Although it has more market share, Chrome OS is closer to being the Google OS to rule them all compared to Android. Its ability to run apps from different platforms, including Android, Linux, and even Windows, makes it an all-in-one operating system for nearly every task possible. Of course, not all of those have the same level of stability and support and, in a few weeks, support for running Linux apps will finally be joining Android app support as it moves from beta to stable status.
Yes, Linux support on Chromebooks is currently still in beta and has been for nearly three years. Given how much it has been talked about and used since it was first announced, it’s actually surprising to realize how long it has been considered not yet fit for official use. Then again, the feature is intended primarily for developers who wouldn’t have issues using beta software as long as it isn’t too buggy.
Linux support on Chrome OS was designed to give developers access to familiar tools for making web apps and Android apps, pretty much the same reason why Microsoft started its Windows Subsystem for Linux. Unlike WSL, however, Chrome OS supported running Linux GUI apps early on, partially thanks to the same Linux roots they both share. This opened the doors to running even apps not directly related to app development like productivity suites, image editing tools, and even games.
When it goes out of beta, Linux support will be considered an officially supported stable feature and all the implications that entail. Specifically, the Linux container gets updated every time Chrome OS does so that users won’t have to do it manually themselves. The next release also brings new features like port forwarding and better USB support.
Mirroring the development of the Chrome browser itself, Chrome OS is evolving at a rapid pace. Ironically, Google will actually be separating Chrome from Chrome OS, at least internally, so that Chrome, the web browser, can be installed and updated separately from Chrome, the OS. This will not only help keep outdated Chromebooks still secure but also opens up the platform to alternative browsers.