How to Graphically Manage Packages on a Chromebook With Synaptic


Adding or removing packages on the Chromebook Linux environment using Synaptic is much easier than using APT and the terminal.

While you can manage packages using APT on the command line in the Chromebook Linux environment, you may wonder if you can do so with a GUI front end. Fortunately, it’s easy to install and use Synaptic, a graphical wrapper for APT. There’s just one small tweak to make it work.

Installing Synaptic on a Chromebook

Synaptic is a graphical package manager that’s long been available for APT-based distros, especially Debian and Ubuntu. It’s easy to install in the Debian Chromebook environment:

 sudo apt install synaptic 

Enabling Access With xhost

You still need to make a small change to be able to install packages as root. For security reasons, the Chromebook Linux environment blocks graphical programs from making changes to the system as root by default.

You only have to issue one command to make it work, though. You can use the xhost command to enable root access to the Chromebook Linux environment:

 xhost + 

You’ll see the message, “access control disabled, clients can connect from any host.” You can now access Synaptic as root.

You’ll have to issue this command again if you restart your Chromebook or the Linux environment.

Managing Packages on Chromebook Graphically

It’s easy to manage packages with Synaptic once you’ve enabled root access. Just start Synaptic from the command line with:

 sudo synaptic 

Synaptic is a graphical APT-based package manager that provides much of the functionality of the apt command-line program. One reason you might want to use Synaptic over APT is that the former is better suited to browsing through available packages. The left-hand column lets you browse through package categories, ranging from games to programming tools.

Synaptic running in the Chromebook Linux environment

You can switch the views of the packages by selecting the buttons on the lower left-hand side. To see which packages are installed, select “Status“. You can then see the packages that are installed or not installed.

synaptic chromebook search packages

To search for packages, go to Edit > Search and you’ll get a search window. By default, Synaptic will look at the package name and descriptions, but you can change this in the “Look in” drop-down list. You can search for maintainers, dependencies, package versions, and provided packages.

All of these capabilities make Synaptic a powerful complement to APT when you don’t know exactly what you want to install.

Now You Can Manage Chromebook Linux Packages With Synaptic

You’re not limited to the command-line apt and apt-get package management utilities in the Chromebook Linux environment. With Synaptic, you have a powerful package browsing and search environment.

Package management can seem like a confusing topic but it’s easy to understand once you know about all the major Linux package managers.


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