How to Install Linux on Chromebook:
The Ultimate Guide

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Linux is among one of the three most popular operating systems available on the market today. Its longevity, maturity, and security have made it popular for web servers, network operations, running databases, and scientific computing tasks that require huge compute clusters.

It is also a cross-platform operating system, which means it can work on mobile devices, servers, desktops, laptops, and even gaming consoles. With all these to gain, it is only natural that people would want to install the OS on their Chromebooks.

But can you install Linux on a Chromebook? And if so, how do you do it?

Well, the short answer is yes, there are a few methods that you can install Linux on the device. The easiest is to use the Parallels Desktop software to create a virtual Linux environment. This post will focus on how to install Linux on a Chromebook without any issues.

What is a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are basically laptops explicitly developed by Google. They are different from other laptops because they run on the Chrome operating system. But the operating system is not the only factor that separates Chromebooks from regular laptops. It is a new breed of budget-friendly laptops that operate faster because they use lighter operating systems.

Since it is a product of Google, the Chromebook runs on a grazed version of Chrome web browser instead of the popular operating systems like Windows and Mac. Just like the Chrome web browser, you need an internet connection to work on a Chromebook. This is because most of its applications run on the cloud.

Chromebooks are generally easy to use, mimicking the feel of a Windows operating system. If you are a Windows or Chrome web browser user, a Chromebook will likely feel familiar.

How to install Linux on a Chromebook

The good thing is that, since the release of the new Chrome operating system, you can now install Linux on your Chromebook. Google has released a limited version of Linux that lets you use some of its features such as Linux command-line tools, a code editor, and IDEs (Integrated development environments) on your Chromebook.

The Linux feature is turned off by default, and you have to turn it on from your setting to access it. To get to settings,

  • Click on time at the bottom right corner of your Chromebook.
  • Select the "Settings" icon, then click on "Advanced."
  • Once there, select the "Developers" icon.
  • Locate the "Linux development environment." Next to it, you'll see a "Turn On" icon. Click the icon and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • The setup process can take ten minutes or more, and after it's complete, a terminal window opens on a Debian 10 (Buster) environment.

Installing Linux on a Chromebook using Parallels Desktop

Now, it is important to note that the Linux features incorporated Chromebooks are limited in terms of features when compared to the original Linux OS. If you want to install the full Linux OS like Kali, which has more features than Debian 10 (Buster), then you'll need to use a visualization software like Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS.

Here are the three simple steps you should follow to install any Linux operating system on your Chromebook using virtualization software:

Step One: Download and install the Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS from their official website if you don't already have it on your Chromebook.

Step Two: Set up the initial Admin console user, which will enable the Parallels Desktop license for the organizational unit. You also need to enroll the admin Chrome OS device where you will create a Windows to be deployed to devices.

Step Three: Download a Linux ISO image file and create a virtual machine. Open the crosh terminal on your Chromebook and enter "vmc start <vm-name>." This starts the installation process. Follow the Linux setup instructions to install Linux.


We've learned that Chromebooks are the new breed of cheaper and faster laptops that run on the Chrome operating system. To install Linux on a Chromebook, you can either activate Linux features from the Chromebook setting or by using virtualization software like Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS, which allows you to smoothly switch between the operating systems without having to reboot your device.