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In this article, we are going to teach you what you need to know about how to install Linux on Chromebook. As far as laptops go, the Chromebook is among the best out there. In fact, some of them, like the Samsung Chromebook or Chromebook Pixel have some pretty decent specs, in comparison to other devices.
However, what the Chromebook has in specs, lacks in software. Chrome OS is pretty useful, gorgeous, and it has tons of apps that can help you perform various tasks.
But, compared to a PC running Microsoft Windows or Linux, Chrome OS lacks a certain robustness which, in the long run, can make the whole system less appealing.
Still, this doesn’t mean that the Chromebook can’t aspire to something much higher. In fact, we are going to show you how to turn your Chromebook into a veritable laptop by teaching you to install Linux on Chromebook.
Can You Install Linux on Chromebook?
Yes, it is possible to install Linux on Chromebook. However, don’t expect it to be as easy as installing Windows on a desktop or a laptop.
In fact, it may require you to do some advanced tweaking such as working with command lines, enabling developer mode and enabling recovery mode.
How to Install Linux on Chromebook
Before installing this OS on your Chromebook, you must be aware of a couple of things.
- You must enable your Chromebook’s recovery mode. This means that all the data on your device will be wiped clean, so be sure to perform a full backup before starting to install Linux.
- Lots of patience – the process will take a while to complete. Don’t expect the whole thing to last 15 or 30 minutes.
- Downloading Crouton. This nifty software called Crouton will actually be the one doing all the heavy lifting. Basically, Crouton will use Chrome OS’s root command in order to install a fresh copy of Linux on top of the default OS. By the way, Chrome OS is also based on Linux. You can download Crouton by clicking here.
- Some know-how on working with command lines.
Installing Linux on Chromebook
So, in order to successfully install Linux on Chromebook, follow our step-by-step tutorial. Don’t worry too much about stuff like command lines, developer mode, shells, Ubuntu or rooting, because all will be revealed in a few moments.
- You will need to switch your Chromebook into Developer Mode in order to start the process.
- Hold the Refresh and the Escape keys together for a few seconds. After that, please press and hold the power button. For this to work, you will have to hold the three keys together.
- In a couple of seconds, your Chromebook will reboot and switch into Recovery Mode.
- You can tell that the device is in Recovery Mode by the big exclamation mark that appears on your screen.
- After your Chromebook reboots into Recovery Mode, please press the CTRL and the D keys.
- Your device will ask if you want to switch to the Developer Mode. In order to continue the process, please press your ENTER key.
- At this point, your Chromebook will switch from the Recovery Mode to the Developer Mode, meaning that it will systemically start to wipe all the data from your device. Please be patient, as this process may take a while to complete depending on your device’s specs.
- When it’s done, your device will reboot back into Chrome OS.
- You must now install the Crouton dev kit.
- Click on this link, and download the Crouton kit. You will find the download link at the top of the page, under “Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment”;
- Wait for the Ubuntu shell to download.
- Access your Chromebook’s terminal. You can do this by pressing and holding together your CTRL, ALT, and T keys.
- In order to bring up the Ubuntu shell, please type in the following text in your command line:
- After entering the Ubuntu shell, you must install the Crouton package.
- To install Crouton on your Chromebook, please write or paste this line in your command line:
sudo sh -e ~/(Name of your download folder)/crouton -t xfce
Now, if you want to use the Unity desktop interface instead of Xfce, then you should replace the xfce line with unity. After committing the changes, your command line should read something like:
sudo sh -e ~/(Name of your download folder)/crouton -t unity
There’s also an option to enable touch functions on Crouton. In order to do this, please replace the lines above with this command:
udo sh -e ~/(Name of your download folder)/crouton -t touch unity
- After hitting the “Enter” key, your Chromebook will start installing Ubuntu. Unfortunately, this process will take some time, so don’t make any plans of using your Chromebook right away.
- When the process is completed, your Ubuntu OS will ask you to provide a new password and username for the Chromebook. Please type in your new credentials, and hit “Enter”.
- To start working with your new Ubuntu OS, you must type in the following line:
Alternatively, if you’ve installed the Unity desktop interface, you will need to swap xfce4 with unity4. After committing these changes, your command line should look like this:
- Hit “Enter” to start using your Ubuntu OS
It’s fairly easy to install Linux on Chromebook because there are only a handful of steps to follow. However, some problems may when you want to install Linux on Chromebook. Surprisingly enough, these issues are more about software compatibility rather than the installation process.
For example, you run virtually any kind of game that has Linux support, but you can’t run simpler stuff like Netflix, or HBO Go in your browser.
It goes without saying installing Linux on your Chromebook has its ups and downs. On the bright side, a versatile OS like Ubuntu will really extend you device’s technical capabilities far beyond Chrome OS ever could.
However, as we’ve mentioned above, you may have some nasty surprises when it comes to running some apps. For the best result, when you want to install Linux on Chromebook, try to erase your data before the Developer Mode process.
That way, you can make sure that there will be no installation issue. Also, another thing to keep in mind that not all Chromebooks support this OS. Unfortunately, there’s no official list of Chromebooks, which support Linux.
However, all the newest version of Chrome devices, such as the Chromebook Pixel, will support this OS without any issue.