I have not covered many ChromeOS updates for a while but there were some surprises in 86.0.4208.0 that I had to make a post. It looks like the Chromium team quietly enabled support for additional USB device past-through in Crostini.
It should not come as a shock that I am a huge fan of ChromeOS/ChromiumOS and while I am clearly a fan, I am also very critical of the operating system and want to see it evolve. A bit over 3 years ago, I wrote a article on my website outlining some of the major shortcomings with ChromeOS in 2017 and I am happy to say that ChromeOS has come a very long way. A lot of new and impressive features have come to ChromeOS since my post including proper SD card support for Android, upgrading the dated Android 6.0 and various other improvements that were not on my radar such as Linux application support. ChromeOS is a great operating system that has been a daily driver of mine for a long time but there are still several major shortcomings that I would love to see resolved in future releases of ChromeOS.
Samsung announced a new feature with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, the ability to access Samsung Dex on a Windows or MacOS device. This in my opinion was a game changer as it could allow users to use the insane power of their Galaxy Note 10/Note 10+ devices on inexpensive hardware. Samsung released a client for MacOS and Windows but as usual left us ChromeOS/Linux users out in the cold. It turns out that there is indeed a way to use Samsung Dex on Linux and X64 Chromebooks like the Pixelbook (Affiliate Link), Pixelbook Go (Affiliate Link) or even Samsung’s own line of Chromebooks, It does need a bit of inexpensive hardware and WiFi to setup .
The Chromium team is hard at work with bringing new features to Chromebooks, recently a change was made to set Debian 10 (Buster) as the default operating system for the Crostini “Penguin” container. Unfortunately this change does not upgrade existing installations of from Debian 9 (Stretch) to Debian 10. You are in luck though as upgrading your existing container is pretty easy, here are the steps.
If you are on the ChromeOS dev channel, you may have noticed that network connectivity has been hit and miss over the past few weeks and if so, you may want to start mashing your check for updates button now to update to ChromeOS 77.0.3849.0 while reading this post. I am still working my way through the changelog for this build and it is pretty lengthy. Here are the notable changes that I have been able to find so far. This is also the first official beta for ChromeOS 77
If you are the owner of a modern Ultra-Portable Laptop such as the Google Pixelbook, you likely already carry a USB Type C hub to allow you to connect to classic USB devices. Most USB Type C hubs often pack features such as USB-PD Pass-through and HDMI output to allow you to use the hub as a docking station when you need to share your laptop to a full size display. I have a growing collection of USB Type C Hubs and when I got my hands on the MINIX NEO Storage Type C Hub, I could definitely say that it stands out from the others by packing a 250 GB M.2 SSD inside.
The Chrome team has just released the first Developer Build of ChomeOS 76 and it brings at least one welcomed change that eliminates the need to manually enable GPU support on Crostini. I am currently doing a teardown of the build to try to spot other changes and will update this post accordingly.
It has been a crazy year for those watching the rapid evolution of ChromeOS, in fact it has been a month since I first broke that ChromeOS had implemented proper USB support in Crostini 75.0.3759.4. Officially the Crostini USB support is limited to Android Phones, specifically to allow for developers to connect to adb on the phone to test applications on actual hardware however it is possible to pass support to many other devices by activating a hidden flag. There is a myriad of USB devices out there and this article provides a overview of what works and what does not work.
Over the past month, I have been researching Machine Learning and the insane amount of future possibilities that will result in the breakthroughs being made today. Projects like Keras and Tensorflow are pushing the boundaries on what computers are capable of and enabling just about anyone without a multi-million dollar server cluster to get into machine learning. I have built a simple setup script that will automate the process of setting up all of the tools needed to get started with Miniconda, TensorFlow, Keras, Pytorch, OpenCV and more in a ChromeOS Crostini Container. Here is how to get started:
Google is currently pushing ChromeOS 75.0.3770.10 to users on the Dev channel. Software developers and Road Warriors all over will start to rejoice when they hear that Crostini containers will finally route connections through a VPN if active on your Chromebook.