Hopefully, you’ve been keeping track with all the updates coming down the line concerning the Crostini project: a new set of features bringing containered Linux apps to Chromebooks. Development is progressing rapidly, and we really feel that this could be one of the biggest developments for Chromebooks since their inception.
Today, the latest development we are seeing is the addition of GPU support to these Linux containers. The news comes via the insanely-helpful Crostini Reddit that, if you are at all interested in all these developments as they happen, I fully suggest you go visit and follow.
In the related post, the commit being shared clearly references containers leveraging the GPU of the system:
WIP: gpu: implement virtio-gpu
This includes the virtio-gpu device, virglrenderer bindings (gpu_renderer), and an output for the gpu display using wayland (gpu_display).
The 3D features of virtio-gpu are currently untested, but basic 2D support is there. The drm_cursor_test in drm-tests should run to completion.
What This Means
It’s not that we didn’t think this would be coming, but the fact that we now have proof that it is being worked on is very, very exciting. For anyone reading this that isn’t quite sure what a GPU is, I’ll offer a simplistic explanation. The CPU (central processing unit) handles most tasks while handing off graphic-related processing to the GPU (graphics processing unit). The better the GPU, the better the graphics performance.
We’re not just talking about gaming, either. Think about all the things that apps do that require graphic-related resources. Video/photo/graphic editing software are perfect examples of apps that would take great advantage of this GPU support. But even simple apps will utilize this as well to make transitions and animations happen much smoother across the board.
All that being said, gaming will be much, much better once this is implemented. Take a quick look at the video below to see how badly containered Liunx apps struggle without GPU support. Once this is fully implemented, I’d imagine simpler games will be running quite well in these containers.
Keep in mind, however, that Chromebooks ship with integrated GPUs for now. That could be changing in the coming months, but for now these onboard GPUs are quite weak compared to discrete graphics cards. They can still can handle some decent gaming and will surely make standard app usage much more fluid, however, so this is most definitely a big step for Linux apps on Chromebooks.
As with all the updates circling Crostini, we’ll keep you up to date with any and everything we find until this whole thing goes live!