Chromebook Linux support: not everyone’s invited to the party

JC Torres - Aug 22, 2018, 10:51pm CDT
Chromebook Linux support: not everyone’s invited to the party

If you’ve been holding on to your three- or four-year-old Chromebook hoping to give it a new lease on life with exciting new features, you might not want to hold your breath anymore. Support for Linux software, one of the biggest things to happen for Chrome OS next to Android app support, is coming soon but it won’t be coming to all Chromebooks, mostly those launched in 2015. It won’t even come to Google’s first high-end device, the Chromebook Pixel.

The reason for this segregation is partly technical and partly arbitrary convention. The implementation of running Linux apps on Chromebooks require certain features related to virtual machines that are only present in the latest versions of the Linux kernel, particularly starting 4.8. The Chromebooks that won’t be getting Linux support, however, are running on Linux 3.14 or older.

That’s the technical reason. Sadly, unlike regular Linux desktops, Chromebooks launch with a specific version of the Linux kernel and never upgrade. That’s pretty much the same situation in Android, where only new versions of Android released annually get updated Linux kernels. keeto from Reddit compiled a list of Chromebooks that fall under that limitation and will therefore not get Linux support:

• AOpen Chromebase Mini (Feb 2017; tiger, veyron_pinky)*
• AOpen Chromebox Mini (Feb 2017; fievel, veyron_pinky)*
• ASUS Chromebook C201 (May 2015; speedy, veyron_pinky)*
• Acer C670 Chromebook 11 (Feb 2015; paine, auron)
• Acer Chromebase 24 (Apr 2016; buddy, auron)
• Acer Chromebook 15 (Apr 2015; yuna, auron)
• Acer Chromebox CXI2 (May 2015; rikku, jecht)
• Asus Chromebit CS10 (Nov 2015; mickey, veyron_pinky)*
• Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA (Jul 2015; minnie, veyron_pinky)*
• Asus Chromebox CN62 (Aug 2015; guado, jecht)
• Dell Chromebook 13 7310 (Aug 2015; lulu, auron)
• Google Chromebook Pixel (Mar 2015; samus)
• Lenovo ThinkCentre Chromebook (May 2015; tidus, jecht)
• Toshiba Chromebookk 2 (Sep 2015; gandof, auron)

Some might argue that some of these Chromebooks might not even be able to handle running a Linux virtual machine anyway because of their older hardware. Nevertheless, this development (or regression if you will) shows that even if a Chromebook is still supported, it might not get the latest and greatest features anyway.

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