Install Ubuntu on Chromebook

Ubuntu on Chromebook

Everyone has their own opinion of Chrome OS. Some find it extremely useful and others think it’s complete garbage. While I would consider myself part of the former group, I can admit that there are places where Chrome OS falls short of a desktop operating system. For exampling, I’m not able to open a java compiler on Chrome OS or use Wine to play Steam games. However, you can do all these things on Linux. Installing Linux or more specifically, Ubuntu, is really easy to do. For this tutorial, I am going to show you how to install Ubuntu using the crouton method. Crouton will run Ubuntu on top of Chrome OS. The advantage with this method is that you can switch back and forth between Chrome OS and Ubuntu with a few clicks. Also, this is easier to install (and uninstall) over dual-booting. Here’s how to install Ubuntu on Chromebook.

What You Will Need:

  • A Chromebook
  • Crouton (don’t download this now, wait until step 2 )

Step 1: Developer Mode

Before you can install Crouton, you will need to put your chromebook in developer mode. Developer Mode allows you to get root access to the command shell. Be aware that activating developer mode erases all of your information. Of course, due to the nature of Chrome OS, you won’t really have to worry about backing up apps or anything.

The instructions for entering developer mode will differ for each chromebook. On the Acer C720, hold the the ESC and  Refresh (F3) keys and tap the Power button. This will put your chromebook into recovery mode.

Recovery Window

Once you are inside of the recovery, press Crtl+D to activate developer mode. Your chromebook will reboot and you will hear two beeps, don’t panic. After the beeps, your chromebook will reboot again. It will erase your data and reboot you in developer mode.

While developer mode is activated, whenever you reboot your device it will show the recovery screen for 30 seconds before entering into Chrome OS. Just press Crtl+D on the recovery screen if you don’t feel like waiting for 30 seconds.

Boot Screen

Now take a few seconds to reconfigure your Google account.

Step 2: Installing Crouton

Now it’s time to download the Crouton file onto your chromebook. Keep it in your downloads folder (unless you’re an organization freak and need it in a subfolder). The only way to install it is through terminal. So press Crtl+Alt+T to open the terminal. Then type in shell to enter the Linux shell.

To install Crouton (with an encrypted chroot, hence the e) enter the following:

sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t unity

If you rather have another desktop environment such as unity, then replace unitywith the desktop environment that you want. After you enter the command it will begin to download and install Crouton.  A quick tip from, you can also enter in sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r list to see a list of available Ubuntu versions to install.


Once the installation finishes, type in sudo unity(or startxfce if it applies to you) to start the Ubuntu desktop environment.


Once inside of Ubuntu, it’s always good to open up terminal and perform a quick update.

apt-get update

apt-get upgrade


74 thoughts on “Install Ubuntu on Chromebook

          1. It’s really simple! As soon as you’re logged into the chrome desktop, simply open the terminal (ctrl + alt + F3), type shell, hit enter, and then type (sudo startunity). Simple as that!

          2. It shows this after I follow that:
            /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc: 19: exec: /usr/bin/X: not found
            /usr/bin/xinit: giving up
            /usr/bin/xinit: unable to connect to X server: No such file or directory
            /usr/bin/xinit: server error
            Unmounting /mnt/stateful_partition/crouton/chroots/precise…

          3. Welll said i knew how to do it and also you can press ctrl alt t to open terminal on chrome os. If you wanna switch from from Ubuntu to Chrome os you press ctrl alt and f1

    1. Well, If you have a Intel based chromebook then this would not happen. The Intel chromebooks are:
      HP Chromebook 14
      Dell Chromebook 11
      Google Chromebook Pixel

  1. I got stuck after copying and pasting the ‘sudo sh -e’ bit, typing ‘sudo unity’ or sudo startunity’ doesn’t work, neither does ‘startxfce’. Help!

  2. When I type sudo startunity text comes up and it says this:
    Entering /mnt/stateful_partition/crouton/chroots/precise…

    X.Org X Server 1.15.1
    Release Date: 2014-04-13
    X Protocol Version 11, Revision 0
    Build Operating System: Linux 2.6.42-61-generic x86_64 Ubuntu
    Current Operating System: Linux localhost 3.8.11 #1 SMP Wed Dec 10 14:38:47 PST 2014 x86_64
    Kernel command line: cros_secure console= loglevel=7 init=/sbin/init cros_secure oops=panic panic=-1 root=/dev/dm-0 rootwait ro dm_verity.error_behavior=3 dm_verity.max_bios=-1 dm_verity.dev_wait=1 dm=”1 vroot none ro 1,0 2506752 verity payload=PARTUUID=4c3635c0-4696-e544-93fe-5e3bff0b660b/PARTNROFF=1 hashtree=PARTUUID=4c3635c0-4696-e544-93fe-5e3bff0b660b/PARTNROFF=1 hashstart=2506752 alg=sha1 root_hexdigest=58ba04712f08cbabcf5d65972ef3d67cc0674ca0 salt=c05ac168f3096f515e035b4cc0b6196e8db1a55f3f1432ab7395db6b1efd9ee2″ noinitrd vt.global_cursor_default=0 kern_guid=4c3635c0-4696-e544-93fe-5e3bff0b660b add_efi_memmap boot=local noresume noswap i915.modeset=1 tpm_tis.force=1 tpm_tis.interrupts=0 nmi_watchdog=panic,lapic iTCO_vendor_support.vendorsupport=3
    Build Date: 07 August 2014 11:49:36AM
    xorg-server 2:1.15.1-0ubuntu2~precise2 (For technical support please see
    Current version of pixman: 0.30.2
    Before reporting problems, check
    to make sure that you have the latest version.
    Markers: (–) probed, (**) from config file, (==) default setting,
    (++) from command line, (!!) notice, (II) informational,
    (WW) warning, (EE) error, (NI) not implemented, (??) unknown.
    (==) Log file: “/var/log/Xorg.1.log”, Time: Sun Dec 28 00:34:43 2014
    (==) Using system config directory “/usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d”
    setversion 1.4 failed: Permission denied
    Initializing built-in extension Generic Event Extension
    Initializing built-in extension SHAPE
    Initializing built-in extension MIT-SHM
    Initializing built-in extension XInputExtension
    Initializing built-in extension XTEST
    Initializing built-in extension BIG-REQUESTS
    Initializing built-in extension SYNC
    Initializing built-in extension XKEYBOARD
    Initializing built-in extension XC-MISC
    Initializing built-in extension SECURITY
    Initializing built-in extension XINERAMA
    Initializing built-in extension XFIXES
    Initializing built-in extension RENDER
    Initializing built-in extension RANDR
    Initializing built-in extension COMPOSITE
    Initializing built-in extension DAMAGE
    Initializing built-in extension MIT-SCREEN-SAVER
    Initializing built-in extension DOUBLE-BUFFER
    Initializing built-in extension RECORD
    Initializing built-in extension DPMS
    Initializing built-in extension X-Resource
    Initializing built-in extension XVideo
    Initializing built-in extension XVideo-MotionCompensation
    Initializing built-in extension XFree86-VidModeExtension
    Initializing built-in extension XFree86-DGA
    Initializing built-in extension XFree86-DRI
    Initializing built-in extension DRI2
    Loading extension GLX
    setversion 1.4 failed: Permission denied
    Running exit commands…
    /usr/bin/xinit: connection to X server lost

    waiting for X server to shut down (EE) Server terminated successfully (0). Closing log file.

    Unmounting /mnt/stateful_partition/crouton/chroots/precise…

    Can someone help?

  3. guys um i need soomme help im o nthe part where it is about to install and it says
    sh: Can’t open /home/chronos/user/Downloads/crouton

  4. Thanks Man it worked. Your a genius. I dont how you come up with these things BUT can you do a tutorial on how to root a Vodafone smart 4 turbo? Ive got one more question can you enable like a feature for touch screen on chromebooks? My chromebook is a Toshiba Leon Intel Inside and thanks anyway

  5. Ok, so I installed Ubuntu on my Chromebook (HP 14) a while ago and it’s been working perfectly. Until the latest Chrome OS Update of 42.0.2311.87 (platform version: 6812.75.2). I open crosh, type in “shell” and “sudo startunity” but then this appears..

    (Joe Mode)

    /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc: 19: exec: /usr/bin/X: not found
    /usr/bin/xinit: giving up
    /usr/bin/xinit: unable to connect to X server: No such file or directory
    /usr/bin/xinit: server error
    Unmounting /mnt/stateful_partition/crouton/chroots/precise…

    Please Help!

  6. I get to the terminal and type “shell”

    unknown command…

    i type, “sudo startunity”

    unknown command, ‘sudo’……


  7. If Ubuntu is not accessible, then all you have to do is open crosh, type in shell, then type in sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t unity -u. The -u updates the chroot and then Ubuntu becomes accessible. You can also use this method updating Ubuntu. After you update Ubuntu, it will not start. so use this command, and use the new Ubuntu.

  8. For me when I tryst to download it it said either delete it it but I try to and I won’t let me I need help how do I delete the whole thing

  9. Guys they patched it and shut it down for most chromebooks. They are trying to eradicate all Ubuntu users and destroy crouton and unity and lxde and xfce. I noticed this when the update came out. I’m one of the unlucky ones. You have to download the update to go to Ubuntu but if you do you can’t go to Ubuntu. They ruined Ubuntu!

  10. Quick question, I tried everything I could maybe you can help after downloading ubuntu the user identification line showed up however i was unable to use any of my keys, help???

  11. When I enter sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t unity it does not download i just get this message

    unity is unsupported on ARM for releases after precise.
    Invalid target “unity”.

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