Linux has traditionally been for the rebels and the adventurous. These are users who want to sever ties with big corporations like Microsoft, Google, and Apple. They go at it alone, or with a community of developers they trust.
It is, therefore, interesting to note how much these big corporations are trying to rope in this community of renegades back to their platform. Microsoft, with Windows 10, introduced Linux support, and Google did the same thing with Project Crostini, which brought Linux support to Chromebooks.
Speaking of Chromebooks, it has been a little over two years now since Project Crostini was introduced. If you are like me, then you do appreciate Chromebooks for their budget, power, battery life, and general portability.
You pay less for a Chromebook for the same amount of battery life, general computing power, and portability compared to a PC and a Mac computer. The fact that these days you can accomplish a lot while offline only serves to strengthen my preference for these machines.
In the two years of Project Crostini, Linux’s presence on Chromebooks has improved by leaps and bounds. I can confidently say there are a handful of Linux apps, which run flawlessly on Chromebook. I will be focusing on apps that are not natively available on Android or run on the Web.
Without much further ado, let us delve into the best Linux apps that run flawlessly on Chromebooks:
GIMP is a stellar graphics editor, which comes in-built in various Linux distros and is also available across the platform on Windows and macOS. If you can’t afford the premium price that comes with using Adobe Photoshop, then GIMP is always the best next alternative; and it is free.
If you use a Chromebook, then there is absolutely no reason why you should miss out on this stellar graphics editor. As it now runs flawlessly (stable) on ChromeOS. GIMP experience on Chromebooks is set to improve once Linux launches hardware acceleration on ChromeOS, which is set to happen not far down the future.
To install GIMP on your Chromebook, open Terminal and type in sudo apt-get install gimp
When it comes to downloading stuff off the internet, IDM (Internet Download Manager) is a beast. Too bad it is only available on Windows. That means when you are on ChromeOS, the next best alternative – JDownloader – will have to suffice.
The good news is, JDownloader is not a downloader that you will have to tolerate. If anything, it gives IDM a run for its money. You can copy the YouTube URL of the video and paste it on JDownloader, and it will download the video flawlessly. If, for whatever reason, your computer gets cut off from the internet, whenever you reconnect, the downloads resume flawlessly.
The speed of download is also not that bad – yes, IDM is faster – and most people will be okay with it.
Personally, nothing underscores the importance of not having a monopoly in software business like Office applications. For years, Microsoft was the behemoth provider, and it charged (still charges) you quite a bit to use their Office Suite.
Thanks to competition from Google and Libre Office, among others. You, as a user, are spoilt for choice when it comes to Office suite. Especially in as far as word processing and number crunching is concerned.
Libre Office has been the stellar Office Suite for Linux PCs users, and thanks to Project Crostini, it has been ported to the ChromeOS platform. On its own, you can do your word processing, number crunching, and presentations.
Additionally, you can work with other files created using Microsoft Office and Apple Office Suites. Libre Office supports a wide range of file formats. To install Libre Office on your Chromebook, open Terminal and type in sudo apt install libreoffice
If you want to edit some audio, there is absolutely no reason why you should ditch your Chromebook for a Mac or PC. Thanks to Project Crostini, the stellar audio editor – Audacity – is now available on ChromeOS and runs flawlessly.
By all rights, Audacity is a professional grade audio editor and comes complete with plugins, which lets you connect with additional sound equipment and programs. To install Audacity on your Chromebook computer, open Terminal and type in sudo apt-get install audacity.
Master PDF Editor
Adobe Acrobat is a powerful PDF editing tool, and it comes at a premium, but it is not available on ChromeOS. So, the next best alternative is the Master PDF Editor, a Linux app that has since been ported to Chromebooks.
With Master PDF Editor, you can encrypt, sign, split, modify, and annotate PDF documents on your Chromebook.
In my view, if you are a frequent torrent user, then Windows platforms is the one for you. It has the best torrent clients in the market. However, thanks to Project Crostini, Chromebook users also have a stable torrent client, qBittorent.
To install qBittorent, open Terminal and execute the following command: sudo apt-get install qbittorent.
You can get the popular email client Thunderbird now to run natively on your Chromebook computers. Backed by the Mozilla Foundation, Thunderbird is an open-source and secure email client that comes complete with calendar, tasks, and reminders integration. To install Thunderbird on your Chromebook computer, open Terminal and enter the following command: sudo apt-get install thunderbird.
Thus far, we have established that a graphic editor can still work with a Chromebook to come up with professionally designed content. In addition to the GIMP mentioned above, graphic editors can also install Inkscape on their ChromeOS devices.
It is a professional program for creating illustrations and vector graphics, and some say it gives Adobe Illustrator a run for its money. However, the user experience on ChromeOS takes a beating from the fact that the program is quite resources-hungry, and Chromebook still lacks hardware acceleration support as of now.
If you would like to install Inkscape on your Chromebook computer, open Terminal and execute the following command: sudo apt-get install inkscape.
Experienced users of Kdenlive on Chromebook say the experience improves once you enable the following flag:
You run the above flag once you have installed Kdenlive and found the experience somewhat filled with freezing and lagging. To install the application, open Terminal and execute the following command: sudo apt-get install kdenlive
Kolourpaint has been hailed as the best Linux app to run on ChromeOS, judging by how flawless it runs on the platform. It works very much like the MS Paint you find on Windows PCs and leaves out very little to be desired, if at all.
It even outpaces MS Paint with extra features including free-form selection, skew diagram, scale by image portion, and monochrome effect, among others. You can also create and edit images in bulk with absolutely no lags.
To install Kolourpaint on Chromebook, open Terminal, and execute the command: sudo apt-get install kolourpaint.
The above are some of the best Linux apps you can run on Chromebook with little to no problem. The experience is set to improve once ChromeOS rolls out support for hardware acceleration, which people in the know say will happen very soon.
So, if you want to buy a new computer on a budget, one that has long battery life, light-weight and with touch-screen support. A Chromebook computer will be a good pick, especially given the fact it also supports many Linux apps (desktop-apps), most of which are free.