Install Linux on a Chromebook

Edited by Anabasis, Eng

Chrome OS is an excellent alternative to more familiar operating systems like Microsoft Windows or Apple's OS X. It provides integrated access to all of Google's services like Drive, Docs, Sheets, Gmail, Forms, and numerous others. It boots in under 10 seconds, and is ideal for browsing the web, or word processing. But the major drawback of Chrome OS is number of applications that can run on it is very limited in comparison to more full featured operating systems.

So maybe you want more?

Then install Linux on your Chromebook! You'll exponentially increase the features and capabilities of your computer, with the power to run a desktop environment, and run hundreds of programs that are inaccessible while running Chrome OS.

A word of warning, this process requires you to boot your Chromebook into developer mode, which wipes all data from the computer. Most of the information on your Chromebook should be stored online, so while the effect on your data might be minimal, be sure to back up any important files you have stored on your computer.

  1. 1
    Boot into Developer Mode
    1. To boot into developer mode, press and hold the Escape and Refresh keys together, then press the Power button (while still holding the other two keys).
    2. When the yellow exclamation point appears, hold the Ctrl key and press the "d" key, then press enter to enable developer mode. Remember, this will wipe all data stored on your Chromebook. This process should take about 10-15 minutes, so leave your computer alone until it reboots into the Chrome OS.
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  2. 2
    Install Crouton
    1. Crouton is the program that allows you to run Linux on your Chromebook. It allows you to chroot, or change the root directory of the operating system. A fun historical fact, the chroot program was originally written in 1979.
    2. Download Crouton here
    3. Open crosh (Chromes OS's shell) by pressing Ctrl+Alt+t and switch to bash.
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  3. 3
    Installing Linux
    1. Install Crouton by running the following command:
      sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce
    2. The above command will install Ubuntu 12.04 with the XFCE windows manager. You can view the list of Linux distributions available to Crouton by typing in the shell
      sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r list.
    3. Once finished, enter a desired username and password for the chroot environment.
    4. Start Linux by running sudo startxfce4
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  4. 4
    Navigating The New Installation
    1. Press Ctrl+Alt+shift+forward and Ctrl+Alt+shift+back to switch between Chrome OS and Linux. On Intel based Chromebooks, the command is identical with the exception of using the shift key.
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Information About Your New Linux Installation

You'll find the base installation is pretty bare, and you'll need to use the apt package manager to install the programs you like. Also, the downloads folder is available to both Chrome OS, and Linux. Crouton is completely open source and hackable, so be sure to take a look here for it's full capabilities. It's possible to install other distributions, create multiple chroot environments, even setup a server! The Crouton wiki is also an excellent source for information. To save time when booting, press Ctrl+d to skip the developer mode warning. Remember, by default, upon boot your Chromebook does not start Linux, you have to start it manually by opening crosh (Ctrl+Alt+t) typing "shell" and pressing enter, then entering the command
sudo start xfce4
Now go enjoy your Chromebook's unlocked potential!

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


Article Info

Categories : Operating System

Recent edits by: Anabasis

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