Chrome OS Linux: Installing a Graphical App Store Part 1 [A]

Introduction

After I described in this post in detail how to enable Linux (Beta) on Chrome OS, here is the next step to make it easier for you to install applications: with graphical “app stores.”

At the moment, two representatives can be used without problems in the Linux of Chrome OS: Gnome Software Center and KDE Discover. The installation and use of the Gnome Software Center is described in this post. A post about KDE Discover will follow. I want to recommend you to read both posts and to try out both tools. Then you can decide which one you like better!

Important notes

Notes for beginners: My posts usually contain some basics so that you can understand how to proceed. I partly repeat the basics in other posts, so you don’t have to jump back and forth all the time.

Here is the meaning of the abbreviations after the headings: [E] Everyone [A] Advanced [B] Beginner [P] Professional

If you still miss something, feel free to comment. The community will try to help you! 🙂

Notes for professionals: My posts usually have the form of a knowledge database entry and should be equally suitable for beginners, advanced users, and professionals. Just pick out what you need right now. You can also find content specifically targeted to professionals. These are marked accordingly with [P] and other finger points.

Do you want to have more professional content on a topic? Add it to the comments 😉

Disclaimer of liability: As always on this blog, I warn you that all changes to your system mentioned in this post are at your own risk! It is theoretically possible that there are system or application errors that could lead to data loss and further problems!

How to update Linux and its applications [A]

Before you now start installing the Gnome Software Center, you should take a look at my post about activating Linux and the first steps after that. Especially the check for available updates, and their installation should be done as always before installing a new application. Here again, the necessary commands for doing this:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
apt get update & upgrade
Image: own screenshot of the author

How to start the installation of the Gnome Software Center [A]

Then we can start! With the following command, you can install the Gnome Software Center on your Chrome OS device:

sudo apt-get install gnome-software gnome-packagekit

If you are sure, you must confirm this with “y” again:

Installation of the Gnome Software Center
Image: own screenshot of the author

How to find and start the Gnome Software Center in the system [E]

Then I would recommend that you restart your Chrome OS device once. When this is done, you should be able to start the Gnome Software Center, just like any other app on your system:

How to start the Gnome Software Center
Image: own screenshot of the author

How to change the language of the Gnome Software Center [A]

In this post, I described how you could activate the Linux under Chrome OS, language packs of your native language, and change the system language. That also works afterward! But it may be necessary to reboot the system.

How to find an application in the Gnome Software Center [A]

The Gnome Software Center then looks like this:

Gnome Software Center starten
Image: own screenshot of the author

If you now want to install a specific application, you can navigate through the categories or use the integrated search function:

Gnome Software Center: Searching an application
Image: own screenshot of the author

How to install an application with the Gnome Software Center [A]

Clicking on the area marked red in the screenshot opens the information page of the application found by the search. From there, you can start the installation of the application by clicking on the “Install” button:

Gnome Software Center: Installing an application
Image: own screenshot of the author

A progress bar then appears in the information page of the application:

Gnome Software Center: Installing an application, progress bar
Image: own screenshot of the author

Depending on the application and, of course, the performance of your Chrome OS device, the installation can take a few minutes, an hour, or even longer.

How to launch installed applications [A]

If the installation of the application is now complete, you can start it from the information page with the “Launch” button or (possibly only after a restart) just like any other app:

Gnome Software Center: Launching an application
Image: own screenshot of the author

In this example of Krita, a splash screen appears to show the progress in opening the required files:

Gnome Software Center: Launching application
Image: own screenshot of the author

After a short loading time the program appears as follows:

Gnome Software Center: Launched application
Image: own screenshot of the author

A small inset: Krita is an excellent image editing program that is very similar to Paint.net – one of my favorite tools – under Windows. I will introduce it in another post. As of April 2020, it runs very fast and stable on my Google Pixelbook (2017) and Acer Chromebook Spin 13 with a 27″ monitor connected. But there is a small catch: If I maximize the window, Krita crashes quite fast as soon as you load an image file.

The Linux of Chrome OS is currently still a beta version, so this can happen. I point out such problems openly here in the blog about Chrome OS and, wherever I can, give tips on how to get everything running as well as possible. Often such problems disappear with new updates over time.

Update 03.05.2020: I was able to solve this problem by disabling the still quite young GPU acceleration of the Linux. That is done via the flags in the Chrome browser:

chrome://flags/#crostini-gpu-support

I think you just have to give Google a little more time when developing the GPU acceleration before everything runs wonderfully stable and fast.

Back to the topic Gnome Software Center: As described here in the post, you can now install and use numerous applications without a Linux terminal and cryptic commands with just one click!

How to find Linux applications in the system [E]

Almost all Linux applications can be found after installation via the system search or manual selection in the launcher:

How to find Linux Applications
Image: own screenshot of the author

If you now open these “Linux Apps,” the following overview appears:

Linux applications in the launcher
Image: own screenshot of the author

Go to Part 2: Chrome OS Linux Mode: Installing a Graphical App Store Part 2. [A]

Have fun with it! 🙂

Updates

June 16, 2020: Added notes on system language in case you want to use the Gnome Software Center in a different language than English.

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