Linux for Chromebooks has come a long way since Google introduced it in Chrome OS 69 a couple of years ago. On supported devices, it opened the door to an extensive library of desktop apps for users, like video editing tools and IDEs. GPU acceleration was an important milestone that made graphic intensive Linux app usable on Chrome OS. This is thanks to Virgil 3D, a component that allows the Linux container to tap into the hardware's GPU. In exciting news shared by Luke Short from VMware, Google is working on adding Vulkan passthrough into Virgil to improve app performance.
The great unicorn of software development is to have one language and framework that enables devs to code an app once and run it on any operating system and any type of device. Flutter has been aiming to do this since its inception, and today it gets quite a bit closer to that goal with the announcement of Flutter 2. The latest major update brings major enhancements for mobile platforms, adds support to desktop, and massively extends its capabilities on the web — among other things.
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If you want to do any number of things that require access to Google's Android Debug Bridge (ADB) or fastboot tools for Android — sideload apps, install custom ROMs, take screenshots on certain Android platform versions, or access certain hidden features — you'll need to get it up and running on your platform of choice first. Fortunately, doing so virtually anywhere is possible at this point — even from another Android phone, or a web browser. We'll help you get set up no matter what platform you're on in this guide.
The first production-ready PinePhones became available earlier this year, giving Linux enthusiasts another option for a phone powered by open-source software. Pine64 has released a few different production runs of the PinePhone, each partnered with a differentOS vendor, and a new model running KDE Plasma Mobile will be available next month.
Android and iOS aren't the only mobile operating systems viable today. Last month, Corbin wrote about the PinePhone, a phone that runs Linux and has physical kill switches for privacy-minded people. The PinePhone isn't alone in its use of Linux; Purism's Librem 5 phone runs PureOS, a free, open-source operating system that's not based on Android. But just because phones like the Librem 5 don't run Android natively doesn't mean users have to miss out on the benefits of the Android ecosystem.
While Google Stadia needs nothing but your browser to work, the story is different for GeForce Now. Nvidia would like you to install its dedicated application for its game streaming service on Windows and Mac. But ever since GeForce Now is available on Chromebooks, we know that it's capable of running inside Chrome, and where there's a will, there's a way. By spoofing your browser user agent with an official Google tool, you can use GeForce Now right in Chrome on your PC, Mac, or Linux machine — nothing but an extension required.
Android's potential for customization was seemingly endless when it was first introduced, thanks to its Linux kernel and open-source nature. However, Google has introduced more restrictions over the past few years in the name of privacy and security, making root and other deep modifications difficult or impossible. While I agree that most of the security changes in Android are needed (I really don't need the Facebook app digging through my local files), they do mean you are not in full control of your own device.
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 84 has updated the app with new themes and customization options.