Thanks to Linux support on Chromebooks, the Play Store isn’t the only place you can use to download apps. A lot of Chrome OS devices can run Linux apps, which makes them all that more valuable.
Installing a Linux app isn’t as simple as installing an Android app, although the process isn’t complicated once you get the hang of it. The good news is that when done correctly, you’ll feel like a computer wiz since there’s a bit of code involved.
First, check your Chrome OS version
The first step is to check your Chrome OS version to see if your Chromebook supports Linux apps. Start by clicking your profile image in the bottom-right corner and navigating to the Settings menu. Then click the hamburger icon in the upper-left corner and select the About Chrome OS option. The version of Chrome OS you’re running will appear.
Read next: The best Android apps for Chromebooks
If you’re running Chrome OS 69 or later, you can download Linux apps. If not, you’re out of luck. But in this case, make sure to check if there are any software updates available that may bump you up to one of the Linux supporting versions of the operating system. To do so, click the Check for updates button on the About Chrome OS page you should already be on and then let your Chromebook do its thing.
Alternatively, you can check our list of Chromebooks that support Linux apps.
Enable Linux on Chromebook
Now that you’ve figured out that your Chromebook supports Linux apps, the next step is to enable Linux on your machine. It’s easy to do and won’t take a lot of time overall, although this depends on how fast your internet speed is as well as the power of your Chromebook.
Open the Settings on your Chromebook and select the Linux (Beta) option on the left side. Then click the Turn on button followed by Install when a new window pops up. Once the download completes, a terminal window will open. You can use this window to download Linux apps, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
How to download Linux apps on Chromebooks?
Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. But before we get into exactly how to download Linux apps on Chromebooks, there’s one more thing to do. To make sure everything runs smoothly, you have to update your packages by entering the command below into the terminal window.
- sudo apt-get update
Once that’s done, you can start downloading Linux apps on your device. To do so, you have to use the command “sudo apt-get install app name -y”, in which you change the “app name” part with the actual name of the app. For example, if you want to download the popular image editor called Gimp, you would use the following command:
- sudo apt-get install gimp -y
Once you enter the command into the terminal window, the app will be downloaded and placed in the app drawer along with your Android apps. You may need to look up the app name commands needed for the apps of your choice on a case-by-case basis, to ensure you’re installing the right apps. We have the best ones listed below.
The best Linux apps for Chromebooks
In addition to the already mentioned Gimp, there are several other great Linux apps available to download. We’ll let you discover them on your own, but to get you started and give you a little taste of what to expect, we’ve listed a few popular Linux apps below, along with commands you can use to download them.
LibreOffice: An alternative to Microsoft Word, LibreOffice includes a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a presentation tool, among other things.
- sudo apt install libreoffice libreoffice-gtk3 -y
Transmission: This is a free BitTorrent client that allows you to download and upload files easily.
- sudo apt-get install transmission-qt -y
FileZilla: If you want to move files from your device to a server, an app like FileZilla makes the process a lot faster.
- sudo apt-get install filezilla -y
Evolution: If you want to use a desktop mail client instead of a web-based one, the Evolution Linux app is for you.
- sudo apt-get install evolution -y
Audacity: This is an advanced audio editor and recorder that comes in handy when playing around with various audio files.
- sudo apt-get install audacity -y
Which app was the first one you installed? Let us know in the comments! Also, feel free to check out our other Chromebook-related guides below.