How to Install Linux on Chromebook
May 16, 2023• Proven solutions
Chromebooks are an excellent choice for educational institutions or businesses that require their employees to have constant access to the Internet. Even though these devices are a perfect tool that can accompany you on business trips and enable you to answer important emails or have access to crucial information stored on the cloud, performing more demanding tasks, like video editing, is still a challenge. However, it is far from impossible, although you may have to take a few extra steps before running a video editing software on your Chromebook.
Chrome OS is a Linux based environment and for that reason, Chromebook owners who would like to use professional editing software on their Chromebooks can install a Linux OS that will enable them to use programs such as Lightworks that are perfectly suited for high-end video editing. There are two different ways to install Linux on a Chromebook, you can either do it using Gallium OS or ChrUbuntu or in a Chroot environment using Crouton. Each of these methods is relatively easy and we will take you through the process step by step. Here's how you can install Linux on your Chromebook.
Part 1: Preparing before installing Linux OS on Chromebook
The first step of the process of installing the Linux OS is the decision itself, and you need to have all the necessary information before you decide to install a Linux OS on your Chromebook.
- Make sure that the version of Chromebook you have is capable of supporting a Linux OS. Your device must be equipped with an ARM or Intel chip in order to be able to run the version of Linux OS you want to install. Although both chips will allow you to go through the process, running closed source software such the Steam is only possible with Intel chips.
- Regardless of which method of installing Linux OS you choose, you will have to switch to the Developer Mode, a special built-in function that allows you to install the unapproved operating system, among other things.
- Now that you are aware of the requirements and risks, you will have to backup all the files you have on your Chromebook because once you switch to the Developer Mode all the information stored locally will be erased. You can save the files on another computer or on the cloud depending on how much data you need to move and which one is more convenient for you.
Part 2: How to Install Linux as a Chroot Using Crouton on Chromebook
After you have stored all your data safely, your Chromebook is ready for the beginning of the installation process of the secondary operating system. You will have to perform a series of actions that will allow you to start the installation, starting from accessing the Developer Mode.
1. Acessing the developer mode:
The first step of the process is to reboot your system, while your Chromebook is on. In order to do so hold Escape and Refresh keys on your keyboard and then hit the power button. Once your device is back online you will find yourself in the recovery mode, and you will see a message telling you to insert a recovery disc. Instead of inserting the disc, hold Ctrl+D and wait for OS verification menu to appear on the screen. At this point, if you are still having second thoughts about this process, you can hit the spacebar to return to recovery mode, or press Enter to proceed. Hitting Enter will delete all the data stored on your device and take you into the Developer Mode. Once your Chromebook lets you know that you are now in the Developer Mode, reboot the system and install a fresh version of the Chrome OS. Insert your login information and follow the instructions until you are looking at the Chrome OS desktop.
2. Installing Chroot:
At this stage of the process, your Chromebook is ready for the installation of the Crouton environment. Crouton is a series of scripts that makes running a Linux OS much easier, especially for inexperienced users. In order to download Crouton, go to GitHub and find the download link, detailed instructions or extensions that can add more functionality to your OS. Once the installation file or files are in the Download folder, your next step is to access the Chromebook's terminal a feature called 'Crosh'. The fastest way to do this is to hold CTRL + ALT keys and then hit the T key. This action will cause the Chrome window to appear on the screen, and you will need to type the 'shell' command without using quotation marks. Afterwards, enter the following command: 'sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce' and if you want to install extensions you will have to add 'xfce,extension' command at the end.
Press the Enter key and wait for the system to start setting up the Chroot. This process may take a while, so it is important to be patient, but more importantly, do not interfere with it in any way. Installation of your secondary OS is now on the way, and you may be asked to insert your login data, like your Gmail username and password. Wait patiently until the process is over and then return to shell and enter this command: 'sudo enter-chroot startxfce4'. Your screen will go black for a while, but after the black screen is gone your Chromebook will be in the freshly installed Linux OS.
3. Optimizing your new OS:
You may have to optimize your new OS in order to improve the experience of using it. Enabling your keyboard's brightness and volume keys inside the new OS can be done easily by holding CTRL+ALT+T and then typing shell once you've accessed Chrome OS's shell and hit Enter. Issue the following command: 'sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton-r precise-t keyboard–u' and then press Enter again. Removing the screen saver or installing more extensions may also be a good way to enable more options in the new OS. Most importantly, you can now download and install the video editing software you want to use for editing your footage.
4. Remove Chroot from your Chromebook:
If for some reason you want to uninstall Linux from your Chromebook, simply reboot the system and press the spacebar when the 'OS verification is off' message appears on the screen. In this manner, you will exit the Developer Mode and all locally stored data, including all installed environments, will be deleted.
Part 3: How to Dual-Boot a Chromebook Using ChrUbuntu
An alternative option is available for Chromebook users that have Intel based devices like recently released Haswell models. The ChrUbuntu can be installed on the USB stick or external hard-drive or directly to the local memory of your Chromebook. Even though ARM-based machines can also use ChrUbuntu it isn't advisable because they may perform poorly due to slower processor speeds and less RAM power. Unlike Chroot, ChrUbuntu will not allow you to switch between operating systems without a reboot, and if the system is stored locally, you may need to go through the full system recovery.
1. Preparation for the installation:
Like with the previous method you will have to go into the Developer Mode and make sure that you have access to a WiFi connection. When you are asked to provide your login details, instead of entering them press Ctrl+Alt+Forward and then type 'chronos' and press Enter. The next step will require you to issue the following command: 'curl -L -O http://goo.gl/9sgchs; sudo bash 9sgchs' and then once more hit Enter. Again press Enter after the information about the installation is displayed on the screen and then you will be asked to decide how much space you want to allocate for Linux installation. Experts say that 9GB is the upper limit. After you've made your choice press Enter.
2. Installing ChrUbuntu:
Once the partitioning of your hard-drive is completed, you will have to repeat the first several steps from typing 'chronos' to pressing enter when information about the installation is displayed on the screen. The installation process is now in progress and you will be occasionally asked to select a few settings, make sure you always click on default. At the end of the installation process, you will have to choose the location where GRUB should be installed, please select /dev/sda, because the failure to do so may interrupt the installation.
Once the installation is completed, restart your Chromebook to finalize the process, and when you see the 'OS Verification is Off' notification press Ctrl+L to access Linux or Ctrl+D boot into Chrome OS.
3. Uninstall ChrUbuntu:
Removing ChrUbuntu is a relatively painless process that can be completed with just a few simple commands. If the OS is stored locally the only way to erase it is to perform a full system recovery. While all your data located on the cloud will re-sync with your Chromebook, the data stored locally will be deleted, which is why it is important to backup all the important files before starting a system recovery process. The fastest and easiest way to perform a system recovery is by creating a recovery disk from your device. Insert 'chrome://imageburner' in your browser's address bar, and carefully read and follow the instructions.
This Linux removal method will also require you to have a USB stick with a minimum of 4GB of storage space. After you created the disk, you can go into the Recovery Mode, by holding Esc and Refresh buttons simultaneously and then pressing the Power button. In the Recovery Mode, you will be asked to insert the recovery disk and the process will be on the way.
Part 4: How to Dual-Boot a Chromebook Using Gallium OS
If neither Chroot nor ChrUbuntu work for you, using Gallium OS may be the right choice. The Gallium is Xbuntu-based OS that is equipped with touchpad mouse drivers among other advantages it offers over other operating systems. The installation process isn't complicated, although it may require more effort than installing Crouton.
1. Preparation for the installation:
In order to be aware of all the preparation steps, you need to take, you must first find out your device's Hardware ID number and you can obtain this information by navigating to Chrome://System, Hardware Class within the Chrome OS. Hardware Compatibility page will provide the information regarding the CPU's family, which can be crucial for the OS' performance. You can run the installation either from an ISO image on an external USB drive or from the Chrome OS command line using Chrx. We will describe how to install Gallium OS from the Chrome OS command line because the other option doesn't allow you to dual-boot your Chromebook.
2. Enabling the Legacy Mode:
Like previously described, enter the Developer Mode and when the ' OS verification is OFF' notification appears on the screen proceed to enable the Legacy Mode. You can do this by holding CTRL+D keys to enable the Chrome OS to boot in the Developer Mode. After you've successfully made this step, press CTRl+ALT+T to access the 'Crosh' terminal and then type 'shell'. At the 'chronos/localhost/$ issue the following command: 'sudo crossystem dev_boot_legacy=1'. Update and install all the necessary firmware by running the Firmware Utility Script.
3. Installation process:
If you choose to install Gallium OS through Chrome OS command line using Chrx that will enable you to dual-boot your Chromebook, you should start by booting the device into Chrome OS and configuring networking. The next step you'll need to take is switching to a virtual terminal by holding Ctrl+Alt+F2, and then you should log in as user chronos without a password. Once you've completed this step issue the following command: 'curl -O https://chrx.org/go && sh go' and follow the on-screen instructions to repartition your hard-drive and install the Gallium OS. Once the installation is over reboot the device and press Ctrl+L when the 'OS Verification is Off' notification appears on the screen to boot Gallium OS or hold Ctrl+D to access Chrome OS. After the Gallium OS is successfully installed on your Chromebook you can start using programs such as Skype or Lightworks.
Which Method is the Best?
Each of the options to install a Linux OS on your Chromebook we described has its advantages and disadvantages. It is our opinion that the Crouton method is the easiest and the fastest. Furthermore, this method enables you to switch between your primary and secondary OS without the need to reboot the device and the Downloads folder makes working in both environments much easier.
On the other hand, other methods require more knowledge about the Linux OS installation process and switching between OS' is not that simple. If you are looking for an easy way to dual-boot your Chromebook that best way to do it is to install Linux as a Chroot using Crouton.
Part 5: Recommended Linux Video Editing Software: Lightworks
Price: $24.99/month, although free versions of the software are also available.
What we like: A powerful video and audio editor perfectly suited for the production of professional video content.
What we don't like: The software isn't easy to use and inexperienced editors will find it difficult to use at first.
Lightworks Resolve may not be as popular as Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, but that doesn't mean that this video editing software isn't as capable as its more popular counterparts.
The software is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux OS, which makes it a perfect choice for Chromebook users that have a Linux OS installed on their devices. Lightworks features literally every editing tool imaginable and for that reason, it is a perfect choice for editing videos you would like to upload to Vimeo or YouTube or high-end professional projects. This editing software offers plenty of transitions and visual effects that will help its users to create seamless jumps between shots and visually impressive videos.