Linux Mint on Chromebook: How to Install It and Other Facts

Linux Mint on Chromebook

Chromebooks are amazing machines that offer a barebones OS (operating system). But if you want to go beyond the extensions and Android apps of the Chrome OS there is a way to make your Chromebook more versatile. Linux Mint is a distro based on Ubuntu. There are many different desktop environments you can choose from with some pretty cool menus and layouts. And talk about customizable, the easy-to-use experience makes it practical for beginners. If you just want an OS that works, the software management and system updates help provide a stable system that’s easy to work with every day.

What Is Linux Mint?

Linux mint is a free, easy-to-use operating system designed for modern laptops and x64 and x86 PCs. It can run by itself or in conjunction with other known operating systems like Apple’s MacOS, Microsoft Windows, and even BSD/OS.  

Launched in 2006, Linux Mint is a powerful, yet elegant operating system based on two of Linux’s open-source software: Ubuntu and Debian. Should Ubuntu ever disappear, it can use Debian based packages, which are available under the hood.

Initially, the project began as a customized version of Ubuntu. Many years later, it now runs as a separate OS with multiple features. It even comes with alternative desktop editions like Cinnamon, Mate, KDE, and Xfce. Sadly, KDE was discontinued so the developers can focus more on the latter three editions.

Although it’s been out for years, Linux Mint is still as popular as ever, arguably even more popular than Ubuntu. It boasts millions of users and thousands of new downloads every month. Users rarely face compatibility or download issues when using the program because it’s built to run on almost every system imaginable.

Compared to Ubuntu, Linux Mint has a significantly better history of supporting drivers, multimedia formats, and tools for research and development. It’s heavily community-driven and supremely secure and private.

Can I Replace an Existing OS With Linux Mint?

Yes, you can replace any known operating system with Linux Mint.

As with most operating systems, a slight learning curve is expected when migrating to Linux Mint. Luckily, its simple interface makes learning a walk in the park.

Linux Mint gives computer enthusiasts and young programmers the freedom to explore the inner workings of the system through easy-to-use navigations. Users can even build their own versions. For this reason, Linux Mint can be used for field classes and IT education purposes.

What Are the Features of Linux Mint?

The features found in a Linux Mint OS depends on its version and edition.

Linux Mint currently comes in four different editions: Cinnamon, Mate, KDE, and Xfce. Each edition features a different desktop environment.

Cinnamon is the most modern and innovative Linux Mint edition. Mate is faster and more stable than Cinnamon. Xfce is the most stable and most lightweight of the three. KDE ‘Sylvia’, while still supported, is sadly discontinued. 

Features that are available on all four editions are as follows:

X Apps for Multimedia

Unlike other operating systems, Linux Mint comes with pre-installed essential apps. Apart from Firefox and LibreOffice, you also have pre-installed core applications made for various purposes. Some of these applications are as follows:

  • Xreader: for reading documents and PDF files
  • Xed: for editing text
  • Xplayer: for playing video files and music
  • Xviewer: for editing and viewing photos
  • Pix: for organizing photos
  • Thunderbird: for email client
  • Pidgin: for instant messenger
  • GIMP: for editing graphics
  • Libxapp: XApps library
  • Python-xapp: Python library
  • Blueberry: a frontend to gnome-Bluetooth, supported with systray
  • Slick-greeter: LightDM login screen forked from unity-greeter

Linux Mint applications use modern technologies and toolkits (gsettings, GTK3 for HiDPI support, etc.) as well as traditional user interfaces so users don’t need to adapt to major redesigns and changes. Moreover, they’re backward compatible, meaning they work on multiple OS distributions.

Cinnamon, Mate, KDE, and Xfce come with the same Xapp applications and libraries.

Quick and Responsive Software Manager

Linux Mint’s software manager is arguably one of the best among all operating systems. It balances the power of a traditional Linux package manager with the simplicity of a modern app store.

Unlike other Linux operating systems, like Fedora, Ubuntu, and other distros with default GNOME interface, Linux Mint gives users the freedom to fully customize their desktops.

There are thousands of themes available for the panel, window borders, icons, and applications, allowing users to tweak the desktop to their liking without having to download anything extra.

To take it one step further, Linux Mint included its own GUI application for package management.

Easy to Use

Linux Mint is aimed at the everyday computer user. For this reason, the developers went out of their way to make the interface as comprehensible as possible.

The interface is straightforward and easy to understand. The apps, files, system tray, settings, quick launch icons, and so forth are all in the usual places.

It doesn’t come with excessive animations or overly complicated tasks. It’s as simple as an operating system can be without compromising power and functionality. If you’re a Microsoft Windows user, you’ll feel right at home.

Linux Mint also has a handy helper that guides you through some of the more complex tasks. Codecs for audio and video files as well as hardware drivers can be downloaded with the click of a button. Themes are easy to change, and concepts are easy to grasp.

Ultra-Fast Performance

One of the many features that stand out on the Linux Mint OS is its super-fast operation. In fact, speed is one of Linux’s selling points.

If you’re using Linux Mint on modern desktop PCs, laptops, and Chromebooks, you’ll hardly experience lag or slow performance. Even if you’re using it on an older device, you can still expect top-notch performance.

Speed tests performed on the same low-end machine show that Linux Mint is marginally faster than Windows 10. For instance, Linux Mint only took about 15 seconds to launch Firefox as compared to 32 seconds with Windows. The same is said with GIMP, taking only 9 seconds compared to Windows’ 43 seconds.

If it were a speed competition between Microsoft Windows and Linux Mint, Linux Mint, hands down, takes the win.

For ultimate performance, download Linux Mint’s ‘Mate’ and ‘Xfce’ editions. Cinnamon is great, too, especially since it’s the most modern of the bunch, but it isn’t as fast as the latter two.

Premium Hardware and Software Support

For years, Linux Mint has been widely considered as one of the most stable, reliable, and secure operating systems. Despite its open-source status, Linux Mint doesn’t falter on user support. Major upgrade releases occur every six months, with Long Term Support versions coming out every two years.

Developers constantly improve the features found on Linux Mint, aided by the feedback given by the Linux community with millions of followers. New Linux Mint versions can always be downloaded and installed through the official website free of charge.

Open Source

Unlike other operating systems, you won’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to get your hands on a genuine copy of Linux Mint.

Linux Mint (and other Linux distributions) is accessible to the public for free. Not only that, but it’s free to run, copy, study, distribute, change, and even improve.

Despite the company’s open-source status, it’s valued at over $2 billion—the highest of any known open-source company. This not only gives software developers enough resources to fix and improve existing Linux platforms but also provides professional support services.

Can You Run Linux Mint on Chromebook?

Yes, you can absolutely run Linux Mint on a Chromebook. After all, ChromeOS is a Gentoo Linux-based operating system with full-fledged Linux apps and features.

Thanks to Linux support on Chromebooks, Chrome OS devices can run on Linux distros. Linux Mint and Chrome OS were actually developed using the same tools and applications like Javascript, HTML5, C, C++, Python, and Rust. This, therefore, allows you to easily replace Chrome OS with Linux Mint with little to no hassle.

Why Should I Replace Chrome OS with Linux Mint?

One of the biggest disadvantages of the Chrome OS is the fact that it has significant limitations in managing data. It also lacks many features found in other operating systems, including primitive ones like network storage, photo editing, usable on-screen text input, and a real file directory. Its window management software isn’t the best, either.

If that’s not enough, ChromeOS has limited computing capabilities. Compared to Windows or Linux, it doesn’t run resource-intensive apps and prominent game titles due to software absence. Chromebooks also can’t run Windows software.

Replacing it with a more usable and robust OS like Linux Mint gives you the freedom to use your Chromebook without any restrictions. The Linux Mint OS allows you to use applications without having to access the internet, edit photos and videos, install the Windows versions of games and programs, and much more.

It also lets you develop software using your Chromebook through Linux command-line tools, IDEs, and code editors.

Whatever your Chromebook can’t do, Linux Mint fills the gaps for you. Plus, it’s free. Why pay for Microsoft Windows when you can get Linux, instead? Chromebooks support Linux systems better than Windows, after all.

How Do I Install Linux Mint on a Chromebook?

In order to install Linux Mint on a Chromebook, you first need a USB thumb drive with at least a 2GB capacity. This will serve as a bootable Linux drive. If you need extra storage, search for a USB 3.0 thumb drive or an SD card.

Before making any changes to your Chromebook, make sure to back up all your data to your Google Drive. Once done, follow the instructions below:

Step 1: Change the Chromebook’s BIOS

With your Chromebook turned off, hold down the ESC and Refresh button. Then, press the power button once to turn it on. Now, press CTRL + D and modify the BIOS when the prompt appears.

Once done, bring up a terminal window tab by pressing CTRL + ALT + T. Follow the on-screen instructions and click on Enable Developer Mode.

Step 2: Begin Installation by Booting into the Linux Mint OS

Insert the USB 3.0 or SD card into your device. Then, launch the Chromebook at the developer screen and press Ctrl + L. From here, you’ll reach the BIOS screen you’ve modified. From the Linux Mint drive, choose ‘boot’ then ‘start Linux Mint’.

Once you reach the main desktop, double click the Install Linux Mint icon. Make sure you’re connected to the internet, or it won’t download properly.

Follow the prompts shown on the screen until a window that says ‘Installation Type’ appears. Click ‘Agree to Install 3rd Party Software’ and proceed with the next step.

Step 3: Final Touches

On the ‘Installation Type’ window, select ‘New Partition Table’. This will wipe all existing Chrome OS partitions. Then, add the 4GB swap partition and turn the rest into a root partition.

Using the + and – buttons, locate the drive you’ve added and add it to the home partition. Doing so adds extra storage space for your files for the Linux system.

The rest of the installation process is pretty straightforward. Simply follow the on-screen prompts until you reach the end.

When it’s time to restart your Chromebook, press CTRL + L and it’ll go directly onto the Linux Mint browser. And that’s it! You’ve now changed your Chrome OS into a Linux OS.

Conclusion

Linux Mint has been around since 2006. Since then, it’s matured into a user-friendly operating system. Compared to Ubuntu, workflow on Linux Mint is faster and it’s easier to use. Performance is faster and lighter than Ubuntu. It works right out of the box with full media support. It also requires little maintenance; unlike Windows you really don’t have to worry about supporting it with antivirus and anti-spyware software. Linux Mint has a conservative approach to software updates and a unique Update Manager. But you will need a reasonably capable laptop with fairly up-to-date hardware to run Linux Mint effectively.