Install Ubuntu on Chromebook

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Ubuntu on Chromebook

Everyone has their own opinion of Chrome OS. Some find it extremely useful and others think it’s complete garbage. While I would consider myself part of the former group, I can admit that there are places where Chrome OS falls short of a desktop operating system. For exampling, I’m not able to open a java compiler on Chrome OS or use Wine to play Steam games. However, you can do all these things on Linux. Installing Linux or more specifically, Ubuntu, is really easy to do. For this tutorial, I am going to show you how to install Ubuntu using the crouton method. Crouton will run Ubuntu on top of Chrome OS. The advantage with this method is that you can switch back and forth between Chrome OS and Ubuntu with a few clicks. Also, this is easier to install (and uninstall) over dual-booting. Here’s how to install Ubuntu on Chromebook.

What You Will Need:

  • A Chromebook
  • Crouton (don’t download this now, wait until step 2 )

Step 1: Developer Mode

Before you can install Crouton, you will need to put your chromebook in developer mode. Developer Mode allows you to get root access to the command shell. Be aware that activating developer mode erases all of your information. Of course, due to the nature of Chrome OS, you won’t really have to worry about backing up apps or anything.

The instructions for entering developer mode will differ for each chromebook. On the Acer C720, hold the the ESC and  Refresh (F3) keys and tap the Power button. This will put your chromebook into recovery mode.

Recovery Window

Once you are inside of the recovery, press Crtl+D to activate developer mode. Your chromebook will reboot and you will hear two beeps, don’t panic. After the beeps, your chromebook will reboot again. It will erase your data and reboot you in developer mode.

While developer mode is activated, whenever you reboot your device it will show the recovery screen for 30 seconds before entering into Chrome OS. Just press Crtl+D on the recovery screen if you don’t feel like waiting for 30 seconds.

Boot Screen

Now take a few seconds to reconfigure your Google account.

Step 2: Installing Crouton

Now it’s time to download the Crouton file onto your chromebook. Keep it in your downloads folder (unless you’re an organization freak and need it in a subfolder). The only way to install it is through terminal. So press Crtl+Alt+T to open the terminal. Then type in shell to enter the Linux shell.

To install Crouton (with an encrypted chroot, hence the e) enter the following:

sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t unity

If you rather have another desktop environment such as unity, then replace unitywith the desktop environment that you want. After you enter the command it will begin to download and install Crouton.  A quick tip from, you can also enter in sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r list to see a list of available Ubuntu versions to install.


Once the installation finishes, type in sudo unity(or startxfce if it applies to you) to start the Ubuntu desktop environment.


Once inside of Ubuntu, it’s always good to open up terminal and perform a quick update.

apt-get update

apt-get upgrade