'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Chromebooks are outstanding options for so many types of users...students, grandparents, children, or anyone that needs a reliable, simple to use laptop. But for those who need a more traditional operating system, are they even an option?
Well, a few years ago, Google made it possible to add Linux support to ChromeOS. By doing this, anyone could install Linux apps on their Chromebook and take advantage of traditional GUI software and even make use of the command line interface.
Also: The best Chromebook laptops right now
For any Chromebook user who'd like to be able to run more standard applications, this is a great way to expand ChromeOS. And, because it's Linux, there are tons of software that can be installed. For instance, if you prefer a regular email client, you can install the likes of Thunderbird or Geary. Want a different browser? Install Firefox. Need an image editor? Install GIMP. You can even install a full-blown office suite like LibreOffice.
There's much more that can be done, after adding Linux support to ChromeOS. For example, you can install Docker and develop containers.
Below I'll show you how to add Linux support to your Chromebook and how to install your first application.
Also: How I revived three ancient computers with ChromeOS Flex
All you'll need to make this work is an up-to-date Chromebook. Unlike when Linux support was first released you can be on any of the ChromeOS channels (official, dev, or unstable).
Click on the System Tray and then click the gear icon near the top right.
In the Settings app, scroll to the bottom until you see the Developers section.
Click Turn on for Linux development environment. In the resulting window, click Next.
In the next window, make sure you're okay with the username and then either customize the Disk size or accept the 10GB default and click Install.
Once you click install, the process will begin and can take anywhere from 2-20 minutes depending on the speed of your network connection and the power of your Chromebook.
Once the installation completes a terminal window will open, to indicate a rousing success.
Let's install the Geary email client. To do this, update apt with the command:
sudo apt-get update
Once apt is updated, install Geary with:
sudo apt-get install geary -y
When the installation completes, you can open Geary from the ChromeOS launcher.
And that, my dear friends, is how easy it is to add Linux support to your Chromebook. Do this and install all the apps you need to expand the options of ChromeOS.