Now that Linux support has officially landed on Chrome* OS, Chromebooks* powered by Intel are evolving into a one-stop solution for software development.
The Chromebook* Developer Workstation, So Many Ways to Develop Apps
Touting a bevy of developer-focused features, Chromebooks* are fast becoming the platform of choice for many up-and-coming coders and software engineers. Chief among those features is Project Crostini. With Crostini, Google* has enriched the capabilities of Chromebook-branded laptops and devices to run any Linux* app within a virtualized Linux environment.
Linux integration has greatly expanded the possibilities for writing code on a Chromebook. With a wealth of open source development tools and native support for many popular programming languages such as Python* and C++, Linux has long been the go-to operating environment for software development. Now Chromebook users can create Linux apps, Android* apps, and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), all in a unified ecosystem.
Developing apps on a Chrome OS*-powered device has several distinct advantages. Google’s three tenets of speed, simplicity and security are built into the core of the Linux virtualization process. Crosvm, the virtual machine monitor at the heart of Crostini, was written in the Rust programming language to take advantage of its inherent security and crash-preventing safety features.
Flexible Virtual Environments for Fluid App Development
With a Crostini-enabled Chromebook, you’re one click away from the command prompt. There are no convoluted steps involved in setting up the Linux-based Debian* virtual environment—simply enable the option in the settings, and you’re off. A broad assortment of Linux applications are supported, including development tools, productivity software, and even some games.
The beauty of running Linux through Crostini is the level of flexibility a unified ecosystem provides. Because Chrome OS and Linux are integrated into a self-contained environment, you don’t have to activate and deactivate the virtual environment each time. Swapping between a Linux app and an Android app is as simple as clicking between windows.
The convenience of this setup is clear in app development, particularly during the testing phase. Often a developer will need to transfer their app to a remote device in order to test it, resulting in a disconnected development experience. Chromebook eliminates the need to daisy-chain devices, untethering you from a disheveled workstation.
The best use case is currently for Android apps. You can:
- Compose an Android app using Android Studio* in Linux virtual environment;
- Test the app in an Android virtual environment via the Android Emulator;
- And simultaneously watch a tutorial on YouTube* running in the Chrome OS native environment.
That’s three environments running concurrently in separate windows on your desktop.
Upgrading the Developer Experience with a Chromebook Notebook Computer Powered by Intel
Intel is working closely with Google to make the Chromebook experience even better. Our Chrome OS team is diligently at work on code that will unlock performance-enhancing capabilities of Intel® Core™ processors for the Crostini operating environment.
These improvements are made possible by Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 processors found inside select Chromebooks, including models by Lenovo*, HP*, and Dell*. The added processing power is especially beneficial for app development. Better performance shortens the time you spend waiting for apps to compile and provides better responsiveness during testing.
Improved processor technology will allow Google to further actualize their vision of a truly versatile environment. In the future, multi-core processors will enable developers to run more virtual environments in parallel without sacrificing performance. Someone working on a Linux application, for instance, may need to test it both in Debian and Ubuntu*. A Chromebook with a sufficiently powerful processor could allow you to move seamlessly between multiple Linux virtual environments.
Get Started Today
In addition to all the Crostini virtualization wizardry, Chromebooks are just great little PCs, portable enough to tote to class and powerful enough to do professional app development. So when you’re thinking about your next development workstation, think Chromebook. Check out the latest Chromebook laptops and devices powered by Intel® processors.
Intel® Developer Zone Android* Resources: Create your Android apps quicker with these tools and technology from Intel and Google.
Intel® Graphics for Linux: Intel® open source 3D Graphics Drivers for Linux are the industry leading drivers for Linux distributions for all Intel® graphics platforms shipped over the last decade.
Intel® Video and Audio for Linux: Check out the Intel Open Source Technology Center Linux Video team’s activities in the area of Video Framework and Processing.
Using the Google Chrome OS* Graphics Stack on Intel-Based Linux Desktops: The graphics acceleration features provided by Intel® processors enable Chromebooks to achieve better performance, save system memory, and extend battery life.
01.org Chromium: Chromium is utilized in products and open source projects including the Chrome browser, Google Chrome OS, Android Open Source Platform, the rendering engine Blink, and the web app runtime Crosswalk Project.
Jason Powell is a Product Marketing Engineer and alliance marketing manager at Intel, where he has worked for more than 18 years. During that time, he has worked with software partners to develop and showcase solutions on Intel® platforms. Today, he plans and manages developer and customer engagement programs for Chromebooks powered by Intel.