Google releases new builds of Chrome OS all the time, but some releases are bigger than others… and Chrome OS 69 is kind of a doozy.
Among other things, it brings a new user interface for tablets, an updated Files app that makes it easier to access files used by Android apps, voice recognition and text-to-speech improvements, and a night light feature to reduce blue light from your Chromebook’s display.
But one of the biggest changes is that this the first stable release of Chrome OS with baked-in support for a virtual machine that lets you run Linux applications as if they were native apps.
The feature, code-named Crostini, has been available in unstable builds of Chrome OS since earlier this year. But now it’s graduating to the stable channel, which means you don’t need to run beta or dev channel versions of Chrome OS to install Linux apps.
That said, only 19 Chromebooks and Chromeboxes are currently supported (yes, there are only 11 listings on that page, but those are for boards, not complete computers. Several Chromebooks and Chromeboxes share the same mainboards).
While that number will likely grow over time, there’s a pretty long list of older Chromebooks that will never support Linux/Crostini.
Unsupported models include any Chromebook with an Intel Bay Trail processor, anything with a 32-bit ARM processor, and all models that are running versions of Chrome OS using Linux kernel 3.14 or older.
I took Crostini/Linux for a spin on the Acer Chromebok Tab 10 this summer when the feature was still only available in the developer channel. It was already pretty promising at the time, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on another Chromebook soon so I can see how things have progressed since then.
I’m still not sure if it will run on MY Chromebook. Maybe Google is abandoning me?
I found the linked ‘Chromium OS Docs’ page remarkably informative and extremely honest. There was no hemming and hawing or weasel language. Great job, Google! A couple of things of note:
1. Are my VMs/containers/data synced/backed up?
“Currently, no, nothing is synced or backed up. You’re responsible for any data going into the containers. We hope to improve this situation greatly.”
I rather like that the container/vm isn’t currently subject to data misappropriation. Sadly, they will be working *greatly* to change this.
2. Can I access hardware (e.g. USB/Bluetooth/serial)?
“Currently, no, but we are working on it. Stay tuned!”
This is huge, imo. I rely on external hardware on many occasions. Would love to pick up a Chromebook to play around with but right now this is a deal-breaker.
3. Can I run graphical applications?
“Yes, but currently things are unaccelerated.”
They state later that this effects games but only a review will determine how well normal GUI apps will function (given moderate hardware, ie… non-pixelbook).
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