Gaming on a Chromebook – Just Add Steam

A few years ago I picked up an Acer C710 Chromebook for barely $200. It was great for taking to a cafe and checking email, or going on youtube, without lugging around a 15 inch laptop. But I quickly found out there wasn’t much else to do with it but that.

No one buys a chromebook to game on it, and naturally there are definitely more suited chromebooks then the 1.1Ghz, 2 Gb of Ram C710, but I like a challenge.

First off Disclaimer: This worked for me, but this is using electronic equipment for uses other than it was intended. By following this you agree that if this causes any issues, I can’t be held responsible, go forward at your own risk.

Installing Linux – Let’s Get Happy Feet Dancing


The first step was to get Linux running on it. You need to have your Chromebook in developer mode as well as it’s not a bad idea to backup Chrome OS in case you run into a problem. You’ll need to search online for the instructions for your specific chromebook model.

Once you have that you are ready to install Ubuntu! There are a few ways to do this, through either installing Chrubuntu or downloading and running the Crouton install script. I had gotten Chrubuntu running before, but Crouton is more versatile as it lets you switch between ChromeOS and Linux, and I found you didn’t sacrifice much performance either.

The up to date install instructions can be found over here with all of the options that you can add to your distro (such as touch support and encryption etc…). I’m installing this as of June 2015. First you want to open the terminal in Chrome by typing Ctrl + Alt + T, then type in shell to get into the shell environment.

Screenshot 2015-06-06 at 12.58.09

Choose your Distro – Every flavor of Ice Cream

In terms of distros, 12.04 is the lightest distro that I found worked, but since it’s been almost 3 years old now, I started running into some problems with it, so I recommend using 14.04. That said though, I recommend using the XFCE environment as Unity is bloated and slow. I found 14.04 is still pretty quick unless I start doing too much at once.

You can see all of the supported distros by typing in:

sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r list

Screenshot 2015-06-05 at 20.33.30

You can pick from Debian, Kali and Ubuntu releases, although I can only speak for the Ubuntu precise and trusty. Now to install Ubuntu. Select which distro you want and which options you want to add. You can see the configuration I grabbed below.

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty – t xfce

Screenshot 2015-06-05 at 20.35.01Follow the instructions and it will download and install the linux distro. It may take a while so go grab a coffee or watch an episode of Archer or something.

Gentlemen, Start Your Linux Boxes

After Crouton finishes downloading and installing, you can start linux by typing:

sudo startxfce4.

Linux will boot up and you’ll quickly realise xfce is somewhat of the base model. You’ll have to install what you need on your own. That usually includes extras. I usually install the following:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

Make sure that you have Ubuntu Software Center installed also.

sudo apt-get install software-center

Once you’ve updated all of the packages you need, you can install and run Steam.

Let’s Add Some Steam


Actually installing steam is porbably the simplest part of this process. Last I checked it isn’t available for direct download from ubuntu’s software center, so to get steam, simply download it from Valve’s website.

Screenshot - 060515 - 23_11_29

This will download a *.deb file. Open it and it should install through Ubuntu Software Center.

Screenshot - 060515 - 23_13_27Steam will be placed under your ‘Games’ folder in the menu. When you launch steam for the first time it will install some libraries that it will need to run. This doesn’t take too long. After it will update as it does on PC and then you can log-in.

Screenshot - 060515 - 23_14_35

Screenshot - 060515 - 23_17_24

And then Voila! Steam ala Chromebook

Screenshot - 060515 - 23_24_15

But Does It Run Crysis.

No, This actually had a hard time running CS:Source from almost 10 years ago. What can it run? Out of the box with zero tinkering, I had Super Meat Boy, FTL and Duke Nukem working really well with 0 lag. Limbo started up but it would freeze for some reason, I’ll need to look into that one.



Next Steps

Do you have games that run on your chromebook? Are there games you want to see working on one? Let me know in the comments.


4 responses to “Gaming on a Chromebook – Just Add Steam

  1. Pingback: Monogame Tutorial 1 – Setting Up Monogame | RTD2·

  2. Pingback: Setting Up Monogame | Virtex Edge Design·

  3. Pingback: Setting Up Monogame In Linux | Virtex Edge Design·

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