Following Google’s addition of Linux app support for Chrome OS and its own Pixelbook shortly after this year’s Google I/O conference which took place last month, the same Linux treatment has now been given to the new HP Chromebook X2. The aforementioned device was released in April as the first Chrome OS notebook to be wrapped in a 2-in-1 format, boasting stylus support and a metal unibody design. The recent implementation of Linux apps is primarily aimed at developers and presently it can only be acquired by switching to the Canary channel.
The HP Chromebook X2 is now also the first Chrome OS detachable to benefit from Linux apps support, and the third Chrome OS device to join the party following Google’s Pixelbook and the Samsung Chromebook Plus. In order to take advantage of this new addition to the platform, HP Chromebook X2 owners are required to first enable Developer Mode, switch to the Canary channel as mentioned above, and then acquire the most recent nightly Chrome OS build. Once these prerequisites are met, the Linux apps function can be enabled from the Settings panel. Now, there is a reason why support for Linux apps is currently available only as a nightly build through the Canary channel, and that is because the feature is not yet fully developed for daily usage. GPU acceleration is not supported at present, meaning that there are strict limitations when it comes down to running more graphically-intensive applications. Nevertheless, Linux apps support for the Chrome OS platform is generally in its early days of development and further improvements are expected to be added via future nightly builds. Either way, the HP Chromebook X2 is not really a graphical powerhouse, having been equipped with an Intel Core M3-7Y30 chipset and 4GB of RAM, so it isn’t necessarily the Chromebook of choice for heavy Linux developers to begin with.
It’s worth noting that combining Linux and Chrome OS on the same machine is not a new concept for third-party developers, and going as far back as 2014, a Chrome extension called Crouton gave Chrome OS users the ability to run Linux distros in windowed mode. Meanwhile, earlier this week a few bits of information have suggested that Google might be working on ways to allow Chromebooks to run Windows 10, so all in all, it appears that Chrome OS continues to evolve and expand its horizons beyond its own ecosystem. It now remains to be seen which Chromebook will be next in line to take advantage of Linux apps.