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Yesterday I wrote about installing Ubuntu on your Chromebook using Crouton. However, Crouton only installs a few apps so here's what you should install on your new Ubuntu installation running on top of Chrome OS and a few thing that you may want to fix, like the brightness and volume keys or how to get Ubuntu Software Center to work.

Note: Below I'll only cover Unity and Xfce but there are some generic tips as well.


1. Install extra applications


Ubuntu installed using Crouton ships with just a few apps (file manager, Xterm and a couple more) so let's install some extra applications.

For Unity, I recommend installing gnome-terminal, file-roller and Gedit. Open Xterm and install them using the following commands:
sudo apt-get install gnome-terminal file-roller gedit

For Xfce, you'll want a text editor (leafpad) and a music player (I recommend Audacious):
sudo apt-get install leafpad audacious

And for both Xfce and Unity, you'll probably want to install bash completion, a video player (VLC), ubuntu-restricted-extras as well as the Ubuntu Font, Ubuntu Software Center which you can later use to install many other applications and Synaptic (in case USC doesn't work for you):
sudo apt-get install bash-completion vlc ubuntu-restricted-extras ttf-ubuntu-font-family software-center synaptic


Important note: don't launch Ubuntu Software Center from the menu / Dash. You must run it with "gksu" - either edit its desktop file or simply open a terminal and type:
gksu software-center
If you don't do this, Ubuntu Software Center will start, but you won't be able to install any applications using it. The application screenshots in USC don't seem to work though.

If you're using an ARM Chromebook, note that not all applications support ARM. You can install GIMP, LibreOffice and so on but you won't be able to install Skype or Steam for example.


2. Updating the chroot


Ubuntu may stop working after a Chrome OS update. If that's the case, update all the installed targets using the following command (in Chrome OS, open a terminal using Ctrl + Alt + T, then type "shell"):
sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -u -n chrootname
Where "chrootname" is the name of the chroot you want to update. The default chrootname is the codename for the Ubuntu version you've installed (regardless of the desktop environment you've installed). For example, if you've installed Ubuntu 12.04 Precise, the default chrootname is "precise".


3. Xfce tweaks


On Xfce, I suggest changing the GTK/icon theme and enabling font anti-aliasing because the defaults are kind of ugly. You should also remove Xscreensaver as it causes issues.

Before:


After:



To fix the font, open Settings Manager > Appearance, on the "Fonts" tab check the "Enable anti-aliasing" box and under "hinting", select "slight":


You may also want to change to the Ubuntu Font which you've installed if you've followed all the steps in our previous article. If you didn't install it already, use:
sudo apt-get install ttf-ubuntu-font-family

To change the GTK theme (tested on Ubuntu 13.10 and 14.04, Numix may not be available for older releases):
  • Settings Manager > Appearance > Style: select Numix or Greybird;
  • Settings Manager > Window Manager > Style: select Numix or Greybird.

Install the Xubuntu icon theme (in the Xfce4 terminal):
sudo apt-get install xubuntu-icon-theme

To change the icon theme (default is Tango): Setting Manager > Appearance > Icons: select Elementary Xfce dark.

To remove XScreensaver which causes some issues, use the following command (in the Xfce4 terminal):
sudo apt-get purge xscreensaver

Update for Xfce under Ubuntu 14.04: Whisker Menu, a cool menu for Xfce which is now used by default in Xubuntu, is available in the official repositories (and thus, is available for ARM too) so I recommend you install it. Also, the Xfce4 Panel has support for Unity AppIndicators so I recommend you install this plugin as well and the Sound Menu indicator. Here's a screenshot with Whisker Menu and the Sound Indicator:


To install both, use the commands below:
sudo apt-get install xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin xfce4-indicator-plugin
sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends indicator-sound
Once installed, right click the Xfce Panel (or simply select Panel from the Xfce Settings), select Panel > Add New Items, then select "Whisker Menu" and click "Add", then do the same for the "Indicator Plugin". You can re-arrange the items from the panel preferences, on the Items tab:


Also, I also recommend removing the Action Buttons plugin since the logout / shutdown, etc. options are now available in the Whisker Menu.



4. Fix brightness and volume keys


By default, the brightness and volume keys don't work. To fix them, you can install the "keyboard" target. Exit Ubuntu, open the Chrome OS terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T, then type "shell" and then use the command below:
sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -r ubuntuversion -t keyboard -u
Where "ubuntuversion" is the Ubuntu version you've installed ("precise", "trusty", etc.)

This will add the "keyboard" target to the existing chroot.

Then, start Ubuntu and use:
  • Search key + volume keys to change the volume;
  • Search key + brightness keys to change the brightness.

For me (on HP Chromebook 11), the volume keys worked but the brightness keys didn't work properly under Unity (both volume and brightness keys worked under Xfce).

If this occurs for you too, there's another tweak you can use. Crouton installs a brightness script you can use to change the brightness. You can do this either via a terminal:

-increase the brightness:
brightness up
-decrease the brightness:
brightness down


Or you can assign keyboard shortcuts for the two commands mentioned above: System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts tab > Custom Shortcuts: click "+" and:
  • for increasing the brightness: under "Name" enter "Brightness Up" and under command: "brightness up";
  • for decreasing the brightness (click "+" again): under "Name" enter "Brightness Down" and under command, use: "brightness down".
Then, assign these custom shortcuts the brightness keys (you can directly assign the brightness keys or use Search key + brightness keys, so it's consistent with the volume keys).

Important: if you're using an ARM Chromebook, please note that most Launchpad PPAs won't work. That's because by default, Launchpad PPAs don't support ARM and only a few currently built ARM packages (a special permission is required to build ARM packages on Launchpad).

For more tips, see Crouton's GitHub readme | wiki.
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