Google could make Chromebooks last years longer with a huge change to Chrome OS
“This device will no longer receive the latest software updates. Please consider updating.”
I hope you will agree with me when I say: Starting your morning with this horrible message on your notification tray is a blow to the guts. You have spent a lot of money to buy your Chromebook and it is your Chromebook already It will tell you that it is no longer up to date – security may be compromised when your device is misplaced Cool new Chrome features. Thanks to an ambitious project called Lacrosse internally, your updated worries can quickly become a thing of the past.
Familiar? Device updates on Android have been a significant issue. Back in October 2017, The Android distribution rate remained very low – 0.2% of operations run the latest version of the operating system. Thanks to OEM indifference, Android fragmentation still plagues many devices today, with Google’s Project Trouble making significant changes to speed up Android adoption and extend the lifespan of older devices. Google now wants to do the same thing to Chromebooks, and the answer is Lacrose.
What is lacrosse?
Lacrosse is an experimental step in separating the chrome binary systems of the Chrome operating system from the UI (gray, overview mode, rack, etc.). To begin with, the developers of Chrome named the existing Chrome binary gray-chrome in Chrome OS. They later took the Linux version of Chrome and renamed it LaCrosse-Chrome, refining its Wayland support and architecture so that it could be implemented in the Chrome operating system. This allows Google to ship two separate binary options independently, regardless of version variation. For example, Chrome OS can run on OS 87 but may have Chrome Binary 89 version.
In short, think of Lacrosse Chrome as using Chrome on a traditional Linux desktop, but with better Wayland support.
I tried to test it when this feature landed on developer channels as a Chrome flag in April, but it put a continuous gray Chrome canary icon on the app drawer and did nothing when I clicked on it. Since then I’ve been on the lookout for it – activate the flag and click on the icon every time an update drops.
Recently, I was able to launch Lacrosse.
With the latest Chrome OS Canary Channel update, we have our first look at the Lacrosse Chrome browser running Chrome OS. Check it out here:
An overview of experimental lacquer chrome. It works … mostly.
As you can see, Lacrosse Chrome works just like a standard Chrome browser installed on a traditional operating system. There are definitely a few things Google needs to do to make the experience more polished, such as the weird white flash, the random penguin icon on the shelf, and the slow action. But these things are to be expected as lacrosse is still in its early stages of development.
Why this is important
So having two instances of Chrome running on one side is cool and all, but you may be wondering why this is so important. To answer that question, we must first look at how to update Google Chrome OS.
Nowadays, Chrome is deeply tied to Chrome OS, which means that Google needs to update one monolithic package and ship it to channels. This is not a problem in itself, the main problem is when a Chromebook hits AUE or the end of life. Just like on an Android phone, when your Chromebook hits AUE, you lose the new Chrome OS updates. Lack of a Chrome OS update means that the browser is out of date, vulnerable, and unable to take advantage of updated platforms on the web.
Lacrosse may be Google’s answer to this. Since Chrome Binary is distributed separately from Chrome OS, Google can update Chrome Binary independently of the operating system. This means that even if your Chromebook hits AUE, your browser will receive at least the latest and greatest features – and critically, security solutions – from Google. If you think about it, this can have a huge positive impact on the educational space. A large number of old Chromebooks have been purchased for use by school children, especially now that many classes have become virtualized in the global epidemic. Thanks to Lacrosse, students can continue to use their web-based platforms as school Chromebooks that hit AUE continue to receive Chrome updates. Organizations will not have to buy another set of new, updated Chromebooks, which can save a considerable amount of money.
The exact path taken by Google with Lacroix is not clear. For example, there is no information on how to activate the Lacrosse Chrome operating system once this feature has been rolled back to the fixed channel. I think Google will set up a Chrome OS and will prompt users to install Lacrose as soon as their Chromebook hits AUE, but I’m not sure. Lacroix is shaping up to be an exciting project and I’m glad that Google is trying to extend the life of Chromebooks even further.