Chrome OS Flex: A Threat to Linux?

Chrome OS Flex: We all want to be up to date. who wouldn’t like to have the new model from your TV, phone, game console, tablet or computer? But this has a price. The average lifespan of these devices is generally greater than the launch of new models.

But those who prefer to continue with the old model are sometimes forced to change. Google wants to change that with Chrome OS Flex. How will this affect Linux?

Updating an application or an operating system is no secret. The process today is simple and quick. And most of the time it’s free. But with the device itself, it’s not the same. You must pay for the electronic components on which the software runs.

And sometimes the software goes one way and the hardware goes the other. Or in other words, how many computers or smartphones use outdated or outdated software Why can’t I install a newer version?

Google has long time ceased to be a researcher or a compendium of services. Currently, it does not only have a huge catalog of applications. Is that its catalog of operating systems also scary? Android, it’s on TVs, phones, cars, and all kinds of mobile devices.

And Chrome, or rather Chrome OS, made the leap to computers. Now he wants to open the season at Anyone can install Chrome OS on their own computer instead of buying a Chromebook. And even if the idea is good, everything has its dark side or a not-so-flattering rereading.

Chrome OS Flex: The Browser Wars

Currently, there is fierce competition over who controls the browser you use on your devices. It is the most used application, the one that opens the doors of the Internet. There, you search for things, you find stores to buy, services to rent… And in this fierce war, Google Chrome is the king.

Alone apple safari throws shade there, thanks to the Apple ecosystem. And remotely MozillaFirefox It is still there, far from what it once was.

The rest of the current browsers are based on the Google Chrome engine, so Chrome wins the market even unintentionally. It has become, de facto, the standard browser as Internet Explorer once was. In parallel, there are other wars to see who remains in hegemony.

Or there were. At the time, there was a war on mobile operating systems. It was won by Android, from Google. Apple keeps its slice of the pie with its closed ecosystem, and along the way, big companies like Microsoft have fallen (with Windows-Mobile-first, windows phone later) or RIM, owner of Blackberry.

Yes on the desk the war remains of low intensity. Windows still dominate In computers. Apple has its market share with macOS. And the rest of the operating systems, such as Linux and UNIX derivatives, remain in specific sectors such as supercomputers, servers or embedded devices.

But years ago another competitor appeared, again Google, with its Chrome OS. So far limited to pre-installed equipment. But in 2020 came the acquisition of Neverware. With this purchase, Google took over CloudReady, a service that allowed Chrome OS to be installed on any computer. Hence what we now call Chrome OS Flex.

What is Chrome OS Flex?

Chrome OS Flex it’s a limited version of Chrome OS reminiscent of what it was in its early days. A Linux with the minimum of elements, desktop, media player and file manager, and web browser-focused, Google Chrome.

From there, everything we want to do in Chrome OS Flex has to do with the cloud apps something many of us are used to with names like Trello, Slack, Zoom, Google Drive, Word, etc.

At the moment, Chrome OS Flex is a version light of what is now Chrome OS. We will not find support for Google Play or Android applications in general, it is not possible to run virtual machines with Parallels… A desktop operating system to use the browser. Pain the requirements are adapted for older computers.

If you have a PC with 4GB of RAM, 16GB of disk space, and can boot from USB, this is a good candidate for being able to install Chrome OS Flex. Regarding the processor and the graphics card, the official help indicates that components must not date from before 2010. Older, the user experience would be affected. However, it clarifies that Intel GMA 500, 600, 3600 and 3650 graphics are not supported. 

Opportunities and Threats for Linux

what meant Android for Linux? For one thing, it’s a Linux operating system. But each time it became a more closed system. Hence projects like CyanogenMod, which started by customizing the Android ROM and is now a system in itself, Lineage operating system.

But it lacks the necessary support from device manufacturers and brands. Moreover, when manufacturers like Huawei or Xiaomi decided to move away from Google and Android, their response was to develop their own custom Android, Harmony OS (Huawei) and MIUI (Xiaomi).

On the plus side, Linux has achieved expanded your app catalog thanks to the integration of Android, which allows many Linux distributions to install applications and even use Google Play with more or less stability thanks to projects like anbox.

However, Android never wanted to be a direct rival to Linux. But with Chrome OS it was different. Instead of buying a computer with Linux, something that has become more and more common for years, you can buy a PC with Linux that integrates the ecosystem of Google applications, the so-called Chromebooks.

And with Chrome OS Flex, you can install it yourself on your PC. So, from a Linux point of view, can be seen as an opportunity to expand the domain of Linux, regardless of its name or the company that runs it. Something like what happens with the Steam operating system.

Thanks to Valve, there are more and more games for Linux, even if it’s by emulation with the software Proton. SteamOS is also Linux. But you can see him as a friend or as an enemy.

The Eternal Alternative

For better or for worse, Linux has always been the alternative. Windows and macOS have always been the first and second options if you wanted to have a computer. And Linux is the alternative, the answer to those looking for something different.

For years, for example, Linux distributions designed to work with outdated hardware. Minimalist distros like Basic Linux, damn little Linux, and little Linux are PuppyLinux that take up less than a gigabyte and don’t run on old-school computers, here’s the following.

On the other hand, there were light versions of the most popular distributions with desktop computers that require less demanding hardware. This way, you get virtually the same functionality on a PC that isn’t state-of-the-art.

We will have to see what is the google strategy. Everything indicates that Chrome OS Flex is a gateway for those who want to try Chrome OS but don’t want to buy a Chromebook. And we can’t rule out that over time Chrome OS Flex will look more and more like adding Android support.

for those who want to personalize their experience and adapt the operating system to their needs and not the other way around or control their Privacy and Security instead of depending on the changing policies of a giant like Google, we will always have at our disposal dozens of Linux distros that more than meet all the tasks that we perform in front of the PC.

Unfortunately, this level of personalization will always be limited to a smaller niche compared to the average user, who will bet on simpler solutions like those offered by Google.

To which we must add the google addiction that many of us suffer from, whether we like it or not.