Google Chrome is getting a big upgrade with the ability to run Linux apps, with a preview set to be released on the Google Pixelbook today before rolling out later to other models, according to a report from VentureBeat.
It’s a major addition to Google’s web-based operating system, which up until now has offered web-based Chrome applications and, more recently, the ability to run Android apps. But the option to run full-fledged Linux software marks the first time that real desktop applications have come to Chrome OS.
According to Chrome OS director of product management Kan Liu, users will be able to run Linux tools, editors, and integrated development environments directly on Chromebooks, installing them from their regular sources just like they would on a regular Linux machine. According to Liu, “We put the Linux app environment within a security sandbox, running inside a virtual machine,” with the apps running seamlessly alongside Android and web applications on Chrome OS.
Linux support for Chromebooks is still in the early stages over at Google — which is one of the reasons why it’s only coming to the Pixelbook for now. Chrome OS also won’t offer Linux app support as a default; instead, users will have to go and manually enable it before they can take advantage of the feature.
Also included in VentureBeat’s report is the fact that Android Studio for Chrome OS is in development, with a release scheduled for later this year. All in all, it means that Google developers can finally create Android, Chrome OS, and web applications directly from their Chromebooks, instead of having to use a separate Windows or Mac machine to do their actual dev work.
And while the average user might not get too excited about Linux software, it’s big news for developers and coders who rely on those tools to create new applications and software. Plus, given Google’s major education boost with Chrome OS, having the ability to run development environments means that Chromebooks just became an incredibly valuable tool for computer science and engineering students who are learning how to code.