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Intel-based Chromebooks and Games

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  • Intel Compute Runtime Update Adds OpenCL + oneAPI Level Zero For DG1

    Intel's open-source Compute Runtime stack for providing OpenCL and oneAPI Level Zero support for their graphics hardware has now rolled out support for the DG1 Xe discrete graphics card.

    Building off the DG1 support that has materialized for the Linux kernel and other components, most recently the IGC graphics compiler now supporting DG1, today's release of the Intel Compute Runtime has DG1 support in place.

  • Google testing native Steam client on Chromebooks powered by 10th generation Intel CPUs

    Chrome OS, Google’s other operating system to Android, has evolved very rapidly since the 2016 introduction of the Google Play Store, allowing Chromebooks to download and install Android apps. Google has since introduced support for running native Linux apps under the project name of Crostini. Crostini allows full desktop applications to run on Chromebooks and is based on the Debian Linux distribution. Running Android and Linux apps relies on Chrome OS’ ability to run containerized virtual machines, a means of allowing the core operating system to run different segmented virtual machines in an efficient and secure manner. That’s a fancy way of saying your Chromebook can have multiple personalities, and it’s the same technology underpinning how some Chromebooks will soon be able to run Windows apps. Today’s news is that the team at 9to5Google have identified a new special project in the Chromium open-source code called Borealis. Borealis is a Linux distribution based on popular Ubuntu, and comes complete with Steam already installed:

  • Steam on Chromebooks could be a game changer

    There have been continual developments in the realm of Linux on ChromeOS for some time. There early builds — Crostini — were based on Debian Linux.

    What is very different with the new version “Gerrit” versus the older Crostini builds is that it’s now Ubuntu based vs Debian. This is likely due to the previous iterations of Valve’s Steam for Linux running on Ubuntu.

  • Google could bring Steam gaming to Chromebooks (via Linux)

    Chrome OS is an operating system that was originally designed to support a single app – the Chrome web browser. But in recent years Google has brought support for Android apps and Linux apps to Chromebooks.

    So far that Linux support has come through a feature called Crostini, which is basically a virtual machine that runs Debian Linux in a way that lets you install and run Linux software without leaving Chrome OS.

    But 9to5Google was digging through the source code for Chromium OS (the open source version of Chrome OS) and discovered a new Linux virtual machine called Borealis, which uses Ubuntu rather than Debian. Borealis also includes a pre-installed version of Valve’s Steam game client for Linux.

Chromebooks could soon get Steam support — and MacBooks...

  • Chromebooks could soon get Steam support — and MacBooks should be worried

    Back in January, it was reported that plans were afoot for Chromebooks to get an almighty gaming shot in the arm. ChromeOS users would no longer have to content themselves with Android titles: instead, limited support for Steam games was on the horizon. Now an investigation by Android Police suggests that plan is progressing nicely, and that the feature might not be too far off.

    As expected, it’s not something that should be oversold: games will be supported via a Linux virtual machine, which seriously impacts the quantity available. But while Chromebooks won’t rival even the cheapest Windows 10 gaming laptop in terms of variety, it’ll still prove a nice bonus for anyone who values the portability, battery life and responsiveness of Chrome OS.

    [...]

    At the time of writing, Steam lists 2,007 games in its Linux section — not all of which will run nicely on meagre Chromebook hardware. But there are some low-spec options that ChromeOS users would no doubt love to try: Counter Strike, Hollow Knight and Stardew Valley to name but three. And while that number is only a fraction of the 24,000-plus Steam games compatible with Mac, this upgrade could make Chromebooks a slightly more viable competitor to the likes of the MacBook Air when it comes to gaming.

    Chromebooks are big business, especially for students — a market that contains a whole lot of gamers. According to StatCounter, Linux represents just 1.84% of US OS installations, which isn’t a hugely significant slice of potential gamers — but that would more than double if it included the 2.75% of ChromeOS devices out there. Perhaps this will make developers work that bit harder to ensure their games perform well outside of Windows.

Chromebooks could get huge gaming boost with Steam support

  • Chromebooks could get huge gaming boost with Steam support

    We knew the Steam compatibility was going to rely on the support for running Linux apps on Chrome OS, but according to code changes in Chromium open-source, the key is a new project with the codename "Borealis." This is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that will apparently run inside Chrome OS just as Crostini (which is based on Debian Linux) does now.

    The reason for using it appears to be to maximize compatibility with Steam on Linux, which Valve has already put considerable work into; Ubuntu is the service's preferred Linux distribution.

    [...]

    Now, there aren't a lot of Chromebooks with Intel 10th Gen processors just yet (we've reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook) but more should arrive before the end of the year.

    It will be interesting to see if this project finally reaches a public beta stage soon and whether gaming on Chromebooks is something that users actually want. With premium Chromebooks seemingly carving out an admittedly small place in the market now, it at least seems plausible compared to just a year or two ago when Google was alone in producing high-end Chromebooks.

“Borealis” may be the key to bringing Steam to Chromebooks

  • “Borealis” may be the key to bringing Steam to Chromebooks but what is it?

    For months, we have been digging and theorizing about exactly how Google and Valve would bring “official” Steam support to Chrome OS. Based on conversations with Google’s product manager for Chrome OS, the developers at Google were working closely with Valve to build a Steam package that would leverage the same container technology use by Crostini which is used to deliver Linux apps to Chromebooks. I quickly presumed that this would mean an installation package for Steam that would simply install via .deb package or a terminal command in the native Debian Linux found on Chrome OS. It appears that I was wrong.

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