Install MuseScore on Chromebook

If you are involved with education, you are probably already aware of how popular Chromebooks are in that space, particularly in the U.S. If you are not familiar with Chromebooks, they are a type of computer that runs an operating system based on the Chrome browser by Google. When they were first introduced, their capabilities were limited. But over time they have grown into very sophisticated machines, and in fact I now use one as my primary system. The turning point for me was when installing Linux apps on a Chromebook became practical*, as this made it easy to run MuseScore.

I have created an installer program that automates some of what would be required otherwise. Read on to get started!

*Although I say it is "practical" to install Linux apps, it does take a few extra steps beyond what you may be accustomed to from other Chromebook apps or from installing MuseScore on Windows or macOS. But, I promise, you can do this! At least, you can if your particular Chromebook supports Linux apps (most modern ones do) and this feature hasn't been disabled (unfortunately, many school IT departments do this). Also, current versions of MuseScore require an Intel-compatible processor; ARM processors will limit you considerably, at least for now.

Instructions

Warning: these steps are experimental, and I could use some people to help me test them. Please leave a comment and let me know how they work for you!

To install MuseScore on a Chromebook, there is some initial setup you need to do once (or once per user) - first setting up Linux, then downloading my installer program. Then you will follow a very short set of steps to actually install MuseScore. When you wish to update MuseScore, you only need to repeat those last few steps.

Initial setup of Linux

  1. Open your Chromebook settings (click the time in lower right of shelf, then click the gear icon).
  2. Click "Linux".
  3. Click "Turn On" (if already set up, skip to step 5).
  4. Follow any additional prompts to setup Linux, which takes takes several minutes. For more information see this support article on google.com, or search the web to see if there is anything more recent.
  5. Once the Linux setup is complete, open the Files app.
  6. Right-click your "Google Drive / My Drive" folder.
  7. If you see "Share with Linux", click it. If you see "Manage Linux sharing", it is already shared and you can skip this step.

Initial setup of the MuseScore installer

  1. Download the install-musescore file to the new "Linux files" folder that was created for you. When you save it, make sure the filename is just "install-musescore" - if your Chromebook tries to add ".txt" to the name, remove that.

To install or update MuseScore

  1. Download the current AppImage file from musescore.org to your "Linux files" folder.
  2. Open the terminal window (type "terminal" into the Launcher search bar and click the resulting icon).
  3. In the terminal window, type "sh install-musescore" (without the quotes). If this is an update of an existing installation, you will be promped to remove the previous version, and you can go ahead and answer "Y" when asked.

That's it! You can now start MuseScore from the Launcher, optionally pin it to the shelf, and otherwise use it like any other Chromebook app. You scores will be saved to your Google Drive, and they can be shared between multiple Chromebooks.

Below you will find more information on what the installer is actually doing to make this possible.

Screenshot 2020-09-02 at 7.42.07 PM.png

Inside The Installer

The install-musescore program is a shell script that performs a few basic tasks that would otherwise need to be done by hand. Because it is a shell script, you can view or modify it with any text editor. If you run into any problems or have ideas for improvements, let me know in the comments section below! The information below is for the benefit of people with some Linux experience who are curious as to what is going on.

Here is what the install-musescore script does:

  1. Removes any current installation of MuseScore
  2. Makes the AppImage executable
  3. Runs the AppImage with the "install" option, which sets up the necessary files in ~/.local
  4. Moves the AppImage to a separate folder to help keep your "Linux files" folder clean
  5. Modifies the application name in the ".desktop" file to just "MuseScore 3" (ChromeOS needs this in order to access the correct icon)
  6. Passes any command line arguments through to the MuseScore command line specified in the ".desktop" file (for instance, "-D 166" specifies a screen resolution of 166, appropriate for Pixelbook Go)
  7. If appropriate, establishes ~/Documents/MuseScore3 as a symbolic link to a corresponding folder on youtr Google Drive

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