back to article Can't wait for Linux apps on Chrome OS? And you like stability? We'll see you in December, then

On Tuesday, Google told developers at its IO conference in Silicon Valley that Linux applications and command lines are coming to Chrome OS, showed off a few demos – and then shut up about it and published an information-light blog post. So, we decided to dig a little during the event today. Google has been developing a system …

  1. Phil Endecott

    > Linux will demand a tad more processor grunt, memory, and

    > storage space on the laptop that the Chromium browser

    > environment usually requires.

    I’m ptretty sure the command-lime programs I’d run would take a tiny fraction of what their bloated browser needs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bloated browser? My sub £200 Chromebook is online and usable from cold power up within 3 seconds...

      There is absolutely no bloat in a Chromebook, I would suggest if you are seeing bloat, you are seeing it on windows, and assume a Chromebook is the same as chrome. It's not.

      1. dave 93

        5 second boot time never gets old...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Indeed, you are correct, my 3yr old Chromebook booted in 5 seconds the day I bought it, and it's not slowed down since then, it's still as fast, and still as secure. It's the only platform that's impossible to get malware,and the only one I would give to my parents and be safe in the knowledge they aren't going to be on the phone with problems or hpbeen hacked.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            re: the only platform that's impossible to get malware

            Sometimes it really makes sense to post AC.

            Those of us who've been around a little longer than you know that, should Chromebooks become an attractive enough target, nothing is impossible.

            1. claude j greengrass

              Re: re: the only platform that's impossible to get malware

              The track record for Chrome OS is it's own testament. Sure, Google shells out the odd $100,000 USD for exploits, and my own experience of 5+ years using a Chromebook and my "daily driver" seems that it doesn't suffer infections that affect other OS's. The exception being, self-installed browser extensions. One malware extension just recently was installed on 100k machines, mainly through end user stupidity. YMMV

        2. jacksmith210060

          Agree. It is just amazing and love it. The overall UX with ChromeOS is excellent. Perfect example is not long ago my son went to turn off his Windows machine he uses for gaming. The computer indicates Do Not turn off updating. So told him to just leave on for the evening.

          He wake up and the computer indicates Do Not turn off updating. He looks at me and I am ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          Chromebooks updates behind the scenes and pick up next boot. Just a way, way, way better UX. Now having GNU/Linux it is about perfect.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "My sub £200 Chromebook is online and usable from cold power up within 3 seconds..."

        My £400 Windows 10 SSD laptop takes under 5 seconds to boot to the logon screen from power on. And thats for a far more capable OS.

        1. kryptylomese

          and then update/reboot.... repeat and malware and things break and eugh Windows!

      3. Nial

        "Bloated browser? My sub £200 Chromebook is online and usable from cold power up within 3 seconds..."

        Exactly, I don't know where the downvotes are coming from.

        I bought a cheap Chromebook to get access to my email (tethered to my phone) when on one client's site when they locked everything down.

        At home it has become our go-to bit of kit for browsing/ ordering etc. That's over a reasonable windows laptop, an oldish ipad and a two year old ipad air.

        They aren't laptops, but are instant on and 'just work', with a keyboard that vastly increases producivity

        when you need one.

        I don't even know where the ipads are now.

      4. Phil Endecott

        > There is absolutely no bloat in a Chromebook, I would suggest if

        > you are seeing bloat, you are seeing it on windows

        I’ve never used a Chromebook, or Chrome, and I’ve hardly ever used Windows.

        I am still totally confident, though, that their claim that Linux command-lime programs need more RAM, CPU etc than their browser-based OS are totally bogus. The footprint of ls, ssh, top, nano etc. will all be minute in comparison.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And if you have a proper laptop, can you run Spyware OS as a VM?

    3. Stuart 22 Silver badge

      Sorry to be thick ...

      Why is performance so very different then running a Linux crouton?

      My Kubuntu crouton [not the lightest desktop] delivers decent performance on my 5 year old 2/16Gb Samsung Chromebook. No probs with drivers either. Only problem is the Linux apps that assume an Intel environment. And WINE ain't going to be any good on many [most?] Chromebooks running ARM-based processors.

      But it would be good to have the security of non-Developer mode and, hopefully, a neater way of firing it up.

    4. claude j greengrass

      It may not be clear from this article that there are two major takeaways from Crostini. 1) You are still running Chrome OS; currently the most secure OS generally available due to firmware/software boot verification. 2) Crostini allows you to run desktop Linux application inside a Chrome window without recourse to Chromebook dev mode.

  2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Better options

    Just install Linux on the Chromebook in place of Chrome OS.

    Or buy a mid-priced Windows laptop -- which will have more flexibility, grunt, and disk space than even the most expensive Chromebook -- and install any Linux distro that you want on it.

    1. Paul A. Walker

      Re: Better options

      Yep - my 2011 Toughbook runs like a dream with Debian...

    2. Updraft102

      Re: Better options

      I bought a low-end Dell Windows 10 laptop (11 inch display, Celeron N3060 CPU, 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC) a few months ago for $180 US including shipping. With only a 32GB eMMC "hard drive," it has no business having Windows on it at all, as many people have found that 32 GB Windows 10 devices don't even have enough space free to go through the Windows 10 upgrade process to 1709 (that... may not be a bad thing), but I knew that when I ordered it. I put Mint on it as soon as it arrived, and even with several more programs installed than the already pretty decent selection with which it comes, the 32GB eMMC is still only a third full.

      It doesn't boot in five seconds, but it resumes from sleep in about one second, and it lasts many hours on a battery charge. Not a bad deal to get a real OS and not have Google in the loop!

      Really, with the specs this little laptop has, it seems to be a Chromebook that came with Windows more than anything else, but for the price I paid, I get a full PC UEFI rather than the Chrome version (no developer mode requirement here), and the Microsoft tax doesn't even seem to be a factor. Chromebooks with only half the RAM and half the storage space are going for what I paid for this one right now.

    3. jacksmith210060

      Re: Better options

      Problem is you lose the security when you wipe out ChromeOS. This is far better. You keep the security and then get GNU/Linux. Plus still get updates. Plus Google even updates the containers on the fly for you.

  3. dave 93
    Coat

    'command limes' LOL

    1. Fungus Bob
      Trollface

      Of course its 'command limes' - no lemons in the open source world...

  4. dave 93

    Old computers that still power up...

    ...can get a new lease of life if you put ChromeOS on them.

    Neverware Cloudready is a revelation for nuking and making old hardware usable...

    Might even have enough CPU and storage to make 'Russian doll LinuxOS, in a Linux BrowserOS' viable...

  5. 89724605718769278590284I9405670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921 Bronze badge

    It seems quite perverse, must admit but...

    ...will it run WINE?

    1. jacksmith210060

      Re: It seems quite perverse, must admit but...

      Yes Wine runs fine as well as Steam. Been using for a bit as have a Pixel Book and everything thrown at it has worked including Docker.

      You are using a second Linux kernel so can really use anything. Just love the approach Google took.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: It seems quite perverse, must admit but...

        " Just love the approach Google took."

        The trouble is that will not be all they took. Or don't you value not be followed around the web?

  6. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    So are there no development solutions that don't involve installing stuff?

    That exist within the cloud (i.e. the whole point of a Chromebook)?

    1. matjaggard

      Re: So are there no development solutions that don't involve installing stuff?

      Yes, there are. I'm not sure how good they are now because its been years since I tried Eclipse Chi or similar. But cloud based is not suitable for every possible task and Google recognise that, which is why loads of their apps work offline and they're working on running Linux apps locally too. If even Google believed cloud was the solution to everything, this would have been a quick link to create a GCP Linux server.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So are there no development solutions that don't involve installing stuff?

      The development of Windows (and MacOS) started with very standalone computers and then the networking steadily improved until we have the present hybrid state where most of the stuff is on the machine and some of it is cloud-based.

      The development of Chrome has been the other way round, starting in the cloud and extending into the machine as it proved desirable.

      I'm not sure that "the whole point of a Chromebook" is cloud computing. I think it's more that the cloud aspect should be seamless, which it certainly isn't with Windows. Windows 10 is getting there but the file access system is a complete mess.

      I think any success of Linux-on-Chrome will be related to how Google solve the storage issues. Nobody has really completely solved the problem of security versus easy to understand for any current OS, and Linux is one of the more opaque as soon as you need to do anything remotely nonstandard.

      1. jacksmith210060

        Re: So are there no development solutions that don't involve installing stuff?

        Storage is solved by making the ChromeOS side inaccessible by the GNU/Linux side. That will keep it secure.

  7. jacksmith210060

    Have a Pixel Book which purchased for this new functionality. On the developer channel and been working well and been very stable. Not had any problems.

    Just love how Google implemented. Get GNU/Linux but do not lose security.

  8. x 7

    Why????

    I don't see the point of this.

    Why not just run Linux natively?

    Or if you need virtual machines, run Linux on Linux.

    Surely the Chrome OS is simply an irrelevant complication?

    1. Fungus Bob

      Re: Why????

      ChromeOS *is* Linux with a locked down user interface and app store. This is how Crouton allows you to run ChromeOS and Ubuntu simultaneously - you're just switching user environments.

  9. NewZed

    Linux is also available on an ASUS Chromebox 3

    As a developer I wanted a high-end Chrome OS experience so that I could run the latest 64-bit version of the developer tool that I use: 'VS Code' (aka just 'Code'). This runs seamlessly in a Linux container. I installed it a couple of weeks ago shortly after my ASUS Chromebox 3 sporting a core i7 8th Gen processor arrived and I'd moved to the Developer Channel. As an IT professional with 40+ years of experience, most recently working as a Microsoft Solution Provider, I had grown disillusioned with Windows (remember Vista and Windows 8?) and Microsoft's direction and developer tooling. They evangelise like crazy and then dump tech after tech. Look at the original Surface on ARM, Windows Mobile for extreme examples that cost the company billions.Think of Silverlight and other tech that was unceremoniously dumped to the chagrin of many developers who had invested time and money in Microsoft tech. What of Windows Universal Platform (UWP)? . . . well good luck with that. Windows and in particular Windows Update is a massive PITA. Every 6 months when the biggies comes down the pipes I spend anywhere between two hours and two days getting my desktop functioning as it did. Some years ago I invested in a cheap ASUS Chromebit so that I could put my toe in the water with Chrome OS and as a result of that experience I'm now fully invested into the Google ecosystem and my experience is much much better that when I was engaged with the ever smug Microsoft community.

    I can only suggest that the people who talk about running Linux rather than Chrome OS or Windows because it's more capable buy a cheap Chromebook or the like and play around as I did. I doubt that you'll look back. Yes I fire my old Windows devices up for a few hours every week when I need to perform a specific task or support some of my old Windows customers or even check out how my web apps run in Chrome, Edge, Firefox . . . on Windows, but apart from that I'm running Chrome OS & loving the unbloated,largely hassle free 41,121 Octane 2 score experience. For those of you not taking Chrome OS seriously consider that Adobe are working closely with Google to ensure that their new Android video editor 'Project Rush' will work well in Chrome. 4K video editing requires serious power and this stuff looks like, if you don't like available Linux editors, you'll be able to run whatever Adobe release 'Project Rush' as. This stuff is here now for Developers and everyone else by Q1 2019 at the latest and it's 'Just Better'.

    I hope you appreciate the time I've taken here . . . I'm not saying this to fool you ;).

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