X Windows apps in Crostini on a Chromebook

Aug 7 · 2 min read
X Windows xeyes running in a Google Crostini Debian Linux container on a Chromebook

I recently bought a second Chromebook and turned on the option to run Google’s Crostini which gives the ability to run Debian Linux in a container on the Chromebook. I wondered if it is possible to run X Windows applications on it and expected to have to go through some arduous process of installing some kind of compatibility software with some arcane configuration process.

However, after reading…

“Can I run X programs?

Yes, although you might run into some compatibility kinks, and it probably will never be as perfect as running a traditional X server. However, with the wider community moving to Wayland, it should be good enough.

Sommelier takes care of launching XWayland, acting as the WM, and otherwise translating X and Wayland requests between Chrome and the Xprograms.”

…it seemed like there shouldn’t be any installation or configuration necessary. So, I tried installing xeyes using…

sudo apt install xeyes

…and received a helpful error message instructing me to try…

sudo apt install x11-apps

…instead. And, yep, this package included xeyes as well as the usual assortment of X Windows applications you may recall from 20+ years ago.

One thing to note while watching my shaky-cam video (sorry about that) is that the “eyes” only follow the mouse cursor when the cursor is instead of the xeyes app window. On a conventional X Windows desktop, the eyes would follow the mouse cursor anywhere on the desktop. This is, however, understandable in this environment.

In any case, I was thrilled to learn that it is a simple matter to run X applications on a Chromebook in a Crostini Debian Linux container.


Written by

Editor MobileViews. ExtremeTech 2015–2016. BYTE 2011–2013. Windows Phone MVP 2000-2011. ThinkMobile/SocialTimes Mobile blogger 2008-2011


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