​Chrome OS could be getting containers for running Linux VMs

Chrome developers are working on project Crostini to bring containers for running Linux VMs on Chrome OS.

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Chromebook users may soon have a simpler way to run their favorite Linux distribution and applications on Google's Chrome OS hardware.

As spotted by Chrome Unboxed, there's a newly merged commit in Chromium Gerrit describing a "new device policy to allow Linux VMs on Chrome OS".

A related entry suggests support could come with Chrome OS version 66, which is due out in stable release around April 24, meaning Google might announce it at its annual IO developer conference, which starts on May 8.

Developers can already use a tool called Crouton to install and run Linux on Chrome OS, but there is a security trade-off because Chrome OS needs to be switched to developer mode to use it.

There's also a Crouton extension called Xiwi to enable using an OS in a browser window on Chrome OS. However, it too requires developer mode to be enabled.

A recent commit suggests Chrome developers are working on a project called Crostini that may solve the developer mode problem by allowing Linux VMs to run inside a container.

As Chrome Unboxed notes, the commit for Crostini project only refers to developer builds of Chromium, however another commit suggests it could be enabled for all devices.

"If the policy is allowed, the Chrome settings page will include a new menu item entitled 'Better Together Settings'. Fitting, given that Ubuntu runs perfectly alongside Chrome OS," notes Chrome Unboxed.

Project Crostini's existence was first spotted by a Reddit user last week.

If this project is implemented, it does open the possibility that Chromebooks could run a range of Linux applications.

As Android Police notes, this could include Linux-compatible Steam games as well as the LibreOffice suite, GIMP, and even the Wine tool for running Windows programs on Linux.


The implementation of Project Crostini could allow Chromebooks to run a range of Linux applications.

Image: CNET

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