Is Chrome OS Desktop Linux? 8 Points to Consider

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Is Chrome OS Desktop Linux? 8 Points to Consider

Do Chromebooks support Linux? This is not the way they are marketed. Google does not inform you that Chromebooks include Linux. They run Chrome OS, Google’s version of a desktop operating system.

Regardless of how different Chrome OS seems and feels, it is built on Linux. So, when we speak about Linux, do we also mean Chrome OS? Here are eight things to think about.

1. Chromebooks Use the Linux Kernel

Technically, Linux is not an operating system. It’s a kernel, which is the component of your computer that allows your hardware to interface with software. The kernel is responsible for what happens when you push buttons and what you see on your screen.

Everything you see on your screen is software. That’s not Linux. Linux is merely a shorthand for operating systems (also known as distributions, or distros) built on the Linux kernel. Chrome OS utilizes the Linux kernel, hence it is desktop Linux under this definition.

2. Chrome OS Is Based on Gentoo

Chrome OS does not rely only on the Linux kernel. It’s really based on the Gentoo Linux distribution.

This implies that a lot of what happens behind the scenes isn’t code written by Google. It is from the larger Linux community.

However, don’t expect to go deep into the Gentoo experience. Even if you complete the procedures to install full-fledged Linux on your Chromebook, you won’t be running Gentoo.

3. You Can Install Some Linux Apps

The claim that Chrome OS is Linux does not end there. Crostini now allows Chrome OS users to install standard desktop Linux programs.

These applications, however, are not what entice consumers to use Chrome OS. You should first ensure that your Chromebook supports Linux apps. If it works, you can use native desktop Linux software like GIMP and VLC on your Chromebook without having to convert it to developer mode or completely replace Chrome OS.

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4. Chrome OS and GNU Are Largely Incompatible

So far, it seems that Chrome OS is based on Linux. So, why is this a question at all?

Have you ever noticed that when you see Linux discussed online, it’s often written as GNU/Linux? That’s because many of the components that now make up a fully working Linux desktop existed before the Linux kernel. They arose as a result of the GNU project. Much of what we identify with Linux is due to GNU rather than Linux.

Chrome OS is built on Linux, however it lacks the GNU project’s programs, beliefs, and culture. Sure, it’s Linux, but it’s not GNU.

5. Is Chrome OS Free and Open Source?

Making free software is a fundamental aspect of the GNU effort, with “free” referring not to the price but to your freedom to examine, change, and share the code. This is sometimes referred to as open-source software.

The Linux kernel is open source software. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License, which ensures that the Linux kernel and any modifications to it will remain free for everyone to use and use. All GNU software is free software as well.

Much of what goes into Chrome OS is likewise free software, since Chromium OS is accessible for download by anybody. Chromium OS may be installed and operated on your computer. However, the whole Chromebook experience comprises a large amount of closed source code.

Google adds private code to the browser, and the vast majority of applications and extensions you install are likewise proprietary. So, although much of the code that goes into Chrome OS is open, most of the pieces you interact with consciously aren’t, just as on Android.

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6. You Can’t Swap Your Desktop Environment

This black code has a direct influence on your Chromebook experience. In comparison to a standard Linux desktop, you have extremely less control over how you configure or customize your experience.

You cannot choose an alternative interface than the one provided by Google. The audio and display servers cannot be replaced. You may, however, choose your favorite app store or package type.

In summary, although most Linux desktops allow you to customise your computer whatever you like, Chrome OS does not. You may either use Chrome OS like Google intended, or you can utilize crouton to replace Chrome OS with a full GNU/Linux desktop.

It’s simpler to replace Chrome OS with Linux or use the two together than it is with Windows, but they still seem like two distinct entities.

Yes, if the code is publicly accessible online for anybody to read, alter, and share, it is open-source. This is true of Chromium OS, the code that underpins a large portion of Chrome OS. However, this is just a portion of the narrative.

Most Linux distributions don’t just provide open source or a method for you to contribute; they actively seek your input on the project’s direction. They are also created in the open. People may subscribe to mailing lists and follow discussions regarding the direction of a project.

There’s also a forum, GitHub, and GitLab pages. You are welcome to participate in Chromium OS, however the project’s direction is mostly set in-house at Google.

8. Chrome Apps Are Not Linux Apps

In the Linux ecosystem, there are several desktop environments. They have very distinct appearances and functions. However, as different as GNOME and KDE Plasma are, you may run a program developed for one within the other. The vast majority of Linux software is interoperable, even though it may not integrate smoothly and seem out of place.

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Chrome OS is not one of them. To be honest, most software isn’t developed for Chrome OS. It comes in the form of an Android app or a Chrome extension. Yes, Chrome can be installed on Linux. However, such extensions need Chrome, while Android applications necessitate the use of an emulator. Chrome OS lives in a different environment from the rest of Linux.

So Is Chrome OS Desktop Linux?

Sure, Chrome OS is based on Linux. Is it, however, GNU/Linux? No, not at all. Is Chrome OS what most people picture when they think of Linux?

The majority of Chrome OS users are unaware that they are running Linux. In this way, Chrome OS resembles Android much more than other Linux-based desktops.

In the end, there is no clear solution to this topic, which has less to do with Chrome and more to do with how vague the moniker “Linux” for an operating system is.

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