How to install Linux on your Chromebook

Installing Linux on Chrome OS gives you many new features that you’ll simply not want to do without. When you install Linux you’re opening up your computer to many Linux programs. There are a huge number of programs available, and the best thing is most of them are free to use.

To install Linux your Chromebook needs to be compatible. You’ll find out in the steps below whether you have Linux capability. The good news is most Chrome OS computers from the mid and high-spec range support Linux. Budget devices may simply not have enough processing power.

If your Chromebook does not support Linux and you would like to take advantage of what it can offer. You would need to buy a higher-spec model than the one you currently own. So let’s take a look at how you Install Linux on Chrome OS.

Installing Linux on Chrome OS

To check to see whether you have Linux on your Chromebook you need to check if it’s available in the developer settings.

settings>advanced>developers>

You should then see a menu similar to what you can see in the image below.

Linux menu on Chrome OS
Linux on Chrome OS

If you don’t have a developer’s option then it most likely means your Chromebook isn’t Linux compatible. If you do you’ll see the option to ‘Turn On’ Linux from the left-hand side of the developer menu.

Linux storage size

When you turn on Linux you’ll be presented with a populated username. You can use this username or change it to something different if you wish. You’ll also see a recommended Linux size, which is most likely showing as 10GB.

If your Chromebook is showing less than 10GB it most likely means you don’t have much storage available. You can still install Linux, but you may be limited on the number of programs you can install.

When choosing the file size for Linux it’s very similar to creating a hard disk partition. You’re giving up some of your storage for Linux. Therefore, if you set your Linux container to 10GB. This 10GB will be reserved for Linux and will not be available to use elsewhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve used the 10GB of Linux storage, it will still not be available in Chrome OS.

The amount of storage you choose will be hugely impacted by how much storage your Chromebook has. 10GB may sound like a lot, but if you’re intending on installing a lot of Linux programs or Steam games. Then you’ll want to increase the size. Remember to leave some storage for Chrome OS, your downloads folder and Android apps.

You can change the size of your Linux container at a later date. Therefore, you don’t need to be too concerned about choosing the right size at first.

Once Linux is installed

It will take a few minutes for Linux to be installed and the time it takes will depend on your Chromebook. If you have eMMC storage it will take much longer than if your Chromebook comes with SSD storage.

When complete you’ll be presented with the terminal. This terminal is where you can type in commands for Linux. It’s a good idea to pin this terminal to your desktop taskbar. You can do this by right-clicking on the icon showing on the desktop tray and selecting ‘Pin’.

Linux terminal - Chrome OS

The first thing you will want to do is ensure that everything is up to date. You do this by typing in the following and then pressing the return key:-

sudo apt update

That’s it

You have now installed Linux on your Chromebook or Chromebox. You can install programs by typing in the relevant command or downloading a .deb file from the internet. However, if you’re new to Linux and don’t feel comfortable with how it works. It’s a much better idea to install a Linux App Store.

The video below goes through everything I’ve just explained. It also goes into what you can do once Linux is installed. This includes how to share files and installing a Linux App store.

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