If there was any doubt that Google is planning to make Linux available on a wide range of Chromebooks, a find by XDA Developers should put them to rest. The code snippet found in a Chromium commit has added 18 new Apollo Lake powered Chromebooks to Project Crostini, the codename for the project to add Linux to Chrome OS.
The new additions are Chromebooks from the likes of Acer, Dell, and Lenovo, offering a much broader group of devices that will be able to run Linux and, notably, not the upper end of processing power.
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A new commit in the Chrome OS code review may give the first indicator of what will be replacing the now defunct Supervised Account feature of the platform. The commit points to a new Chrome OS Account Manager. The details are pretty thin on it and the comments are still private so there is very little to go on to be fair.
However, this is the first commit to point to anything remotely resembling Supervised Accounts. That feature, most often used for child accounts on Chromebooks, was deprecated earlier this year. Google at the time indicated a new solution would be coming forward but didn’t give a timeline. It may be coming sooner rather than later.
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There is a new commit for Chrome OS that will make life a lot easier for Chromebook users who connect their devices to external monitors. The commit, which has its flag live now in the Chrome OS Dev Channel (Chrome 66), will preserve app window locations when you disconnect a monitor and reconnect it.
The flag, for those running a device in the Dev Channel, is chrome://flags/#ash-enable-persistent-window-bounds so you can test it out now. Given it is essentially in the Alpha build of Chrome 66, it may still be buggy so bare that in mind as you test it.
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There is a new commit that points to Chromebooks having the ability to pinch-to-zoom on the touchpad is coming. Right now, in Chrome OS, the ability to zoom in and out on your touchpad is disabled on the vast majority of devices. Only high end models like the Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus, as well as the Google Pixelbook, have it enabled by default.
That is likely to change. This new commit suggests that it will be enabled by default on any new Chromebooks but will also retroactively be enabled on existing devices.
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One of the challenges for retailers is showing off a product’s capabilities without leaving it unlocked for random interactions from store visitors. This can lead to anything from malicious code being loaded up to a porn site loaded up in the browser. That is where a demo mode comes in handy and, to this point, is something that has not been in Chrome OS. But that looks to be changing.
A new commit found in the Chrome OS review Gerrit shows that a demo mode could be in the works for the platform. This would make it immeasurably easier for retailers to setup Chromebooks in their stores that highlight what the platform can do but not leave it open to questionable activity.
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There is a new, optional security update for Chrome OS that fixes a vulnerability with the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) in the majority of Chromebooks. To apply the update however, you will need to Powerwash your device.
The vulnerability has to do with hackers potentially being able to brute force the RSA keys generated by your TPM. This, in theory, could give the the opportunity to plant malicious code on your device or take it over. For those not familiar, a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a specialized chip on an endpoint device that stores RSA encryption keys specific to the host system for hardware authentication. It essentially makes sure that the hardware and software on your device are secure and encrypted and what has access to the keys generated by it. Thus, you see the problem. If the TPM gets compromised, it can lead to a lot of issues for end users.
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As Android app support continues to grow and develop in Chrome OS, a new commit suggest that it is about to get even better. The new commit points to Android app being able to be resized while in split screen support. Split screen support is is currently in the Dev channel and it will likely be a few months before we see it in the Stable channel. This new feature would allow for resizing of the apps when you are in split screen mode.
With this new feature, you would be able to control the overall screen real estate that an Android app takes up on your Chromebook specifically when it is in tablet mode. Right now, everything automatically gets kicked into full screen mode.
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Following on the release of a new Dev channel build for Chrome OS, there is now a new Beta channel build too. Build 64.0.3282.101 (Platform version: 10176.54.0) has been released for most devices and can be downloaded now, if you are in the beta channel, by typing chrome://help in the omnibar in the browser.
The update has a laundry list of fixes and improvements that you can read here if you are so inclined. Ultimately there are a lot of general improvements to the platform.
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