Support for Linux apps was one of the more significant additions to Chrome OS in recent months, but the feature isn’t perfect. Thankfully, Google is getting close to improving some of the bigger issues with Linux app support.
Notable issues include audio not working and no graphics acceleration. These two issues stem from reported problems Google had integrating audio and graphics drivers into the virtual machine used to run Linux apps.
The search giant initially planned to resolve these issues by Chrome OS version 71, but that update has rolled out this week without the promised fixes.
However, Google appears to be testing a fix for the graphics issues, according to a recent code change made on the Chromium Gerrit, a code collaboration tool used by Chrome developers.
The code change will add a new option to enable the GPU inside of the Linux apps virtual machine. Further, the Gerrit commit lays out some of the plans for integrating graphics acceleration.
Only Beta, Dev and Canary Chrome OS channels will be able to test GPU support at first. Google considers the feature to be in “pre-alpha” and not ready for everyday use.
Additionally, users who wish to try out GPU support will need to enter a command in the Chromium OS shell, or Crosh, terminal. The command is ‘vmc start –enable-gpu termina.’
Unfortunately, the code change hasn’t been finalized, so Beta, Dev and Canary channel users can’t try the feature yet. It’s also not clear if or when the feature will make its way to those channels.
Ultimately, supporting graphics acceleration in the Linux virtual machine would be a step in the right direction for Google. Without that support, Linux apps must use the CPU for both operations and graphics, which can dramatically hinder performance in some applications.
Things like games and the Android emulator from Android Studio heavily rely on graphics acceleration to work correctly. Proper GPU support could add significant function to Chromebooks.