Chrome OS: What about LibreOffice?

Introduction

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

LibreOffice on macOS | Image: cyldx.com
LibreOffice on macOS | Image: cyldx.com

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!

Important Notes

Notes for beginners:ย My posts usually contain some basics that you can understand how to proceed. I partly repeat the basics in other posts, so you donโ€™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! ๐Ÿ™‚

Notes for professionals:ย My posts usually have the form of a knowledge base entry and should be equally suitable for beginners, advanced users, and professionals. Just pick out what you need immediately. 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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?

How to install LibreOffice 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 you set up the Linux Mode of Chrome OS and 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. Moreover, in your native language. If you are more of a KDE Discover fan, you still need a Gnome Software Center module to install the language packs of your native language without the cryptic Terminal. So, you have to install both tools to do it graphically.

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

Searching and installing LibreOffice in the Gnome Software Center | Image: cyldx.com
Searching and installing LibreOffice in the Gnome Software Center | Image: cyldx.com

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 โ€œInstall:โ€

Progress of the installation of LibreOffice Writer in the Gnome Software Center | Image: cyldx.com
Progress of the installation of LibreOffice Writer in the Gnome Software Center | Image: cyldx.com

The installation should be completed after a short waiting time:

Completed installation of LibreOffice Writer in the Gnome Software Center | Image: cyldx.com
Completed installation of LibreOffice Writer in the Gnome Software Center | Image: cyldx.com

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 that is shown as โ€œPackagesโ€ in the launcher on an English system:

Launching packages from the Chrome OS launcher | Image: cyldx.com
Launching packages from the Chrome OS launcher | Image: cyldx.com

If you open โ€œPackages,โ€ 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:

libreoffice-l10n-de
Installing the German language package of LibreOffice with packages | Image: cyldx.com
Installing the German language package of LibreOffice with packages | Image: cyldx.com

If your native language is Spanish, you can just change “de” to “es” for both the language package and the help package. If it’s French, it’s “fr.โ€ 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:

libreoffice-help-de
Install the German help package of LibreOffice with packages | Image: cyldx.com
Install the German help package of LibreOffice with packages | Image: cyldx.com

Change the abbreviation at the end of the language pack name as described 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 Changesbutton. That should not take very long.

The icons of LibreOffice can be often found in the launcher immediately after installation. If that’s not the case, you can shut down Linux here.

Shutting down the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
Shutting down the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

After that, start at least one Linux application, such as the terminal. Then you should be able to find the LibreOffice icons in the launcher:

Starting LibreOffice from Chrome OS' launcher | Image: cyldx.com
Starting LibreOffice from Chrome OS’ launcher | Image: cyldx.com

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

LibreOffice in the Linux mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
LibreOffice in the Linux mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

Here we go! A few alternatives follow on how to install and use LibreOffice differently on Chrome OS. Towards the end of the post, there is information about synchronizing 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 using the Linux terminal [P]

You don’t like graphical tools, and you prefer to use the Linux terminal?

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

First, 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

If your native language is Spanish, you can 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 icons of LibreOffice can be often found in the launcher immediately after installation. I described what to do If that’s not the case at the end of the section “How to install LibreOffice with a graphical Linux app store” here in this post.

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

Overview

You can download Debian packages with the file extension.deb” for the Linux mode of Chrome OS. These can be easily installed by double-clicking on them. This is similar to installation files with the extension “.exe” on Windows or “.pkg” on macOS.

Most of the time, the version on the manufacturer’s site is more up-to-date than the version offered to you in the Linux mode of Chrome OS. So if you always want to have the latest version, going to the manufacturer’s site is a promising way to do that. Occasionally, however, you may not be able to install a new version because dependent system components are outdated. You have to weigh that up for yourself.

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

Uninstall older LibreOffice versions

Before installing the latest LibreOffice version on your system, you should first wholly uninstall older versions, clean up the system and install any pending updates.

You can uninstall LibreOffice entirely as follows:

sudo apt-get remove --purge libreoffice*
Removing LibreOffice completely from the Linux mode of Chrome OS 1 | Image: cyldx.com
Removing LibreOffice completely from the Linux mode of Chrome OS 1 | Image: cyldx.com
Removing LibreOffice completely from the Linux mode of Chrome OS 2 | Image: cyldx.com
Removing LibreOffice completely from the Linux mode of Chrome OS 2 | Image: cyldx.com

You can clean up your (package) system as follows:

Cleaning up the (package) system in the Linux mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
Cleaning up the (package) system in the Linux mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

If you confirm with “Y” (for yes), it should look like this after a while:

Information while cleaning up your installed packages in the Linux mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
Information while cleaning up your installed packages in the Linux mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

As you can see at the bottom of the screenshot, I have already entered there the command for the last step of the preparation for installation of LibreOffice from the manufacturer’s site:

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

That should be finished after a short waiting time if you install the available updates with “y“.

Downloading the latest version of LibreOffice from the manufacturer’s site

The package sources of Debian Buster, the Linux mode distribution of Chrome OS, don’t contain the latest version of LibreOffice. Therefore, LibreOffice may not run stably on your system or maybe missing features.

If you want to use the latest version, you can download the 64-bit version for your system here: link.

Downloading LibreOffice from the manufacturer's site for Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
Downloading LibreOffice from the manufacturer’s site for Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

You should click on the link โ€Downloadโ€ if you’re happy with the English version. If you want to download LibreOffice in your native language, you can click on โ€need another languageโ€ and follow the then appearing links to download different language packages as well. As destination folder, I recommend a folder like โ€Downloadsโ€ below โ€œLinux Files:โ€

The folder "downloads" in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
The folder “downloads” in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
The LibreOffice archive downloaded from the manufacturer's site | Image: cyldx.com
The LibreOffice archive downloaded from the manufacturer’s site | Image: cyldx.com

You have probably already noticed that the downloaded files do not have the extension.deb.” These are packed files with the extension “.tar.gz” to keep the downloads’ file size as small as possible. But even this is only a tiny hurdle! ๐Ÿ™‚

And obviously, this is not a screenshot of the folder within the Chrome OS’s Files app. It is a screenshot of the Double Commander’s download folder – a file manager (Wikipedia) for Linux. This post described how you could install and use it in the Linux mode of Chrome OS. With this file manager, you can quickly unpack the downloaded.tar.gz packages” in three clicks.

To achieve this, right-click on the files one by one and select “Extract archive hereโ€ฆ. :

Unpacking a .tar.gz package in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS 1| Image: cyldx.com
Unpacking a .tar.gz package in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS 1| Image: cyldx.com

You can confirm the dialog that appears by clicking “Ok.” That will already unpack the packages correctly into a specific folder:

Unpacking a .tar.gz package in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS 2| Image: cyldx.com
Unpacking a .tar.gz package in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS 2| Image: cyldx.com

Once you have done this for the package, your folder contents should look like this:

The contents of the .tar.gz packages unpacked in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
The contents of the .tar.gz packages unpacked in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

Installing the downloaded Debian packages

If you now open the folder with the main packages of LibreOffice, you will quickly see that there is a proud number of 42 packages:

The unpacked Debian packages of LibreOffice in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
The unpacked Debian packages of LibreOffice in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

Well, how can you install these packages in one go? There is a README file included that contains instructions for the installation:

The folder of the README file of the installation package of LibreOffice in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
The folder of the README file of the installation package of LibreOffice in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

This file contains, among other things, the command that we will now use to install all of LibreOffice’s Debian packages in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS almost in one fell swoop:

The instructions of the README file of the installation package of LibreOffice in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
The instructions of the README file of the installation package of LibreOffice in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

For this, we change to the path with the 42 Debian packages. To achieve this, you can copy the path to the clipboard as shown in the last but one screenshot and paste it into the terminal window with a right-click and a “cd” (change directory) preceded by a space:

Changing the current directory in the terminal of the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
Changing the current directory in the terminal of the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

And as you can see in the screenshot, the next step is to send the command from the README file:

sudo dpkg -i *.deb

Then the system installs all Debian packages of the current folder.

Once this is done, LibreOffice is already available on your system. However, you may miss your native language packages for the user interface and the help environment. You can then download the corresponding packages and unpack and install them by using the same cookie-cutter approach.

The icons of LibreOffice can be often found in the launcher immediately after installation. I described what to do If that’s not the case at the end of the section “How to install LibreOffice with a graphical Linux app store” here in this post.

If you have followed my descriptions for setting up the Linux Mode and have configured the system in your native language, LibreOffice should immediately be displayed in that language. Here is an example of the start view of the Writer in English:

The start view of LibreOffice Writer in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
The start view of LibreOffice Writer in the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

Where to store LibreOffice documents on 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 [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 below “Google Drive” to share it with Linux:

Sharing a folder with the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com
Sharing a folder with the Linux Mode of Chrome OS | Image: cyldx.com

Then you can access your “My Drive” with LibreOffice:

Opening a Google Drive folder shared with Linux with LibreOffice Calc | Image: cyldx.com
Opening a Google Drive folder shared with Linux with LibreOffice Calc | Image: cyldx.com

To achieve this, you can use the “Up Arrowbutton to the right of the “Servers… 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 also mark folders on your Chrome OS system 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!

Making a Google Drive folder available offline | Image: cyldx.com
Making a Google Drive folder available offline | Image: cyldx.com

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 even possible thanks to 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:

The start page of rollApp | Image: cyldx.com
The start page of rollApp | Image: cyldx.com

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:

LibreOffice on Chrome OS via rollApp in the cloud | Image: cyldx.com
LibreOffice on Chrome OS via rollApp in the cloud | Image: cyldx.com

Enjoy it! ๐Ÿ™‚


Words in italics may be registered trademarks or companies! Examples: Google, YouTube, and Android. Or they are technical terms from the IT world, which are described in various locations in the blog.

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Updates

04/20/2021: Section โ€œHow to install LibreOffice by downloading it from the manufacturerโ€™s site [A]โ€ completed.

Marcel@CYLDX

Hey! ๐Ÿ˜€ I started this blog in 2018. Fitting the blog, I want to describe myself as a true โ€œGoogle Sheep,โ€ incredibly addicted to travel and open-minded. I like traveling the world and creating digital content on Chrome OS, travel, and mobile work.

Marcel@CYLDX has 47 posts and counting. See all posts by Marcel@CYLDX

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