Google’s Chrome OS has a new commit in its Chromium base code that seems set to allow users to run Linux in a virtual machine on Chromebooks. The commit in question is for a device policy that dictates whether Linux virtual machines can be run and defaults to yes. This means that unmanaged Chromebooks can run Linux in a virtual machine with this new commit, while managed Chrome OS devices can have this capability denied to them if the system administrator wishes it so. This is all linked back to the Crostini Project, an internal project found within Chrome OS code not that long ago that promises to allow users to utilize applications from other ecosystems with containers that run on top of Chrome OS. Thus far, Project Crostini has not come to fruition, but this latest piece of code is linked to the project, which means that when it finally does roll out, we could be getting the very first taste of Project Crostini’s full potential.
Right now, using any sort of Linux application on a Chrome OS device requires somewhat advanced solutions that can compromise the security of the device and scare away the average user. While developers and others who may have a good reason to want to run Linux apps on a Chromebook would likely be able to go through the process, anything that makes it easier and keeps the device’s security measures intact is certainly welcome. In the case of this code commit, it seems that Crostini will go beyond its original ambitions of running an application and allow users to run a full Linux OS within a virtual machine right within Chrome OS.
Crostini’s first use case will seemingly be Linux, but a container that would allow the use of macOS and Windows applications would be a huge boon for Chrome OS. Something like that would entail a lot of red tape; in order to attain tolerable performance in most applications, Chrome OS and Crostini would likely have to use proprietary code from Microsoft and Apple. This makes it quite unlikely that Crostini will ever move beyond Linux, but being able to use more robust applications and Linux-based systems solutions without compromising or hacking your Chrome OS device will likely give Chromebooks a leg up in the commercial sector, at the very least.