How to Run Linux in a Window on your Chromebook

Chromebook owners: You might be aware that (with some clever hacks) it’s possible to run a Linux distribution on your Chromebook. Once you’ve got Crouton installed, you’ll be able to swap between ChromeOS and Linux with a key press. It’s really cool – but what if you could run Linux in a window – like a program? Well, now you can!

A talented Google Intern has created some software for the ChromeOS browser that allows Crouton to be run in a window. It’s a fairly simple process made possible by two great tools – Xiwi and a Crouton Integration extension. Please note: for this to work, you’ll need to already have Crouton installed on your Chromebook.

Before anything in this guide can happen, your Chromebook must be put into development mode. This is really easy to do. Press the Escape key, the Power key and the Refresh button (or the third button on your function row of keys if your 3rd button is different).

This combination of buttons will automatically place your Chrome device into a process that disables OS verification. You’ll get a warning. Ignore it and press “Ctrl + D” on your keyboard to continue. Once this happens, your Chromebook will be converted to developer mode.

This may take a bit of time, and all of your settings and files will be deleted, but after the process is done, you’ll have full administrative access on your Chromebook.

Note: now that your device’s OS verification is disabled, you’ll need to press “Ctrl + D” before each boot.

Before you can install Crouton, you’ll need to download it.  You can download it by following this link. Once you’ve got the file, it’s time to open a Chrome shell window. Do it by pressing “Ctrl + Alt + T” on your keyboard.


Once you’re in the Chrome shell, you have to get to the bash shell. You can get there by typing shell into the prompt and pressing the Enter key.

Now that you’ve made it into the bash shell, the installation process can continue.


The command above will take you through an entire setup process. This involves fully installing Ubuntu into a Chroot, setting up a user account, etc. This may take a while. Please be patient.

Crouton is now fully installed along with Xiwi (one of the tools we need to run Linux in a window). There’s only one piece of the puzzle left. Soon you’ll be able to have ChromeOS and Linux running on the same screen!

Head over to the Chrome store and install the Crouton integration extension. After that, open a Chrome shell window This is done by pressing “Ctrl + Alt + T” followed by typing the word shell and pressing the Enter key.

In order to run Linux, you’ll have to mount your Chroot. Please note, this must be done as root.


Once inside the Chroot environment, you’ll need to start up the xfce desktop environment.



You should see some commands letting you know that the Chroot is communicating with the Crouton integration extension. If everything is done correctly, you’ll soon see Ubuntu Linux pop up in a window! Enjoy!

On the surface, ChromeOS looks like a basic consumer-based operating system, one that only allows you to browse the web, manage files and other simple functions. Crouton and the Crouton extension change that.

With these two powerful components, it shows that this OS shouldn’t be counted out. It’s actually quite technical. With the ability to have Linux in a window, Google’s operating system has the opportunity to be a serious contender in the consumer space.


  1. Thanks for this article. I missed the “enter chroot” command, and though it throws up an error message XFCE starts up. (I’m using an HP 14 Chromebook; chrome version = 41.0.2272.102).
    My bluetooth mouse (paired in chromeos) also works in the crouton session. I would like to find a link or forum for further information / discussion.

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