocate the required disk space to Linux, you will be presented with a Linux Terminal. From there, type the following two commands, hitting Enter after each one:

sudo apt update

sudo apt update

These commands ensure that all your Linux software is up to date. Right now that only means the software running the underlying Linux system, but you can also run these commands in the future to update your Linux applications.


Speaking of Linux applications, let’s install one. We’ll use GIMP for this example, since let’s be honest, it’s probably why half of you are reading this anyway. Run the following command:

sudo apt install gimp

Obviously you can replace gimp in that command with the package name of whatever application you want to install. With this done, you should be able to open Chrome’s app launcher, scroll down to the Linux Applications folder, and launch GIMP (or whatever other app you’ve installed) from there.

linux folder

Note that your Linux apps cannot access the normal folders on your Chromebook, so if you want to open a file that you downloaded in Chrome, you will need to drag it to the new Linux file folder in the Chrome OS file manager. . If you have a problem, the / r / crostini subreddit is a good place to ask for help.

Get a complete Linux desktop with Crouton

crouton linux

If your Chromebook doesn’t support Crostini, you can install an Ubuntu desktop alongside Chrome OS with an unofficial chroot environment called Crouton. It’s extremely quick and easy to set up, and most users will probably end up going this route.

To install Crouton, you will need to put your Chromebook into developer mode. This will erase all your files and settings so back up anything that is not synced to the cloud. When you’re ready, turn off your Chromebook, hold down the Esc and Refresh keys, then press the Power button.

On the recovery screen that appears, press Ctrl + D, then press Enter when asked if you want to disable operating system verification. From now on, you will need to press Ctrl + D every time you start your Chromebook and see the OS verification screen.

chrome operating system terminal

Once you’re back on Chrome OS, download Crouton by clicking the link at the top of this page. Then press Ctrl + Alt + T to open Chrome OS terminal, type shell, and press Enter to open a shell. Then run the following command, which copies the Crouton installer to the / usr / local / bin folder, where it can be run:

sudo install -Dt / usr / local / bin -m 755 ~ / Downloads / crouton

Then run this command to install Crouton with the XFCE desktop environment (if you have another environment you prefer, you can replace it here):

sudo crouton -t xfce

This process will take a while, so be patient. Finally, when you are done, you can enter your Linux desktop by running:

sudo enter-chroot startxfce4

You can switch between Chrome OS and Linux desktops with Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Back and Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Forward on your keyboard; no need to reboot. From the Linux desktop you can install applications, customize your workspace, and basically live your life within that Linux environment.

The Crouton GitHub Readme has information on other things you can do to improve this setting, such as sharing your clipboard between environments, updating your Ubuntu version, backing up your data, and enabling encryption for your Linux settings ( which is highly recommended, as this process is inherently less secure than an uncontaminated Chrome OS). This is where command line techniques come in handy!

If you ever want to go back to a pure Chrome OS setup, turn off your Chromebook and start it up again by holding down the Esc and Refresh key while tapping the Power button. Insert the recovery drive you created (you made one as we recommended, right?) And follow the instructions to start from scratch.

Gallium Dual Boot Chrome OS (Enthusiast)


This is where things get a bit more complex. If you want to run Linux independently of the Chrome OS, maybe you don’t really want the Chrome OS at all, or maybe you want a separate environment where you can play games without compromising your Chrome installation, you can install Linux in one go. more traditional way by partitioning the drive and doing it with the Chrome operating system.

Note that this will require dedicating quite a bit of extra space to your Linux installation, which may not be easy on Chromebooks with small amounts of storage. It will erase your device too, so please backup important files now before proceeding.

For Linux dual boot, I recommend a tool called chrx, which will walk you through the necessary steps. By default, chrx installs GalliumOS, a lightweight Xubuntu-based distribution that is customized for low-power Chromebook hardware. If you want things to be as nimble as possible, GalliumOS is a great option. However, chrx can also install Ubuntu and Fedora (in addition to Ubuntu derivatives like Lubuntu and Kubuntu), if you prefer.

Before using chrx, you will need to enable developer mode, as we did when installing Crouton. You may also need to disable write protection and install custom firmware on your laptop, depending on your CPU. Please refer to this page for compatibility information regarding your specific laptop and what to do. (This custom firmware also allows you to erase Chrome OS entirely and install Linux on its own, if you prefer instead of dual-booting.)


Once done, hit Ctrl + Alt + T to open a terminal, then type shell and hit Enter. Run the following command to prepare your Chromebook for installation (using these flags, if you want to install a different distribution or adjust other settings):

CD; curl -Os && sh go

The chrx installer will walk you through partitioning your drive before rebooting, at which point you can open a terminal and run the command again to install Linux. Once it’s done, your Chromebook will reboot and you can press Ctrl + L at startup to boot into your chosen Linux distribution (or Ctrl + D to reboot into Chrome OS).

You may need a bit more software and drivers with this method, but if you’re a Linux veteran, you shouldn’t have too much trouble, and you’ll end up with a clean system that you can customize to your liking. content.

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