Downloading Praat for Chromebook

WARNING: A Chromebook is not a full-fledged desktop computer; Praat may more or less run, but some things may go wrong. The same goes for other programs that you may need as a phonetician, such as the program R for statistics (e.g. in November 2021, a random undefined variable prevents lme4 from installing from source). If you can avoid it, do not use a Chromebook for your studies or research.


1. Praat on a Chromebook? First install Linux

You can install Praat on several types of Chromebooks, though probably not on all. We do not (yet?) provide an Android edition of Praat, which, if it existed, you would be able to install via Google Play. What we do provide are various Linux editions of Praat.

To install Praat-for-Linux on your Chromebook, you first have to make sure that Linux has been installed: click on the right bottom of your screen, then on the Settings wheel, then Advanced, then Developers, then scroll down to Linux and click on the triangle. If you see a button Remove or Uninstall, then Linux was apparently already installed. If instead you see a button Install, then click that and wait until Linux has been installed.

If Linux is installed correctly, a folder called Linux files should appear in your Files window. To see the Files window, click your Launcher (bottom left of your screen), then click on the up arrow, then click on Files. Under My files, you should then see the folder Linux files.


2. The easiest installation of the latest Praat version on a 64-bit Intel computer

Once Linux has been installed, click on the Launcher (bottom left of your screen) and type Terminal. You see a Terminal window on you screen, showing a prompt like

yourname@penguin:~$

The Terminal window is an app for typing Linux commands, and to install Praat you will have to type some Linux commands into this Terminal window. The first thing to get to know is the type of processor that your computer has. After the penguin prompt, you type

   uname -a

(which stands for something like “give me all of the system name”), followed by pressing the Enter key. You should get an answer similar to what I got on my 2019 HP Chromebook:

Linux penguin 4.19.69-06666-gfkhsdgfh #1 SMP PREEMPT Fri Sep 6 22:15:24 PDT 2019 x86_64 GNU/Linux

In this example, the next-to-last word is x86_64, which means that my HP Chromebook is powered by a 64-bit Intel processor. If you also see x86_64 on your Chromebook, then you are lucky, because a Linux edition for 64-bit Intel processors is available from the download page that you are reading now. Here it is:

praat6214_chrome64.tar.gz (24 May 2022; 16.9 MB)

When you download this file, it will appear in your Downloads folder, which is another folder under My files. Then drag this file from your Downloads folder to your Linux files folder. If the file doesn’t download when you click on it, then try right-click and choose Save link as....

After you confirm that your Linux files folder contains praat6214_chrome64.tar.gz, you are ready to install Praat via the Terminal. Thus, open your Terminal app again and type:

   ls -al

which stands for something like “list all files”. After you press the Enter key, the resulting list shows a number of hidden files, with names that start with “.”, but it should also show you the file that you downloaded, probably in a line like this:

-rw-r--r-- 1 yourname yourname 14764270 Nov 7 09:52 praat6214_chrome64.tar.gz

Here, 14764270 is the size of the file in bytes (i.e., the file is 14.7 MB big), “Nov 7 09:52” is the date and time at which the file was created (i.e. downloaded or copied), and “yourname” is the name of the owner of the file, i.e. you.

This file is not yet the Praat app. The extension .gz means that the file has been compressed by gzip, so you have to uncompress it by typing the following command into the Terminal window (i.e. type the text, followed by Enter):

   gunzip praat6214_chrome64.tar.gz

After this command, do

   ls -al

again, and you see that the file has been unpacked to something that is 55.2 MB big:

-rw-r--r-- 1 yourname yourname 55200000 Jan  3 00:51 praat6214_chrome64.tar

This file is still not the Praat app. The extension .tar means that the file has been archived by tar, so you have to unpack it again with the following command:

   tar xvf praat6214_chrome64.tar

where xvf stands for eXtract - Verbose - File. After this command, do

   ls -al

again, and you see that finally a file called praat has been created (the tar is also still there; you can also see both files in the Linux files folder):

-rwxr-xr-x 1 yourname yourname 55235168 Jan  3 00:51 praat
-rw-r--r-- 1 yourname yourname 55200000 Jan  3 00:51 praat6214_chrome64.tar

You see that the file praat has the date and time at which it was originally created by the authors of Praat. The three little xes in -rwxr-xr-x mean that the file praat is executable, so you can now type

   ./praat

and Praat should show up with its Objects window and its Picture window. You may have to try to put a Help window on the screen to turn the mouse cursor from something invisible into a cross. If you use Praat for the first time, choose Intro from the Help menu.

In case you wonder where you are, try the command

   pwd

which means something like “Print Working Directory”. The answer will be something like

/home/yourname

This is the name by which the Linux files folder is known to Linux! So they are the same folder, known under two different names, depending on whether you look from the ChromeOS side or from the Linux side.

You no longer need the file praat6214_chrome64.tar. You can throw it away by typing

   rm praat6214_chrome64.tar

where rm stands for “remove”.


3. What can go wrong?

3a. If you do not see the xes

If instead of

-rwxr-xr-x 1 yourname yourname 55235168 Jan  3 00:51 praat
-rw-r--r-- 1 yourname yourname 55200000 Jan  3 00:51 praat6214_chrome64.tar

you see

-rw-r--r-- 1 yourname yourname 55235168 Jan  3 00:51 praat
-rw-r--r-- 1 yourname yourname 55200000 Jan  3 00:51 praat6214_chrome64.tar

then the file praat is not executable, i.e. the command

   ./praat

gives you an error message. This situation can happen if you change the above procedure, for instance if you unpack Praat in the Downloads folder or in a folder under Google Drive. This is because ChromeOS wants to protect you against unknowingly putting programs (e.g. viruses) on your computer: any file you download is made non-executable by removing the xes. Only the Linux part of your computer does not have this protection, which is why you can install Praat under Linux files.

If you do end up with a non-executable praat in your Linux folder, you can make it executable by typing

   chmod ugo+x praat

(which stands for “CHange the MODe for User, Group and World to eXecutable”) into your Terminal, and confirm that you got three xes.

3b. If Praat complains that some libraries (dependencies) are not found

The correct installation of Praat relies on the presence of several software libraries, which may or may not be present on your computer. If Praat complains that something is missing, then you can try to install some additional components with the following commands:

   sudo apt-get install gtk-3
   sudo apt-get install libasound2 libasound2-plugins
   sudo apt-get install pulseaudio
   sudo apt-get install gtk+-2.0   (if you install version 6.1.16; see below under 9)

and then try to start Praat again (please notify us if anything is still missing).


4. How to start Praat the second time

After installation and the first run have succeeded, then the next time you only have to start your Terminal and type

   ./praat

5. Installing other Chromebook editions (under Linux)

If you do not have a 64-bit Intel processor, you can still probably install Praat, by typing

   sudo apt-get install praat

into your Linux terminal. At the moment of writing (November 3, 2021), this will give you Praat version 6.0.48 (February 17, 2019).

If you want a newer version, you can get that from Debian or Debian. Recent upstream versions of the Praat package backported to the stable and testing distributions of Debian are available in an APT repository. These methods are probably for experts only.


6. Phonetic symbols

If you want to see good phonetic characters, it is best to install the Charis SIL and the Doulos SIL font:

   sudo apt-get install fonts-sil-charis
   sudo apt-get install fonts-sil-doulos

7. Running Praat from the command line

To run Praat from a terminal window, write a Praat script and specify that script on the command line, optionally with arguments, e.g.:

   praat --run playsinewave.praat 377 0.9

For details see Calling from the command line in the Scripting manual.


8. Known possible problems, and their solution

8a. Sound recording

Linux for Chromebook does support the microphone, but you will have to switch the microphone on in the Linux settings.

If, when recording, you get a message about an unsupported sample rate, try 48000 Hz instead of 44100 Hz.

If your recorded sound sounds all jittery and creaky, try select the “sysdefault” microphone (in Praat’s recording window).

8b. Window titles

On Windows, Linux and the Mac you will see a window’s or dialog’s title in its title bar, e.g. “Create Sound from formula” or “1. Sound sineWithNoise”. ChromeOS refuses to show window titles, probably on purpose. Praat therefore tries to include an underlined bold text below the title bar. Once your windows start to show their titles twice, this will mean that the ChromeOS people decided to show window titles after all, and you are invited to notify the authors of Praat of this, so that they can remove their “surrogate window title label widget”.

8c. Running cursor

If the cursor does not run when you are playing a sound in the Sound window, you may want to start up Praat with X11 instead of Wayland:

   GDK_BACKEND=x11 ./praat

9. Older editions of Praat

If your Praat windows look strange, try praat6116_chrome64.tar.gz of 6 June 2020.


by Paul Boersma.
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