Background – Linux development with ChromeOS
There have been continual developments in the realm of Linux on ChromeOS for some time. There early builds — Crostini — were based on Debian Linux.
What is very different with the new version “Gerrit” versus the older Crostini builds is that it’s now Ubuntu based vs Debian. This is likely due to the previous iterations of Valve’s Steam for Linux running on Ubuntu.
A Steam Emulator has appeared
The team at 9to5 Google found a new Linux emulator in Chromium Gerrit (codenamed Borealis) and inside that, a pre-installed version of Valve’s Steam game engine.
we found one key difference between Borealis and a normal installation of Ubuntu, as Borealis includes a pre-installed copy of Steam. This lines up with what we learned at CES 2020, when Kan Liu, Google’s director of product management for Chrome OS, shared that the upcoming Steam gaming support would be based on Linux.
But the questions raised in January still remains…
How will Chromebook hardware, in particular, the video and processing capabilities, handle gaming? That has at least in part been answered noting that a code change in Chromium Gerrit shows Steam is being tested with the 10th Generation Intel CPUs. That really doesn’t leave a lot of Chromebooks that may be ready and compatible in the early stages.
What is clear though is that this development — a significant reduction in entry cost to gaming — could be a big change for the industry and complementary to those already established. We’ll be watching the development in the coming months.