Three years after Chrome OS first started offering support for Linux apps, the feature is leaving beta, the search giant announced during a Google I/O 2021 developer session. It’s happening in Chrome OS’s “next release,” which Android Central notes is version 91, due to enter the stable channel in the next couple of weeks.
Chrome OS as an operating system has always been based on Linux, but since 2018 its Linux development environment has offered access to a Linux terminal, which developers can use to run command line tools. The feature also allows full-fledged Linux apps to be installed and launched alongside your other apps. In addition to Linux apps, Chrome OS also supports Android apps.
As well as announcing the end of the beta, Google developer advocate Emilie Roberts touted a number of improvements Google has made to the Linux functionality in Chrome OS over the past year. These include a new terminal app, a faster update process that updates the Linux container at the same time as Chrome OS itself, as well as better support for USB devices.
Google’s announcement came exactly a year after Microsoft announced support for Linux GUI apps in Windows 10. Microsoft recently started testing Linux GUI apps on Windows, and the feature is expected to launch to all users later this year. It’s part of an initiative to better support developers that Microsoft kicked off in 2016.
As well as announcing that its Linux development environment is coming out of beta, Google shared a couple of additional updates about Chrome OS. It’s rolling out Android 11 to more machines, which will bring new features like better Android app optimization and a new dark theme. Fifty new Chromebooks are due to launch later this year, Google added.