As crazy as it may sound, it has been more than four years since we unearthed the container project that would eventually be responsible for bringing Linux to Chromebooks. It has also given us new tools such as Windows on Chrome OS thanks to the efforts of Parallels. When Google first announced Linux on Chromebooks and the ability to leverage the integrated GPUs on Chrome OS devices, my thoughts immediately went to video editing.
Now, we still have a ways to go before a Chromebook is going to be a full-fledged video editing station but Chrome OS has come a long way in a very short amount of time. Even now, you can use Crostini to install a variety of very popular Linux-based video editors and some of them are actually viable if you need one in a pinch. In my tinkering, I have tried Shotcut, Kdenlive, and more recently, OpenShot which actually updated its software to officially support Linux on Chrome OS.
My BHAG (Big, hairy, audacious goal) is to eventually get Davinci Resolve up and running on a Chromebook. The powerhouse FinalCut alternative supports using Tiger Lake CPUs with Iris Xe graphics but unfortunately, it can’t seem to recognize the GPU on 11th Gen Intel-based Chromebooks. Hopefully, that will change in the near future. Even then, Iris Xe graphics won’t be optimal for running a beefy editing software like Davinci Resolve but it could be the bedrock for future devices with more powerful GPUs and even standalone graphics cards. Anyway, I’m dreaming out loud. Back to the story.
In my Linux travels, I have attempted on many occasions to install the very popular Lightworks video editor. Lightworks offers a professional-level editor that is robust and available across a number of platforms including Linux. Sadly, my attempts to install it on Chrome OS have failed due to a missing dependency that isn’t readily available in the Debian Buster repository that is used for Linux on Chromebooks. You can download the Lightworks Debian package and try to install it but the installation fails because of the missing puzzle piece. That piece is the nvidia-cg-toolkit. What is it? Well, here’s a quick summary.
The Nvidia Cg Toolkit provides a compiler for the Cg language, runtime libraries for use with both leading graphics APIs, runtime libraries for CgFX, example applications, and extensive documentation. Supporting over 24 different OpenGL and DirectX profile targets, Cg will allow you to incorporate stunning interactive effects into your 3D applications.
Yeah, I don’t really understand it either. I don’t really do video editing apart from some web-based stuff. I just really want to see a professional editor working and working well on a Chromebook. So, I tinker. So, today I set my sites on getting Lightworks up and running and I am happy to report that I did just that. So, without any further ado, here are the steps to install Lightworks on a Linux-capable Chrome OS device.
Before we get started installing the program, we need to have a Lightworks account. Don’t worry. You can sign up for a free account on the Lightworks website here. The free account gives you access to a plethora of editing tools and is perfect for budding content creators that are just getting their feet wet with video editing. If you find it is a good fit, the Create plan runs a mere $9.99/month which is significantly cheaper than most of the popular web-based editors on the market. Okay, all signed up? Great. Now, we need to make sure that your Chromebook is set up and ready to use Linux apps. You can find out more about prepping your device here. There are a couple of ways to get your hands on the Lightworks Debian package. For this tutorial, we will install it from the terminal but you can always download it directly from your Lightworks dashboard if you want.
Before we get Lightworks, we will need to get our hands on the nvidia-cg-toolkit package. In order to do that, we will need to add the Bullseye main non-free repo. To do that, we must first install a text editor. My go-to for Linux is nano because it is lightweight and simple to use. To do this, simply open your Terminal app from your Chrome OS launcher and type or paste the following command, and hit enter. If prompted, hit “y” to complete the installation.
sudo apt install nano
Add new repository
Next, we will use nano to edit the sources.list file that contains the available repositories from where you can download packages. Type or paste the following command into your terminal and hit enter. This will open the text editor and you should see three lines of repos that are already on the list.
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
Once you have that file open, arrow down to the line beneath the last repository and paste the following line. After that, press Ctrl+X and “Y” to save the file. Now we have the new repository added and the nvidia-cg-toolkit package is available for Lightworks. You don’t need to install it yourself as we will install all of the necessary dependencies when we install the Lightworks package.
deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian bullseye main non-free
Download and install Lightworks
Now we can start the installation process for Lightworks. If you downloaded Lightworks for the website, you can now double-click the file and the installation process should begin. Alternatively, you can use the “wget” command and download Lightworks directly from the lwks CDN. To do so, run the following command in the terminal and wait for the download to finish.
Last but not least, run the following command and Lightworks will install with all the necessary dependencies. Once it is finished, you should be able to find the Lightworks app in your Chrome OS app launcher. You can also launch the editor from the terminal by typing lightworks and hitting enter. Bingo, bango. You can now log into the Lightworks editor with your credentials that you used to create your account.
sudo apt install -f ./lightworks_2022.1.1_r132185.deb
I poked around a bit and was actually able to import a six-and-a-half-minute video and do some editing. I added some moving text, did some color grading, and messed with the audio. Exporting the finished product worked perfectly and took around six minutes at 720p. If you know your way around Lightworks and give this a try, let me know your experience. I’d love to know if this would be a viable solution for someone wanting to make the switch to Chrome OS. Keep in mind, I’m using an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM. Older machines will likely struggle to run any editors really well.