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Intro to CROSH on a Chromebook

Chromebooks are designed to be as simple as possible from the end user's perspective. This is great if you are wanting to get something done and don't want to waste time running lengthy software and operating system updates and are otherwise disinterested in how computers work at a low level. It's a "I don't want to be an auto mechanic to drive my car." mindset. This should be the expectation of any consumer level technology whether it be cars or computers. However, just like cars, computers occasionally tend to run into problems that don't have immediately obvious solutions. We sometimes need to test and diagnose what the problem is to be able to know who to fix it.

On Chromebooks there is a hidden feature that will open up many tools that can help you diagnose serious issues as well as optimize the performance of your Chromebook. That feature is called CROSH. CROSH is a text only interface and typically isn't meant to be used by the end user.

In this article I'm going to show you how to get to CROSH and how to use a few of it's more basic functions, namely, ping, uname, and uptime.

To get to the CROSH tab you press the keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+T, and tab will open that looks like this:
The CROSH tab.
You'll see a bit of information in grey text as well as CROSH prompt. That prompt is where we can input commands. Lets start by simply typing in help and pressing enter.
Getting some help.
From here we see that we can get a list of advanced commands by typing
  1. help_advanced
Let's type that now and see what we get.
WHOA! What was all of that?!
You'll see a wall of text scroll by very quickly. Don't worry about missing anything since you can scroll back to any point in the output. Reading through the list you will probably find some interesting, useful and, if you are a Mac/Linux user, familiar commands. Today I just want to touch on a few of these.


The ping command is a quick way to test your Chromebook's ability to talk to other devices on the local network as well as over the internet. We can test it by typing in:
  1. ping
This will go find the domain and ask for a response. If everything is working nice you should get output that looks like this:
pinging away.
This will go on indefinitely unless you tell it to stop. This can be done by pressing the keyboard shortcut CTRL+C, which will then output some totals for the complete run of the command. It is worth noting that the CTRL+C shortcut will work to stop most commands that feed continuous output.

For reference here is what the output looks like if the ping isn't getting a response.
Uh-oh! Nothing there.
Now with most commands there are what are called flags. These are usually letters with a hyphen next to them that are put after the command to alter how the command runs in some way. To see what flags are available for a given command we type help and then the command that we are asking about.
  1. help ping
This will show us the flags available as well as provide some other information about command itself. Here is the output of the help command above.
Help me out.
There is a lot I could go into here, but for now let's just look at the -c flag for an example.  The -c flag allows us to limit the number of pings are attempted, so we don't have to manually stop the command our self. Type in the following.
  1. ping -c 5
I only want five pings.
You'll see that it will ping five times and then give us the full run information.


The uname command allows us to get information about the operating system and hardware platform. Go ahead and type in uname and press enter.
Linux!? What the...
At this point you are either thinking "Wait, Linux?! What is this tomfoolery!" or "Wow! That was useless.". To answer the first,  yep, Chromebooks run on Linux. Heck, most of the world runs on Linux. I just like to think of Chromebooks as "Linux-done-right" 😉.

In response to the other statement, we will need a flag to coerce the right info out of this command. The simplest flag is -a. This will output all of the info the command offers at once. Like so.
That's better.
You can see that it tells us the OS version number, when this version was built, what type of CPU we are running and how fast it is.


The last command I want to talk about is the uptime command. This is the simplest of the three. Just type it in and it gives you the current time, how long your Chromebook has been running and some resource stats from the moment that the command was run.
Yummy, yummy stats.

A Couple of Tips

To wrap up I wanted to mention a couple of things that can make working with the CROSH a little easier.


When typing in a command, press the tab key to autocomplete the command. This will only work if what you have typed in so far matches only one command, otherwise if you press tab twice it will show a list of commands that match.
"tabbing" our way to victory!

Up and Down Arrow Keys

If you want to reuse a command that you typed previously you can press the up arrow key to go to the last command. If you keep pressing it will continue back through the history of commands that have been run. You can also use the down arrow key to go forward through the history.
Save time by reusing commands.

CROSH Window

If you find you are using the CROSH tab a lot, it may be more convenient to have access to it on your shelf or app tray. There is an app on the web store that allows you to do exactly that.
Click the button below to get it.

 CROSH Window on the Chrome Web Store


  1. Thanks for writing this article! It was very informative. I've been wondering how to use this feature. I would like to learn more about using this shell, and shells in general.


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