How to enable Linux on your Chromebook (and why you should)


A few years ago, Google made it possible to add Linux support to Chrome OS. By doing this, anyone could install Linux apps on their Chromebook and take advantage of the powerful Linux command-line interface. 

For any Chromebook user who’d like to be able to run more standard applications, this is a great way to expand Chrome OS. And, because it’s Linux, there are tons of applications that can be installed. For instance, if you prefer a regular email client, you can install the likes of Thunderbird or Geary. Want a different browser? Install Firefox. Need an image editor? Install GIMP.

There’s much more that can be done, after adding Linux support to Chrome OS. For instance, you can install Docker and develop containers. 

Below I’ll show you how to add Linux support to your Chromebook and how to install your first application.

All you’ll need to make this work is an up-to-date Chromebook. Unlike when Linux support was first released you can be on any of the Chrome OS channels (official, dev, or unstable). 

Enable Linux on ChromeOS

1. Open Settings

Click on the System Tray and then click the gear icon near the top right (Figure 1).

The Chrome OS system tray popup menu.

The Chrome OS Settings window is easily accessed from the System Tray popup.

Image: Jack Wallen

2. Locate the Developers section

In the Settings app, scroll to the bottom until you see the Developers section (Figure 2).

The Chrome OS Settings application.

The Developers section in the Chrome OS Settings app.

Image: Jack Wallen

3. Turn on Linux development environment

Click Turn on for Linux development environment. In the resulting window (Figure 3), click Next.

The Chrome OS Linux development environment install wizard.

The Linux development environment install wizard.

Image: Jack Wallen

In the next window (Figure 4), make sure you’re okay with the username and then either customize the Disk size or accept the 10GB default and click Install.

The username and disk space configuration window for the Linux development environment on Chrome OS.

The username for your Linux environment is set here.

Image: Jack Wallen

Once you click install, the process will begin and can take anywhere from 2-20 minutes depending on the speed of your network connection and the power of your Chromebook. Once the installation completes a terminal window will open (Figure 5), to indicate a rousing success.

The Linux terminal window running on Chrome OS.

Huzzah! The Linux development environment has been added to Chrome OS.

Image: Jack Wallen

How to install your first app

Let’s install the Geary email client. To do this, update apt with the command:

Once apt is updated, install Geary with:

sudo apt-get install geary -y

When the installation completes, you can open Geary from the Chrome OS launcher (Figure 6).

The installed Geary app in the Chrome OS launcher.

Geary has been successfully installed on Chrome OS.

Image: Jack Wallen

And that, my dear friends, is how easy it is to add Linux support to your Chromebook. Do this and install all the apps you need to expand the options of Chrome OS.

Original Article

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