Back when times were simpler, Allo was our go-to chat platform here at Chrome Unboxed. We used it for personal and professional communication and Google Messages was our secondary app for those who weren’t aboard the Allo train. Then, our beloved chat app met an untimely demise at the hands of Google’s notoriously famous mannerisms when it comes to sunsetting stuff we love.
As we said farewell to Allo, the search began for a suitable chat replacement and we tried everything. Slack, Hangouts, regular old SMS and before finally landing on WhatsApp, we tested out Telegram for a bit. All-in-all, Telegram worked well and I know a lot of users are big fans. Unfortunately for Telegram, WhatsApp offered an experience so similar to Allo that we were quickly sold and abandoned our search in the hopes that RCS will eventually become the gold standard. We still use WhatsApp as our main line of communication and honestly, it’s just a great app all around.
That’s not to say that Telegram isn’t great and more than 200 million users can attest that it’s probably one of the best messaging platforms around. Some of the draws of the Telegram platform include end-to-end encryption for “secret chats,” file-size limits that are massive in comparison to other apps, self-destruct timers for secret chats and privacy from third-party advertisers and the like. Any way you slice it, Telegram is popular world-wide and another big plus is that it can be used across multiple platforms once a user has verified their mobile number that is tied to the account.
Like WhatsApp and Android Messages, Telegram has a web-based client that can be synced with your phone. Once you do that, you can set the Chrome to open Telegram as a window and pin it to your shelf or create a desktop shortcut on non-Chrome OS devices. However, I’ve seen quite a few users on Reddit and other sites asking about installing the actual desktop client for Telegram on their Chromebooks. This can be done quite easily using a Linux app-enabled Chromebook but opening the terminal and installing Telegram with the following command.
sudo apt install telegram-desktop
The only problem with this method is that you will get a relatively older version of Telegram Desktop for Linux. The default version in the Buster repository at the time of this article is 1.5.11 as opposed to the most recent version which is 1.9.21. So, how do you get that version on Chrome OS? No worries. It’s quite simple and only requires a couple of extra steps. First, you will need to make sure your Chromebook supports Linux apps and that you’ve enabled and updated Linux on your device. You can find all of those steps here.
Ready? Great! To get started, you will need to download the latest version of the Telegram Desktop from the download page. You will want to grab the Linux 64-bit version. You can find that download here. Now that you have the file, you need to open your Chrome OS files app and move the tar.xz file to the Linux folder. Done? Okay, let’s get down to business. Before you unpack the file, you will need to install a utility to handle that process. Run the following command to install those utilities.
sudo apt-get install xz-utils
Once that’s finished, we can unpack the files. Use the following command to unpack your tarball. You will need to make sure that the filename is an exact match for the file you downloaded and yes, capitalization matters. The easiest way to do this is by typing the first two parts of the command then start typing the first two or three letters of the filename and hitting the tab key. If the file is in your Linux folder, it should auto-populate.
tar xvf tsetup.1.9.21.tar.xz
Next, we need to move to the Telegram folder. Do so by using the
cd command like this. Again, capitalization counts.
At this point, the application is ready to use but you may not see a desktop/app launcher icon. Don’t panic. Once we launch Telegram for the first time, it will be added to your launcher and you won’t have to use the terminal again to start Telegram. Launch Telegram using the command below. (Make sure you are still in the Telegram folder. The command line should look like this:
Telegram should start up and you can now sync it to your mobile device with the SMS passcode. The application should now be in your launcher but don’t look for the Telegram Icon. It doesn’t pull the image so instead, you’ll just have the generic Penguin placeholder icon with Telegram Desktop beside it. We’ll cover customizing desktop icons in another lesson. Again, the web client for Telegram works just fine but I know a lot of users like their desktop applications and now, you can have the latest version of Telegram on your Chromebook. Hope this helps. Stay tuned for more Command Line.
Note: This is not the only method for installing Telegram on Linux but it is the most straightforward way that I have found to get the latest version on Crostini.