So, you want to play DotA 2 on your Chromebook.
Thankfully, it’s actually very easy to do and will only take less than an hour to set up and get going (even if it’s your first time).
DotA 2 is a very addicting game and it makes sense to want to get it on your Chromebook so you can play it and practice anywhere- work, school, waiting for your dentist, waiting for your car to get fixed, waiting at the DMV, wherever you want.
This tutorial will teach you how to install DotA 2 on your Chromebook.
If you’ve never done anything like this before, you should probably read over the hardware requirements first so you don’t end up wasting your time when the game doesn’t run (even though it installed successfully) because your Chromebook can’t handle it.
Anyway, let’s get started already and get some of that DotA action going.
Last updated: 1/12/21. With all the updates DotA 2 has gotten, this method is still working through Steam.
Chromebook hardware requirements for DotA 2
To play DotA 2, your Chromebook will need to meet some basic hardware prerequisites.
Specifically, you’ll need:
- An Intel-based processor
- 4GB of RAM (more is better)
- 4GB of disk space on your Chromebook’s internal storage
- Class 10 SD card with at least 32GB of space (Flash/thumb/external drives not recommended, but you could get away with using them. Not needed if you have at least 36GB of internal storage.)
Here’s some brief reasoning on each component:
The reason for an Intel-based processor is because we’ll be installing Linux in order to install DotA.
By default, Chrome OS doesn’t allow third-party programs to be installed (at all), so we circumvent this by using Linux instead. And we’ll be using Steam to actually install and run DotA 2.
In other words, you’ll be dual-booting two different “operating systems” on your Chromebook!
Only Intel CPUs work. ARM, MediaTek, or other variants have issues getting Linux installed. So stick with the tried-and-true Intel CPU and you should be fine. Samsung Chromebooks typically have ARM-based CPUs, but not all do, such as the newer Samsung Pro and Plus.
As for CPU speed, higher clock speed is better (obviously). But that doesn’t mean you can’t run it with a crappy processor. You can still play the game fine with a cheap Intel Celeron clocked around 1.2GHz at the minimum, but you’ll have to change the graphics settings to adjust performance and squeeze out more frames.
If you don’t know what processor you have, you can try the following things:
- Look for an “Intel” sticker somewhere on your Chromebook
- Look on the bottom panel for the Intel part number on the sticker
- Look up your device’s specs online using the model number and brand
- Launch Chrome and type in “chrome://system” and expand the menu on the left. Look for “cpu” and make sure it’s Intel!
Or you can post a comment here with your Chromebook’s name and model number if you’re still unsure and I’ll try help you out! (But try the suggestions above first. Seriously.)
Many readers have asked if there’s a way around this- sadly, no. You’ll need a processor made by Intel in order to get Ubuntu, which is required to get the game in the first place.
At least 4GB of RAM
DotA doesn’t run well with 2GB Chromebooks, which compose the majority of older budget models.
If you have an older one with only 2GB, consider upgrading to a newer one. There are a ton of Chromebooks you can find for cheap with 4GB of RAM nowadays. They’re becoming more and more powerful as time goes on.
You can check out this list of some of the best gaming Chromebooks if you want my opinion on where to start.
Flash-based external storage
You’ll need a fast external storage device because we’ll be installing the game on this. Flash/thumb drives or SD cards are perfect. Just make sure it has at least 32GB of space for the game.
You can also try an external hard drive with a USB 3.0 connection (make sure that your Chromebook has a USB 3.0 port as well), but results will be slower than just using a flash-based drive.
If you need to go buy some storage, go for it and then come back. Storage is relatively cheap. You can check out some of the best flash drives and SD cards for Chromebooks if you want to get moving quickly!
If you have enough storage for the game, Linux, and Steam all on your Chromebook’s internal storage, then you don’t need any additional storage. Hooray!
And, that’s about it for hardware requirements. Now let’s go over the actual process.
Okay, so I have all the necessary hardware. What next?
Here’s an installation overview of what we’ll be dong:
- Enable Developer Mode
- Download Crouton
- Install Linux (Ubuntu with Xfce)
- Mount your external storage
- Install Steam
- Install DotA 2
- Tweak graphic settings to get the best performance
- Play DotA 2 and get wrecked!
This should take no longer than an hour assign everything goes smoothly, but plan for two. You can also take breaks doing this if you have to- it’s not necessary to do it all on a timer.
If you need to leave your computer, do homework, travel the world, or simply go to bed (or play DotA 2 on your Windows computer), that’s fine. You can continue the next day. I won’t be upset (but your Chromebook might be).
And if you ever get stuck at any part, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Okay, sound good? Let’s roll.
Enable Developer Mode
This step will wipe everything on your device. Literally. Everything.
It’ll be like when you first bought it from the store. Essentially, we’ll be doing a Powerwash. It’s a necessary step and can’t be avoided. You’ll lose data including, but not limited to:
- Stuff in your Downloads folder and any customize directories you’ve created
- Your Play Store apps
- Your Chrome Web Store apps
- Chromebook settings
- And anything else that you’ve changed or customized since you’ve first booted up your device
You can back up everything to an external hard drive and/or use Google Drive. Google Drive is free to use for a limited capacity, but it should be enough space to store most of your stuff. If you’re not comfortable with cloud storage, then back up your stuff to an external hard drive. Here’s a tutorial on backing up your Chromebook if you need help.
Be sure to back up everything you want to keep. Once you start this process, there’s no going back!
So you’ve backed up your stuff, right?
(Are you sure?)
Okay, good. Let’s continue.
Now you can enable Developer Mode. It’s very easy and should only take about 20 minutes (the majority of it you’re free to take a break because your machine will be busy and can’t be used).
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Press “ESC + Refresh + Power” and hold them together until the computer restarts. You’ll then see a warning screen. Read it over. Be scared.
Step 2: Press “CTRL + D” and read the prompt. Be scared again. Follow the on-screen directions and then press Enter to enable it.
Step 3: Your device will restart and change to Dev Mode. This will take up to 20 minutes. Wait impatiently.
Step 4: It’ll reboot once more and show another warning, and then finish the process. Keep waiting. When you see the login screen for Chrome OS, it’s done.
I’ve already written a comprehensive guide on turning it on if you get stuck. Follow it if you need help on enabling it.
Warning: Every time you shut off or restart the device, you’ll see the warning screen again. You’ll want to keep the device in Dev Mode, or else it’ll erase everything and revert out of Dev Mode. This is pretty bad if you’ve installed DotA 2 and accidentally turn Dev Mode off since you’ll have to start all over.
You want to keep it ON. Do this by pressing “CTRL + D” whenever you see the warning screen.
DO NOT press the spacebar as this will revert the device out of Dev Mode and you’ll have to start all over (unless you’re trying to revert it back to normal).
This is just a recovery method for Chrome OS. it’s just something you’ll have to deal with.
Try Linux (Beta)
Note that if you have a newer Chromebook, you can actually just try using Linux (Beta) and you can skip the next few steps (Crouton and installing Linux).
Newer versions have Linux built-in and you can enable it by toggling an option in the Settings menu on Chrome OS.
This is much faster and easier- and definitely worth trying.
If you can’t get it working or don’t have the beta version, then proceed with the regular, traditional Crouton-Linux-Ubuntu method.
Crouton is the little magical piece of code that we’ll use to install Linux with ease!
You can download it directly from here.
But I also suggest checking out the FAQ page on the same link. It covers a lot of important stuff you’ll wish you knew later on!
Just download it and make sure it’s saved to your Downloads folder, or else the following code on this tutorial won’t work. If you save it to another folder, you’ll have to modify the code to specify the new folder. It must be exact!
If you get stuck during this step, check out the Crouton troubleshooting page.
If it doesn’t work, stick with the Linux > Ubuntu > Steam method for best results.
So now that you have Crouton downloaded and prepped, it’s time to get to the good stuff. We’ll be installing Linux now.
We’ll be using Ubuntu with the Xfce desktop environment. Why Xfce? Because it’s lightweight, simple, and fast. With a minimalist desktop, the system can use more resources dedicated to the game instead. If you have a powerful Chromebook, or you prefer a desktop that looks more modern (with eye-candy and all that jazz), you can try KDE or look up some other Ubuntu desktop environments.
If you want a detailed guide that covers all the different types of environments and how to install them on your Chromebook, you can refer to this comprehensive Linux installation tutorial. It also covers adding extra functionality to your installation of Linux, like touchscreen support!
For the purposes of this guide and to keep things simple, I’ll be using Xfce with Ubuntu (Trusty Tahir). If you choose to use another version or desktop, you’ll have to modify the code to suit your chosen one!
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Press “CTRL + ALT + T” to launch the command prompt. Don’t get scared. It won’t bite.
Step 2: Type “shell” and hit Enter. Don’t forget to not include the quotes.
Step 3: Type “sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -r trusty -t core,cli-extra,chrome,keyboard,xfce” and hit Enter. This will install Ubuntu with Xfce and add special keyboard functionalities and the Chrome Browser. (Have a touchscreen? Add “touch” to the list for extra touchiness like this “…chrome,keyboard,touch,xfce” Oh, and case matters. So type it exactly as shown!
Step 4: Wait like an impatient person as it downloads and installs Linux.
Step 5: When it prompts you for a username and password, make something up that you’ll remember. It’s important to NOT forget your login details or else you’ll have to start over. Write them down if you need to! (Just don’t’ forget to hide it somewhere safe.)
Step 6: After that, it’s time to launch Linux. Type “sudo startxfce4” and hit Enter. It’ll boot into Xfce and you’ll be greeted with a new shiny desktop to get familiar with.
At this point, you can switch between Chrome OS and Linux by using the keyboard combination “CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + Forward/Back Arrow.” Remember, the arrow keys are on the TOP row of your keyboard (F1-F12 on Windows), not the up/down/left/right arrow keypad.
Creating a mini partition for DotA 2 (and other Steam games if you wish)
Okay, remember that SD card or flash drive I told you to get earlier? It’s time to put it to use.
We’ll be using this as a partition for DotA 2 all in one place. Since it’s flash-based, it should be fast enough to play the game off of. If you’re using an external hard drive, be sure that it’s powered by USB 3.0- but even then, it may not be fast enough! I recommend using a Class 10 SD card to keep things simple.
You may also be wondering why we need a 32GB drive if the game is far from it. It’s because when Steam updates the game, it basically hogs up a bunch of system resources in order to update it.
Going with 32GB is safe. Going with 16GB is a risk. We don’t need any risks. Unless you’re a risk-taker. And feeling risky. Then by all means, go for it.
I’m going to be using a 32GB SD card by SanDisk. If you’re using a different type of storage (thumb/flash/external), the instructions should still work the same. Let me know if you’re having issues.
Here’s how to mount it
Step 1: Launch the command prompt again with “CTRL + ALT + T” in Ubuntu. It won’t bite (just like the first time). So don’t be scared.
Step 2: Type in “mkdir/home/ubuntu/steam” and hit Enter. This will create a new directory that’s a lot easier to work with. I named it “steam” but you can name it anything you wish.
Step 3: Type in “sudo mount -t vfat -o defaults,nosuid,nodev /dev/sdb1/home/ubuntu/steam” and hit Enter. This will mount the card to that location we created.
That’s it. You’re done! You should see a new directory in /home labelled as “steam” which is where we’ll be installing DotA 2.
Errors. Errors everywhere.
If you get an error, it may be because your card or flash/thumb/external drive isn’t formatted properly.
Step 1: Launch the command prompt “CTRL + ALT + T” and hit Enter.
Step 2: Plug in your storage device.
Step 3: Type “mount | grep sda1” and hit Enter. Look for something like “sdb 1” or “sdb x” (where “x” represents the location). That’s the ID of the storage medium.
Also look for the format. This should come right before the flags in the parentheses. For example, when you type the command you’ll see something like this:
- /dev/sdb1 on /var/host/media/removable/SD Card type vfat (rw, noexec,…)
If you don’t see it but instead see another format, you’ll need to replace “vfat” in the above code with your device’s format. A common format is “fuseblk” which has been reported many times. If you see this, replace “vfat” with “fuseblk” in the previous code!
If you’re still having issues, leave a comment with your problem and the errors being thrown and I’ll try to help you out.
What about if I have to remove the card?
If you need to remove your card, be sure to unmount it by typing “sudo umount /home/ubuntu/steam” in Ubuntu’s command prompt after removing it safely. The next time you insert it, you may need to mount it again if you run into any errors.
Don’t know how to remove it? Check out this guide on removing peripherals from your Chromebook the right way.
For convenience’s sake, it’s probably best to just leave that card in your Chromebook. Permanently. Use it as your “Steam games SD card” or something. And buy another to save yourself the hassle.
But I only have one card and I really need it
Well, then unmount it. If you get an error trying to locate the games, try unmounting all of the devices and remounting them.
We’re almost there. Can you taste the RAMPAGE yet?
Installing Steam is simple. All you’ll need to do is run some code in the command prompt, our tried-and-true friend. You don’t even need to navigate to Steam’s website to install it. Isn’t that awesome?
Steam will be installed to your Chromebook’s SSD, whereas DotA 2 will be installed to the SD card partition we made earlier.
Here’s how to get Steam:
Step 1: Launch the command prompt (you should know the command by now, right?)
Step 2: Type “sudo apt-get install -y steam” and hit Enter.
Step 3: You’ll see the terms and conditions prompt. Press “TAB” and choose “OK” and then hit Enter.
Step 4: Steam will then install. Be patient. Watch some awesome DotA 2 Zeus ultrakill videos, like this one:
Step 5: After it’s done installing, you can launch it from the main menu easily. Click on “Applications” and then “Games” and then “Steam” and launch it.
Step 6: Steam will likely update. If not, then log in!
If you get stuck at any point, I have a whole tutorial dedicated to installing Steam you can check out.
Download and install DotA 2!
This is the best part. You’re almost there! Can you smell the feeders on your team yet?
Step 1: Launch Steam if you haven’t already and log in.
Step 2: Go to “View” > “Settings” > and “Downloads” and then look for “Steam library folders” and click on it.
Step 3: Click on “Add library folder” and find the directory you created earlier. If you used the example path, it would be in “/home/ubuntu/steam” which should be easy to find. Click on “Select.” You should get no errors and it should work just fine. If you do, use the troubleshooting instructions below.
Step 4: Find DotA 2 in the marketplace and click “Install.”
Step 5: Click on “Choose location for install” and choose the directory you created earlier in the drop-down menu.
Step 6: Be impatient as it installs and jump with giddiness.
Improving DotA 2’s performance on your Chromebook
Chromebooks aren’t gaming laptops, so chances are you won’t be the best FPS on the default settings- unless you have a Pixel or something.
After you launch the game, go into the video settings and adjust them to get better FPS by lowering video quality.
If you want the best FPS:
- 4:3 aspect ratio
- 800×600 resolution
- Play in windowed mode
- Turn animate portrait off
- Turn additive light pass off
- Turn world lighting off
- Turn ambient occlusion off
- Turn normal maps off
- Turn ground parallax off
- Turn ambient creatures off
- Turn grass off
- Turn anti-aliasing off
- Turn specular off
- Turn specular and light blooms off
- Turn high quality water off
- Turn atmospheric fog/caustics off
- Turn high quality dashboard off
- Turn vertical-sync off
- Turn tree wind off
- Turn texture/effects/shadow quality to low
- Turn game screen render quality to 40%
- Set max FPS to 60
This should get you a stable 27-34 FPS on average using an Intel Celeron 1.6GHz with 4GB of RAM. It’s not ideal, but it’s definitely playable. Get your pubs in at school, work, or wherever!
You can check out some other settings here.
You can also try updating your video drivers in Linux. It’s super easy with our trusty friend- the command prompt (yet again)!
Step 0: Launch the command prompt (haven’t we been through this?).
Step 1: Type “sudo apt-get install -y software-properties-common” and hit Enter.
Step 2: Wait for Linux to install the packages like a good person.
Step 3: Type “sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa” and hit Enter.
Step 4: Wait for Linux to add the repo.
Step 5: Log out of Ubuntu by clicking on the “Applications” button in the main menu and then and then “Log out.”
Step 6: Log in to Chrome OS.
Step 7: Launch the command prompt (again).
Step 8: Type in “crout -u -n trusty” and hit Enter.
That should update your video drivers if they’re behind. This should make a huge impact on the game. If your game doesn’t run well or crashes all the time, this is a good troubleshooting solution. Try it out!
If it doesn’t work, let me know in the comments and tell me the error output you’re getting as well. I’ll try to provide all the free help I can before I run out of coffee!
Get DotA 2 action on a Chromebook!
Welp, that’s about it.
By now you should be able to play DotA 2 on your Chromebook. You can also install any Steam game that’s verified to run with Linux as well. Well, not all, but most. Just check the game’s requirements.
If you’re interested, I have plenty of tutorials (written by yours truly) for games like:
- World of Warcraft
- Path of Exile
- Rules of Survival
- And even DotA’s familiar foe- League of Legends!
If you have any questions, let me know. And if you’ve found this guide helpful, let me know as well =].
Consider telling your friends. Then you can dominate the map together…on your Chromebooks. How awesome would that be?
Thanks for reading!