Google has announced that all new Chromebook devices will be Linux ready.
At Google I/O in Mountain View, Google quietly let slip that “all devices [Chromebook] launched this year will be Linux-ready right out of the box.” Wait. What?
In case you’ve missed it, last year, Google started making it possible to run desktop Linux on Chrome OS. Since then, more Chromebook devices are able to run Linux. Going forward, all of them will be able to do so, too. Yes. All of them. ARM and Intel-based.
This isn’t surprising. Chrome OS, after all, is built on Linux. Chrome OS started as a spin off of Ubuntu Linux. It then migrated to Gentoo Linux and evolved into Google’s own take on the vanilla Linux kernel. But its interface remains the Chrome web browser UI — to this day.
Earlier, you could run Debian, Ubuntu and Kali Linux on Chrome OS using the open-source Crouton program in a chroot container. Or, you could run Gallium OS, a third-party, Xubuntu Chromebook-specific Linux variant. But it wasn’t easy.
Now? It’s as simple as simple can be. Just open the Chrome OS app switcher by pressing the Search/Launcher key and then type “Terminal”. This launches the Termina VM, which will start running a Debian 9.0 Stretch Linux container.
Congratulations! You’re now running Debian Linux on your Chromebook.
Want Ubuntu instead? It’s a bit more trouble, but you can bring up Ubuntu with a few shell commands. Want to run, say, Fedora? You can run Fedora with Chrome OS, as well. For more tips and tricks with running Linux on Chrome OS, check out the Reddit Crostini sub-reddit. It’s the best end-user Linux on Chromebook site around.
Linux on Chromebook laptops is not a dual-boot operation. You’re running both operating systems simultaneously. That means, for example, you can do things like clicking on a document file via the Chrome OS file manager and open it with LibreOffice — without even starting a Linux session.
Indeed, with the latest canary Chrome OS release, you can use the file manager to move your files across Chrome OS, Google Drive, Linux, and Android.
Oh yes. Android, too. Chrome OS has long supported Android apps. With this latest canary (read alpha) release, Google boosts its Android compatibility.
You can also now use port forwarding to connect networking services between Linux and Chrome OS. This means, you could, for example, run a web server within the Linux container while debugging it on the same machine.
So, why would you want to do this? If you’re a developer, the answer’s easy: You can develop for all three operating systems off one platform. For example, it’s now much easier to install Android Studio on Chrome OS.
With Chrome OS 77, you also now have secure USB support for Android phones. With this, you can develop, debug, and push your Android Application Package (APK) to Android phones on any of the Android developer-recommended Chromebook laptops.
A Chromebook with all three operating systems running at once is also darn useful for an ordinary Jane or Joe. For example, I can edit images using Linux GIMP and write with LibreOffice Writer while looking at pictures using Android Pinterest and simultaneously check my Gmail in Chrome OS. It’s all good.
Chromebook laptops, which now account for 21% of all notebooks sold in the US, according to the NPD Group, are more useful with Android and Linux than ever. Heck, with that many Chromebook devices out there with Linux built-in, maybe 2019 will be — yes, I’m going to say it — the year of the Linux desktop.
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