Reports started flying around the internet in the past couple days about Google seemingly confirming a whole group of Chromebooks that will not get Lixux apps. While these reports are mostly accurate, there are a few factors that must be considered when we look at the list of devices being left out of the Linux party. Don’t lose all hope just yet if your device is on the list.
Not An Official Statement
So, first things first, this wasn’t an official statement from Google. All of this has been based on a post over at the /r/Crostini subreddit that comes to a very solid, very clear conclusion based on an entry over at the Chromium Repositories. Though not officially from Google, what is in the post is quite clear-cut. Reddit user /u/keeto simply linked the Repository entry and what is included:
containers_and_vms: drop support for linux-3.14 and older
Since vsock (and other security patchsets) aren’t being backported to linux-3.14, update the docs to match.
It’s all pretty straightforward. Any Chromebook that has a kernel 3.14 or older will not get access to Linux apps due to some security issues with the older kernels. Not really a statement from Google, but pretty damning evidence for those on an older kernel.
Here’s the list of devices with older kernels that won’t be getting Linux apps:
- AOpen Chromebase Mini (Feb 2017; tiger, veyron_pinky)*
- AOpen Chromebox Mini (Feb 2017; fievel, veyron_pinky)*
- ASUS Chromebook C201 (May 2015; speedy, veyron_pinky)*
- Acer C670 Chromebook 11 (Feb 2015; paine, auron)
- Acer Chromebase 24 (Apr 2016; buddy, auron)
- Acer Chromebook 15 (Apr 2015; yuna, auron)
- Acer Chromebox CXI2 (May 2015; rikku, jecht)
- Asus Chromebit CS10 (Nov 2015; mickey, veyron_pinky)*
- Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA (Jul 2015; minnie, veyron_pinky)*
- Asus Chromebox CN62 (Aug 2015; guado, jecht)
- Dell Chromebook 13 7310 (Aug 2015; lulu, Auron)
- Google Chromebook Pixel (Mar 2015; samus)
- Lenovo ThinkCentre Chromebook (May 2015; tidus, jecht)
- Toshiba Chromebookk 2 (Sep 2015; gandof, auron)
A quick side note about kernels: I know many of you don’t know what a kernel is in the first place, so here’s a fantastic summary from Make Use Of:
The kernel’s job is to talk to the hardware and software and to manage the system’s resources as best as possible. It talks to the hardware via the drivers that are included in the kernel (or additionally installed later on in the form of a kernel module). This way, when an application wants to do something (say change the volume setting of the speakers), it can just submit that request to the kernel, and the kernel can use the driver it has for the speakers to actually change the volume.
So, now that we are all basically on the same page with all this kernel stuff, let’s talk about how this affects Chromebooks. In general, Chromebooks are developed and manufactured with a particular Linux kernel version from the beginning and it never changes through the life of the device. For whatever reason, a baseboard is loaded with a particular kernel (likely the one that supports the most function out of the box for a particular processor/board) and everything else is built on top of that. As I said, kernels don’t normally change…but sometimes they do.
A Whole Group Saw A Kernel Update
In the past couple of years, the entire group of Baytrail-powered Chromebooks all received a kernel upgrade to 4.4. Baytrail devices shipped with 3.18 initially but were updated to 4.4. We’re unsure why this happened, but if Google decided to update an entire subset of devices, it stands to reason that they could update any baseboard they deem worthy.
The 2015 Chromebook Pixel is a notable device not getting Linux apps at this point. I’m not going to lie, that fact stings pretty badly. I know that device is over 3 years old, but of all the Chromebooks left off the Linux apps list, this one feels wrong. Similar to the exclusion of the original Pixel from the Android App party, the 2015 Pixel not getting Linux apps just seems wrong.
There’s nothing saying Google will update the kernel for the 2015 Pixel, but there’s also nothing saying they won’t. I suppose the point in all this is not to write any Chromebook off just yet. Yes, it is definitive that the list of Chromebooks above won’t get Linux apps based on the kernel version, but that isn’t to say that kernel version absolutely won’t change.
It just isn’t likely.
Via: Android Police