5 Steps to Install Linux on ChromeBook

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series ChromeBook
  • 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.
Updates:
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. Stephen Moss says:

    Ray, I installed 12.04 when your article first came out. Then later removed it and installed according to your instructions, I recall only one mistake in it and it was mine. 12.04 running unity is still going well but I would like to update it to the next LTS (14.04) but don’t see a way to do it. I’ve tried the normal route with update manager and synaptic ( settings are set for next LTS) but it doesn’t work. I know this has something to do with crouton which I know very little about.
    Question is, can I update normally or do I have to wipe 12.04 to install 14.04. I had thought you could update directly from one LTS to another.
    Thanks Ray

    • Ray says:

      Stephen… The one downside of Crouton is that upgrades are impossible(?) There may be some way to do it but I have not figured it out. The best is to just reinstall with the TRUSTY (the guide above has been updated to install Trusty 14.04). Then you can keep both versions or delete the older version. They can all access your data files and if you delete one Crouton, it will not delete the data. It may delete some config files but I don’t think so.
      Use the same key press sequence to switch between ChromeOS and each Crouton environment.

  2. Henry Wright says:

    Hello Ray

    Since you posted this article, KDE 5 has dropped. Do you know if it is possible to use that as the desktop environment when using the ‘Crouton’ method you describe? Thanks in advance

    • Ray says:

      You should be able to update to the new desktop. Use either the Synaptic program (if you installed it) or the standard sudo app-get command from a terminal.

  3. Tuta says:

    Hello Ray,

    Am kinda a noob, previously used ubuntu, but am a novice when it comes to terminal use.

    am using your exact code above to install linux on my c710 acer chrome, id really like to know if i can upgrade this to linus 14.04, ive created a bootable live usb, so please can i update to the latest version of ubuntu once this is done or theres something i need to know(please keep the noob asker in mind while replying) its now configuring scripts phyton 3.4 and the rest. thanks for this guide, this is the only actual true guide ive seen that works and is noobish for us Noobs out there.
    wow 70% of sources downloaded. please reply

    • Tuta says:

      All i mean to say is if this can be updated or changed to ubuntu, i just changed the display enviroment to gnome with, sudo apt-get install unity gnome-session but i’ll really like to run ubuntu, and if possible also update to each .4 or .10 upcomming versions, am more accustomed to the ubuntu interface and i kinda liked it more, am more of a ID person, and ubuntu looks cool, so please if i can switch to that i’d love a noob friendly way of doing it. LXDE is cool, but i cant see my battery stats and some onboard buttons dont work, am not that a geek to remap keybords and honestly as much as id like to i really dont have much time also, but i can spare a more nice precise tutorial(that would’nt kill me either) and yes i love to keep chrome OS, Google promised android apps would soon work on them, and there are a ton of android apps that are useful and will be a great addition to Chrome OS, but still, i need a Linux somewhere there.

      Really anticipating and waiting for a reply from you and every GURUS out there, so sad i was raised a windows pc user, but am sure making a change or knowing more would help my I.T skills.

      Thanks

    • Ray says:

      If you used my guide above, then you have Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty The. That is the “trusty” part of the command.

      • I’d really like the regular Ubuntu unity 14.04LTS not LXDE, so please whats the terminal prompt code to use to get the regular ubuntu.

        I believe;
        sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -a i386 -r trusty -t audio,core,gtk-extra,keyboard,x11,chrome,cli-extra,extension,lxde

        is for LXDE, so please what command would a regular ubuntu 14.04 with app menu installation be?

        personally i dislike lxde windows look feel, but i still like unity GUIs more.

        Thanks once again,

        • Ray says:

          Remember, with Ubuntu (and all Linux), the desktop environment (DE) is just an overlay to the basic install. It will not significantly change the capabilities of the OS. In a full install of Linux, you can have several DE’s running at the same time and switch between them with your data remaining constant. In a way, the Crouton environment is running like a desktop on the ChromeOS (basically a variant of Linux). Therefore, multiple DEs don’t work (for me).
          Still, if you are doing the initial install, just substitute UNITY for the LXDE call in the command.
          If you want to change from LXDE to UNITY, you can either do it as an update to the Crouton (see the wiki link at the end of my guide) or, you can try to install Unity as a package from within the LXDE.

          • Tuta says:

            Thanks a bunch Ray,

            I’d rather do a fresh install again from chrome,(press spacebar and disable developer mode) and start all over again. Really appreciate your prompt reply.

            do you have any seabios tutorial method thats simple and concise, kinda have a noob friend who wouldn’t intend using crouton(he sees it as too techish) and sees the sea bios option as what he prefers.

            thanks again.

          • Ray says:

            That level of “start over” is not required. You can delete the current Crouton Environment and just create another.

  4. Mr Meeseeks says:

    Loved the guide, Extremely clear and simple!

    I’m on an Asus C720 and I’m wondering if there is any way to get volume and brightness keyboard controlls functioning?

    Secondly, is there any way to “log out” of lxde to so when I log back in I can select a different ubuntu GUI to try out? Whenever I log out It just closes Ubuntu and takes me back to Chrome OS

  5. Beta Breaker says:

    Thanks for the helpful guide.

    I also had serious stability and corruption problems until I reinstalled after removing the -a i386 parameter.
    I do indeed have the Acer C710. But I added 16GB RAM and a 120GB SSD. It does lottsa tabs now!

    I suspect that the Intel Celeron 847 makes use of AMD 64 bit instructions.

    Could we find out what options for that -a architecture switch are?

    Cheers.

    • Ray says:

      I have changed the guide (above) to include the other options for the -a architecture call. Thanks for reminding me. If you continue to have problems with stability, you should check the Crouton WIKI for some other tips (link at the bottom of the guide).

      • Beta Breaker says:

        Thanks for the thoughtful followup.

        As I mentioned, I did the crouton config and left the -a architecture parameter out and left the chromeos to automatically recognize and configure the architecture. This approach finally worked.

        I’m also using the Acer C710 with Intel Celeron 847 CPU. So I’m puzzled why your settings didn’t work. If I recall correctly the 64bit instructions sometimes are generically called AMD64. Perhaps it’s possible to query the chromeos system to determine which architecture parameter it has configured?

        In the meantime I’ll need to rescue my crouton install. In a moment of inattention I pressed a few times to wake the machine up from sleep. You can probably imagine what happened next. Is there any way to rediscover those previous crouton installations if I reactivate developer mode?

        • Ray says:

          Sorry. Once Developer Mode is canceled, you start fresh. The only exception is if you did a hard install of Linux (see my other ChromeBook install guide), then the disk partitions are not removed. I still was not able to restore the previous install even then. But I had to manually remove the partitions before future installs would free up the disk space.
          As to the C710, they all have the Celeron processor. But I have added the options for the -a in the guide. You could try using the amd64 and see if it works for you.

  6. Glenn says:

    Do you think I can install more than one ubuntu variant using crouton in the same chromebook?

    • Glenn says:

      I’ll answer my own question..lolz. I can’t wait for ur reply- I just have to do it!! I installed both Unity and LXDE on my chromebook C7 using crouton and they both work perfectly. I followed some of the instructions this site: http://www.webupd8.org/2013/12/install-ubuntu-on-your-chromebook-using.html
      and of from yours. Thanx to the crouton developers and to u.

      • Ray says:

        Thanks for the visit and I apologize for being absent for too long 🙂
        Congratulations on your success! Glad you figured it out. It always gives me a sense of accomplishment to put things together that way.
        If you would like to describe your processes and show some pictures of the result, you are welcome to write it up and send it to me (see the contact page). Almost any format except pdf is fine. I will try to use it and give you credit.

  7. Drew says:

    When i shut down my computer will it boot into ubuntu?

  8. Anna Lim says:

    hi, I followed the exact code that you typed here and was not able to complete the chroot setup.

    Here is the error:

    Fetched 40.6 MB in 5min 39s (120 kB/s)
    Failed to fetch http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/main/h/heimdal/libkrb5-26-heimdal_1.6~git20120403+dfsg1-3ubuntu0.1_i386.deb 504 Gateway Timeout 50001 [IP: 91.189.91.13 80]
    Failed to fetch http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/main/s/systemd/systemd-services_204-0ubuntu19.2_i386.deb 504 Gateway Timeout 50001 [IP: 91.189.91.13 80]
    E: Unable to fetch some archives, maybe run apt-get update or try with –fix-missing?
    Failed to complete chroot setup.
    Unmounting /usr/local/chroots/saucy…
    chronos@localhost / $

    Would greatly appreciate your help!

    Regards,
    Anna

    • Ray says:

      Sounds like there was a problem on the Internet connection to the Ubuntu archive.
      Best plan: Wait a couple hours and try again. (Start with the last command that you issued (the one that failed).
      Do you have a “FAST” connection to the Internet? Dialup or satellite (or even DSL) might give errors since you are downloading a lot of data.

  9. erik says:

    hi anyway you can explain how to install java.

    • Ray says:

      In a word – with great difficulty!
      I worked for days trying to get it to work – mostly without success. I finally got the Chrome Plug-in “Iced-Tea” to work on most things but not all. Iced-Tea is the Linux (GNU) version of the Java plugin.
      It seems to work well on most things but fails with the only process that I really need – a Java app to connect with the back end of my website.
      As to the process. It was just hit-or-miss and trial-and-error (over and over again), so I was unable to document the process. I also doubt that I could re-produce it without the same errors. Sorry but I can’t help much.
      What I did was search (Google) the Internet and follow the guides that I found there. Since the one app that I needed did not work with any (that I found), I discounted each and started over. I don’t know that I got a clean uninstall each time, so I may be working with several “partial” installs – which is even more confusing.
      The only thing that I promise is that, *IF* I can get the new Ubuntu “Trusty” version to work in Crouton, I will try to be a little more methodical when I install Java on it. 🙂 If I can, I will report the process then.

  10. PeterH says:

    Just found your site, and I hope you can help. I have Crouton installed on a Samsung CB, and am using xfce, which seems to be fine. Trying to type a document is difficult with the touchpad, so I turned it off in ubuntu. Seemed perfect, until I realized I can’t move around the desktop without it. Most of the commands I have found are for keyboards with F keys, and the Samsung CB has none. I am new to Linux. Any advice? Help!

    • Ray says:

      A couple years ago, I wrote an article (on this site) about the problems of the stupid touchpads – especially for those of us who touch-type! I really need to update that article.
      Best advice is to use a wireless USB mouse. I *ALWAYS* use one on every computer I use. The new micro-receivers are so small that you hardly see them and it is not very likely that you will break it unintentionally.
      The problem is that it does take up one of the USB jacks but I don’t use them for anything else, anyway so I can manage.
      Actually, I also have a wireless USB Keyboard attached to mine! It is the only way that I can do touch-typing comfortably.
      Note: Don’t bother trying the BlueTooth mice/keyboards. Although they do NOT take up a USB jack, every one that I have ever tried (many) constantly times out (quickly) in order to save the battery. It is frustrating to try to get it to come back on AND, with our Crouton/Ubuntu setup, the connection must be made in ChromeOS and transferred to Linux (Wifi does the same). That means that if it loses connection, then you will likely have to switch back to ChromeOS, fix the connection, then switch back to Linux — and HOPE that the connection works. Also, many times, I had to completely reboot in order to re-connect. NOT WORTH THE WORRY!!

      • Dave says:

        Hi Ray,

        I followed your guide and installed the Ubuntu. I set my username, and then didn’t realize the cursor would not move when I tried to enter my password. It ended up just saying password not set. How can I set the password? Secondly I was trying to follow your remaining steps to install Synaptic and the other software but I don’t know what you mean by terminal? Is that the Crosh? Right now I am in the Crosh and I see: chronos@localhost / $ right now.

        Thanks

        Dave

        • Dave says:

          Actually I entered Ubuntu and found how to get a terminal but I can’t install Synaptic because it is still asking for a password.

          • Ray says:

            Sorry to be a bit slow in my response. I have been busy with some personal issues.
            1. Did you try to just hit enter when the sudo command asks for your password? If the pw is blank, then it might accept the as sufficient. If so, you could go into the settings and change your password if you wanted.
            2. If that does not work, then you probably managed to get some characters into the password (not likely). If you did, it would be very difficult to figure out the password and change it.
            3. In any case, my suggestion is to delete the current Crouton install and start fresh. I need to edit the original article to include the “Delete” command. It will be included in soon.

  11. Cody b says:

    Hello ray, I was very pleased with your instruction guide, but once I downloaded it, tried it out, and couldn’t get sketchup to work,I decided to try out Unity ubuntu. I started downloading and installing from instructions you gave to a previous commenter but it stopped and said there was no more room about twenty minutes in.. So I went and tried deleting the lxde, I think I may have deleted but I’m not sure, it still goes to a black screen with a cursor when I “sudo startlxde”. So, how do I delete lxde completely? Also, I was having problems continuing my installment of unity. How do I continue that?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Ray says:

      Ok, first, it sounds like a lack of hd space. Do you have an SSD? The smaller size makes it more likely than if you have a regular hard drive. In the ChromeOS, how much space is left on the drive? Click on the “Files” icon and then click on the “gear”/settings icon.
      In any case, you did not get the original install deleted. The Crouton team has instructions for properly removing a Crouton install. Visit their page here: https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton and scroll down, the additional instructions are added at the bottom of the page.
      I would suggest that you completely “recover” (aka “restore”) your device. The process (my guide is here: http://bishoptec.com/2013/01/how-to-restore-chromebook-c7-to-stock/) is supposed to delete everything and restore the ChromeBook to the original factory condition. From there, you could start fresh and get a good, clean install. Note: It will take a few hours.
      However, if you previously installed Linux via a true install (using a partition of the HD), then the recovery process probably will NOT remove the old partitions. To delete them, you will need to physically remove the drive and manually remove the partitions using a different computer. I use the GParted program (on Linux), which is the easiest method.

      • Cody B says:

        Thank you Ray, I will try these and if anything else comes up, I’ll be sure to ask you, but I think with your advice, I will be fine.
        Thanks again,
        Cody

      • Cody b says:

        Hey Ray, your solutions worked and I now have Unity installed on my computer and I am pleased. I have come up with a problem though. When I tried to get into it this morning, it came up with the message “could not update ICEauthority file home/user/.ICEauthority

        • Cody b says:

          and it gives only an option to logout, which brings me back to the terminal. How do I fix this? I know one of things might be that after I downloaded wine it over loaded my harddrive, but I don’t know how to delete something if I can’t get into unity

          • Ray says:

            Hey Cody. I don’t know about that message (see the other reply). But, I would suggest that you just delete that Crouton install and start another. It takes a while (about an hour) but you end up with a good clean install. It does NOT delete your “downloads” folder contents.

        • Ray says:

          I am not an expert in Linux. However, the solutions are almost always just a few clicks away. Enter the error message into your browser’s address bar and hit Enter. Usually, one of the first two or three links will give the solution to your issue. Sometimes, I have to enter “Linux” or “Ubuntu” or even the version number that I have installed but the answers are usually available. When I entered your error message, I got about 39,200 results. Just have to try ’em 🙂

  12. Karel MIchielsen says:

    I’d like to find out how to use these 5 Steps to set up Ubuntu 12.04 Unity, this is the reason why:
    The instructions in “5 Steps …” were the first set I found via Google that worked, thanks. Being totally new to Ubuntu (except for a brief trial on my Win laptop) the LXDE environment confused me and I could not get the software manager to work, nor could I find instructions for LXDE on the net.
    Reading your instructions I decided to try and modify your script as follows
    “sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -a i386 -t core,gtk-extra,keyboard,x11,chrome,unity
    This was rejected as it consider a version was present already so I modified the command by removing “-a i386” with “-u”
    It then proceeded with the install and boots up in ubuntu 12.04 LTS
    However there is no Software center and all my attempts to get it have failed. I also wouldn’t mind getting the Office apps.
    Can I get instructions and a command on how to install a stock standard Ubuntu 12.04 with all the trimmings, or how I can get the Software center?
    Not worried about the disk space as I partitioned my disk on the Acer C to set aside 150 Gb for Ubuntu

    • Ray says:

      Hi Karel! Greetings from the US & thanks for the donation!!

      In order to use the 12.04 version (and Unity), the command line (in line “D” above) should be:

      sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -a i386 -t core,gtk-extra,keyboard,x11,chrome,cli-extra,extension, unity

      I have not tried the EXACT syntax recently. But Unity did work when I was first experimenting with this.

      I like Unity, but I prefer the newer 13.10 (soon to be 14.4) version of Ubuntu. Unfortunately, LXDE is the only desktop that I could get to work with it. I tried several options and the only way that I could get Unity to work was on 12.04.

      It is easy to try different Targets (options) and see if they work. Mix them up as you wish, my guide explains most of them.

      • Karel MIchielsen says:

        Ray, first attemp failed, after which I replaced “-a i386” and replaced it with “-u”, also deleted cli-extra (couldn’t figure what it did). It now boots and work fine.
        Only remaining problem is with Skype, the video camera isn’t working, nor am I receiving images, is this a Ubuntu software problem?
        How do I test the video camera function.
        Thanks again, Karel

        • Ray says:

          Since you had to remove the architecture option, I am assuming that you do not have the Acer C7? As long as you have an Intel 386 processor, that option should work. But I am glad to hear that the automatic feature worked for you.
          As to the camera, I don’t have a clue why it would not work. The camera works well on my C7. I don’t recall trying the camera while I had 12.04 installed but I am confident that it does work or the original developer would have mentioned it.

          • Karel MIchielsen says:

            If you are referring to me removing the -ai386 and replacing it with -u it’s what I found got round the refusal to proceed with the download (it considered Ubuntu already installed).
            Is there a way to avoid having to sudo startunity every time?

          • Ray says:

            That is interesting about the i386 option. Then you do have a C7?

            Unfortunately, if you shut down the device, then when you turn it back on, you will have to execute the Ctl-T / shell / sudo startunity. If you do not shut down, you can use the key-combo Ctl-Alt-Shift-F1 (or F2) to switch between the two. Actually, you can have ChromeOS, plus one or more alternates: Eg, you can have ChromeOS, 12.04/unity, and 13.10/lxde all loaded. After you install 13.10/lxde, you can sudo startunity, switch back to ChromeOS and (from the same terminal, then sudo startlxde. At that point, you can rotate between the three OSs with the same switch combo.

          • Karel MIchielsen says:

            Sorry, yes I have a C710, with the large HD which I managed to get in Hong Kong.
            Thanks for the help.

          • Ray says:

            Then I don’t understand the failure of the architecture option.

            RE: the large HD. Be very careful what you store on the HD. It is very easy to get the crouton installs confused. I don’t understand it but I have had to rebuild mine. In that case, you can loose everything.

          • Karel MIchielsen says:

            Thanks for the warning re HD, mainly wanted it to store movies when I go sailing.
            Now for my last problem I hope, I connected my printer to test it and the computer doesn’t react when I plug the USB in, nor can I connect via wireless.
            Am I missing a script?

          • Ray says:

            At the bottom of the article, under Additional Software. Add Cups and you will be good to go. Sorry, but you will need to issue the restart command after each reboot.

  13. terryson says:

    hi ray when i try to download linux it says:
    Welcome to crosh, the Chrome OS developer shell.

    If you got here by mistake, don’t panic! Just close this tab and carry on.

    Type ‘help’ for a list of commands.

    crosh> shell
    chronos@localhost / $ sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -a i386 -r saucy -t core,gtk-extra,keyboard,x11,chrome,cli-extra,extension,lxde
    Installing saucy-i386 chroot to /usr/local/chroots/saucy
    Downloading latest debootstrap…
    http://anonscm.debian.org/gitweb/?p=d-i/debootstrap.git;a=snapshot;h=HEAD;sf=tgz:
    2014-03-18 19:22:45 ERROR 504: Gateway Timeout.
    Download from Debian gitweb failed. Trying latest release…
    2014-03-18 19:22:48 URL:http://ftp.debian.org/debian/pool/main/d/debootstrap/ [4417/4417] -> “-” [1]
    Failed to download debootstrap.
    Check your internet connection or proxy settings and try again.

    • Ray says:

      Your comment was being held for your email response. If you did not receive an email from my website, check your spam filter.
      1. Be certain that you signed on to your wifi BEFORE you start. It sounds like you don’t have an internet connection any longer.
      2. Be sure that you are following the instructions exactly and in sequence.
      3. Try again later. The server may be busy.

  14. Tak Yiu says:

    Thank you so much for the installation instructions. I have installed Ubuntu via crouton using Acer C710 16 GB SSD. Just thinking how can I clone the entire SSD drive as backup ? like semantic ghost burns entire image for windows HDD or similar. I tried clonezilla but can’t make it boot from USB drive. (I can boot clonezilla USB from my desktop PC though). Thanks for any advice.

    • Ray says:

      Your comment was being held for your email response. If you did not receive an email from my website, check your spam filter.

      You should be able to remove the drive and connect it to your desktop and then use Clonezilla. You might want to copy everything to a standard 2.5″ drive and try using it. I think that you will find that there is very little advantage in using the SSD in this case. The advantage of the larger HD is obvious.

  15. Steve says:

    Ray, this was a great article! Expecting my XP laptop to become a malware magnet in the next few months, I wanted to have something viable in place before that happens. With plenty of time until XP support ends, with a refurbished C7 for just over a hundred bucks and some play time, I figured I couldn’t lose.

    Thanks to you and your article, between Chrome OS and Linux, I can do anything I did on my XP machine. Thanks!!

    • Ray says:

      Your comment was being held for your email response. If you did not receive an email from my website, check your spam filter.
      Thank you for your feedback. I am glad that it worked for you.

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