If you recall from our earlier article/video showing Linux apps running in a container on the Pixelbook, one of the shortcomings I mentioned there was the lack of file management. Not only was there no simple way to move files, there was no real way to get those files out of that container to share with the real world.
To be fair, I’ve received some emails on how I can use terminal commands to move files via SSH to and from Crostini containers. (Again if you need a rundown on all that is going on with Crostini and containers, go here and spend some time reading.) While I’m sure those terminal commands work well and would be a functional solution to a substantial problem with Crostini as it currently stands, I wasn’t really interested in that type of workaround.
For me, I don’t mind there being small levels of jank (I operated out of a Crouton environment for a couple years, after all) with this whole Linux project. In fact, I somewhat expect it. But, for a solution to be a daily-driver-type solution for me, I need to be able to do the basics in a simple and straightforward way.
Typing in terminal commands just to move a file isn’t my idea of simplicity.
Google Looks To Be Fixing This
Thankfully, this issue looks to already be getting a fix. And we aren’t talking just a bolted-on fix: we’re talking an out-of-the-way, it-just-works-for-the-user kind of fix.
Coming to us straight from the Chromium repositories, this commit shows quite clearly that the Chromium team is readying an SSH solution for the Files app integration with Crostini. Check the language, here:
nassh: add onSendMessageExternal to allow FilesApp to sftp mount
FilesApp will integrate with crostini by using sftp mount the ssh server running in the termina/penguin vm container. This integration allows the sftp mount to be done without user interaction.
This seems pretty clear. SSH is a secure way for one computer to communicate to another. With the Crostini setup, containers in Chrome OS are Virtual Machines in a container, so sharing files between your Chromebook and the container is a similar setup to two separate computers sharing information.
The suggestions I’ve received regarding terminal commands for file management were all leveraging SSH to make it all work.
It looks like Google is taking the work out of it and getting the container and Files app connected via SSH. Beyond that, the tech behind the scenes is a bit over my head at the moment. The line in all this that feels most important and most promising is this: This integration allows the sftp mount to be done without user interaction. I like the idea of file access without any need for me to do anything.
I like that a lot. As more and more features continue rolling in, we’ll do our best to get those to you and continue following the trail of Linux apps on Chromebooks. The more I see, the more confident I feel that we’ll have this feature across many Chromebooks later this year in a way that benefits not only developers and tech-savvy users, but general users alike.