How to install Linux applications on Chrome OS

One of the most interesting new features in Chrome OS is the ability to run applications designed for Linux. Most software that can be run on Ubuntu, Debian or other Linux distributions will work. This is the first time that you can run (officially) traditional desktop software on Chromebooks, and the possibilities are endless.

Unfortunately, the function is a bit difficult to discover if you still have no experience with Linux. In this guide, we will show you how to configure the Linux container on your Chromebook and how to install applications.

Linux applications are not compatible with all Chromebooks at this time. You can find a list of compatible devices here. Make sure your Chromebook is on that list before continuing!

In addition, the acceleration of sound and graphics currently does not work in any Linux application.

Changing Chrome OS channels

At the moment, you can not use Linux applications on the stable Chrome OS channel; You must change your Chromebook to one of the development channels. Google has four different versions of Chrome OS at any one time: Stable, Beta, Dev and Canary. Stable is the most polished and error-free experience, and Canary often has errors and / or incomplete functions.

Linux application support has just landed on the Beta channel for some models, so at this time, you probably have to use the channel & # 39; Dev & # 39 ;. Google has a guide here that tells you how to change channels.

You can switch from Stable to Beta, Beta to Dev and Dev to Canary without deleting your device. If you want to return to a more stable channel, you must perform a factory reset .

After changing your device to Chrome OS Dev, the next step is to install the Linux container. [19659010] Configuring Linux Container

Compatibility with Linux application is not enabled by default, but activating it only takes a few clicks. First, open the Chrome operating system settings. This can be done by clicking on the settings icon in the quick settings menu. There may also be an application & # 39; Configuration & # 39; in the initiator.

In the configuration application, scroll down until you see the option for Linux applications. Click on the & # 39; Activate & # 39; If you do not see the menu option, your device is still not compatible.

The last step is to click on "Install" in the pop-up window. The configuration process may take a while, depending on your Internet connection. Feel free to have a coffee while you wait.

When finished, a terminal window will appear where you can start typing commands. You can access the terminal at any time by opening the application & # 39; Terminal & # 39; in the drawer of the Chrome OS application. Now you are ready to install Linux applications!

Install applications from repositories

The main method to install applications on Linux is through a software repository. The Linux container in Chrome OS currently runs Debian 9 & # 39; Stretch & # 39; so you can easily install any software available through the Debian software repositories.

To install applications from a software repository, you should usually find the name of the package you want and execute a certain command. For example, if you want to install GIMP, you must type this command and press Enter:

  sudo apt-get install gimp 

To uninstall the same application, you must run this:

  sudo apt-get delete gimp 

To update all your applications, you should do this:

  sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade 

This is a pretty tedious process, but there are several & # 39; application stores & # 39; that allow you to find and install these packages without using the Terminal. I recommend using the Gnome Software Center, as it is easy to use.

Installation of Gnome Software Center

To install the Gnome Software Center, type this command, then press Enter:

  sudo apt-get install gnome-software gnome-package-kit 

When the terminal asks you If you want to continue, press the & # 39; Y & # 39; on your keyboard and then & # 39; Enter & # 39; again. This command installs two packages: the software center and the tool that allows the software center to communicate with the Debian system.

Once you have finished downloading and installing everything, you should see an application from & # 39; Software & # 39; in the application drawer. Click on it to open the Gnome Software Center.

You can also see some other new items in the app drawer, such as & # 39; Packages & # 39; and & # 39; Package Updater & # 39; Do not delete them or the Software Center will stop working. If you accidentally delete them, simply rerun the previous command.

If all went well, the Software Center should open! You can check the categories from the home page or click on the magnifying glass icon at the top right to search for a certain application. Most of the applications available through the Debian repository are listed here.

.deb file installation

When you download Linux applications from a website, you usually get a .deb file. For example, when you click on the Linux link on the Steam download page, save a deb file on your computer. These are installation packages, much like the .msi or .exe files in Windows.

Chrome OS recently added support for opening them from the Files application, so you can double-click on them and they will be installed in the Linux container. Easy peasy!

Installing Flatpaks

If you can not find the application you want in the Software Center, or as a .deb file, it might be available as Flatpak. These are grouped packages designed to work in distributions. You should only use Flatpaks as a last resort in Chrome OS ; there are some errors, they occupy more disk space and the performance is slightly worse (because they are in the test zone).

First, you must install the Flatpak system package. Run this command:

  sudo apt-get install flatpak 

Then add the Flathub repository (there is only one space between & # 39; flathub & # 39; and the URL, not a new line): [19659017] flatpak remote-add – -if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

Finally, you must restart your Chromebook. Now you can download any application that is in Flathub. Again, most of these applications are available through the Software Center or as a .deb file, but there are some exclusives.

Flatpaks can only be installed through the command line in Chrome OS, at least in my tests (the Software Center add-on did not seem to work). Each application on Flathub has command line instructions at the bottom of the page. For example, this is the command to install the Telegram desktop application:

  flatpak install flathub org.telegram.desktop 

However, you must add "sudo" at the beginning or it will fail in Chrome OS. So, what you really have to run is this:

  sudo flatpak install flathub org.telegram.desktop 

After everything has been downloaded and installed, the application should appear in the drawer of the Chrome OS application.

Hopefully, this guide helped you get started with Linux applications in Chrome OS. Soon we will have more guides that will cover other topics, such as Wine's configuration.

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