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How to Use Libre Office on a Chromebook

Chromebooks are more powerful than you think. It’s no longer just a web browser anymore. It is also possible to run Linux programs, even Libre Office. This guide will show you how to use Libre Office on your Chromebook.

How to use Linux on your Chromebook

If your Chromebook supports it, you can run Linux applications on your Chromebook. This means enjoying Linux’s free, open-source software while using Chrome OS.

To enable Linux support on your Chromebook, do the following. First, click on the clock icon in the Chrome OS dash. When you select the clock icon, you’ll see various settings inside.

Click on the gear icon to launch the Chrome OS settings menu. Then, find the “Advanced” section. It is located above “About ChromeOS.” When you find the “Advanced” button, click on the drop-down arrow next to it. Selecting this option will reveal “advanced” Chrome OS options.

In the sidebar, select the “Developers” option. After you select it, click on “Linux development environment.” Next, choose the “Turn on” button with your mouse. When you select the “Turn on” button, Chrome OS will configure a Debian LXC container that you can use to run Linux apps on your Chromebook.

After Linux is set up on your Chromebook, open up the Chrome OS app menu, and launch “Terminal.” This program gives you command-line access to your container to install programs.

Inside the terminal, find “penguin.” This is the name of the default Debian LXC container in Chrome OS. Once you select “penguin,” the terminal will load a command-line interface. From here, run the commands below to update Debian.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade -y

You’re ready to use Linux on Chrome OS with everything up to date. Enjoy!

How to install Libre Office with Apt on Chrome OS

The easiest way a Chromebook user can get Libre Office up and running is by setting up Libre Office with Apt. Apt is the package manager for Debian, which is running on Chrome OS.

To interact with Debian, you must open up the Chrome OS terminal. Search for “Terminal” in the Chrome OS app menu. Once it is open, select “penguin” to access the command line.

After you’ve accessed the command line, you can install Libre Office on your Chromebook by entering the apt install command below.

sudo apt install libreoffice

Once the command above is entered, the Debian container will install the software. You do not need to enter a password, as Google configures the Debian LXC container to use passwordless sudo.

Install a more up-to-date version of Libre Office

If you’d like to get a more up-to-date version of Libre Office rather than the one included in Debian’s software repositories, you can download  Libre Office DEBs from the official website.

However, we highly suggest not downloading the DEB packages. Instead, follow the Flatpak installation instructions for Libre Office. Flatpak Libre Office is updated regularly and is easy to get working on Chrome OS.

How to install Libre Office with Flatpak on Chrome OS

If you want a more up-to-date version of Libre Office on Chrome OS, Flatpak is the best way to do it. To set up Flatpak on your Chromebook, start by opening up the terminal. Once it is open, select “penguin.”

After selecting “penguin,” use the apt install command to set up the “flatpak” package. This package contains everything you need to run Flatpak apps on Chrome OS.

sudo apt install flatpak

After installing the Flatpak package, set up the Flathub app store. You can enable this by using the following flatpak remote-add command.

flatpak --user remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

You will need to enable nested containers. To do this, press Ctrl + Alt + T. This command will open up Crosh, the Chrome OS developer shell. Next, enter the following commands to enable nested containers.

vmc start termina

lxc config set penguin security.nesting true


vmc stop termina

Once nested containers are enabled, you can install the latest release of Libre Office via the command line with the flatpak install command.

flatpak install flathub org.libreoffice.LibreOffice

Accessing LibreOffice on Chrome OS

Google configures the Debian Linux container to hook directly into Chrome OS and the Chrome OS app menu. This means once Libre Office is set up on your Chromebook, you can launch it right from the app menu. For example, to open up Libre Office Writer, access the Chrome OS app me”u, look for” Linux apps,” and select “Libre Office Writer.” 

All Libre Office apps are located in “Linux apps” in the Chrome OS menu. So enjoy your free, open-source office suite on your Chromebook!

1 Comment

  1. If you want a more up-to-date libreoffice than you’ll find in debians repo, why not use their backport repo? It’s quite up-to-date, and tested to work with devian.
    Chromebooks have very limited internal storage, so snaps are a waste of space if there’s another solution.

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