Google let it slip that all its Chromebooks launched this year will be Linux-ready right out of the box. Last year Google made it possible to run desktop Linux on its new versions of Chrome OS. Since then, more and more Chromebooks are able to run Linux. From now on every new Chromebook - ARM and Intel-based - will be able to run Linux alongside Chrome OS.
Chrome OS is built on Linux. It started as a spin off from Ubuntu Linux, then migrated to Gentoo Linux, finally evolving into Google's own take on the Linux kernel. Its user interface is and always has been the Chrome web browser.
Previously you could run Linux on Chrome OS using the open-source Crouton program in a chroot container. Now it's as simple as firing up your new Chromebook, opening the Chrome OS app switcher by pressing the Search/Launcher key, then typing "Terminal", which launches the Termina VM (Virtual Machine) running Debian Linux 9.0 ‘Stretch’ in a Linux container. As simple as that and you're running Debian Linux 9.0 on your Chromebook!
Want Ubuntu instead? You can bring Ubuntu up with a few simple shell commands. You can run Fedora with Chrome OS, as well, plus others of your choice.
Check out the Reddit Crostini sub-reddit for tips and tricks having to do with running Linux on your Chromebook. It's one of the best end-user Linux on Chromebook sites you’ll find anywhere.
Linux on new Chromebook laptops isn’t a dual-boot operation. Instead you're running both Chrome OS and Linux simultaneously on the same machine, meaning you can do things like clicking on a document file in the Chrome OS file manager and opening it instantly with LibreOffice in Linux - which is barely scratching the surface of what’s possible with these new capabilities.
The latest Chrome OS ‘Canary’ release lets you use the file manager to copy and/or move files between Chrome OS, Google Drive, Linux, and Android as you wish. Chrome OS has supported Android apps for a long time. With their latest Chrome OS ‘Canary’ (alpha) release Google has enhanced even its Android app compatibility.
If you’re considering a new machine, and you’ve been intrigued with the idea of a relatively inexpensive Chromebook as opposed to shelling out really big bucks for a new high dollar Mac or Windows 10 machine - given where Chrome OS on Chromebooks is now, a fast new Chromebook with extra storage and the ability to run Linux simultaneously alongside Chrome OS, with all the polish and enhancements that come with open-source Linux on the desktop, is more than ever an ideal choice for 99% of all desktop computer users these days.
Besides, all that extra money still in your pocket that you didn’t shell out for a new Windows 10 or Mac machine could come in handy when you least expect it!
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