We’ve had the Lenovo Chromebook Duet here in the office for a few days now. There will be a review forthcoming but an email from a reader prompted me to go ahead and share out the answer to a very crucial question that could be the tablet’s hinge pin for some buyers. Linux Applications.
Some initial reviews have reported that Linux applications work well on the Duet but that has caused some confusion because some are under the impression that Crostini a.k.a. Linux on Chrome OS is not supported by ARM-based devices. That is actually not the case. Yes, the Lenovo Duet is powered by a MediaTek ARM processor. Yes, most Linux applications are compiled for x86 (Intel/AMD) but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of applications that will run on an ARM-powered Chromebook. I’m still learning a lot about Crostini Linux since its addition to Chrome OS and I don’t know what type of wizardry the Linux container is actually using but we have installed and used Linux apps on a number of ARM devices and the Duet is no exception.
The project to bring Crostini to ARM devices actually started way back in 2018 and we saw the first signs of support near the end of that year. Fast forward to 2020 and Linux apps are available to all older MediaTek devices such as the Lenovo Flex 11 and the Acer Chromebook R13 as well as RockChip Chromebooks like the Acer Tab 10. On top of that, Google has gone so far to say that all devices released from here on out would support Linux applications. For good measure, I went ahead and installed GIMP, Inkscape and Blender on the Duet Chromebook and I’m happy to report that they all worked as well as you’d expect. That is to say, they ran and will work. You do have to keep in mind that this is a low-powered device in comparison to something like the Core i7 ASUS Spin 13. Personally, I don’t see myself using Linux on the Duet very much but perhaps there are some that want to use the tablet as their primary device and they need that “one” application to bring everything together. Well, you can do just that. I hope that someone finds this information useful because I was happy to share it.