Is Chrome OS Desktop Linux? 8 Points to Consider

Do Chromebooks run Linux? This is not the best way they’re marketed, for certain. Google would not inform you Chromebooks include Linux. They run Chrome OS, Google’s tackle what a desktop working system will be.

However regardless of how completely different Chrome OS seems and feels, Chrome OS relies on Linux. So after we discuss Linux, are we additionally speaking about Chrome OS? Listed here are eight factors to think about.

1. Chromebooks Use the Linux Kernel

Linux, technically, is not an working system. It is a kernel, the a part of your laptop that allows your PC’s {hardware} to speak with software program. The kernel is why issues occur if you press buttons and why you may see issues in your display screen.

All of the software program you see in your display screen? That is not Linux. Linux has merely change into shorthand for working programs (also referred to as distributions, or distro for brief) constructed utilizing the Linux kernel. Chrome OS makes use of the Linux kernel, so by this commonplace, Chrome OS is desktop Linux.

2. Chrome OS Is Based mostly on Gentoo

Chrome OS would not simply use the Linux kernel. It’s truly constructed on high of the Gentoo Linux distribution.

Because of this a lot of what goes on behind the scenes is not code developed by Google. It comes from the broader Linux group.

That mentioned, do not anticipate to dive into the Gentoo expertise. Even when you comply with the steps to put in full-blown Linux in your Chromebook, it will not be Gentoo that you simply’re working.


3. You Can Set up Some Linux Apps


The argument that Chrome OS is Linux would not cease there. Chrome OS now gives the choice to put in conventional desktop Linux apps using Crostini.

Now, these apps are usually not what drive folks to Chrome OS. You could first examine to make sure your Chromebook comes with Linux app support. If it does, you may run native desktop Linux apps like GIMP and VLC in your Chromebook with out having to change it to developer mode or substitute Chrome OS fully.

4. Chrome OS and GNU Are Largely Incompatible

To date it appears fairly apparent that Chrome OS is Linux. So why is that this even a query?

Nicely, if you see Linux mentioned on-line, have you ever observed the way it’s usually written as GNU/Linux? That is as a result of most of the elements that at the moment go into offering a totally useful Linux desktop truly existed earlier than the Linux kernel did. They happened as a part of the GNU undertaking. A lot of what we affiliate with Linux has extra to do with GNU than with Linux.

Chrome OS relies on Linux, but it surely would not share within the apps, values, or tradition of the GNU project. It is Linux, certain, but it surely’s not likely GNU.

5. Is Chrome OS Free and Open Supply?

A foundational a part of the GNU undertaking is making free software program, with “free” referring to not the worth however to your freedom to view, edit, and share the code. That is also referred to as open-source software program.

The Linux kernel is free software program. It is obtainable underneath the GNU Normal Public License, which ensures that the Linux kernel and all adjustments made to it stay free for everybody to make use of and share. All GNU software program can be free software program.

A lot of what goes into Chrome OS can be free software program, because it’s obtainable for anybody to obtain within the type of Chromium OS. You may set up and run Chromium OS in your machine. However the full expertise that you simply get on a Chromebook accommodates scores of closed supply code.

Google provides proprietary bits to the browser, and the vast majority of apps and extensions you put in are additionally closed supply. So even when many of the code that goes into Chrome OS is open, many of the bits you consciously work together with aren’t, identical to on Android.

6. You Cannot Swap Your Desktop Atmosphere

Google Chromebook with Google Homepage on Chrome

This black code has a tangible affect in your expertise with a Chromebook. In comparison with your typical Linux desktop, you have got comparatively little freedom in terms of the way you arrange or modify your expertise.

You may’t select an alternate interface to the one Google gives. You may’t swap out the audio or show server. You may choose your app retailer or most popular bundle format although.

Briefly, whereas most Linux desktops provide the freedom to configure your PC nonetheless you need, Chrome OS would not. You both use Chrome OS the best way Google designed it, otherwise you use crouton to substitute a correct GNU/Linux desktop rather than Chrome OS.

It is simpler to both substitute Chrome OS with Linux or use the 2 side-by-side than it’s with Home windows, however identical to with Home windows, they nonetheless really feel like two separate issues.

If code is accessible on-line for anybody to view, edit, and share, then sure, it is open-source. That is true of Chromium OS, the code that makes up a lot of Chrome OS. However that is solely a part of the story.

Most Linux distributions do not merely have open code or give you a technique to contribute, they actively hunt down your involvement within the course of the undertaking. They’re additionally developed out within the open. There are mailing lists that individuals can subscribe to and monitor conversations a couple of undertaking’s course.

Or there’s a discussion board, or a GitHub, or a GitLab web page. With Chromium OS, you’re invited to get involved, however the course of the undertaking is primarily decided in-house at Google.

8. Chrome Apps Are Not Linux Apps


There are numerous desktop environments within the Linux ecosystem. They appear and performance in wildly alternative ways. However as completely different as GNOME and KDE Plasma could also be from each other, you may run an app designed for one inside one other. Most Linux software program is interoperable, even when it might not combine nicely and look misplaced.

This is not the case with Chrome OS. To be honest, software program usually is not designed for Chrome OS. It is both an Android app or a Chrome extension. And sure, you may set up Chrome on Linux. However these extensions require Chrome, and Android apps require an emulator. Chrome OS exists in its personal ecosystem separate from the remainder of Linux.

So Is Chrome OS Desktop Linux?

Chrome OS is Linux, certain. However is it GNU/Linux? No, not likely. And is Chrome OS what most individuals keep in mind after they consider Linux?

Most Chrome OS customers don’t know that they’re utilizing Linux. On this regard, Chrome OS has far more in frequent with Android than with different Linux-based desktops.

Finally, there is no such thing as a easy reply to this query, and that has much less to do with Chrome and extra to do with how ambiguous of a reputation “Linux” for an working system actually is.

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