The Chromium developers have been very busy as of late bringing life to the Crostini Project that will give users the ability to run Linux apps “natively” on Chrome OS. While Linux on Chromebooks isn’t a new trick, the Crostini UI presents a clean, hack-free method to launch Linux apps from the terminal app that will eventually live in Chrome OS’s app drawer when enabled.
Initially birthed in Google’s own Pixelbook, Linux apps on Chrome OS has now spread to ARM in the form of the Samsung Chromebook Plus. Although it’s still in its infancy, it’s becoming clear that developers are pushing to make the Crostini project a stable part of the Chromebook ecosystem.
More evidence of that has turned up this week as the developers prepare to enable the Crostini UI for more devices.
“All devices with kvm_host.”
I still have some digging to do in order to nail down how many devices this includes but theoretically, any Chromebook with Linux kernel version 4.4 is able to handle the task.
That’s a lot of devices. In the ARM department, the OP1(RockChip RK3399) is the only chip with the latest Linux kernel. That means the Samsung Plus, Acer Tab 10 and ASUS C101 are capable of running the Crostini UI.
For Intel chips, the list is much greater. Developers have updated the Linux kernel on a number of devices that go all the way back to Baytrail processors from 2014.
When we first discovered the Crostini project, all we knew was that Google was working on a secure method to implement containers on Chrome OS outside of the already existent Android apps. Our imaginations went wild at the possibilities this could present to the consumer market.
Over time, Crostini began to take on a much more developer-focused feel and even though it is still exciting, it appeared that Linux on Chrome OS would not be “for the masses.”
This latest update definitely fans the flame of our excitement. The average consumer may have no idea what is involved in bringing Linux apps to Chrome OS. However, if Google can package them in a clean, neat delivery system and offer up familiar apps and user-experiences, the method and means do not matter.
I may be reaching for the stars here but seriously. If Chrome OS can present a one-click solution to install Linux apps that give users options that the Chrome Web Store does not, it’s a huge win. A little material design polish, some nice icons and a user-friendly interface and we now have a third OS living naturally inside the Chrome OS domain.
It will be very interesting to see how Crostini develops over the coming months and how Google will present it to users, if at all.
Source: Chromium Repository