Introduction: How to Install a Linux OS on Your Chromebook

Picture of How to Install a Linux OS on Your Chromebook

Hello, everyone. My name is Insector. No, really. That's my honest Linux username. Don't mock. Anyway, I have seen some good Instructables on how to install Linux on your Chromebook, but each one was missing something helpful. So, since I have high ambitions, I decided that my first Instructable would be on how to install Linux on your Chromebook, if the title or earlier parts of this introduction didn't give that away. So, without further ado, let's get to it.

Step 1: Opening Your ChromeOS Developer Shell

Picture of Opening Your ChromeOS Developer Shell

Before you do anything, you will have to put your Chromebook into Developer Mode *cue pretentious music*. Don't worry, because this is incredibly simple. Simply press and hold the esc and refresh keys, and tap the power button. After it turns off and reboots (this should happen near instantly), you will be met by a screen saying something along the lines of, "ChromeOS is missing or damaged." Don't fret, your computer is fine. When you get this screen, press ctrl+d. You will then be greeted with a screen saying something like, "To turn OS Verification off press enter." At this point, press enter. Eventually your computer will reboot, and you will be asked to go through the initial setup process. After you do this, say hello to Developer Mode.

Now it is time to open Crosh. Simply press ctrl+alt+t. Crosh will open and greet you. Now, type in shell and press enter. You should now see the words chronos@localhost / $. Congratulations, you have reached the shell.


From now on, whenever you turn your Chromebook on, a warning screen will pop up. Just press ctrl+d.

Step 2: Getting Crouton on Your Chromebook

Picture of Getting Crouton on Your Chromebook

* Edit: It has come to my attention that most people will need to get Scribe from the Chrome Web Store in order for this to work. *

You are now ready to install Crouton. No, this is not a little piece of deliciously stale bread. Crouton is an extension thingamajig that was developed by a Google employee, and it is the reason that we can use Linux on our Chromebooks. Just click this link: crouton. After you click on it, Crouton should automatically download. You are now ready for the next step.

Step 3: Find Your Target

Picture of Find Your Target

Now it is time to choose a desktop environment. This is simple; just type:

sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t help

This will give a list of desktops, among other things. Just choose one and remember it; you are going to need this. Personally, I like KDE.

Step 4: Choose Your Distro

Picture of Choose Your Distro

It is now time to choose the Linux distro that you want to use. Type:

sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r list

You will be greeted by a list of Linux releases that you can choose. I was given the choice between a bunch of the Debian distros, a bunch of Ubuntu distros, or Kali. Choose the distro that you want, and remember it. Personally, I'm partial to Debian Wheezy, but I know a lot of people prefer the Ubuntu distros.

Step 5: Install Your Distro and Desktop

Picture of Install Your Distro and Desktop

The time has come; you are finally installing Linux. Type in:

sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r (distro) -t (desktop) -n (distro)

where (distro) is replaced by the distro that you want and (desktop) is replaced by the desktop you want. For example, if I wanted Debian Wheezy with the KDE desktop, I would type:

sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r wheezy -t kde -n wheezy

Your Chromebook will now start printing out hundreds of lines of code and it will take about an hour to complete. Sit back and watch those pretty lines fly by.

Step 6: Username and Password

Picture of Username and Password

After a long time of anxious waiting, you will finally be asked to give a username and password. After doing this, you should be provided with some tips and the startup command, which should look like:

sudo start(distro)

Step 7: You Did It!

Picture of You Did It!

Congratulations. You now have Linux on your Chromebook. Your training is now complete. Go forth and Linux your heart out. Remember though, you must be in your shell to run the start command. I showed you how to do that earlier.

Thank you for being patient with me on this my first Instructable. Hopefully, it won't be my last. See you guys!


linkluver (author)2016-09-01

I've done everything exactly like everyone has been telling me to but it wont work, i put shell and then

chronos@localhost / $ sudo sh -e ~Downloads/crouton -t xfce

And then this message pops up

sh: Can't open ~Downloads/crouton

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-01

You seem to have left out a slash. Try

sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-02

Well... that worked amazingly! Buuut it crashed and so i restarted it and it promted me with this

/usr/local/chroots/precise already has stuff in it!
Either delete it, specify a different name (-n), or specify -u to update it.

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-02

That may have something to do with the -e command that you put in. Honestly, I have no idea what -e does, so try running the command without it and tell me what happens.

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-07

I tried that and it said the same thing

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-07

Are you certain you have crouton in your downloads folder?

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-07

Yes I am

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-07

Ok so you got it working?

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-07

almost done

I tried to use the comand sudo startxfce4 and it said server error and more

what do i do

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-08

Instead of

sudo startxfce4


sudo startxfce

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-08

said comand not found

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-08

Send me some screenshots of the commands and the output.

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-08

this is the screenshot, but i don't know what the output is.

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-08

Ok so I tried it out on my machine.


sudo delete-chroot precise

Then run

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r precise -t xfce

Then the command to start it is

sudo startxfce4

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-10

All the coding works till sudo startxfce4

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-10


I know this is probably a bit frustrating, but thank you so much for being patient. We'll get it working!

Ok, I have 2 possible fixes. Cross your fingers!

First, try running

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -u -n precise -t xiwi

And then see if you can start it.

If that doesn't work for you, try

sudo rm /dev/dri/card0

and then

sudo mv /dev/dri/card1 /dev/dri/card0

Tell me how that does for you!

Note: If you copy and paste what I have typed, it will help make sure you don't accidentally mistype.

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-11

when i typed

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -u -n precise -t ximi

it said un able to correct problems, you have held broken packages

then when i tried

sudo mv /dev/dri/card1 /dev/dri/card0

it said cannot stat ' /dev/dri/card1' : No such file or directory

then i tried

sudo mv /dev/dri/card1 /dev/dri/card0

cannot stat ‘/dev/dri/card1’: No such file or directory

PS: Thank you for helping me all the way through

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-11

Alright, well then.

Held broken packages?

Seems it's time to nuke it.

Restart your computer, and when it says something like

"ChromeOS is missing or damaged"

hit the spacebar, and it should take your computer out of Developer Mode. This will destroy the broken packages keeping stuff from working. Then, retry this entire Instructible. It may not work, in which case you should retry my previous suggestions.

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-12

I was going over it and it said the samething

then i did developer mode and now it's saying

chronos@localhost / $ sudo startxfce4
sudo: startxfce4: command not found


CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-12


sudo edit-chroot -a

and send me a screenshot of what it says.

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-13

im about to quiet lol

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-13

Well, you have a unique issue.

One that I have no clue how to fix.

I cannot help you.

I must do the honorable thing, and fall on my sword like a Samurai.

*Falls on sword*

Seriously though, I have no clue how to help you. This honestly is an issue I have never encountered before. I am super sorry.

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-13

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. You have been one of my bigest help.

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-13

Anytime :)

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-08

is sudo delete-chroot percise supposed to take long cause it says :

Delete /mnt/stateful_partition/crouton/chroot/precise? [a/yN]

am i supposed to type something in or do i keep waiting

CalebN1 (author)linkluver2016-09-08



and hit enter.

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-07


sudo startxfce4

won't work

linkluver (author)CalebN12016-09-07

I figured it out i think

plasmalucario (author)2015-11-20

it says can't open sh: Can't open /home/chronos/user/Downloads/crouton. What do i do?

WhitleyH (author)plasmalucario2016-08-28

i found this hope it helped,

CalebN1 (author)plasmalucario2015-11-21

I had that problem a few times. When I wrote this 'ible, the 2014 version of Crouton was the version that worked. However, shortly after I published it, I tried to put a new Linux environment on and I had this problem. To solve it, I deleted Crouton from my downloads, and downloaded the 2015 version. This solved my problem. If this doesn't work, let me know. Good luck, man!

plasmalucario (author)CalebN12015-11-22

do you know where i can download the 2015 version? i searched but none worked. thanks for your help :)

CalebN1 (author)plasmalucario2015-11-23

Here it is. Also, make sure that it is in your downloads, and not your google drive cloud thing.

WinW3 (author)CalebN12016-06-10

OH MY GOD THANK YOU! I have been searching high and low all over the damn internet trying to figure out why I kept getting (sh: Can't open /home/chronos/user/Downloads/crouton) for the past hour. I never had crouton downloaded and honestly I didn't know where it was located, so thank you so much, it finally worked!

CalebN1 (author)WinW32016-06-11

Hey man, I am really glad it helped you out. Enjoy!

plasmalucario (author)CalebN12015-11-23

Alright I'll put it on a USB. I'll let you know if it works or not. Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it.

CalebN1 (author)plasmalucario2015-11-23

Glad to help!

plasmalucario (author)CalebN12015-11-24

Yes, indeed it did not work. Am I supposed to type something other than sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -e -t xfce?

plasmalucario made it! (author)plasmalucario2015-11-24

It is showing this

plasmalucario made it! (author)plasmalucario2015-11-24

this is also a problem too.

CalebN1 (author)plasmalucario2015-11-24

Hmmm... what brand/model is your Chromebook?

plasmalucario (author)CalebN12015-11-24


CalebN1 (author)plasmalucario2015-11-24

Ok, first try turning your computer off and back on. I know, this is in every episode of The IT Crowd, but it really does help a strange number of times.

From chronos@localhost / $ run cd ~/Downloads and then run ls

crouton should be among the output that's printed to the screen. If it isn't, that's your problem. If it is, however, then I don't know how to help you.

I'm super sorry that I can't be any more helpful. Good luck on getting it to work, though.

CalebN1 (author)CalebN12015-11-24

Also, get the Scribe text editor from the chrome web store. It can open that file type.

plasmalucario made it! (author)CalebN12015-11-26

I think i got it but I need a password. Do you think you can help me a bit more XD?

CalebN1 (author)plasmalucario2015-11-26

Yeah you get to choose that password. It can be anything you want. I gave my brother Linux and set his to "l". Also, how did you get it working? I would like to know so that if someone has this problem in the future I can help them out. Also, great job, man!

plasmalucario (author)CalebN12015-11-27

Man I got a crappy xfce desktop, Im going to change it but I followed your instrcutions above and it helped. Thanks man.

CalebN1 (author)plasmalucario2015-11-28


plasmalucario (author)CalebN12015-11-27

How can you change your desktop, im trying for unity.

plasmalucario (author)2016-03-09

I put sh ~/Downloads/crouton and now it won't download.

About This Instructable




More by CalebN1:Maintaining Your Crouton Linux SystemHow to Install a Linux OS on your Chromebook
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