Chrome OS is becoming more versatile by the minute. It won’t be long before our beloved operating system is capable of doing anything that any other PC can do. Just this week, I was able to get Lightworks up and running on the ASUS Chromebook CX9 and I can say that we aren’t far off from seeing Chromebooks that can be full-fledged video editing stations. This is thanks to the Linux container that rolled out for Chrome OS a couple of years back.
When we first discovered that Google was working to bring containerized software to Chrome OS, I immediately got excited at the concept that any developer might be able to create a custom container and installation flow for specific applications or operating systems. It didn’t take long for Parallels to do just that with its own customized container for running Windows on Enterprise Chrome OS devices.
As time has passed and Google continues to work on the upcoming ‘Borealis’ container that will run a Chrome OS-specific version of Steam, I have often proposed that containers could be a direct path for Chromebooks to offer any and all types of software that are currently native to Windows and macOS devices. Imagine it. Your favorite, most used piece of software is now installable as a standalone package on Chrome OS. Well, I just discovered a new commit that means this future isn’t just plausible, it is very likely.
Add flag for bruschetta (third party vms)Chromium Repository
Another play on the toasted bread family that began with Crouton and evolved to Crostini, the latest container project will carry the name ‘Bruschetta’. There’s little else to discern from the small handful of commits surrounding Bruschetta but the above addition of the feature flag clearly shows that third-party VMs(virtual machines) could be the next big thing for Chrome OS.
Why it matters
As it sits, container technology is responsible for bringing Linux apps to Chrome OS and more users are actually becoming aware of this option and using Crostini to install applications that would otherwise not be available for Chromebooks. It’s a very useful tool however, the average consumer probably isn’t interested in learning their way around the Linux terminal when they bought a Chromebook for its ease of use. Containers also helped usher in the Windows desktop on Chromebook but Parallels isn’t free and it’s only available to enterprise users.
My suspicion and hope are that Google is working on a flexible container that the company can offer to third-party software developers that will make it easier for them to natively deploy their applications on Chrome OS. This would circumvent the need to enable Linux applications entirely and would be way more consumer-friendly for those of us that simply want to point, click, and install the application we need. Developers could build the entire framework needed for an application inside the container. When enabling the container, everything they need would install and run in the standalone container and look just like any other native application.
Now, I know what many of you are thinking. Doesn’t this idea go against the very nature of Chrome OS? Yes and at the same time, no. Chrome OS on its own is still a lightweight and secure operating system that does everything that most consumers need. Whether via the web or Android application, there’s little you can’t do with your Chromebook. Customizable containers could and will likely target the outliers such as developers or creators that need more powerful options than what is available via the web. That makes it a win-win for everyone. Those that don’t need to “install” software using a container never have to think about it. Just go about your life using Chrome OS in its purest form and life is good.
On the flip side, the idea of being able to install something like Davinci Resolve or Adobe Premiere without having to enable the Linux environment would be huge for Chrome OS. Presumably, this would be a big win for the makers of the software as well because they would add an entirely new segment of devices to their ecosystem and that means more licenses sold.
I may be dreaming a little too big here but I seriously feel that Google is looking to make Chrome OS the all-in-one computing solution for the masses. Whether you casually surf the web or you’re a content creator, developer, or something else that requires a bit more out of your laptop, Chromebooks could very well become the platform to do it all. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Bruschetta and hopefully, we’ll soon have a better idea of what exactly Google is up to. I really hope that I’m right.
Big shout out to our friend Dinsan at Chrome Story for spotting this tasty morsel.