In a previous post, I talked about my love for Chrome OS and Chromebooks in general. This past week, I completed my move onto 100% Chrome OS for my self-publishing pipeline. The last barrier to doing this was a reliable and controllable way to generate .mobi files for Amazon’s Kindle platform. The feature isn’t generally available just yet, but if you’re interested in doing this, here’s a brief tutorial on how to make it happen early!

  1. You need a supported Chromebook. Right now, it’s only on the Pixelbook. This is expected to change as support is expanded. Most likely, these instructions will stay the same for new supported devices.
  2. Switch to the DEV channel on your Chromebook:
    1. Go to Chrome’s Settings panel, hit the upper-left hamburger menu and choose “About Chrome OS” at the bottom.
    2. Click “Detailed build information”.
    3. Click the “CHANGE CHANNEL” button in the “Channel” item.
    4. Choose “Developer – Unstable” from the Channel dialog and confirm your choice.
    5. Back on the “About Chrome OS” panel, there will be a button to “RESTART” your Chromebook. Once it downloads the DEV channel update, it will restart.
    6. Doing this will NOT wipe your Chromebook 😀 So no worries there!
  3. Tell your Chromebook to enable the experimental feature:
    1. Navigate to this URL chrome://flags/#enable-experimental-crostini-ui
    2. Find the flag called “Experimental Crostini UI”
    3. Change the setting to the right of it from Default to Enabled
    4. Once again, you’ll have to restart your Chromebook
  4. Launch the Linux environment:
    1. Go into Chrome Settings
    2. There should be a “Linux (Beta)”section. Turn it on. It will do a download, then launch a terminal window. This is your new full Linux terminal!
  5. Install and run Calibre. Calibre’s website recommends a direct download and install, so we’ll do that.
    1. You’ll need the “wget” utility first. To install it, type:
      sudo apt-get install wget
    2. Calibre’s website has a command line to do its installation, but I found it didn’t work perfectly. Here’s one that worked for me:
      sudo wget -nv -O- https://download.calibre-ebook.com/linux-installer.sh | sudo sh /dev/stdin
    3. A bunch of stuff will download and install. When it’s finished, you can run it by simply typing calibre on the command line
    4. Calibre should make an application window, and you’re good to go!

In order to make files accessible to Linux applications (at least for now), there’s a new item in Chrome’s file browser called “Linux”. It shows up next to the “Downloads” and “Drive” entries. You can drag and drop your files there, and they will end up in the default directory that your Linux apps can access. This part is a little clunky, and I expect that it will change in the future for a smoother user experience.

Kudos to the Linux-on-Chrome OS team — this is a great feature. As someone who went from Windows to desktop Linux to Mac then to Chrome OS, this is an exciting development.

Cheers

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

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