Earlier this year, Linux apps on Chrome launched on the Pixelbook, a speedy Chromebook with 8GB RAM. Since then, dozens of devices have received support from low-end to high-end, and even ARM Chromebooks too. A recent Chromium commit introduces better resource management for Linux apps on Chrome OS by dynamically managing RAM – great news for low-memory Chromebooks.
Project Crostini allows users to run Linux apps in a virtual machine, segregated from the rest of the OS. While isolating apps in a VM makes it more secure, this makes it difficult for the OS to know what’s going on in the virtual machine to allocate RAM correctly. The Chrome developers decided to over-allocate RAM initially, meaning that many users were left with a VM consuming more RAM than it needed. Fine for a top-spec Pixelbook – not so great for a 4GB RAM Samsung Chromebook Plus. This recent change pipes in new controls that dynamically responds to RAM usage in the virtual machine and gives it back to Chrome once the app is done with it.
Automating resource management behind-the-scenes is great for end-users in general, and adds another layer of polish to Project Crostini before it arrives for the masses in a few months. Linux apps for Chrome will come to the Stable and Beta channels in release 69, which is due out in September. Until then, Chrome OS users will have to switch to the Developer or Canary channels.
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