How to switch ChromeOS to use Debian Bullsey

April 5, 2022 0 Comments

With Linux running on your Chromebook, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the latest version of Debian to avoid security vulnerabilities. Jack Wallen shows you how to move from Buster to Bullsey.

Photo: Debian

If you add Linux support to your Chromebook, chances are it’s not using the latest version of Debian (version 11.3, aka “Bullsey”). This release includes a number of important security and bug fixes, so you shouldn’t think twice about upgrading your Chromebook.

See: 40+ Open Source and Linux Terms You Need to Know (TechRepublic Premium)

But how? This is not a simple Debian release, where you can use a simple GUI tool or run a few simple commands to upgrade to the latest release. Given how Linux works on ChromeOS, it’s not that simple. And, more importantly, your Chromebook is still using Debian version 10.

Let’s fix this so you can enjoy Debian’s latest releases on your Chromebook.

What you will need

All you need is a Chromebook capable of Linux to do this. That’s it. Let’s get the upgrade.

How to set up ChromeOS to use Bullsey

The first thing we need to do is make sure that ChromeOS is set to use Debian 11. To do this, open Chrome on your Chromebook and point to:

chrome: // flags # crostini-container-install

This will open a new window with the Debian version in the new Crostini container listed at the top (Figure A)

Figure A

This is where we can select the version of Debian to use.
This is where we can select the version of Debian to use.

From the corresponding drop-down, Bullsey (Figure B)

Figure B

Selecting Bullseye as version of Debian for use with ChromeOS.
Selecting Bullseye as version of Debian for use with ChromeOS.

You will then be prompted to restart the device for the changes to take effect. Click Restart (Figure C) And wait for the device to reboot.

Figure C

Chromebook is restarting so that the changes take effect
Chromebook is restarting so that the changes take effect

After rebooting the machine, log in again and open the Linux Terminal window. Issue the following command to confirm that the changes have taken effect:

cat /etc/debian_version

You will see it listed as 11.3 (Figure d)

Figure d

My Linux version of ChromeOS is already in the latest version 7
My Linux version of ChromeOS is already in the latest version of Debian.

If you see version 11.0, 11.1, or 11.2, you must first update apt with:

sudo apt update

After that, upgrade all installed software:

sudo apt upgrade -y

After the upgrade, you should see the version listed as 11.3. In addition, you may need to remove any further packages with the command:

sudo apt auto-remove

Congratulations, your version of Linux on ChromeOS is now based on the recent release of Debian. Be sure to check regularly for upgrades so that you are not using outdated software (which may include security bugs). And when the new version of Debian (Bookworm) is released next year, switch to it as soon as it becomes available in ChromeOS so that Linux will continue to serve you well on your Chromebook.

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