I am planning on buying a Chromebook and using crouton (https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton) to install Linux on it. I want to use a normal install of Ubuntu 18.04 'Bionic Beaver' (preferably the "minimal" version). I have never done this before, so my main question is: How close is this to what I want?

  • Enter developer mode on the Chromebook
  • Download crouton and open the shell
  • Run ~/Downloads/crouton -r bionic -t xorg,xiwi,gnome-desktop

So, as I currently understand it, this will

  • Install the "officially unsupported"-but-still-works Ubuntu 18.04 into the chroot, with
  • GNOME ... Is this normal GNOME, or Ubuntu's version? If it's just plain GNOME, how do I get the Ubuntu version?
  • Install X-in-a-window as a non-default method of viewing the GUI (with X being default)
    • Also, do I need the crouton ChromeOS extension to use this?
    • ... and how is this used again, exactly?
    • What is the difference between the xiwi and extension targets?


3 Answers 3


(User of Debian "buster" with crouton here.)

  • The crouton chroot is just like a chroot on any other Unix/Linux system. So, you can install packages from the distribution you are using in the chroot. The limitation of what packages are useful is that you are running under the Linux kernel as prepared for ChromeOS. Some features are deliberately disabled and may not be available as modules either.
  • The GNOME will be Ubuntu's Gnome as mentioned above.
  • You need the Chrome extension to use xiwi. The "xiwi" target depends on the "extension" target. When you run "startxiwi" or use "-X xiwi", the entire application/desktop runs inside a window within ChromeOS. Keys and mouse events are (mostly) passed to this window when it is focussed. A few keys and mouse events deliberately behave differently with this window than with other ChromeOS windows. It's pretty nice to use if you don't care about hardware acceleration and want to switch between Chrome and/or Android apps and crouton.

The downside of crouton is "developer mode" which means that you need to be a bit more careful about security than you would without it. Secondly, crouton is "unsupported", so you may (once a year or so) run into problems that you will need to take to the crouton "issues" page to get fixed. All of which explains LiveWireBT's answer.


I think there is an easier and more reliable way to install Linux Apps on Chromebooks now: https://chromeunboxed.com/news/installing-gnome-software-center-chrome-os-linux-crostini

The many issues I have seen where users report that a functioning crouton install broke after a ChromeOS update give me a bit of doubt recommending crouton to you. If you absolutely need to install Ubuntu I recommend https://chrx.org/

  • GNOME ... Is this normal GNOME, or Ubuntu's version? If it's just plain GNOME, how do I get the Ubuntu version?

18.04 uses Gnome by default. Unity is available but almost obsolete. If you want the true Gnome experience you should switch to Adwaita in Gnome Tweaks or install Fedora.


So, if you use this command: $ ~/Downloads/crouton -r bionic -t xorg,xiwi,gnome-desktop, it will say permission denied. To fix that, Instead type in:

$ sudo crouton -r bionic -t xorg,xiwi,gnome-desktop
  • When formulating answers, please keep in mind that the order in which posts appear depend on user settings and can change. So, please add an explicit link to the post you are referring to - if you say "a good fix to that, which post are you referring to?
    – AdminBee
    Jun 4, 2020 at 8:01

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