Installing Zotero Standalone on a Chromebook with Linux

After a series of false starts and my own lack of knowledge with using the Linux Terminal, I was finally able to successfully get Zotero Standalone 5.0+ working on my Chromebook. I thought it might help others to provide a handy step-by-step guide to installing it, so you can avoid the pitfalls I had. And, yes, I fully admit that by posting this I reveal my utterly “noob” status with Linux…

If you have never heard of Zotero, it is a robust program designed for researchers to track sources, easily create citations, maintain notes, and even share their research with a community. I have been using it for years and honestly cannot work without it by this point, hence my efforts to get it working on my Chromebook, which has become my go-to device to take to the office and classroom.

The first thing to know going into this is, for some odd reason, the default Debian Packages only has Zotero Standalone 4.0+, not the most recent version. Additionally, even if you get it installed, the “Preferences” will never open, allowing you input your Zotero login credentials and sync your data.

STEP 1: Allow Chrome OS to Install Linux

  1. On your Chromebook, open “Settings,” then click the “hamburger” menu at the upper left (it looks like three horizontal lines).
  2. In the side menu that opens, click the “Linux (Beta)” option.
  3. Go through the process of installing Linux on your Chromebook.

STEP 2: Open Terminal

  1. After Linux is installed on your Chromebook, you will notice a new app folder in your overflow menu (where all your app icons live) called “Linux apps.” Click on this folder and select “Terminal.”
  2. Wait for the Terminal app to open. This might take a few minutes the first time.

STEP 3: Install Zotero Standalone Using Terminal Commands

I used the instructions at this Github page to successfully install the most recent version of Zotero Standalone to my Chromebook.

Enter these commands in Terminal to install Zotero Standalone 5.0+:

wget -qO- | sudo bash
sudo apt update
sudo apt install zotero 

Once those are done, you can close the Terminal and go back to the “Linux apps” folder. Inside you will now see an icon for Zotero, and clicking on it will open the app, as normal. You can then pin the app to your Chrome Launcher.

A final note: on my Chromebook (HP Chromebook X2) at least, the Zotero app icon does not actually show the Zotero icon, but a default “penguin” app related to Linux. Just a minor point, and it does not seem to affect Zotero’s performance at all. Additionally, if you want to have this version of Zotero Standalone work with the default Chrome browser extension and the experimental Google Docs integration, follow the instructions by user @jackyko1991 on the Zotero forums to set this up.


After a discussion about this on the Zotero forums, it was brought to my attention that Juris-m is a complete separate, unneeded package maintained by the same Github user. Because of this, I have removed those instructions here.

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