Linux On An Old Chromebook

And a bonus default browser issue with Lubuntu

Even before my ancient Acer C720 Chromebook reached “End of Life” – i.e. no more updates from Mr. Google – I had installed GalliumOS to be able to run my Linux programs side by side with ChromeOS. Only change I had to make was to put in a larger SSD drive which turned out to be very easy. There are plenty of instructions on the web so I won’t go into details here. But GalliumOS has not been updated in some time and I was not booting into ChromeOS at all so I just wiped the whole thing and installed Lubuntu 22.04 on it. It’s lightweight and it works wonderfully out of the box. And once I figured out to set the keyboard layout to the generic “Chromebook” setting instead of PC Keyboard all the keys – volume, mute, screen brightness – work and sound works fine (a frequent problem running Linux on certain Chromebooks). I’m a happy camper. Old Chromebooks make great Linux laptops if you upgrade the SSD drive.

But one thing was driving me crazy. I use the Vivaldi Browser ( and NOT because I play Baroque music) and even though I set it be be default some links would open in Firefox. In fact, Vivaldi kept telling me it was NOT the default browser. Googling down several rabbit holes eventually led me to this solution which works! It’s a known bug HERE.

The solution involves editing a couple of config files and a couple of command lines. Here ’tis:

  1. Remove $BROWSER from the /etc/xdg/xdg-Lubuntu/lxqt/session.conf (delete the whole line)
  2. Remove $BROWSER from the $HOME/.config/lxqt/session.conf (delete the whole line)
  3. Get rid of the environment variable with unset BROWSER (just type that command)
  4. Follow these rules for switching browsers:
    • Do NOT use $BROWSER, which can be set as a “Default Application” or an “Environment Variable” in lxqt-config-session (“Session Settings”)
    • To switch between chromium, firefox, opera, etc. as default browsers, you can use the in-application mechanism – i.e. use the browser’s own “make default” settting.
    • For browsers without an in-application mechanism:
      1. Find the desktop file in /usr/share/applications associated with the browser, e.g. chromium-browser.desktop
      2. Run xdg-settings set default-web-browser browser.desktop

Hope this helps somebody. Fixed it for me.