Flutter is Google's cross-platform application framework that allows developers to create responsive apps for Android, iOS, and even macOS. The toolset has already been used by countless applications, including the mobile Stadia app, and now Google is teaming up with Ubuntu Linux to bring Flutter apps to desktop Linux.
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Chromebooks can now run Linux-based applications, and even though the feature is mostly intended for use by developers, it can also benefit regular Chromebook owners. There are some tasks that websites and Android apps still aren't great at, which is where Linux applications might be able to help.
Google has been ramping up the Linux environment on Chrome OS lately, with features like microphone support and USB connections. For those of you who spend a lot of time in the command-line Terminal, Chrome OS 83 (currently in the Dev channel) has updated the app with new themes and customization options.
Chrome OS updates always arrive a little later than Chrome browser updates, but Chrome OS 80 has been cooking in the oven for an especially long period of time — v81 of the browser is due soon. Still, good things come to those who wait, and Chrome OS 80 has a few noteworthy improvements.
PINE64, a company that embraces an open and community-driven platform for hardware and software, has begun shipping its first batch of PinePhones, the $150 "BraveHeart" editions. The PinePhone is a Linux-based and developer-focused smartphone, and the BraveHeart in particular is an early-adopter model for the most dedicated of Linux and open-platform users.
Chrome OS may have supported Linux applications since 2018, but it debuted with quite a few limitations. Though GPU acceleration finally started to land for some Chromebooks in the middle of last year, the Linux container still hasn't been able to capture audio input for things like microphones. Or, at least, it couldn't until the feature silently landed with Chrome OS 79.
Chrome OS 79 has been pushed to the Stable channel — that sounds technical, but it means the latest version of Chrome OS is now rolling out. This new release includes a tweak to the last version's Virtual Desks feature, better window management for touch controls in Overview mode on some devices, a renamed "Apps" section in Settings with per-app permissions and other options, lockscreen media controls, expanded port support in Linux/Crostini, and Chrome 79's stolen password protection.
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Android is built on top of the Linux kernel, but it has always used a heavily-modified version with changes from OEMs, chip manufacturers like Qualcomm and MediaTek, and Google. There have been efforts over the years to close the gap between the two kernels, but now Google is getting more serious about it.
The desktop environment that turns your Samsung phone or tablet into a PC when connected to an external display, nicknamed 'DeX,' has been around for a while now. Nearly a year ago, Samsung introduced the Linux on DeX beta, which could run a full Linux OS on top of DeX. Sadly, the project seems to have been discontinued.