GalliumOS is a Linux Distribution for (Intel) Chromebooks & Chromeboxes

When I wrote about Crostini VM to run Linux apps on Chromebooks last week, I was informed about GalliumOS, described as a fast and lightweight Linux distro for ChromeOS devices – meaning Chromebooks and Chromeboxes – that is based on Xubuntu. Compared to ChromeOS, GalliumOS – and other Linux distributions – provides the ability to run more programs and more flexibility, and GalliumOS is said to deliver improved performance, longer battery life, better touchscreen support, etc.. compared to competing Linux distributions. You can go over the Download page to retrieve an image for your Chromebook or Chromebox, and either replace ChromeOS or go for a dual boot setup. The distribution does not support any Arm Chromebooks for now, and only works with some Intel devices with or without caveats depending on the model used. Check out the hardware compatibility matrix for details. The source code can be found on Github. Thanks to Charlie Brownau for the tip.

Run Linux Apps in (PixelBook) Chromebook with Crostini VM

Ever since the first Chromebooks were released, it has been possible to run Ubuntu or other Linux distributions using Crouton (Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment) on Chrome OS devices, but that requires to enable developer mode, which disables some of security features that come with Chrome OS. Google has now make it easier and safer with Crostini VM that does not require developer mode. The only downsides for now are that it only works on Google Pixelbook, and you need to install/run Chrome OS v67 dev channel with the #enable-cros-container flag enabled. Using Crostini is fairly straightforward. First start crosh terminal with Ctrl++Atl+t, and running the following command to create a VM, and launch a container:

This will start a Debian Stretch environment with networking and GUI support, so you can install & run programs like you would in Debian (e.g. apt install htop).  Kevin Tofel at AboutChromebooks managed to install the Eclipse IDE (See screenshot above) and Sublime …

HP Chromebook x2 is a 2-in-1 Tablet Running Chrome OS

We’ve recently seen what should be the first Chrome OS tablet with Acer Chromebook Tab featuring a Rockchip RK3399 / OP1 processor, and a 9.7″ display. The device is now joined by a high-end tablet, or more exactly a 2-in-1 tablet/ laptop with HP Chromebook x2. Specifications: SoC – Intel Core M3-7Y30 dual core/four thread processor @ 1.0 / 2.6 GHz with Intel HD Graphics 615 @ 300 / 615 MHz; 4.5W TDP System Memory – 4GB or 8GB LPDDR3-1600 RAM Storage -32GB eMMC flash, micro SD slot up to 256 GB Display – 12.3″ touchscreen display with 2400 x 1600 resolution; Camera – 13MP rear camera, 5MP front-facing camera/webcam Audio – Stereo speakers, dual microphones, headphone jack Connectivity – 802.11 ac 2×2 MIMO WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 LE USB – 2x USB 3.0 type C ports User Input – Detachable island-style keyboard and an HP Active Pen for pressure-sensitive input. Battery – 48 Whr battery good for about 10.5 hours on …

Linux 4.16 Release – Main Changes, Arm and MIPS Architectures

Linus Torvalds has just released Linux 4.16: So the take from final week of the 4.16 release looks a lot like rc7, in that about half of it is networking. If it wasn’t for that, it would all be very small and calm. We had a number of fixes and cleanups elsewhere, but none of it made me go “uhhuh, better let this soak for another week”. And davem didn’t think the networking was a reason to delay the release, so I’m not. End result: 4.16 is out, and the merge window for 4.17 is open and I’ll start doing pull requests tomorrow. Outside of networking, most of the last week was various arch fixlets (powerpc, arm, x86, arm64), some driver fixes (mainly scsi and rdma) and misc other noise (documentation, vm, perf). The appended shortlog gives an overview of the details (again, this is only the small stuff in the last week, if you want the full 4.16 changelog …

Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is the First Chrome OS Tablet

Chrome OS has been found in laptops (Chromebooks), and mini PCs (Chromeboxes) or even All-in-One PCs (Chromebases) for a while, but a new category has launched with Chrome OS tablets starting with Acer Chromebook Tab 10. The tablet is powered by a Rockchip RK3399 / OP1 processor, comes with 4GB RAM and 32GB storage, a 9.7″ display, supports Wacom EMR stylus, targets the education market. Acer Chromebook Tab 10 (D651N) specifications: SoC – Rockchip RK3399-C / OP1 hexa core processor with two Cortex A72 cores, four Cortex A53 cores, and a Mali-T860MP4 GPU System Memory – 4GB RAM Storage – 32GB eMMC flash, micro SD card slot Display – 9.7″ touchscreen IPS display with QXGA (2048×1536) resolution Audio – Headphone/speaker jack Connectivity – 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 Camera – 2MP front-facing camera USB – 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C  port for charging, data transfer and connection to an HD display Battery – Up to 9 hours …

Imagination Releases PowerVR CLDNN Neural Network SDK and Image for Acer Chromebook R13

Last month, Imagination Technology released their PowerVR CLDNN SDK, an AI-oriented API that leverages OpenCL support in PowerVR GX6250 GPU in order to  create network layers for constructing and running a neural network on PowerVR hardware. Eventually the SDK will support PowerVR Series2NX Neural Network Accelerator, but while waiting for the hardware, the company has provided a firmware that runs only on Mediatek MT8173 based Acer Chromebook R13. The SDK includes a demo taking a live camera feed to identify the object(s) the camera is pointing at, using known network models such as AlexNet, GoogLeNet, VGG-16, or SqueezeNet. All models are Caffe models trained against the ImageNet dataset, a benchmark function is included within the demo. Beside simply playing with the demos, you’ll be able to study the source code to check out various helper functions such as file loading, dynamic library initialisation and OpenCL context management, and read documentation such as the PowerVR CLDNN reference manual explaining all CLDNN API’s functions. If you happen to …

Linux 4.12 Release – Main Changes, ARM & MIPS Architectures

Linus Torvalds has just released Linux 4.12: Things were quite calm this week, so I really didn’t have any real reason to delay the 4.12 release. As mentioned over the various rc announcements, 4.12 is one of the bigger releases historically, and I think only 4.9 ends up having had more commits. And 4.9 was big at least partly because Greg announced it was an LTS kernel. But 4.12 is just plain big. There’s also nothing particularly odd going on in the tree – it’s all just normal development, just more of it that usual. The shortlog below is obviously just the minor changes since rc7 – the whole 4.12 shortlog is much too large to post. In the diff department, 4.12 is also very big, although the reason there isn’t just that there’s a lot of development, we have the added bulk of a lot of new  header files for the AMD Vega support. That’s almost exactly half the …

ARM Chromebooks Run Android Apps Better, Exhibit Longer Battery Life than Intel Chromebooks (Study)

Google has been working on supporting Android apps and the Play Store on Chromebooks, which are normally sold with either ARM or Intel processors. So the ability to run Android apps well is one of the things to consider before purchasing a Chromebook. Shrout Research has published a paper entitled “Chromebook Platform Choice Important for Android App Performance” comparing an Acer Chromebook R13 with a Mediatek MT8173C ARM Cortex A72/A53 processor to Acer Chromebook R11 with an Intel Celeron N3060. The Intel Chromebook has a smaller resolution so this could be an advantage, so less resources are needed to update the display. However, the ARM processor is significantly more powerful than the Intel one according to GeekBench results, and Chromebook R13 is sold for $399 on Amazon US, while Chromebook R11 goes for $299 (and lower during promotions). So it’s not a perfect comparison, but it should give an idea especially when it comes to app stability. The ARM Chromebook …