It's Easier Than Ever to Slap Your Favorite Linux Distro Onto a Chromebook

by Ostatic Staff - May. 22, 2013

If you've been in the market for a portable computer, you may very well have considered buying a Chromebook. And, if you favor a particular Linux distro, perhaps Ubuntu or Mint, you may be interested in buying a $200 or $250 Chromebook only to put your favorite flavor of Linux on your new system. (The Acer system shown here sells for $199.) As we've reported, many OStatic readers have expressed interest in buying a Chromebook to run Linux. Now, there are very simple instructions for doing so online and a growing body of evidence that people are having good experiences with their Linux Chromebooks.

The trend toward slapping Linux on Chromebooks will only pick up now that the latest version of the Linux kernel includes code for running Linux on the devices. You can read more about modifications to the Linux kernel for Chromebooks in Wired's story here.  But right here on OStatic, we've seen lots of evidence that readers are interested in buying inexpensive Chromebooks only to run Ubuntu, Mint or other Linux flavors on the systems.

Here is one reader comment from this recent post:

 "The only redeeming value of Chromebooks is the ability to install Linux on them, in place of ChromeOS."

There are videos on YouTube and other sites that show how easy it is to put a favorite Linux distro on a Chromebook, but one of the most straightforward tutorials appears on Lifehacker. In this post, you'll find a step-by-step guide to how to install Ubuntu and get a lot of extras out of a Chromebook.

According to Lifehacker: 

"[We] use a tool called Crouton to install Ubuntu (hat tip to our friends at the How-To Geek), which uses the chroot command to run Ubuntu on top of Chrome OS, which is already based on Linux. Unlike dual-booting, that means you can switch between Chrome OS and Ubuntu with a quick keyboard shortcut, no reboots necessary, which is awesome."

One other OStatic reader wrote the following in response to a recent post:

"In terms of size and weight, this is my dream computer; I tested it at Best Buy and fell head over heels in love. But agree with the comments above on Chrome OS. The question is, does it excel at running "standard" linux distros like Mint or Fedora? Can you post the link? If this runs Mint well, I would buy it today."

The fact is, the low cost Chromebooks come with pretty solid hardware resources, and it's easy to run both Chrome OS and your favorite Linux version on a Chromebook. Look for this trend to continue as Google woos more hardware partners into producing Chromebooks at competitive prices.