Ubuntu 20.04 on Chromebook
Google provides instructions on how to Set up Linux (Beta) on your Chromebook. This gets you Debian. There are instructions out there on how to replace this with Ubuntu, but I've found the instructions to either partially out of date or incomplete or both. This post is an attempt to pull together this information one place an update it.
The first great resource is How to run Ubuntu with full Chrome OS Integration. It talks you through installing Ubuntu 18.04, and mentions that from there you can upgrade to 20.04. However, at the present time, Ubuntu 18.04 no longer works with Crostini, and there is no reason why you can't install Ubuntu 20.04 directly - I've tried it, it works.
There are other problems - you need to add keys to the Crostini repository, and you may wish to change your username or server name. Also, some icons may not be right, and you can fix that too.
Below are the combined instructions with these issues addressed.
Create the Ubuntu container
Start by entering the Chrome shell (crosh) by pressing CTRL+ALT+T, then enter the default termina VM:
vmc start termina
Rename the default penguin container:
lxc stop penguin --force lxc rename penguin debian
Create a new Ubuntu container named penguin:
lxc launch ubuntu:20.04 penguin
Enter the new container (as root):
lxc exec penguin -- bash
Import public keys
While Ubuntu 20.04 will install, various
apt commands will fail due to an inability
to verify GPG keys. This problem is not unique to Crostini, it is seen in other
environments, like Raspberry Pis.
The fix is to import two public keys:
apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 7638D0442B90D010 apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 04EE7237B7D453EC
Capture group membership for default ubuntu user, then delete user
With this in place, the rest of the original instructions work just fine. They are copied here so that they can be in one place.
Create a little script which we will use later to add your username to all the default Ubuntu groups, then delete the default ubuntu user:
groups ubuntu >update-groups sed -i 'y/ /,/; s/ubuntu,:,ubuntu,/sudo usermod -aG /; s/$/ \$USER/' update-groups killall -u ubuntu userdel -r ubuntu # ignore warning about mail spool sed -i '/^ubuntu/d' /etc/sudoers.d/90-cloud-init-users
Install Crostini packages
Prepare for installing Google's Crostini specific packages. First bring Ubuntu up to date:
apt update apt upgrade -y
Now add the Crostini package repository to apt. This repository provides the Linux integration with Chrome OS (ignore RLIMIT_CORE warning):
echo "deb https://storage.googleapis.com/cros-packages stretch main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/cros.list if [ -f /dev/.cros_milestone ]; then sudo sed -i "s?packages?packages/$(cat /dev/.cros_milestone)?" /etc/apt/sources.list.d/cros.list; fi apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 1397BC53640DB551 apt update
A work-around is needed for a cros-ui-config package installation conflict. First, install binutils to get the ar command:
apt install -y binutils
Then create the cros-ui-config work-around package:
apt download cros-ui-config # ignore any warning messages ar x cros-ui-config_0.12_all.deb data.tar.gz gunzip data.tar.gz tar f data.tar --delete ./etc/gtk-3.0/settings.ini gzip data.tar ar r cros-ui-config_0.12_all.deb data.tar.gz rm -rf data.tar.gz
Now install the Crostini packages and the "work-around" package, ignoring any warning messages. This will take awhile:
apt install -y cros-guest-tools ./cros-ui-config_0.12_all.deb
Delete the "work-around" package:
Install the adwaita-icon-theme-full package. Without this package, GUI Linux apps may have a very small cursor:
apt install -y adwaita-icon-theme-full
Now, shut down the container:
shutdown -h now
Reboot Chrome OS and start the Terminal application from the launcher. If it fails to start the first time, try again and it should work.
Edit the user and host names
By default, Crostini will have created you a user with a name that matches your Google id. If you want something different, you can follow the instructions to Change Default Username, reproduced here:
Exit the terminal, then launch the Chrome shell (crosh) once again by pressing CTRL+ALT+T, from there enter the default termina VM, and from there log in to the container as root:
vmc start termina lxc exec penguin -- bash
ubuntuId environment variables before copy and pasting
the next few lines, or substitute the desired ids directly into the commands:
killall -9 --user $googleId groupmod --new-name $ubuntuId $googleId usermod --move-home --home /home/$ubuntuId --login $ubuntuId $googleId usermod --append --groups users $ubuntuId loginctl enable-linger $ubuntuId
While you are here, you can also change your Ubuntu hostname using hostnamectl:
hostnamectl set-hostname $hostname
The container name (which you generally don't see) will remain
penguin, but the
host name (which is what you see in places like bash prompts) will be changed.
Once you are complete, exit all three by pressing control-d, then entering
lxc stop penguin
Then press control-d two more times.
From a terminal window, run the little script we created above to add your username to all the default Ubuntu groups:
sudo mv /root/update-groups . bash update-groups sudo rm update-groups
Fixing desktop icons
At this point, you can install web servers, development tools, and even GUI tools like Firefox, Thunderbird, and Visual Studio Code, and have then run side by side with Chromebook applications. In most cases, things will "just work", but for some applications, you will see a default penguin icon instead of the one associated with your application. Firefox and Thunderbird don't have this problem, but Visual Studio Code does. Perhaps it is because it is a Snap Application.
The fix is to copy the desktop and pixmap files to your
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/pixmaps cp /snap/code/current/snap/gui/com.visualstudio.code.png ~/.local/share/pixmaps cp /snap/code/current/snap/gui/code.desktop ~/.local/share/applications
Finally, you will need to change three lines in the
code.desktop file in your
First, you will need to change
Exec=code to specify the full path, namely
Next, in the two places where
Icon= is defined, you will need to replace this
with the path to the icon that you copied into your
.local directory. In my case,
the resulting lines look as follows:
Once these changes are made, you should be able to launch the application using the
Launcher in the lower left hand corder of the screen, by clicking on the circle,
code into the search box and then clicking on the Visual Studio Code icon.
Once launched, the application will appear in the shelf at the bottom of the screen.
Right clicking on this icon will give you the option to pin the application to the
It is still a beta, and the installation instructions (above) are still a bit daunting. More importantly, things that used to work can stop working at any time, like, for example, Ubuntu 18.04.
That being said, it is a full, no-compromise Ubuntu. I've developed and tested code using this setup. I even have installed my full development environment using Puppet.
The only glitch I do see is occasionally GUI applications don't receive keystrokes. This is generally fixed by switching focus to Chromebook application and then back again. Once the application is able to process keystrokes, it remains able to do so.