Installing and running Linux applications on a Chromebook expands its capabilities with additional productivity tools. This guide explains how to install and run Linux applications and suggests some use cases.
If you don’t already know, the latest versions of Chrome OS allow you to install Linux natively without having to create a separate installation. The Debian distribution is installed by default. There is currently a feature request that will give you the option to install other distributions such as Ubuntu or Fedora.
Check your Chrome OS version
To install Linux apps on a Chromebook, you must have Chrome OS 69 or later. Check which version you have installed:
- By clicking on your profile picture (lower right corner).
- Going to the settings.
- Clicking the hamburger icon (upper left corner)
- Selecting in Chrome OS
If you are not using the latest version, you will see Check for Updates. Download the latest version and restart your Chromebook
- Start by going to settings. Scroll down the page until you see Linux (beta).
- Click the Enable button.
Enable Linux (beta)
- Begin by going to Settings. Scroll down the page until you see Linux (beta) .
- Click the Run button.
If you don’t see this option, it means your device is not supported. You will need to upgrade to a newer model in order to use Linux applications.
- When you turn on Linux (beta), the installation starts.
- Click the Install button. The time this process takes will depend on the processing resources of your Chromebook and the speed of your Internet.
- When the installation is complete, a terminal window will open. Once you have access to a terminal window, run your first set of update commands.
Use terminal commands to install applications
Linux terminal commands are an easy way to get started. Start by typing the following commands in Terminal and then hit Enter:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-i upgrade
On the desktop, Linux requires you to enter a password when using the sudo command. This is not necessary on your Chromebook
- You are now ready to install Linux applications using the following command:
Install Linux Applications on Chromebook
- You are now ready to install Linux applications with the following command:
sudo apt install [application name]
- After pressing Enter, the installation will begin. When prompted to confirm the installation, press y and then Enter.
During installation, you will see a lot of text scrolling across the screen as you download, unpack, and install components.
- When the installation is complete, the terminal will return to the green command line. To close it, type exit at the command line and then enter.
- To see recently installed apps, take a look at the Chrome OS launcher.
Installed Linux apps reside inside the Chrome OS launcher along with web apps, Android apps, and whatever else you have on your device.
Not sure which apps to try? Below are some of the best app solutions for tasks that Android and web apps aren’t doing enough.
While the easiest ways to edit documents on Chromebooks are Microsoft Office Online and Google Docs, these platforms cannot open all file formats.
LibreOffice is an open source alternative office suite that supports a wide variety of file formats and works across multiple platforms.
- word processor (write)
- spreadsheet (Calc)
- vector graphics editor (drawing)
- Presentation Editor (Impress)
- Editing Formulas (Math)
sudo apt install -i libreoffise libreoffice-gtkz
This command will install two packages. The first is LibreOffice The second is a plugin that allows it to match the Chrome OS Linux theme.
GIMP is a powerful photo editor. Users can perform several tasks, including painting with different brushes, using multiple layers of an image, and blurring parts of an image.
With GIMP, users can open and save various file types, including BMP, JPEG, PNG, and PSD.
- The best version of GIMP to install is the Flatpak version. If you don’t already have Flatpak, use the following command in Terminal to set it up.
sudo apt install -y flatpack
- To install GIMP, run the following command:
sudo flatpak install https://flathub.org/repo/appstream/org.gimp.GIMPflatpakref -y
- After downloading, GIMP will be in the Chrome OS app drawer. To access it and other downloaded applications, go to File> Open and then click the folder with your Google account name.
Visual Studio Icon
Visual Studio Code is a code editor with many features including debugging, Git support, and autocomplete for popular languages.
- When the download is complete, navigate to the Downloads folder in the Chrome Files app. To install it, double-click the .deb file.
For those looking for a standalone email and calendar program, Evolution is the app you’ll want to download. It combines your contacts, email, calendar, notes and tasks into a single user-friendly interface.
Evolution works well with any standard POP or IMAP accounts, as well as Gmail.
- To install it, open the Terminal app in the Chrome OS launcher, type the following command, and press Enter:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa: gnome3-team / gnome3-staging
- When asked to confirm the installation, press Enter again. Then enter the command below and hit Enter:
sudo apt-get update
- To complete the installation, enter the following command:
sudo apt-get install evolution
- When prompted to confirm the installation, press y. Like other installed apps, you’ll find it in the Chrome OS app bar.