Installing Linux on your Chromebook is easy, safe, and fun. Once you are running linux on your Chromebook you have yourself an incredible laptop with great functionality for about $120! If you have a Chromebook you should definitely install Linux and unlock its full potential to be an actual laptop replacement.
The easiest, fastest, and safest way to install and run Linux on your Chromebook is using something called Crouton. Crouton always you to run your entire Linux desktop from within a Chrome browser tab (you can make it full screen so it doesn’t feel like you are running a computer within a browser). It is incredible. You can seamlessly go back and forth from Linux to Chrome OS as you please.
You can find instructions, tutorials and step-by-step guides all over the internet that will explain this process to you. I am going to explain the way I have done this countless times now on several Chromebook. One day when I’m not lazy I may actually post the video guide I have promised.
This process will wipe all the locally stored data from your Chromebook. It will basically be like a factory reset. It is strong recommended that you do a backup of your current set up before you proceed if you actually care about potentially messing up your Chromebook or losing any local data. Personally, I didn’t bother to make a backup image before doing this but to be safe you should. Read about how to do that here.
Here are my super simple instructions:
Enabling Developer Mode
The first thing you have to do before you can get started is enable developer mode on your Chromebook. To pull off this super complicated task you have to press and hold the following keys at the same time: ESC + REFRESH + POWER.
When you do this it will bring you to the Recovery Mode scree. This screen looks scary. It is all white with a big yellow exclamation point. The screen may look something like this:
Press CTRL + D to enable developer mode. This will bring up a prompt that asks you if you want to enter developer mode. You should press ENTER because you do want to enter developer mode.
Then you wait as your Chromebook does a powerwipe deleting everything and entering into developer mode. When it is done you will see this scary screen with a big RED exclamation point:
If you see this screen then you are totally screwed! You might as well just throw your Chromebook away because it is never going to work again.
This is the screen you want to see. DO NOT press SPACE to re-enable. Instead press CTRL-D. You can also just wait a few seconds and your CB will beep a few times then boot up.
Now you have to install Crouton. In order to install it you first have to download it here. It should automatically be saved to the download folder on your CB but double check to make sure it is in there.
Now you get to launch the terminal and look like you are doing some cool hacker shit!
Press CTR + ALT + T and the terminal will open up looking like this:
Now like a super cool hacker you will type in this super complicated command:
Then you will see something similar to this:
You are basically like Mr. Robot at this point. Now to install crouton you will enter the following:
sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce
A learning moment:
-e encrypts the chroot since you are running in developer mode and are more vulnerable this is recommended.
-t is for trusty but when you learn more about linux and know what this means you can change this.
xfce is what I use on my Chromebook and it works the best out of all the distros I have used on my chromebook but there are plenty you can try once you know some linux basics.
Crouton is Installing
Once you run the above command it will start the installation of crouton. This process will take a while and look like your doing some cool hacker shit from that movie in the 90’s. It may prompt you to press ENTER or Y at the beginning to start.
After it is done it will prompt you to enter a username and password. You are creating a user name and password here to make sure you remember what you pick as your username and password. Don’t be an idiot and lock yourself out. NOTE: the password will not show up as you are typing it. Just type the password and press ENTER.
You may be prompt to set up another username and password for your Linux Installation after this. Same rules as above. You can make them the same if you want or you can make them different but if they are different you better write down which one is which so you don’t forget.
Now you are in your terminal and you just finished some cool hacking shit and you made your username and password but you are back where you started now with a blinking cursor and / $. Time to boot Linux. You boot your newly installed Linux by entering this command:
That will bring up a splash screen for your Linux desktop and then it will look something like this:
or maybe this:
It won’t have much of anything installed so it will be kinda weird at first. Luckily Linux has a boatload of freeware you can easily download to make your Chromebook now running Linux into a fully functioning computer.
In this post I recommend what you should install once you put Linux on your Chromebook.
You Did It. You Installed Linux!
So I told you it would be really easy. That is all. You are done now. time to start messing around with linux to make it look cool and download a bunch of apps.
My suggestion is that you open the terminal in Linux that Icon that looks like a black box (or CTRL+T should do it) then in the terminal you should enter:
Sudo apt-get install chromium-browser
It will probably prompt you for password to use Sudo the first time. Then ask if you want to install Chromium to which you press Y then ENTER.
It will do some cool shit that looks like the Matrix and then when it is done you will have Chromium web browser, which is a free version of Chrome web browser. Open that up and google what should I install on my new linux box?
Or you can just come back this this website and read my suggestions.
You can logout of Linux at anytime and you will be returned to your normal Chromebook desktop.
In the future if you want to go back into linux you simply press CTRL + ALT + T to open the terminal again and enter:
You will then boot back into your linux desktop.
Preserving Developer Mode
From now on every time you turn on your Chromebook it will open to the scary developer mode white screen. Simply press CTRL+D to continue and your computer will boot into Chrome OS normally.
If you decide you don’t like this and you want to go back to the way things were before you started your life as a hacker then press the space bar and it will powerwipe your chromebook deleting crouton and Linux and turning off developer mode.
If things ever get bad and your totally frozen remember you can press and hold ESC + REFRESH + POWER and it will bring you to the recover screen. From recovery screen you can flash a recover image or you can power off and back on and it usually turns back on fine.