Chrome OS 80 will start using Debian 10 Buster on new Linux installations
At Google I/O last year, Google announced Linux app support for Chrome OS. This is made possible thanks to installing a GNU/Linux distribution, specifically Debian 9 “Stretch”, in a Linux container. Earlier this year, the Debian project announced Debian 10 “Buster,” but Google wasn’t ready to upgrade the default Linux container on Chromebooks just yet. Now, after months of testing and bug fixing, Google is ready to enable Debian 10 “Buster” as the default Linux container in Chrome OS.
According to a recently merged commit we spotted in the Chromium Gerrit, new Crostini (the code-name for Linux apps on Chrome OS) installations will get Debian 10 by default. The commit doesn’t mention how Chromebooks with existing Debian 9 “Stretch” installations will be migrated to the newer version, but users can easily upgrade the container themselves by running a few commands. Upgrading to the newer version of Debian enables new features and should also bring greater application support. For the truly enterprising, it’s even possible to replace the Debian container with Arch Linux.
Linux app support on Chromebooks is part of Google’s push to make Chrome OS more useful for developers. It has enabled developers with high-end Chromebooks to be able to develop Android apps in Android Studio, for instance.
Chrome OS 80 will also bring other changes that are useful for developers such as Android app sideloading without enabling Developer Mode. Version 80 is currently in the Canary channel and is expected to be released for all users in February 2020.