Crouton is a script that lets you run Ubuntu or Debian on a Chromebook without uninstalling Chrome OS. Developed by David Schneider, the tool has been around for a few years, offering an easy way to run native desktop Linux apps such as GIMP, LibreOffice, and even Firefox on Chrome OS laptops and desktops.

But up until recently you’ve had to flip back and forth between Chrome OS and Ubuntu desktop environments… now there’s an option to simply run Ubuntu in a browser tab.

ubuntu tab

This lets you switch between Chrome OS and Ubuntu simply by changing browser tabs. you can even resize the window so you can run Ubuntu apps in one browser tab while surfing the web in another.

All you need is a Chrome OS device that’s been set to developer mode (it doesn’t matter if you’re using the stable, beta, or dev channel of Chrome itself, you just need to be in developer mode).

Then you can follow the instructions for installing Ubuntu with Crouton (which basically consists of downloading a script, opening a terminal window, and typing a single command). Note that if you want to be able to run Ubuntu in a browser tab, you’ll need to add “xiwi” to your list of targets.

For instance, sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t xiwi,xfce sudo install -Dt /usr/local/bin -m 755 ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t xiwi,xfce should install Ubuntu 14.04 with the xfce desktop environment and support for running in a browser tab.

You’ll also want to install the Crouton Integration extension for Chrome.

You can read more about “Crouton in a tab” at the github page for the project. Work on this feature has been underway since October, but it’s only recently been added to the main branch of Crouton.

via /r/ChromeOS


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24 replies on “Crouton for Chromebooks: Run Ubuntu in a browser tab”

  1. I typed “sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t xiwi”, finished the installtion. But there is no Xfce desktop. How to start the desktop enviroment?

  2. I can’t launch the ubuntu environment.. this is a completely new thing for me and I seem to be stuck.
    Can anyone help out?

  3. Crouton is already awesome on a chromebook. I have the Asus C200 and it works great with only 2GB RAM and 16GB SSD with 10+ hours of battery!
    This is absolutely fantastic news though.

  4. I suppose I’ll give xiwi a try just to see how it might change the workflow, but I’ve not found switching between chromeOS and the chroot to be jarring or any sort of hindrance. I re-mapped the switch hotkey from ctrl+alt+shift+next to the much simpler — and one-handed — ctrl+escape. I don’t even think of it as switching OSes anymore; just “focus browser” and “unfocus browser”.

      1. Run this command from *within the chroot*:

        sudo sh -c “echo “(xbindkey ‘(control Escape) \”croutoncycle next\”)” >> /etc/crouton/xbindkeysrc.scm”

        (That should be all one long line, with a space between >> and /etc.)

        Then log out of the chroot. When you start it up again, you’ll be able to use ctrl+escape to switch back and forth. That’s it.

        1. when running that command, I receive this error:

          -su: /etc/crouton/xbindkeysrc.scm: Permission denied

          what should I do?

          1. Oops. The shell interprets the redirection before the sudo command (of course!). I’ve fixed the command above to deal with that issue.

  5. This makes a Chromebook sound like much more of an option, for me. I would love it if, someday, you could simply run web, Android, and Linux apps in Chrome OS without any major steps.

    Of course, that’s not really the goal of Chrome OS, and nor should it be. In fact, it may be better if we port critical applications to web frameworks so that we simply don’t find native apps all that interesting in the first place. Even still, this is awesome, thanks for mentioning it!

  6. Thanks, Brad. I’ve been using Linux as my main OS for years. I find I’m spending more and more time in the Google world via Chrome and their apps. There are still some times I absolutely need Linux.

    Being able to switch back & forth between ChromeOS and Linux would be great. Printing via cups from Linux eliminates the need for a Cloudprint printer. (Driver support via Linux cups.)

    I wonder if an external DVD would be supported in Linux for R/W? I see that external HDs are supported in Crouton/Ubuntu.

    BTW, I took an old Acer netbook and dual-boot between Linux and Android. From this reddit — — it appears that this might not work on Crouton due to driver issues. A shame; Android is quite usable on a clamshell computer. Everything works on mine, trackpad, networking, camera, etc.

    However, you can USB boot Android on a Chromebook. I wonder if this method couldn’t be simplified a bit and used with SD cards as the boot device. I’ll definitely play with this when I get a Chromebook. See

  7. This would be awesome on those pesky bay trail uefi win 8.1 tablets…

    1. I haven’t tried to install Linux on a Win-8 tablet, but I was under the impression that booting 64-bit Linux with a 32 bit UEFI was now supported with the launch of kernel 3.18.

      I gave up on the Dell Venue 8 pro when it was apparent that Linux wasn’t going to happen, then a few weeks later it seemed to be supported.

    1. Absolutely. But you will be very limited in the software you can run within.

      Alot of software hasn’t been compiled for ARM cpus.

      If it is open source, you can compile it yourself to run on ARM.

    1. I haven’t explored this, but I assume ubuntu is using the linux kernel from chrome os, so it has minimal overhead and is not emulated/virtualised at all. If this is the case then it is not possible to run ubuntu in this way on windows/mac. (especially windows, as its kernel is not even in the same family).
      You can, of course, run ubuntu inside windows; just download virtualbox.

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