Google Fixes One Chrome OS Linux Problem, Introduces Another

Acer Chromebook Tab 10 logo AH 2019

Google’s constant pursuit of a better Chrome OS experience has now resulted in one problem being fixed on the Linux side of things but it’s also broken aspect of the functionality, based on recent reports from Chrome Unboxed. On the more positive side of the equation, Google is now working to include audio input support for Linux, fixing another side of a previously ignored glaring problem for Chrome OS.

Specifically, Google was already addressing the outbound side of that equation but users are still left unable to record audio. That limits the use of stronger Linux software for studio-style recording, video chatting, or capturing audio for software development purposes, just to start. Now, a new bug report has been added assigning the task for getting microphone-based captures working in the system for scheduling.

Audio output support in Linux is expected to be added as early as Chrome 74 but input support won’t likely be added for at least a few more updates beyond that.


Introducing a new problem via security update

On the other side of the balance and within the same month, Google also seems to have broken at least one previously-smooth-operating method by which users could install Linux apps, in the first place. The more stable of Google’s Crouton — installing Linux itself to run on Chrome OS — and Crostini — installing Linux apps directly — solutions now requires extra work to install following a security update to the system.

In short, the long-standing and well-established method for installing Crouton no longer works due to changes introduced in the most recent version of Chrome OS. That’s forced an alteration in both the preparation process for installing Crouton and the command used to install it.


Linux is already heavily weighted for use by tech-savvy users on Chrome OS and comes with the possibility that, if things go wrong, a Chromebook will essentially become bricked and unusable. It’s a process that requires developer mode and should be avoided by the average user without significant research and preparation. So the changes are not going to be insignificant for those who want to access a fuller Linux experience in Google OS.

Downloading a Linux distro previously required users to input the command “sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton …” in the Chrome OS shell in developer mode. Now, users need to input a more complicated “sudo install -Dt /usr/local/bin -m 755 ~/Downloads/crouton” command but that’s just for starters. The entire process following that has reportedly become equally convoluted according to Crouton GitHub maintainer and developer  David Schneider.

…oh the irony


The two changes resulting in a broken Crouton install and incoming audio input support for Linux are seemingly unrelated but can be linked together but an apparent irony for their intended audience. Linux currently has a limited number of uses on the operating system and that had been made worse by a lack of both audio input and output.

More common uses such as video chatting notwithstanding, the beta iterations of Linux itself are utilized by the same subset of Chrome OS users, stemming from its current difficulty to get installed or working properly, who may have found audio support useful. With Google’s attempt to update security to patch away issues, the process for getting started for tech-savvy users has now become even more convoluted.

Summarily, Google has managed to work toward eliminating problems faced by those users while making challenges in using Linux, to begin with, more prominent and all within a relatively short span of time — nullifying nearly every present guide for installing Crouton.