Earlier this year, after about three years, Google finally lifted the â€œBetaâ€ label from Project Crostini which brought a Linux development environment to Chromebooks. While many may think that the Linux side of Chrome OS is just for tech users, developers, and DIY enthusiasts like myself, the ability to install running Linux packages can add a lot of value to Chrome OS, even for the average consumer. Apps like GIMP can give users access to more powerful image editing tools that are relatively rare in the Chromebook web ecosystem. Still, others might be interested in Linux on Chromebooks for the possibility of native gaming via the upcoming Borealis project which will use the same container technology to bring Steam to Chrome OS.
If you are a technical user and regularly use the Linux environment, managing your container (s) could soon be much easier. I said containers, plural because that’s exactly what this new Canary Channel update aims to handle. In case you didn’t know, you can actually launch multiple containers in the Linux environment on Chrome OS. Why? Well, there are a lot of use cases out there, but an example would be a developer who needs multiple Linux distros running for testing.
Either way, browsing multiple containers on Chrome OS (or any operating system) requires a good technical understanding of browsing the Linux terminal and the Crosh shell. Once you have created new containers in your virtual machine, you can start / stop, delete and manage them from Crosh. However, an upcoming update to Chrome OS may allow users to view and manage active containers directly from the settings menu. Discovered by ZDNet and dismantled by our friend Kevin Tofel, the new Chrome OS flag could eventually provide us with a configuration UI for container management.
As you can see in the image above, the new functionality is added to the already existing Linux options in the settings menu of Chrome OS. This should make it easier to manage multiple containers without needing to run commands in a Crosh shell. Presumably you will be able to start / stop or delete containers from this menu. This will come in handy if one or more of your containers are right for you or if you are just done with them. According to Mr. Tofel, each container could be given its own color code for easier identification. I’m also assuming that the individual name of each container, whether assigned automatically or added manually, will appear in the settings menu.
Again, this may seem like a feature for a small segment of users, but make no mistake, Google is targeting the developer community. Between Android app developers and business types, the maker of Chrome OS is serious about making Chromebooks a viable option for all walks of life, including Linux developers. Gamers who want Steam on Chrome OS and Chromebooks may soon see another major boost in segment growth. This flag appeared in the last Canary Channel update and I have run a few containers to see if it works but nothing yet. I will continue to test to see what it looks like when it goes live and we can see it in action.