Linux App Support on Chromebooks

3 min read

Chrome OS is a cloud-based operating system that relies on web apps for most of its functionality. It also doesn’t have a lot of the “bloat” found in other operating systems, which makes it lightweight and speedy. Chrome OS devices are a good choice for people who mostly use their computers to go online, do social networking, or create and edit Google Docs. They are also a good choice for business users who want a secure device that is easy to manage and support.

However, if you’re looking for a computer that can handle more advanced software like Photoshop or a full-blown office suite, you should look for one with a more traditional operating system such as Windows or macOS. Fortunately, more and more Chromebooks now have Linux app support, which means that you can install a wide variety of standard desktop applications on your Chromebook.

For instance, if you have a Pixelbook with Linux app support, you can install the GIMP image editor, which can compete with Photoshop in many ways. You can also download a more sophisticated email client, such as Thunderbird. There are even options for a full-blown word processor, such as LibreOffice. If you’re a developer, you can also use this feature to test out different programming languages.

The ChromeOS software that powers Chromebooks runs on top of a Linux kernel, but the Linux userland ecosystem is isolated in a container called Crostini (an anagram for Crouton). The kernel that runs Crostini is based on Gentoo, and the Linux userland uses containers based on Debian’s Portage package management system. The resulting system has a terminal that lets you run command-line tools and graphical apps like integrated development environments, which show up in the launcher alongside other ChromeOS apps.

To enable Linux app support, you’ll need a Pixelbook that is running the latest version of ChromeOS. To check, click the clock area of the desktop, then select the Settings gear. If you see a “Linux (Beta)” option in the menu, your Chromebook supports this capability. If it doesn’t, you can try alternatives such as FydeOS or Solus (formerly Evolve OS) that maintain current and updated versions of the Chromium OS source code.

ChromeOS Flex is a fast, easy-to-manage operating system that offers an innovative way to bring your existing PCs and Macs into the modern workplace. It allows you to maximize the value of your existing hardware, enabling your teams to do more in less time. It’s perfect for kiosks and digital signage, contact centers, healthcare, or frontline workers who need secure devices that deliver the critical apps they depend on. The best part? It’s free and easy to deploy.

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