Chrome OS: What about LibreOffice? [B]


Don’t want to spend money on Microsoft Office and use LibreOffice on your Windows laptop or MacBook instead?

LibreOffice on Mac
Image: own screenshot of the author

Are you now considering buying a cheap Chromebook and wondering if you can still use it on it?

No worries! You can still edit all your documents without any problems and without an internet connection! Printing is also possible.

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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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 install LibreOffice on a Chromebook?

With a graphical Linux app store [B]

How to enable the Linux of Chrome OS on your Chromebook and change the system language to your native language, I have described in this post.

You can see how to set up the graphical app stores Gnome Software Center or KDE Discover if you follow the links here in the text.

If Linux is set up and you have installed one of the two app stores on your Chromebook, you can search LibreOffice in it and install it on your Chromebook with a few clicks. Also, in your native language. If you are more of a fan of KDE Discover, you still need a module from the Gnome Software Center to install the language packs of your native language. So you have to install both tools to do it in a graphical way.

Here the installation of the LibreOffice Writer exemplary with the Gnome Software Center:

Image: own screenshot of the author

As shown in the screenshot, you can simply search for LibreOffice in the text field above the blue line.

If you want to install all modules, you have to open them one by one and then install them by clicking on “Install“:

Image: own screenshot of the author

After a short waiting period the installation should be completed:

Image: own screenshot of the author

You could now start LibreOffice Writer from here. However, the app store promises too much when it comes to your native language. Because when you open it, you will see that the application is in English.

Above I wrote that it is mandatory to have a module of the Gnome Software Center. This module is a package management tool and is shown as Packages in the launcher on an English system:

Image: own screenshot of the author

If you open Packages, you can now search for your native language package. Here, for example, German. Copy the following text from the clipboard into the text field above the blue line and press the Enter key:

Image: own screenshot of the author

Is your native language Spanish, you can just change “de” to “es” for both the language package and the help package. If it’s French, it’s “fr.” You can find more language packs by using Google to find your appropriate abbreviation.

Click on the box to the left of the package description to check it for an installation. If the package is already installed on your system, you will uncheck it. That would be unnecessary.

To install the help package of your native language, copy the following text from the clipboard into the text field above the blue line, and press the Enter key:

Image: own screenshot of the author

Change the abbreviation at the end of the language pack name as descibed above, to get it installed in your native language.

Now click on the box to the left of the package description to mark it for installation. Check here again if the package is not already installed on your system. If it is, this step is not necessary still.

You install both packages, If you now click on the “Apply Changes” button. That should not take very long.

After that I would recommend you to reboot your system once.

Once this is done, you can find LibreOffice in the launcher and start it from there:

Image: own screenshot of the author

If you start the main package “LibreOffice,” you will now get a view similar view to the first screenshot of this post, which shows LibreOffice under macOS:

Image: own screenshot of the author

Here we go! Now, a few alternatives follow on how to install and use LibreOffice in a different way under Chrome OS. Towards the end of the post, there is information about how to synchronize your LibreOffice documents with Google Drive automatically. If you are interested, you can jump directly to this section with this link.

How to install LibreOffice by downloading it from the manufacturer [A]

You can download Debian packages with the “.deb” file extension for the Linux of Chrome OS. You can install these packages on your system by double-clicking on them. That is similar to the installation files with the extension “.exe” on Windows or “.pkg” on macOS.

Of course, the installation file must be suitable for your system. Even under Windows 10, you cannot take any old installation DVD from a few years ago and install the software, because it’s usually not compatible with it. With macOS Catalina, you have a problem with old 32-bit software because Apple wants to make the jump to 64-bit.

I show you below which version of LibreOffice should fit your system on the manufacturer’s site. Most of the time, this version is more recent than the one that is offered to you with the Linux by Chrome OS. So if you want to have always the latest version, this is an excellent way to do that. However, sometimes a new version may not install because dependent system components are out of date. You have to weigh that up for yourself.

Here you can download a 64-bit version for your system: link.

You should also click on the “Download translated user interface” button to start downloading the language files of your native language. Usually, it should automatically set to your current system language. But for sure, you can find other language packages on the website, also.

You have probably already noticed that the downloaded files don’t have the extension “.deb.” These are packed files with the extension “.tar.gz” to keep the file size for downloads as small as possible. But even this is only a small hurdle.

Note: before describing the procedure in more detail, two further posts will follow. A post about “File manager for the Linux of Chrome OS” and a post about “Packing and unpacking files in the Linux of Chrome OS.” These will follow in the next days and will be linked here. More screenshots about this variant of installing LibreOffice will follow as well.

How to install LibreOffice in the Linux terminal on Chrome OS [P]

Are you not a friend of graphical tools and prefer to use the Linux terminal?

The installation of LibreOffice with the package management apt is quite simple.

First of all, you should bring your system and applications up to date:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Now you can install LibreOffice, including the appropriate language packs. Here, for example, the German language packs:

sudo apt-get install -y libreoffice libreoffice-l10n-de libreoffice-help-de

Is your native language Spanish, you can just change “de” to “es” for both the language package and the help package. If it’s French, it’s “fr.” You can find more language packs by using Google to find your appropriate abbreviation.

The symbols of LibreOffice can often be found in the launcher immediately after the installation. If this is not the case, you should restart your system and then start the Terminal or another Linux application.

Where can I store LibreOffice documents under Chrome OS? [A]

I have decided not to describe this in this post, as I plan to start a whole series on this topic. I will refer to this series here.

A straightforward way, including automatic data backup, is described in the following section.

How to automatically synchronize LibreOffice documents with Google Drive in Linux of Chrome OS? [A]

LibreOffice documents first end up in the system folder Linux files. You can access them with the system application files.

I want to recommend that you right-click on the My Drive folder underneath Google Drive to share it with Linux:

Image: own screenshot of the author

Then you can access your My Drive with LibreOffice:

Image: own screenshot of the author

To do this, you can use the “Up Arrow” button to the right of the server button by navigating to the top-level “/” in the file system. Once you’re there, you can find your usual Google Drive data by clicking on “mnt” => “Chrome OS” => “GoogleDrive” => “MyDrive“.

If you now also mark folders from your clipboard as “Offline available” with a right-click, you have set up an automatic synchronization of your LibreOffice documents with your Google Drive. Then you don’t have to worry about anything anymore!

Image: own screenshot of the author

Of course, this works with every Linux application. That’s why I’ll keep pointing out this great opportunity here in the blog!

How to use LibreOffice without installation on Chrome OS? [A]

That is also possible with the help of providers who make applications available online on a platform. However, this service will cost you a few bucks per month. A good example is the provider rollApp:

Image: own screenshot of the author

rollApp currently provides you with a selection of 340+ applications (as of June 2020), which you can use immediately in your browser with the usual range of functions without installation. One of them is LibreOffice:

Image: own screenshot of the author

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