How to Run the Linux KDE Desktop on a Chromebook


How to Run the Linux KDE Desktop on a Chromebook

Chromebooks with the proper stuff inside now are in a position to set up and run a full Linux expertise with the KDE desktop with out giving up the Chrome OS on the similar system. It isn’t but flawless, but it surely does create a hybrid computing platform that lets Linux and Android apps coexist on high of the Chrome OS.

I don’t imply flashing the Galium OS distribution
as a replacement for Chrome OS. I’ve performed that on an end-of-life early Chromebook with usable outcomes. However, I imply working a full Linux graphical atmosphere with the KDE desktop. This provides to the current use of Android apps all in separate containers on high of Chrome OS on a single Chromebook.

Since Google first launched a Chrome OS model with the Linux apps function a few years in the past, I’ve been utilizing the Crostini mission to run Linux apps on a Chromebook. “Crostini” is Google’s umbrella time period for making Linux software help simple to use for integrating Linux with Chrome OS. That technique installs a command line model of the Linux OS
to run Debian Linux apps on supported Chromebooks.

Since then I’ve been sharing my Chromebook as a platform to run the Chrome OS with Android apps and a restricted variety of my each day Linux instruments. I’ve been ready impatiently for Google to advance the Chrome OS to run a absolutely purposeful Linux OS full with a graphical desktop in a container, very similar to Virtualbox now runs different OSes inside a host OS.

That performance now could be baked into Chrome OS. It works — not completely but, but it surely does let me have a moderately good person expertise working a Linux graphical atmosphere and Linux apps.

That course of quickly will improve to accessing Debian “Buster” repositories as a substitute of Stretch. All of this works with the KDE desktop, together with Android apps and the Chrome OS, inside a assortment of 4 digital workspaces.

KDE on Chromebook

This view of the Chromebook reveals 4 open home windows from digital desk 1 — KDE settings panel (far left), the KDE desktop, the mispositioned KDE panel bar, and the Linux Terminal (far proper). The Chrome OS App shelf is displayed alongside the backside of the display. Chrome OS’ 4 digital workspaces or desks are displayed throughout the high of the display.
– click on picture to enlarge –

Why Do It?

The capability to run quite a few parts on a Chromebook is a helpful profit. It doesn’t fully change my giant display desktop laptop. Nor does this Chromebook function growth make my assortment of Linux-powered laptops ineffective.

Running a full Linux desktop on Chrome OS is one thing I’ve wished since the Linux Beta function was first launched to Chrome OS. The newest growth of Linux help by way of Crostini on Chrome OS is certainly considerably magical.

This subsequent level is critically necessary. Chromebooks don’t but run an precise full Linux distribution inside Chrome OS. The Crostini know-how is a container-like house that accommodates working Linux apps, and now a graphical person interface (GUI). Having KDE’s fairly face added to the combine brings us one-step nearer to putting in an precise Linux distribution.

How It Works – Overview

The expertise to date is harking back to the clunky efficiency with Android apps first showing inside Chrome OS. Some stuff fails to work properly if in any respect. Google has a methods to go earlier than it turns into a liquid-smooth operation working on high of Chrome OS.

Chromebooks run Linux simply as they run Android apps — in a container handled like remoted home windows. The KDE desktop features very similar to an app in a Chrome window. At this level, the expertise isn’t fairly like working Linux in a digital field.

I can alt-tab from a window working the Chrome browser to home windows working a number of Android apps, Linux purposes and separate Chrome tabs displaying as standalone Web apps. Any mixture of those work in pill mode.

In that mode, nonetheless, a Linux “window” doesn’t open the digital keyboard once I strive typing an entry in a dialogue field. The hooked up keyboard works fantastic in clamshell mode.

I can maintain every module — Chrome browser tabs, Android apps and Linux apps — in its personal digital desktop. Or I can ignore the digital desktop function and cycle by means of all home windows on one workspace by repeatedly alt-tabbing. Navigating amongst them is cool whether or not I alt-tab, swipe gestures on the touchpad, or use keyboard shortcuts.

KDE on Chromebook panel bar

The mispositioned panel bar stays in the heart of the window however is absolutely purposeful in any other case. When tabbing amongst home windows, the centered panel bar reveals up as a solitary object displayed on the desktop picture.
– click on picture to enlarge –

The Installation Process, Part 1 – Basic Linux

First, examine to see if Linux is enabled on your Chrome system. If it’s, you will note an entry for Linux Files in the Chromebook File app.

If Linux Beta is already enabled, you’ll be able to skip this part and advance to Part II of the Linux set up course of. Part II covers how to set up the KDE Plasma desktop and its assortment of purposes.

If you don’t see the Linux enabled indicator,
click here to examine Google’s record of all Chromebooks that help working Linux.

If the Linux function isn’t enabled on your Chromebook, and you’ve got checked the hyperlink above to be sure that your mannequin is able to working Linux, comply with these steps to flip on the Linux help function on your laptop computer.

  • At the backside proper of the App Shelf on the backside of the Chromebook display, click on on the time portion in the proper finish of the shelf.
  • Then choose the gear wheel to entry Settings.
  • Under Linux (Beta), choose Turn On. If you don’t see this entry, go to the magnifying glass icon at the high of the settings panel to seek for Linux.
  • Follow the steps on the display. Setup can take 10 minutes or extra.

When the course of is completed, a terminal window opens. You can run Linux instructions, set up extra instruments utilizing the APT package deal supervisor, and customise the Linux shell.

Get Ready for Plasma

This a part of the course of isn’t tough, but it surely does take at the least 45 minutes for the Chromebook to full the course of. Once you enter a few instructions in the terminal, sit again and look forward to the set up to full. It may take significantly longer for the course of to full — in my case, it took shut to two hours.

If one thing goes mistaken, don’t panic. Just flip off Linux Apps in the Chrome OS Settings menu and begin over.

KDE on Chromebook Files app and Linux Terminal

The Chrome OS Files app (on the left) reveals the Linux information button. The Linux Terminal (on the proper) reveals the progress of the KDE desktop set up.
– click on picture to enlarge –

Part 2 – Adding the GUI

To get began, you’ll be able to shut the Chrome browser window, or go to one other digital workspace. Either means, open the Chrome OS Files app and click on on the Linux label to run Crostini. Then open the Linux terminal.

If you’re conversant in working Linux apps from the terminal on a Chromebook, you recognize that even with sudo (superuser do) instructions, the system doesn’t ask you for a password. That would possibly change for some instructions as soon as you put in a desktop atmosphere.

To forestall any points over discovering what the default KDE password is, let’s create one now. Create a Linux password by coming into the command in the terminal. This won’t wipe out or override the current Google account password you employ to log onto your Chromebook while you energy it on.

Security is much less of a concern right here so maintain it quick and easy. To forgo having to keep in mind one other password, I used the similar one which I take advantage of on certainly one of my Linux rigs.

  • Enter this command in the Linux Terminal:

    sudo passwd root

  • Enter the similar password when prompted to verify it.

You will see a notification in the terminal window that you’ve got succeeded. Proceed with the subsequent step to start putting in the desktop.

  • Enter this command into the terminal:

    sudo apt-get set up task-kde-desktop

  • Hit enter and when prompted, choose Y to verify the set up.

Fix One Potential Glitch

That is all there may be to it. Restart the Chromebook. When Chrome OS reloads, open the Files app and click on on Linux in the information record.

  • Open a Linux Terminal and enter this command:


  • Hit Enter

Some Chromebook configurations might balk at beginning the X server on first run. If that occurs do the following:

  • Enter this code into the Terminal for a one-time fast repair:

    cp /and so on/X11/xinit/xinitrc ~/.xinitrc

  • Hit the Enter key after which restart the Chromebook.

Once your desktop is up and working, you’ll be able to right-click anyplace to customise it by including widgets, new backgrounds and themes, and shortcuts. Any purposes you beforehand put in from the terminal will present up in KDE’s software menu, as will any future installs.

Pushing RAM Limits

This computing expertise is a wild feat contemplating the 4GB of RAM and extremely restricted inner storage in most Chromebook {hardware} configurations. I’ve a giant SD card on board, however Chrome OS doesn’t allow you to retailer and run system information and apps on the SD card the means Android does. That critical weak point can put limits on how a lot added software program you put in on your Chromebook.

When you concentrate on it, the Chrome OS was constructed to run lean and imply. Chromebook {hardware} is constructed with 2 to Four gigabytes of RAM in thoughts for typical customers.

In the similar vein, many Linux distributions are notable for his or her light-weight designs. Some Linux OSes present lightning quick efficiency on {hardware} powered by actually previous processors and 1GB RAM.

Still, having a mixture of Chrome OS, Android apps and a Linux desktop with extra apps can turn into a efficiency problem. This expanded use for Chromebooks makes a good promoting level for getting a new higher-end Chromebook loaded with RAM and storage. The newer, sooner processors will enhance total efficiency as properly.

For instance, my 4-GB Asus C213S Chromebook with 25 GB inner storage is extraordinarily shut to maxing out. Aside from an occasional lag in swiping round digital screens and ready for an app to load, although, the total efficiency may be very workable. Performance is even higher if I don’t want to maintain each app and window working all the time.

One means to work round this challenge is to uninstall unneeded Android apps and Linux purposes. The KDE desktop installs dozens of default packages on the Chromebook. Go by means of the assortment and take away the ones you do not want. Numerous purposes are duplicates for doing the similar duties, akin to audio gamers, video editors, and textual content and spreadsheet instruments.

New Meaning to Multipurpose Computing

Running a absolutely purposeful Linux desktop might be the good answer for light-weight cell computing. In many instances, the Linux apps are extra purposeful than Android apps on the Chromebook.

Chrome OS concentrates on a browser interface with no precise desktop interface. Chrome OS additionally lacks added performance offered by widgets and applets. Running a Linux desktop on a Chromebook fills that void. The KDE desktop lets you’ve gotten widgets, notes, app shortcuts and extra.

The Chromebook is solely extra helpful and handy. I’ve a three-in-one mannequin that serves me properly, with a foldaway keyboard to convert the clamshell laptop computer design into a pill system with the similar Android and Linux performance.

Remember to Update

The Chrome OS will inform you periodically when a new model of the browser working system is prepared for you to set up. That doesn’t have an effect on the Linux information. Just like you’ve gotten to manually replace any Android apps put in on your Chromebook, you additionally should replace the Linux set up.

You can proceed to replace the Linux system and software program information from the Linux Terminal exterior of the desktop shell. Use this command:

    sudo apt-get replace && sudo apt-get improve

Or you should use the Software Update device in the Software Management tab of the Systems panel in the KDE fundamental menu.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His fundamental areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open supply applied sciences. He has written quite a few critiques of Linux distros and different open supply software program.
Email Jack.

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