My previous post “My new go-to linux dev machine is a Chromebook…” seems now to be obsolete. Google have released a “linux mode” in Chrome version 69 for Chrome OS. This is the project “crostini” that was first made available on the Pixelbook.
There are a couple of gotchas, such as it is only beta so far and is only supported on certain Chromebooks – see here for more information: linux mode capable chromebooks – note it says that Chromebooks like the HP 14 G3 running 32-bit ARM and others using Baytrail x86 CPU devices will never support linux mode.
Luckily, my ASUS Chromebook Flip C101PA is on the list. So, no need to reset and set developer mode, just simply select Settings -> Linux(Beta) and go for lunch – this is definitely more than a coffee install.
You will see a new app on your Chromebook – “Terminal”. The username and password are those of your Google account – so, launching Terminal, I see a prompt of “nicbkw@penguin:~$”. Click (touch & hold) on the Terminal icon in the appfinder and you have the options to uninstall and shutdown Linux(Beta). Clicking on the launched Terminal icon, you will see the option to open new windows, meaning it is possible to run multiple terminal session windows as well as browser and your other chromebook apps.
The distribution is debian stretch and installing apps is as simple as “sudo apt-get install gimp”. The GUI runs natively in the Chrome OS environment and this linux app appears alongside other ordinary Chrome OS/Android apps – see the header image.
The linux virtual machine, together with any data you store while using it persists between sessions, so you can quit apps, logout, etc without worrying about resetting anything. All data is stored in the same encrypted storage as other Chrome OS data.