Linux users love Chromebooks for one simple reason: they are incredibly inexpensive laptops with excellent hardware and long battery life.
In this list, we will go over the best Chromebooks to run Linux on.
Note: to run Linux on any of these Chromebooks, you must modify your Chromebook’s bootloader. Keep in mind that this may violate the warranty of the device.
What Linux OS should you use?
Due to the unique design of Chromebooks, not all Linux operating systems officially support it. Why? Chromebooks have non-standard keyboards with custom buttons, a locked-down BIOS, and unique hardware. If you plan to purchase a Chromebook to install Linux on, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that your choices with Linux operating systems are limited.
The best Linux operating system to use with a Chromebook is Gallium OS. It’s a Linux OS dedicated to bringing Ubuntu to Chrome devices, including Chromebooks. They work hard to bring over support for the hardware in Chrome devices, offer a Chromebook keyboard layout, and even bring functions to some of the individual keys found only on Chromebook keyboards.
If Gallium OS doesn’t do it for you, standard Ubuntu is also an excellent choice. It’s the most used desktop Linux operating system and receives tons of attention from the developer community as a result. You may even be able to find a PPA or two that offer up driver support for your Chromebook’s hardware.
What’s the best Chromebook for Linux?
In our research we have found these to be the best Chromebooks for Linux users.
Samsung Chromebook 3 is the third iteration of Samsung’s Chrome OS laptop line. The device came out in 2016 and is very inexpensive. It’s an excellent little device. It comes with an HD (1366×768) 11.6-inch screen, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, a 16 GB eMMC SSD, a quad-core Intel Atom x5-E8000 Processor clocked at 1.04 GHz, a 720p HD Webcam, Wi-Fi 802.11ac + BlueTooth 4.0, and a 2 Cell lithium-Ion battery.
Looking at the specs, the Samsung Chromebook 3 isn’t that impressive compared to some of the modern Google Chromebook offerings in 2020. However, when running Linux on a Chromebook, specs aren’t the only thing that matters. The device also has to have excellent support for Linux, and as it turns out, the Samsung Chromebook 3 is officially supported by Gallium OS and many other Linux operating systems.
In our testing, we found that despite its age, it manages to run all Linux distributions very well. Especially Gallium OS, which officially supports the device.
- The 11.6-inch screen makes it ultra-portable compared to other Chromebooks on the market.
- 1366×768 screen resolution is good enough to be HD, but not too high that it slows the performance of your PC when running Linux.
- 2 Cell, Lithium-Ion battery yields impressive battery life.
- It has an anti-reflective screen.
The Samsung Chromebook 3 has been around since 2016. As a result, the cost of it is significantly lower than even the most affordable Chromebooks out today. If you’re on a budget, look no further.
The ASUS C423NA Chromebook is 14 a 14-inch 1366 x 768 laptop. Under the hood, the C423NA has some impressive specs, like a powerful dual-core Intel Celeron CPU, 4 GBs of DDR4 RAM, and a 64 GB eMMC SSD. Additionally, the laptop offers up modern features like USB-C, an integrated webcam, support for 5GHz WiFi via the Intel 802.11b/g/n/ac wireless chip, support for Bluetooth 4.0, and many other features.
The ASUS C423NA is one of the most modern Chromebooks out today that enjoys stellar Linux support. In our testing, we found that the ASUS ASUS C423NA Chromebook 14 (2019) works excellently with most Linux operating systems with only minor issues due to the hardware being very new.
- Support for USB-C, as well as charging via USB-C.
- Unlike many other Chromebooks, this one has a massive 64 GB SSD, and the manufacturer doesn’t charge extra for it.
- DDR4 RAM means faster memory and more efficient power usage.
- It has support for 5 GHz WiFi networks.
The ASUS C423NA Chromebook 14 (2019) is priced at about what you’d expect for a Chromebook. It’s very affordable. And given what it offers up in terms of features (like USB-C, and 5GHz WiFi).
The ASUS Chromebook C300SA-DH02 is a relatively inexpensive Chrome OS-powered laptop created by the ASUSTEK corporation. The device was released in 2016. Despite its age, it offers up moderate specs in the form of an Intel Celeron dual-core CPU clocked at 1.6 GHz, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, fast 802.11ac WiFi support, 720p webcam, USB 3.0, an HDMI out port, an HD (1366×768) 13.3-inch screen, a 16 GB eMMC SSD, and much more.
The Asus Chromebook C300SA-DH02 is an excellent little device. It is fully supported by many Linux operating systems on the market, as the hardware in the device is standard laptop hardware and not ARM like some Chromebooks. It is moderately priced, but still much less expensive than many Windows 10 laptops available.
In our experience with the ASUS Chromebook C300SA, we found that it handled most Linux applications quite well and ran Gallium OS and even Ubuntu. We did run into trouble running out of space, as the SSD is only 16 GB, but this issue is easily fixed with an external USB drive or USB flash drive.
- It support for 5 GHz WiFi networks (A/C).
- Has an HDMI port, which means users can add on a second screen or use it with a projector.
- Dual-core CPU is clocked at 1.6 GHz, which is fast enough to multitask and open many different apps on Linux without much impact.
The ASUS Chromebook C300SA-DH02 is a couple of years old at this point. Due to the age of the Chromebook, the cost is incredibly affordable. If you’re in need of a good laptop to run Linux on with somewhat modern hardware, do check it out!
The Acer Chromebook 15 is an inexpensive Chrome OS-based laptop. It comes with a 15.6 inch HD touch screen, 4 GBs of LDDR4 RAM, and 32 GBs of storage via an eMMC SSD. The laptop also has support for USB-C and USB 3.0, 5Ghz WiFi via 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, DisplayPort output via USB-C, and much, much more. Under the hood, the Acer Chromebook 15 is powered by an Intel Celeron N3350, which isn’t the most powerful laptop CPU in the world. However, for a laptop, it manages to perform well thanks to the fast RAM and SSD.
The Acer Chromebook 15, like most other Acer Chromebook devices, plays nicely with Linux, and Gallium OS especially. While using it, we found that it runs great with most modern Linux operating systems, and due to its specifications, it can handle heavy multitasking and even some light gaming thanks to the stellar Intel integrated graphics, fast SSD and RAM!
- Supports DisplayPort output via USB-C.
- Full 1080p display.
- Support for modern 5GHz WiFI networks.
- Intel Celeron CPU can turbo-boost up to 2.5 GHz.
- Very fast LDDR4 RAM.
If you’re in the market for a Chromebook to run Linux on, the Acer Chromebook 15 is the Cadillac of inexpensive laptops. For the price, you’re getting excellent, high-speed DDR4 RAM, a decently sized SSD, two USB-C ports, USB 3.0 ports, a full 1080p HD screen, DisplayPort over USB-C, and a lot more. Check it out today!
Best Linux Chromebooks: Conclusion
In this list, we covered some of the best Chromebooks to install Linux on. However, there are dozens of Chromebooks out there that work well with Linux. What’s your favorite Chromebook to run Linux on? Tell us in the comment section below!