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By Willow (willowashmaple.xyz)

Caution if you're a Chromebook Linux user

Feb. 16, 2024 (Updated March 3, 2024)

If you are like me, budget-conscious computing options lead to Linux. In the past, Linux often meant used or refurbished computers. In fact, I still have a Toshiba laptop from 2009 that runs on Bodhi Linux. But older hardware is slow no matter what. So I purchased an ASUS Chromebook a couple of years ago when I found out that Google has officially supported Debian in the form of a built-in virtual machine since 2019 (hence no need for Crouton). This makes Chromebook the most popular Linux computer for the general consumer market!

So far, it has been good. I can do almost everything that I do on a computer (although for some reason I cannot run Bleachbit). + EDIT: I can now. See below.

Recently, Google updated the official Linux distro for Chromebooks to Debian 12 "Bookworm." You may have already seen a pop-up notification saying "Linux update is available." Be careful with this!

The Linux update allows the OS to be upgraded from Debian 11 "Bullseye" to Debian 12 while keeping all files, configurations, and installed software. Other distros such as Ubuntu have had this for some years. While Google makes it look easy and claims that the update can be done in 30 minutes, in reality, this isn't a very good idea for a Chromebook since it does not typically come with a large disk space. A successful in-place distro upgrade requires about 100GiB of free disk space. This is in addition to a space to save backup (Chromebook will automatically do this unless you opt-out, which saves a "Linux image" file with a .tini suffix).

Alas, mine does not have that big of disk space (35GiB with 25GiB allocated to the virtual machine) so the upgrade failed and irreparably corrupted the VM. The saving grace was that I have made a habit of saving my files and downloads on a MicroSD card (it shows under /mnt/chromeos/removable but I made a symlink so it looks like a directory under the home directory) so the damage was minimal. I simply deleted the VM and recreated a VM, which then clean-installed Debian Bookworm. O f course this means I had to spend hours reinstalling software but it also got rid of a lot of junk files that accumulated over time.

How to run Bleachbit on Chromebook Debian (Crostini)

- Install bleachbit from Debian repo: sudo apt install bleachbit

- In the terminal type "xhost + local:" (without the quote marks, and be sure to end with a colon), hit return. This resolves the "No protocol specified" error while running bleachbit in sudo, thus allowing Bleachbit to clean system files (such as unwanted localizations).

- Unlike in a typical Linux installation, you will need to run Bleachbit twice: once with "sudo" and one more time without "sudo". Running "sudo bleachbit" will clean system junks. Running "bleachbit" (without sudo) cleans junks inside the your tilde directory (or /home/you) such as browser caches.

Bleachbit uses GTK+, and this is an issue with several GTK+ based software running on Crostini. "xhost + local:" generally solves the problem. For security reasons do not just do "xhost +" -- you have to do "xhost + local:".


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