How to install LibreOffice for Linux on a Chromebook after downloading it as a tar.gz file

Last week, I showed how easy it is to install a Linux .deb file to a Chromebook, but as I noted, the process won’t work if the Linux app is downloaded as another type of file. Today, I’ll explain how to install a downloaded Linux app with a .tar.gz file extension; LibreOffice in this case.

I actually received an email about this specific file type over the weekend from reader, Eric:

Saw your link on how to install Linux apps on Chromebook, and it worked when I downloaded Steam’s .deb installer, but when I found LibreOffice .deb file (LibreOffice_6.3.5_Linux_x86-64_deb.tar.gz), it’s tagged with tar.gz which I guess I need to unpack before I can install it….

…do you know the command line command that I would need to use to install this? 

Technically, the LibreOffice download isn’t a .deb file. Yes, it does have “deb” in the file name but that’s simply an identifier to specify which Linux distro the build is for; Debian in this case.

Before the solution steps to install LibreOffice in this case (the same process generally applies to any .tar.gz file), a little background.

.tar indicates this is an archive of files and — this goes way back in computer history — was used for magnetic tape archives. Hence the “t” for tape and “ar” for archive. But that’s not all since there’s also a .gz extension. This means that the .tar file is compressed using GZip, which is a way to zip or compress files and folders.

History lesson aside, there’s a one line command in the Linux terminal on a Chromebook to uncompress and unpack a .tar.gz file.

You’ll first need to have the Linux file copied over to the Linux container on your Chromebook. So if you downloaded it in the Chrome OS browser, you need to drop and drag it from your Downloads to the Linux files location, using the Files app:

Once the file is copied, open up the Terminal app and type the “ls” command as shown below; this lists any folders or files in the current directory:

You can now see the LibreOffice installation file

Now that we have the file in the right place, it’s just one more command to unpack it.

Type “sudo tar -xf nameofthefile.tar.gz” to extract it; the -x is the extract option. Note that proper case matters here; the easiest way to avoid any typing errors for the filename is to type the first two or three, and then press the Tab key on your Chromebook keyboard. That will auto populate the rest of the file name.

Here’s what it looks like for LibreOffice:

Note that running this command above will unpack the LibreOffice folders and files in the current directory. If you want to unpack it to another folder, you have to add that folder path to the command. In my case, I’ll unpack it to /usr/local by using the “-C” option along with the location I want the files to be in, although you don’t have to do this.

Now that the LibreOffice files are unpacked, the package has to be installed.

There’s one more command needed in order to do this but you first have to go to the location of the folders and files that were unpacked. If you didn’t specify a location when unpacking, you skip this step; in my case, I need to navigate to the /usr/local directory as shown:

To view the contents of the LibreOffice folder, type “cd /LibreOffice_6.3.5.2_Linux_x86-64_deb/” as I did, followed by the “ls” command.

You should see two folders here; one called DEBS and one called readmes. Move into the DEBS folder by typing “cd /DEBS“. Finally, type the following command to install the LibreOffice package: “sudo dpkg -i *.deb“:

At this point, you’ll see a large number of file information as LibreOffice is installed. Be patient and once the installation is complete, you’re all set.

You should see the LibreOffice suite in your Chrome OS Launcher by searching as well:

Additionally, the desktop shortcuts will be in the Linux apps folder of the Chrome OS Launcher too.

While this may sound like a lengthy, complicated process, it really only takes a few minutes. I explained the process with a bit of verbosity, so don’t let the length of this post scare you away.

Also, there are other, easier methods to install LibreOffice and/or other Linux apps that use the Terminal command line much less, if at all. I’ll outline some of those methods in a future post.

9 thoughts on “How to install LibreOffice for Linux on a Chromebook after downloading it as a tar.gz file

  • February 24, 2020 at 8:24 pm
    Permalink

    Other way to install it, Open the terminal and run this command:
    sudo apt update && sudo apt install libreoffice

    after installed it will be at the Chrome OS Launcher.
    And you can right click on the Icon and make a shortcut to the Taskbar (Panel).

    Reply
    • February 24, 2020 at 9:28 pm
      Permalink

      With doing so, you will end up with (most likely) a version of LibreOffice 5.2 based on the current repositories. By using this method, you can download, easily install, and run the newest version of LibreOffice which is currently 6.4.

      Reply
      • February 25, 2020 at 8:42 am
        Permalink

        If you want the latest software use the Snap Store:
        https://snapcraft.io/libreoffice
        Enable snaps on Debian and install LibreOffice
        Snaps are applications packaged with all their dependencies to run on all popular Linux distributions from a single build. They update automatically and roll back gracefully.

        Snaps are discoverable and installable from the Snap Store, an app store with an audience of millions.

        Enable snapd
        On Debian 9 (Stretch), snap can be installed directly from the command line:

        sudo apt update
        sudo apt install snapd

        Install LibreOffice
        To install LibreOffice, simply use the following command:

        sudo snap install libreoffice

        It’s easy and works with all GNU/Linux Distros, including Google Chrome OS.

        Reply
  • February 25, 2020 at 6:27 am
    Permalink

    Most Linux Stores and Repositories houses very old version of the Linux Software’s which is very sad. Google should consider creating their own Linux Store Front which will have the latest version of all Linux software.

    Reply
  • February 25, 2020 at 7:01 am
    Permalink

    I think

    sudo apt install libreoffice libreoffice-gtk3

    makes libre look better on chrome os.

    Reply
  • February 25, 2020 at 8:43 am
    Permalink

    If you want the latest software use the Snap Store:
    https://snapcraft.io/libreoffice
    Enable snaps on Debian and install LibreOffice
    Snaps are applications packaged with all their dependencies to run on all popular Linux distributions from a single build. They update automatically and roll back gracefully.

    Snaps are discoverable and installable from the Snap Store, an app store with an audience of millions.

    Enable snapd
    On Debian 9 (Stretch), snap can be installed directly from the command line:

    sudo apt update
    sudo apt install snapd

    Install LibreOffice
    To install LibreOffice, simply use the following command:

    sudo snap install libreoffice

    It’s easy and works with all GNU/Linux Distros, including Google Chrome OS.

    Reply
  • March 6, 2020 at 3:29 pm
    Permalink

    Not sure why, but I can’t cd into the libreoffice directory. Don’t know why, typed it multiple times. Since I use Linux on my other computers, I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I can enter it in the files program, but that does not do me any good. It keeps saying no such file or directory, but I see it right there. Strange

    Steve

    Reply
    • March 6, 2020 at 3:33 pm
      Permalink

      I just noticed I can’t delete it in the files app either. Strange, the original file deleted no issue

      Steve

      Reply
      • March 6, 2020 at 4:44 pm
        Permalink

        And now I can’t delete the directory or files in the directory. Really confused over this, Seems I can’t do anything about or to the directory. Any ideas?

        Steve

        Reply

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