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Okay, so I know when browsing lists of Linux Distros online, if I have a common 32-bit CPU from Intel/AMD, under "Architecture:" I should look for "i686", and for 64-bit I should look for "x86_64".

But what if I have a Chromebook with a 32-bit build of ChromeOS, and my CPU is a "Rockchip ARMv7 Processor rev 1 (v7l)"? How do I know what Linux distro I can install? arm? armel? armhf? armhfp?? aarch64??? riscv!? I'm so lost.

And what happens if I try to install a distro on a computer that doesn't support it? Will it prevent me from installing it in the first place, or will it install and fail to boot?

(Thanks in advance, I am trying to install Linux on my Chromebook since it has reached Auto Update Expiration, and will no longer be receiving updates.)

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aarch64 is only going to apply if you have a 64-bit processor. I know my ARMv7 Raspberry Pi is running an armhf release. According to https://www.debian.org/ports/arm/ armhf is 32-bit ARMv7 chips, and armel is for older 32-bit processors.

A 64-bit OS definitely won't even run on a 32-bit CPU, and usually the installer runs in the same OS that's being installed. I believe armhf should run fine on a 64-bit CPU, but I don't know about trying to run armhf on an older cpu or armel on a newer one.

Edit to add: Obviously Debian (as mentioned above) will run on ARM. There's also GalliumOS which is specifically intended to run on Chromebooks (some of which have weird firmware or tabs you need to pull or screws you need to remove to unlock them from ChromeOS), but it doesn't seem to have been updated in a while. Since you're starting from a Chromebook, you should look up whether it has any of those weird requirements.

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  • Thanks for the advice. To clarify, only distros that mention armel or armhf would have worked? In any case, I probably won't be installing Linux after all. I was looking for something beginner-friendly, like Mint or Manjaro, but many of the popular distros are dropping 32-bit support, and fewer have active arm support. Ubuntu MATE has 32-bit arm support, but tailored to Raspberry Pi or GPD devices, so I'm not sure it'd work on a chromebook. Also, GalliumOS does not support my model (ASUS Chromebook C201PA), or any model with an arm cpu for that matter. Thanks anyways. Jul 3, 2022 at 16:04
  • Will chmoreOS run a virtual machine? If so then I recommend running Gnu/Linux in one. Jul 3, 2022 at 16:33
  • Correct, ARM is a completely different architecture than Intel/AMD, so i386 (or x86_64) distributions won't run on ARM processors, and vice versa.
    – Kelson
    Jul 3, 2022 at 19:53

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