Chrome OS

How to Install Linux Apps on Your Chromebook

Install Linux Apps on Chromebook
Written by Martins D. Okoi

In recent times I have written on how to install Linux on a Chromebook and how to install Chrome OS on any PC; in both cases, most of the users performed the task in order to run platform-specific applications on another.

Today, I’m going to show you how to install Linux applications on your Chromebook without even installing Linux.

Since mid-2018, some Chromebooks could officially run Linux apps designed for Debian and Debian-based distros thanks to the Linux (Beta) option that enables developers and curious users to install Linux tools, IDEs, and editors on Chromebooks.

Not all Chromebooks are supported, though, so it is important to check this list before continuing with this guide.

Activating Linux Beta on Chromebooks

  1. At the bottom right, select the time.
  2. Select the Settings gear icon.
  3. Under “Linux (Beta),” select Turn On. Your machine doesn’t support this feature if you don’t see the option.
  4. Follow the on-screen steps. Setup time depends on your Internet speed.
  5. Install the Gnome Software Center with the following code.
$ sudo apt-get install gnome-software gnome-packagekit

A terminal window will open indicating that you can now run Linux commands especially installing apps via the APT package manager and installing the Gnome software center will enable you to install all the apps available in the Debian repo using a GUI.

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Installing .deb Packages

Chrome OS supports installing apps via .deb files which means that you can work with .deb files like you would work with .exe files on Windows.

Download the .deb package of the app that you want and move it to the ‘Linux files‘ section in your “Files” app and double-click on it. Voila!

Note

  • Chromebooks run the Linux apps inside the same sandbox so while a corrupted Linux app can affect others, your machine will remain completely unharmed.
  • All the files and permissions shared with Linux are available to all Linux apps.

That’s all it takes to run Linux applications on your Chromebook so go ahead and run through the app store!

What’s not Supported

You should know that the ability to run Linux apps on Chromebooks is still in Beta and the functionality listed below are not yet supported.

  • Speakers, microphones, cameras, and USB devices.
  • Android Studio (including Emulators and USB debugging).
  • Hardware acceleration (including GPU and video decode).
  • ChromeVox is supported for the default Terminal app, but not yet for other Linux apps.

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About the author

Martins D. Okoi

Martins Divine Okoi is a graduate of Computer Science with a passion for Linux and the Open Source community. He works as a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and programmer.