If you missed a heartbeat, that’s okay, but you read it right. Google has announced that all Chromebooks launched this year onwards will be Linux-ready right out of the box. For those not aware, Chrome OS is built on Linux, which began as a Ubuntu spin-off and later migrated to Gentoo Linux. It then evolved using Google’s own Linux vanilla kernel.
Installing Linux on Chromebook isn’t new. Since 2013, Linux applications can be run in Chrome OS using Crouton, a third-party set of scripts that allows access to a Linux distribution. Crouton lets you run side-by-side Chrome OS and Ubuntu, eliminating the need to boot one operating system at a time. Additionally, in 2018, Google announced that Linux desktop apps were officially coming to Chrome OS.
If you have been following the recent Chromebook developments, the Chrome OS ecosystem has grown at an incredible rate in just the last year. Over half of all Chromebooks have received Linux support. And now all devices launched this year will be Linux-ready right out of the box.
The biggest take away from this news is for the developers where combining Linux and Chrome OS creates a great web development environment, making the process even easier for Android development. For instance, installing Android Studio on Chrome OS was a long process. Now, it takes a double-click. No need to use a terminal to download, move and unzip the file— download, click, and install.
Even sharing files between Linux, Android, and Chrome OS is made a lot easier in the new ChromeOS. Now you can use the file manager to safely move files across Chrome OS, Google Drive, Android, and Linux.
The new Chrome OS makes it easier to connect networking services between Linux and Chrome OS when it comes to port forwarding. Hence you can run a web server in the Linux container while debugging the same machine.
This is yet another big leap for Linux. Earlier, Microsoft stirred the entire Linux community when they announced that they would ship a Linux Kernel with Windows. This year has been exciting and indeed can be called the Year of Linux!
Update 15 Aug 2020: As of today, Linux is now available on the newer Chromebooks. Refer to this article on installing Linux on your Chromebook. We tried it, and although there is still some work left in terms of seamless integration, it looks like an excellent start. You can now run GIMP on your Chromebook using Linux.