Despite being out for a few days at this point, Google has been pretty quiet on any details for the upgrade to ChromeOS 121. I was hoping a few things that I’ve been using via experimental flags would show up out of the box this time around, but none of those features made their prime-time appearances just yet. Some of those include the new design overhaul for the Global Media Controls, custom mouse buttons, the new split-scree+overview feature, and manual Battery Saver. Sadly, these are all still tucked neatly behind their respective feature flags.
Instead, this update feels like one that is likely more about security and bug fixes, and on a 4-week schedule, that is simply bound to happen from time to time. But there are a couple changes that we can talk about; one I stumbled upon and one I was made aware of via Threads of all places. Let’s talk about those real quick so you at least have something new to see in the latest version of ChromeOS on your Chromebook.
A new keyboard shortcut for delete
Hey, I told you in the title there was one small and one large change. This is clearly the smaller one, but it is important nonetheless. For the past version or so of ChromeOS, Google’s been warning users that the old shortcut for delete (ALT+Backspace) was being deprecated in favor of the new one (Search+Backspace) as the default behavior. You can still opt to go back to the old way via Settings > Device > Keyboard > Customize keyboard keys.
In preparation for this, I’ve been forcing myself to learn the new way of doing things, and thankfully so. With ChromeOS 121, ALT+Backspace doesn’t do anything (no pop-ups, no warnings), so if you are looking for the new default delete key combo, you have it. Again, you can swap it back to the old way in settings if you choose, but as I’ve become used to it, this new combo is a bit more natural feeling, anyway.
An update to Debian 12 for the Linux container
Here’s the bigger news. We knew it was coming, but ChromeOS 121 has officially upgraded the Linux container on Chromebooks to Debian 12 ‘Bookworm’. Thanks to a comment over on Threads, I was made aware that this update happened and I hope that this is great news for all of those who leverage Linux apps on their Chromebooks.
According to the official Debian Blog, this new version (released in June of 2023) brings some big upgrades and updates to 67% of packages from Debian 11. While I have Linux apps enabled on my Chromebook, I don’t actually have anything installed. Some users are seeing a notification to update their Linux container, but my device must have done this in the background with the ChromeOS 121 update as I never saw this notification and am now on Debian 12.
Outside of that, I’m not much of a Linux guy, so while this is a big deal for a lot of users, I simply can’t relate. But I’m happy to see the Linux container continue getting updated as this part of the Chromebook experience has the potential over time to become very, very vital for professional development work. Again, I’ve not had to rely on it for much over the years, but a few, key Linux apps that are built to run well on Chromebooks could be game changers down the road, and I’m glad Google is keeping pace with Debian development.
I’m sure there are other changes in ChromeOS 121, but I’ve still not found anything else. If you have some, hit us up on social media (our comments are still having issues, unfortunately) and we’ll make sure everyone hears about them. And, if this is all that is new in ChromeOS 121, that’s OK. 122 is just around the corner, right?