Old Chromebooks won’t get Linux app support after all

Older models don't have the requirements to run Linux apps in containers

Toshiba Chromebook 2

Google announced support for Linux apps in Chrome OS earlier this year with plans to bring support to older Chromebooks. Despite Google’s best efforts, it doesn’t look like that’s going to come to fruition.

A recent commit on the Chromium Gerrit, a collaboration tool used by Chrome developers, indicates Chromebooks running Linux kernel 3.14 or older won’t receive Linux app support.

To clarify, a kernel is a program that is central to the operating system. It has complete control over everything in the system.

The issue here appears to be how Chrome OS handles Linux apps. The operating system runs apps in a container, which isolates the Linux app from the rest of the OS. This helps prevent malicious software from interfering with the main system.

However, this protected container requires features only available in recent versions of the Linux kernel. Chromebooks tend to stick with the Linux kernel they ship with. This means many popular Chromebooks run old kernel versions that won’t work with containers.

To make Linux apps work on these Chromebooks, Google developers are taking the features and adding them to earlier kernel versions. The practice, called backporting, allowed many Chromebooks to take advantage of Linux apps.

Chrome OS developers wanted to bring support to every Chromebook running kernel 3.11 or newer. However, the team realized that version is too old. Instead, they’ll backport to 3.15 so it and everything newer supports Linux apps.

Reddit user keeto put together a list of Chromebooks that won’t get Linux apps now. Furthermore, Chrome OS still supports those models.

Chromebooks that won’t support Linux apps

  • 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 Chromebook 2 (Sep 2015; gandof, auron)

Notably, the Google Chromebook Pixel, one of Google’s own Chromebooks, won’t get support. It’s unfortunate that these devices won’t get the useful new feature.

Source: Chromium Gerrit Via: Reddit, Android Police