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).
2. Locate the Developers section
In the Settings app, scroll to the bottom until you see the Developers section (Figure 2).
3. Turn on Linux development environment
Click Turn on for Linux development environment. In the resulting window (Figure 3), click Next.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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