We first heard of Chrome OS gaining Linux app support back in February. Google officially confirmed during Google I/O 2018 that the Pixelbook would be the first Chromebook with Linux app support, but since then the Samsung Chromebook Plus has joined in on the fun. Tonight, a device that we expected to eventually gain Linux app support finally got support for it: the HP Chromebook X2.
Linux app support is primarily for developers to encourage them to transition over to a Chromebook. GPU acceleration isn’t yet available until later this year, so don’t expect to be running Steam games anytime soon. To get started with Linux app support on your HP Chromebook X2, you’ll need to enable Developer Mode and then switch to the Canary channel. Once you’ve updated to the latest nightly build, you can enable Linux apps by going to Settings. After you’ve enabled the Linux Terminal, check out the wiki on Reddit’s /r/Crostini subreddit for some great guides on software you can set up.
The HP Chromebook X2 has the honor of being the first detachable Chromebook. It attaches to a keyboard base and detaches to act as a tablet. While it’s not the first device that acts as a tablet to run Chrome OS, it did beat the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 to market (seriously when is that thing becoming available, Acer?) Unfortunately, only the 4GB RAM/32GB storage/Intel Core m3-7Y30 model is available for purchase right now, so Linux app support won’t be too useful for those of you who are looking to use it as a machine for development. The Google Pixelbook is better suited for that task, and it’s poised to get even better thanks to native support for dual-booting Windows 10. There’s evidence that the upcoming Acer Chromebook 13 and Acer Chromebook Spin 13 will support Linux apps, too, if you’re looking for a high-end alternative to the Pixelbook.
If you would rather not buy a new Chromebook, Linux app support may come to older Chrome OS devices if the Chromium developers opt to backport some of the required kernel modules. The necessary kernel module, vsock, is present in Linux kernel 4.4, which is why we’ve seen all devices that so far support Project Crostini (Google’s codename for Linux app support on Chrome OS) run that kernel version. Linux app support is very much a work-in-progress, though. Expect lots to change in the coming weeks. We’ve already caught wind of Google’s plans to revamp the Files app to accommodate Linux files, and there’s bound to be more changes made to Chrome OS that we have yet to discover. Stay tuned for more of our coverage on Linux apps running on Chromebooks!
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