Googlers will be fixing an obvious but under-reported issue in Linux on Chrome OS by finally adding audio support for associated applications, based on a recently spotted commit in the Chromium Gerrit. The commit adjusts code and documentation to enable support for audio for containers and VMs in Chrome OS 74, which are specifically used to run or access Linux applications.
The comments listed alongside the commit also indicate that there could be one or two caveats and hiccups when the feature does finally roll out -- with Chrome 74 expected to land on April 23. Linux app containers set up before audio support rolls out may still be configured to play audio to a "null" device, highlighting one of several reasons Linux apps are still considered a beta feature.
To fix the problem, as shown below, users will need to go through a series of steps to ensure the latest configuration packages are installed, clear certain settings, and turn it off and on again via the Chrome shell terminal.
Why isn't this a complete audio fix?
Because Chrome OS's access to Linux apps is still relatively unintuitive in terms of the installation or uninstallation of apps and application discover, most users likely haven't even noticed the problem with audio support in those. The incoming fix if far from complete though. Audio on the input or "capture" side of the equation will still be missing.
The slow rollout of features on the Linux end of Chrome OS primarily comes down to safety. As noted in the commit, the addition of any changes undergoes a high level of scrutiny to ensure that kernel hardening measures and other security features remain completely intact through any changes. That includes even arbitrary changes such as adding access to audio output or input devices for VMs and Linux containers.
There's no word on when an audio capture feature will be added to Linux apps, either. Audio output was initially expected to be included with Chrome 73. So once work does begin on the feature, it will almost certainly take some time to finally land on Chrome OS.
More Chrome OS 74 changes incoming
Audio playback support in Linux applications is not the only big change incoming with Chrome OS 74. Development on the platform has steadily picked up over the past year to include a variety of improvements that make the OS far more competitive with popular rivals such as Windows and macOS.
Among the more impactful incoming expected alterations is the addition of a new dark mode that will finally allow users who either prefer or need -- for eye conditions -- less bright colors and white tones.
File management will see some enhancements as well, pushing the functionality closer to a balance between native storage and the cloud. Users will essentially be able to manage their own folders and files in a volume called "My Files" that's separate from the Downloads, Play files, or Linux volumes. Currently, the Downloads Volume is the only space users have that allows for complete management of files but contents in the volume are automatically deleted if space runs low.
Virtual desktops and a new feature to allow direct anchor linking to specified text on a website or page could be released in Chrome 74 as well.