Browsers Linux

Get A Chrome OS Look With The Budgie Desktop For Linux

Danny Stieben 11-08-2014

You can’t ever have enough desktop environments for Linux systems The 12 Best Linux Desktop Environments Choosing a Linux desktop environment can be difficult. Here are the best Linux desktop environments to consider. Read More ! For each new desktop environment, there’s another choice for users that may suit their needs and preferences better than any other solution.


The relatively new Budgie desktop environment has recently appeared and is finally easy to install under Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. Let’s take a look at its design and features.

About Budgie Desktop

If you think Budgie desktop looks a lot like Chrome OS, the operating system found on Chromebooks, it’s not just you. This is completely intentional — the Linux distribution that this desktop environment is being developed for, Evolve OS, is trying to look a lot like the operating system that is becoming familiar very quickly among households, schools, and corporations.

And this isn’t necessarily trying to be a copy cat — it actually satisfies a very valid need. Chrome OS, while awesome, is only available for actual Chromebooks. In other words, you can’t just take your own computer and put Chrome OS on it to turn it into your very own Chromebook. The Chromium OS project does exist, and there have been other projects that have tried to take Chromium OS and package it Use Chrome OS On Unsupported Computers With Chromium OS Lime Like this idea of Chrome OS, but don't want to fork out money for a ChromeBook? Good news! Chromium Lime brings the Chrome OS experience to a huge number of laptops and netbooks, thanks to... Read More in a way that turns it into the “Chrome OS for every computer”. But they came and went, because it’s not very easy to accomplish.

So, instead of trying to take the actual Chrome/Chromium OS and adapting it for use to other computers, Evolve OS tries to take traditional desktop Linux distros and make it look like Chrome OS. With the Chrome browser installed, it can very much act like a Chromebook, but at the same time it still has the power of a full Linux installation where you can also run more apps offline than you can with Chrome OS.

That being said, the Budgie desktop environment is highly influenced by the Chrome OS desktop environment and has followed the design very closely. That means that you’ll get to enjoy the very noticeable minimalism, giving you less interruption from the desktop environment and more focus on the content that’s in front of you.


Of course, there have been some slight modifications made so that it can still function like the full-fledged desktop Linux distro that it is. The primary difference in this regard is that the menu will launch the typical categories of applications, rather than a listing of Chrome apps that are installed. However, the latest versions of Chrome for Linux will add a category to this list of apps called “Chrome Apps”, so you’ll still get access to your Chrome apps through this menu, virtually the same way as you would in Chrome OS. It’s simple, it’s straightforward, it’s familiar, and it works.


The Budgie desktop is pretty low on features right now. Besides the very simplistic interface that’s front and center, a lot of the other features are based around Gnome’s features, including the Nautilus file browser (which we’ve compared to others before Which Linux File Browser Is More Productive: Nautilus or Dolphin? Wsers of competing desktop environments will notice that they're using different file managers -- an important part of desktop productivity. Surprisingly, there are a lot of things that can go right or wrong with a... Read More ) and the Gnome Control Center for the system settings. However, it all looks great and is functional. One caveat is that not everything is there yet in terms of features. Why? Keep reading.


If this is right up your alley, it sounds like a perfect desktop environment, right? Quite possibly, but it’s not for everyone at this moment. While there’s an increasing amount of hype around this desktop environment, it’s still in the pretty early stages of development. It’s come far enough that a lot of features are in place, but it still has a few to add and a ton of stability fixes left. The desktop environment also has various requirements that some distributions use, but others (like Ubuntu) don’t. It will take some time before it’s fully featured, stable, and easily available on your favorite distribution.

Try It Out

There are a few ways you can try the Budgie desktop. The best way to test it (especially without potentially messing up your system) is to download a copy of its “home” distribution, Evolve OS, and boot from a USB drive with it Linux Live USB Creator: Easily Boot Linux From Your Flash Drive Read More , or run it in a virtual machine. If you decide to install it to a testing machine or in your virtual machine, the always-important command to use for updating the system is sudo pisi up.


There are also unofficial repositories for Ubuntu, Arch Linux, openSUSE, and Fedora, as well as a tarball of files for all other distributions if you’re up to the challenge of installing that. For distributions with unofficial repositories, you should be able to add the repo, update your package lists, and then choose to install the metapackage which will pull in all other dependencies.

Ubuntu users can run the command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sukso96100/budgie-desktop && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install budgie-desktop

This will add the needed repository, update your package lists, and install the desktop environment. For other distributions, check the instructions for your specific distribution for exact instructions. Once it’s installed, you can log out and choose the different desktop environment at the login screen.


How Will Budgie Fare?

I’m excited to see how this desktop environment will look once it reaches stable status and how well it will be adopted by Linux users, especially those who have installed Linux on a Chromebook How to Install Linux on a Chromebook Here's how to install Linux on your Chromebook so you can start using other apps like Skype, VLC Media Player, and more! Read More . I’m pretty optimistic about its future since it does fill a need that has existed since Chromebooks were created. If you’re interested in it, go take a look at it and see if it’s something for you.

What upcoming desktop environments are you fond of? Do you think we have too many desktop environments or not enough? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Moofus
    April 9, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Yeah! Go Budgie! When this thing's stable, I will be installing it on a lot of netbooks here at Northwood! looks a lot like the awesome Chrome OS and so will be easy for windows or chrome users to use. Although, how does the speed compare with XFCE and others?

  2. James Welbes
    December 3, 2014 at 2:55 am

    I'm running trusty xfce on my Chromebox, and I installed this budgie thing, but when it says "log off and choose the new desktop at he login screen" I'm not sure how to do that. If I select log off, it just sends me back to Chrome OS. can I type something like sudo startbudgie-desktop or something instead of sudo startxfce4 ?

  3. cacarr
    November 27, 2014 at 8:11 am

    "Besides the very simplistic interface

    Is it _too_ simple? If not, the word you're looking for is "simple," not "simplistic."

  4. Dave
    November 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    this works only for x64

  5. dragonmouth
    August 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Why does Linux be the "copy cat O/S"??? Isn't Linux good enough to develop its own identity and look? For years Linux developers have been trying to make Linux look and work like Windows. Now everybody is going to rush to make it look like Chrome. Does the Linux community feel so insecure about its O/S that it feels the need to dress it up as some other O/S before it is accepted?!

    • Ikey Doherty
      August 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      Linux isn't an operating system, its a kernel. Evolve OS is a GNU/Linux based operating system. As for "copy cat" its simply the default look, providing something that people want.
      As for it being "accepted" - meh. It will stand on its own credit, without the need for forcing acceptance. Remember this is a FOSS project, not a _commerical product_.
      There is no need for a forced acceptance.
      Budgie is actually on its way to becoming extremely customisable, with the panel layout options already in git, and a panel preferences/editor coming in the next few days.
      With this you can have your panel however you want.
      Also note that theming support will be improved, so you can make it look however you want.. Given the obvious fact there is a distinct lack of themes for Budgie, I'm also introducing a GNOME panel theme compatibility option.
      In short, if you activate it, your panel will be themed *exactly* the same way as gnome-panel would be. This is for those preferring the more traditional, and in combination with the new applets I'm adding will also be quite convincing.
      The point here is that customisation is key, and the power is left with the user to decide on how their desktop should behave and look.
      I see no crime in this. :)

    • Col. Panek
      August 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      The point is, you can "dress it up" for your ex-Windows or Apple users so they aren't overwhelmed and feel comfortable. OR you can pick one of the other available desktops and window managers like KDE, Enlightenment, Unity ...there's a bunch of them.

      This is the flip side of the other common complaint about Linux: there's "too much choice". Sigh.

    • Wiegraf
      August 12, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Try GNOME Shell or Unity, or heck even Enlightenment or a tiling WM. They aren't at all like Windows or OSX. This isn't really a major concern for Linux...and I might add that Chrome OS technically IS a Linux so...

    • T
      August 12, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      Some Linux Distros are similar to ChromeOS, others are similar to Windows, some similar to MacOS X, Some Android, Some iOS and a great many others like none of those. With Linux you have choices.

      With Microsoft's Windows 8 ModernUI, not so much. You take what they give you and you'll like it! Dangit!

  6. Adrian
    August 11, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks for that interesting article.

  7. Zack McCauley
    August 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Quit showing articles linking to topics that are far out of date.
    Chromium Lime was discontinued over a year ago.