ChromeOS Gains Support For Linux

Don’t write off Chromebooks as developer machines. According to NPD, Chromebooks drove almost one-quarter of notebook unit sales during Black Friday week in 2017. Notebooks with Chrome OS sold twice as many units in 2017 than in 2016. The average Evernote user, for example, is spending three times more time on large screen devices and four times more time when using the Google Pixelbook.

Google's Chromebooks are about go get a whole lot better. The company today said Chromebooks will soon be able to run Linux in a virtual machine, where developers can code and even deploy Android apps directly to Chrome.

Google says this is all about listening to its power users. Starting with Google's Pixelbooks, developers will be able to code in Linux on their Chromebook. Support for Linux means developers can create, test, and run any Android or web app for phones, tablets, and laptops all on a single Chromebook. Developers will be able to run popular editors, code in their favorite language, and even launch projects to Google Cloud all via command-line.

Linux will run inside a virtual machine that Google says it created from scratch specifically for ChromeOS. Users need only open a Linux window and launch their favorite Linux apps. Linux apps can start with the click of an icon, and users will be able to move the Linux window around and open files from within apps. It is based on the same kernel as ChromeOS (Debian 4.4).

It's secure. Google say the Linux VM is entirely sandboxed. There's no dual-booting. Malware cannot escape the Linux environemt or sully the ChromeOS.


“We wanted to make a much faster, simpler computing experience for people,” said Kan Liu, the director of product management, ChromeOS. “With Chrome, you just log in and everything is there.” Now the same is true of Linux.

Google says a preview of the new tool will be realest on the Google Pixelbook first. Once the Linux environment is up and running, developers will be able to score Linus apps from any of the usual sources. Google says it will bring support for more Chromebooks over time. It expects most new Chromebooks to support Linux over the next year.

Be sure to read the next Application Development article: Android P Will Automatically Crash Unresponsive Apps