Over the past few days, instructions to install Debian Packages (.deb) files on ChromeOS via the Chrome OS File Manager have been floating around many major tech sites. I was originally not planning to cover this story as it was already covered so many times however I changed my mind after following the steps on these sites and was not successful. It turns out that they were missing a step – the .deb file needs to be placed in the “Linux Files” mount first. Here are the instructions:
Obtaining Debian Packages is quite easy, just be sure that you are downloading them from a reputable source. In this example, we are going to use the popular multi-protocol messaging application – Franz. You can learn more about it at https://meetfranz.com/ and when ready, download the “Ubuntu” version under “Linux”. Do not download the “AppImage”
Step 1) Download the “Ubuntu” version of Franz
Step 2) Launch the Chrome OS File Manager
Step 3) Navigate to “Downloads”
Step 4) Locate the “franz_5.0.0-beta.18_amd64.deb” debian package (The name may change based on version upgrades) and drag it into your “Linux Files”
Step 5) Right click on “franz_5.0.0-beta.18_amd64.deb” and select “Install with Linux (Beta)”, you will then be prompted to approve the installation.
Step 6) The installation may take a few moments and you will be presented with a progress bar to show the installation
Even with the GUI, I still personally prefer to use the command line method of installing applications via apt or dpkg as it is far easier to see what the installer is doing. One major advantage with Linux packages is that they have the ability to automatically resolve and install dependencies as needed – which in some cases could mean 300-2 GB of additional files that need to be downloaded. While my Pixelbook has a generous 250 GB of storage, some may have as little as 16 GB. You will not be able to see the size of all the dependencies when installing via the GUI as you do on the command line.