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Just How Vanilla is Debian in Project Crostini on ChromeOS?


When the public got wind that Google was working on bringing Linux Applications to ChromeOS, some got worried that Google was going to create a proprietary and locked down distribution to run applications on. Fortunately this does not appear to be the case but what exactly is custom about the Google build of Debian? It tuns out the answer is not much.

Apt Repositories

The following apt repositories are added to /var/apt/list stretch/updates InRelease stretch InRelease stretch InRelease stretch Release stretch Release

As we can tell, this is a very short list which is a good sign that Google has not touched a lot. The main core of the operating system is still pulling from the upstream Debian repository which means you can both install a massive number of applications and that most updates come directly from Debian. You are also free to install whatever other applications you wish by simply downloading a .deb file or adding a new repository.

Custom Packages

Google has included a small number of applications within the Debian image. These packages are updated via the apt repository – as is the standard with Debian based distributions. The packages are as follows:

Package: cros-adapta
Package: cros-apt-config
Package: cros-garcon
Package: cros-guest-tools
Package: cros-sommelier
Package: cros-sommelier-config
Package: cros-sudo-config
Package: cros-systemd-overrides
Package: cros-ui-config
Package: cros-unattended-upgrades
Package: cros-wayland

Again, this is a very short list of packages which shows that Google is taking a very light handed approach to the Debian install. Most of the packages are essentially the glue that allows ChromeOS to display Linux applications and allow the automatic authentication that happens when you run a Linux application. You can actually view the source code of all of these application at

The cros-adapta packabe is a very interesting package as it is a fork of the Adapta GTK Theme that has been popular on Gnome based distributions for a while. This gives many Linux applications a theme that feels right at home with ChromeOS.

So to answer my initial question – The Debian install on ChromeOS is very vanilla!