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.
The fact that it was not possible to route traffic on a Crostini container over a VPN has been one of the most annoying bugs for developers who wish to use their Chromebooks to work in a corporate environment. Google has been working on a fix since I reported it over a year ago. The community of Chromebook owners were saddened to report that the fix was pushed back to M76 about 2 weeks ago. It looks like Google is going to squeeze it into M75, specifically in build 12104.0.0 which may hit the developer channel any day now.
There was a time where Chromebooks were looked at as simplistic devices that are only good for visiting websites and to the credit to those old Chromebooks, they did their job well. These early Chromebooks lacked a large amount of local storage, often having between 16 and 32 GB of local storage, and between 2-4 GB of RAM. Chromebooks have since evolved to the point that they have the potential to be some of the most powerful laptops on the market but the only thing that has not evolved with the rest of the hardware is that Chromebooks still routinely ship with 32 GB of storage in 2019.
Heads up all ChromeOS users on the Dev channel, Google is currently rolling out ChromeOS 75.0.3761.0 to your devices. After performing a quick backup of Crostini, I took some time to install the update and find out what changed – it seems that it is not much. It is important to backup your “Downloads” folder as many items were deleted after the installation.
With every update to ChromeOS, the folks at Google continue to break the stereotype that “Chromebooks are perfect for your grandmother because they can only surf on the internet”. ChromeOS 75.0.3759.4 was released last night and packs a few useful changes as well as several enhancements:
ChromeOS 75.0.3759.4 is currently being rolled out to users in the dev channel. Unfortunately if you have chosen to enable the GPU, your Crostini instance may no longer function. You may get the following error message when launching Termina via crosh
Error: routine at frontends/vmc.rs:118 `vm_start(vm_name,user_id_hash,matches.opt_present("enable-gpu"))`
Fortunately this can be fixed by disabling Crostini and re-creating the container. You can then restore a backup if you happen to have one from before the update. Here are the steps to backup your container, install the update and restore the container
There are a few pre-made distributions to allow you to run a version of ChromiumOS on existing hardware such as CloudReady and FideOS however there are several benefits to building your own distribution from scratch. ChromiumOS is the open source of the popular ChromeOS operating system. By following this guide, you will get a version of ChromiumOS that should boot on most hardware (with a 64 bit Intel or AMD Processor). This version will also give you access to Linux Apps via Crostini and even enable the same OTA upgrade service that users on ChromeOS enjoy.
Google is currently rolling our ChromeOS 74.0.L337.0 to users on the Dev Channel that brings several major changes to your Chromebook. Users who upgrade to this build will immediately notice a few visual improvements as ChromeOS begins embracing the new “squircle” icons that is being used on Android. Even more interesting is that Google has actually brought support for MS-DOS with full CGI color emulation to supported Chromebooks (specifically the Pixelbook, Pixel Slate and HP Chromebook X2). Here are the steps to activate it