The ability to run Linux apps on Chromebooks is going to be available on the Stable and Beta channels with Chrome OS version 69, but this doesn’t spell the end of development for Project Crostini. A recent commit confirms the timetable update for both Beta and Stable channels. The release has been pushed back from version 68 to 69, which is expected to land mid-September (for Stable). Until then, Linux apps will only be available for Chromebooks on the Developer or Canary channels.
While this brings the long-anticipated Linux app functionality to the big leagues, expect feature updates and streamlining for months post-69.
What to expect on release
The stable launch on release 69 will bring a whole host of bugfixes and functional improvements, but the three biggest changes for the Crostini experience on Chrome (in our opinion) are:
Files app and Linux integration – A key piece of functionality that will make the Linux experience on Chrome OS seamless. Along with simply making it easier to manage files, improvements in Files app integration will mean smoother workflows for those that use the Linux environment heavily. For example, you’ll be able to load an app you’ve written in Android Studio easily into your local Android environment on your Chromebook.
USB access – Want to connect USB peripherals to your Linux container? Perhaps you prefer ADB within the Linux environment rather than enabling it through Developer Mode. The Chrome OS developers are working on implementing USB access, which you can track by starring this issue in the Chromium bugtracker.
Audio and sound support – Linux app users are currently deprived of this sensory experience. No release could be called Stable without this key piece of functionality. The issue is targeted for resolution with release 69 but you can track the developers’ progress.
What to wait for
There are dozens of bugs in the Chromium bugtracker for the Crostini project ranging from small to large. We’ve picked three highly anticipated features that we don’t expect will be ready in time for Stable.
GPU acceleration – Hardware acceleration for graphics and GPU workloads will be useful for a range of applications like gaming, software development, and video playback. This is a complex issue that will probably be slow-going for the multitude of architectures and Kernel versions that Chrome OS has in its device family. You can keep track of this particular issue on the bugtracker.
Cloud sync and backup – It makes sense for a development environment to support automated snapshots and backups of the VMs you have. Imagine an enterprise environment where you could sign in to any Chrome device and pull your VM from a Google Drive. The Chrome developers are aware of this potential but no bug has been created yet to track.
Support for FUSE filesystems – The developers have recognized the benefits of native FUSE support, but no movement has been made just yet. Supporting FUSE would allow users to mount and manipulate remote and local filesystems in a user-friendly way and would be a massive boon to the developer community. Bugtracker here.
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