Are Chromebooks relevant in 2019

Why 2019 will be the year of Linux on the desktop

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Linux is everywhere. Or at least: almost everywhere. Because while the free operating system has long played a dominant role from servers to smartphones, one product category is stubbornly resisting the takeover of Linux: the classic desktop. But now it is becoming apparent that this could change - albeit differently than many once hoped.

Windows goes Linux

Linux will run on the majority of all PCs sold in 2019. What at first sounds like a daring prognosis has a background that can be proven. Future Windows versions will be delivered with a complete Linux kernel. This conversion represents the core of version 2 of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL 2).

With this step, the support for the operation of Linux programs under Windows is significantly expanded. While it is already possible to run graphical applications from the world of the free operating system on the Microsoft platform, this should become considerably easier with the new version.

All Chromebooks

The competition goes one step further: At the developer conference I / O, Google announced at the beginning of May that all upcoming Chromebooks will be delivered with full Linux support. The software manufacturer has been testing this feature on individual models for a long time, but now compatibility with Linux programs should be universally available on all new devices with Chrome OS. Chrome OS has used a Linux kernel right from the start, but the desktop environment was initially limited to web applications, and Android support followed later.

In doing so, Google goes far beyond what Windows offers in terms of Linux support. Once set up, all Linux applications integrate with the Chrome OS desktop. So there are launcher entries, audio output and 3D acceleration now also work. And files can easily be exchanged between the various systems using the File Manager. In this way it is even possible to use alternative browsers such as Firefox under Google's system - something that was not possible for a long time.

relevance

One could argue that Chrome OS currently plays a minor role in the global desktop and laptop market. That may be true globally, but it looks a lot different in individual countries. Chromebooks already account for a fifth of all laptop sales in the USA - and the trend is still increasing. It is particularly interesting that Google is becoming more and more successful beyond the education market, which initially made Chrome OS successful. And the manufacturer tries to push this even further by working on features familiar from Linux such as virtual desktops.

Prominent assessment

Incidentally, Linux founder Linus Torvalds is now also convinced that it will be less classic distributions than systems like Chrome OS that will help your own operating system to be successful on the desktop. In an interview at the end of 2018, he even emphasized that he could well imagine using a Chromebook in a few years. (apo, August 26, 2019)