The 7 Best Linux Apps for Chromebook In 2020

The 7 best Linux apps to install on your Chromebook

Chromebooks––and the Chrome OS––have become incredibly useful thanks to Google's frequent updates. Not only are they capable of running Android apps, but they can also run Linux, specifically Ubuntu via Crouton, which works like a shell. That means you'll need to install and use Linux apps on your Chromebook after Ubuntu has been setup.

Whether you’re new to Linux or a seasoned supporter, there is a huge collection of apps available and the repository only continues to grow. That means you may not even know some of the apps that exist. It’s especially problematic considering there is no GUI-based market or tool to download them, at least not initially. Instead, you must use a command prompt and syntax to call upon the Linux app through the apt-get tool.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of the best Linux apps available for Chromebook.

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to install and configure Linux on a compatible Chromebook before moving forward.

01
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Best Photo Editing Tool: GIMP

GIMP photo editor on Linux for Chromebook

Chrome OS is not the best for visual editing. There are some online apps you can use, but nothing akin to a full desktop tool. Photoshop is only available through something like CrossOver, for example.

Linux offers GIMP, one of the best free image editors available. You may recognize it because you can also use the tool in Windows, and OS X. It is a comprehensive suite just like Photoshop that will require some hands-on time to truly understand.

02
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Best Video Editor: Kdenlive

Kdenlive video editor on Linux for Chromebook

Editing videos is a big deal these days, whether you’re a YouTube content creator or you share your content on any of the other media and social network sites. Unfortunately, Chrome OS doesn’t have a full-featured video editor available, but Linux sure does.

Kdenlive will provide you with a complete video editing tool, and it works great even on Chromebook.

03
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Best Coding Tool: Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code on Linux for Chromebook

Visual Studio Code is one of the best syntax and code editors out there with a huge selection of excellent features. It supports many popular languages, native debugging, support for Git, and has an integrated Terminal to boot. If and when something is missing you can usually add support thanks to optional extensions and themes. It’s regularly updated to fix bugs, performance and more, as well.

Visual Studio Code installed to Linux on Chromebook can only access files and content in the ‘Linux Apps’ directory. If you want to work with a file from the Chrome platform––or you download a file using your native browser––you’ll first need to move the content to the appropriate directory using a file manager.

04
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Best Office Suite: LibreOffice

LibreOffice suite on Linux for Chromebook

Microsoft Office isn't available for Linux, so you won’t find it in Chrome OS. You could access it via a browser if you have a subscription to the web version, however, but that’s not always ideal. 

Being a Google ecosystem, you do have access to Google Docs, too. Yet, it always helps to have a little more variety. That’s precisely why it’s good you can find several alternatives for Linux, including WPS Office and LibreOffice. 

WPS is a solid choice, and it’s also relatively popular amongst Linux users. We chose LibreOffice instead though, an open-source productivity suite that works across a variety of platforms, not just Linux. It includes a word processor (Write), spreadsheet tool (Calc), presentation editor (Impress), and vector graphics editor (Draw).

This install process installs both the LibreOffice suite and a Chrome OS Linux theme to match your operating system.

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Best Email Solution: Evolution

Evolution email client on Linux for Chromebook

If you’re a fan of desktop email clients, Chromebook isn’t the most ideal platform for you. There isn’t much available, as most apps are web-based or online only. If you guessed that Linux has a good option, you were right.

Evolution is a desktop-inspired client that offers email, calendar and contact tools all rolled into a single application. You can also create personal tasks with reminders, as well as memos or in-app notations if you will. Plus, it’s compatible with any POP or IMAP-based email account, including Gmail.

06
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Best Desktop Browser: Firefox

Firefox desktop browser on Linux for Chromebook

You can’t install Firefox on a Chromebook, at least not the desktop version. While there is an Android app, it’s not the same and the experience is sub-par.

Luckily, Linux has a full desktop version of Firefox available, which you can install within Ubuntu.

07
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Best FTP Client: FileZilla

FileZilla FTP client on Linux for Chromebook

On a Chromebook, if you need to connect to a remote server to download or upload files––such as the root directory of a website you own––you’ll need to deal with some messy workarounds. A more convenient option is to download an FTP client via Linux, particularly FileZilla.

You can drag and drop files to move between the platforms easily. You can also download content to your Chromebook to edit offline. If you have Visual Studio installed you can edit web and HTML files natively, too.

Similar to Visual Studio Code, FileZilla via Linux will only be able to access files stored in the ‘Linux Apps’ directory. If you want to work with a file from the Chrome platform you’ll first need to move the content to the appropriate directory using a file manager.