Uninstalling Linux Apps In Chrome OS May Be Simplified Soon

In short: Uninstalling Linux desktop applications in Chrome OS is going to a much easier process following a future update, thanks to a recently spotted Chromium commit that adds an uninstall option to the context menu of most apps. In effect, that means that users will soon be able to right click - or alt+click, in the case of Chrome OS - on the icon for a Linux app in the Chrome launcher drawer and simply click install. All of the difficult work often associated with Linux app package handling will then be dealt with by Chrome OS itself. There are some instances where the current iteration of the changes simply won't work, such as when an application doesn't have an icon in the app drawer. The system also won't attempt to uninstall packages where it can't guarantee the process will go smoothly.

Background: However, the change will definitely make things easier on those who don't have experience with Linux. In fact, the change isn't entirely dissimilar to how Chrome OS handles the installation of Linux apps, to begin with. Linux apps are ordinarily installed or uninstalled via command line or another application referred to as a package manager. Both cases are daunting to the uninitiated but can even be bothersome to those who already know how to use Linux inside and out. Since Chrome OS 69, users have been able to simply download Linux applications and install them with a click on the appropriate installation file. Uninstalling apps, at least until the latest commit goes into effect, still required some familiarity with those processes since the system doesn't provide a walk-through for how to accomplish things.

Impact: There's no way to gauge exactly when this feature will be added in the meantime. As things currently stand, it is currently marked in the Chromium Gerrit as both a "work in progress" and as having some merge conflicts. At best, it could roll out alongside Chrome 70, which is expected to begin hitting users sometime after October 16. With that said, the timing will depend on how well the feature works and whether or not any conflicts can be solved. Nothing good is likely to come from any uninstall process that leaves unwanted files behind or breaks the underlying system in some way.

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