5 Steps to Install Linux on ChromeBook

Ubuntu Linux on Chromebook

NOTE: This post consists of several pages. See the navigation links at the bottom of the page to visit the next page.
12/09/14 to clean up the general order & appearance
07/09/14 to install Ubuntu 14.04 “Trusty”
ABOUT: Crouton is a set of scripts to install Ubuntu Linux on a ChromeBook. It will work with any version of ChromeBook (I think) and most releases of Ubuntu (possibly other distros as well). After it is installed, it operates on the same Linux kernel as the Chrome OS.
PRIMARY HARDWARE: This guide is specific to the Asus C7 (C710 or C720) Chromebooks. Using these guides with other models may require minor changes. To see the differences between the various C7 models, visit here.
UBUNTU: Although Crouton (and this guide) can be used to install some other distributions of Linux, I prefer Ubuntu so it is assumed.

Crouton Features:

  • Instant switching between ChromeOS and Ubuntu (no need to dual boot).
  • Share files between ChromeOS & Ubuntu (the Chrome “Downloads” folder is also available in Linux.)
  • Can easily install with the newest release of Ubuntu (Utopic is not yet supported)
  • Simple upgrade when a new version of Ubuntu is released.
  • You can have multiple versions of Linux available at the same time
  • Options to install various desktop environments within Ubuntu (xfde, lxde, kde, unity, etc).
  • Easily install new Linux software from within Ubuntu.
  • Easy backup (and restore) of the entire Ubuntu OS.

From the Crouton README.md file:

The benefit to this is that there is zero speed penalty since everything is run natively, and you aren’t wasting RAM to boot two OSes at the same time. The downside is that you must be running the correct chroot for your hardware, the software must be compatible with Chromium OS’s kernel, and machine resources are inextricably tied between the host Chromium OS and the guest OS. What this means is that while the chroot cannot directly access files outside of its view, it can access all of your hardware devices,
I MUCH prefer this to the dual boot option that I used previously. It is quick and easy to setup and use. It is transparent to the user and you can quickly (almost instantly) switch between OSes. Here is a screen shot of my Ubuntu screen. I will have a video of the process available shortly.
Crouton-installed Ubuntu with LXDE desktop

Crouton-installed Ubuntu with LXDE desktop


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127 Responses to 5 Steps to Install Linux on ChromeBook

  1. Bill says:


    I have an Acer C7 and installed the lxde desktop. Problem: No sound device found. Is there a fix?

  2. Nikita says:

    When I install Ubuntu, where are my files stored? In downloads folder? or elsewhere? Can I access them even after I uninstall Ubuntu?

    • Ray says:

      In Ubuntu, you can save the files almost any place you want. By default, they will share the downloads folder with the ChromeOS. When / if you delete the Crouton Environment, the files will remain. They can be used in ChromeOS as long as you saved them in a folder that ChromeOS allows you to use.

  3. Karel Michielsen says:

    Hi Ray, I initially tried to upgrade to 14.04 LTSvia the promt I got in Unbuntu, after down loading 900 Mb it left me with a blank/dark screen.Somehow managed to turn computer off and the rebooted back into Chrome. Then thought I’d go back to your site and follow instructions, which I did but it comes up with

    Be aware that dev mode is inherently insecure, even if you have a strong
    password in your chroot! Anyone can simply switch VTs and gain root access
    unless you’ve permanently assigned a Chromium OS root password. Encrypted
    chroots require you to set a Chromium OS root password, but are still only as
    secure as the passphrases you assign to them.

    after hitting “enter”
    How do I get it to do it’s thing.
    thanks, Karel

    • Karel Michielsen says:

      played around some more
      entered sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -u -r trusty -t audio, etc.
      this started but hung up part of the way through, tried a few more times, sane result
      then I tried;
      sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -u -n trusty
      this hung up once, restarted it and it finished the installation succesfully.
      started with sudo startlxde
      The only app I’ve got is Chrome which works fine (even have sound, which I didn’t have before) but there is no Thunderbird or any of the other apps I had, can you tell me how to go about getting applications. Also if possible how to recover my saved emails from my Unity Thunderbird.
      Thanks, Karel

      • Ray says:

        With Linux, you get full computer programs (called packages in Linux). Check the bottom of the guide (above) for a list of the packages that I like and how to install them.
        I stopped using TB for mail a LONG time ago. I much prefer to use the cloud-based GMail. However, you can use the above guide for installing any available package. Whether your mail will still be available is doubtful. If TB was storing the data locally, it is probably gone now – if you did not MANUALLY back up the data. That is what is so good about GMail. All the mail is kept in the cloud and can be accessed via phone, tablet, or computer. Google takes care of the backups and it is all free. With a computer, you access it via a browser. In iOS or Android, use the app.

    • Ray says:

      That is a standard warning that everyone gets.

    • Mac says:

      maybe illigal but i must ask :), the linux under crouton uses the drivers from the chrome os, thus meaning crouton its a some kind of a virtual box, is it possible to install other Unix OS, lets say MAC OS X :), it will be illigal but rly cool, can you try this or it is “undoable”

      • Ray says:

        Other versions of Linux are possible but I am not the developer so I don’t know much about it. You could visit the Crouton Wiki (link at the bottom of the article).

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