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Forget Windows, I just installed Elementary OS on my Chromebook and it’s awesome

Filed under
GNU
Linux

In my path to Chrome OS enlightenment, I’ve explored many method with which users can run non-native applications and even alternative operating systems. My most recent endeavor involved installing a full-blown version of Windows 10 inside the Linux container on Chrome OS. While I have absolutely no use for such a monstrosity, the path that brought me there was fun and I believe a lot of users were excited about the premise of running Windows alongside Chrome OS. All of this was made possible thanks to an update to the Linux kernel that is available to some users inside the Chrome OS Linux container. My first theory was that this was being tested exclusively on ‘Hatch’ devices that are equipped with the Comet Lake family of processors. After some input from some colleagues, it appears that the ability to run qemu/kvm in a nested environment is more widely available than I presumed. I have seen reports that users have successfully installed Windows on devices ranging from a Core i5 Pixel Slate to the aging Dell Chromebook 13 that has a Broadwell CPU. Perhaps it is the Core i CPU that is the key. Who knows?

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Elementary OS is an Ubuntu-based OS but make no mistake, it stands out as its own operating system. Many have called the the macOS of Linux but as you can read in a blog post from the Elementary CEO, the OS design and function are very intentional and quite unique in its own right. All of that is neither here nor there. Elementary OS caught my eye as a distinct and very different distro that I had never used and I wanted to give it a try and see how it ran on Chrome OS. My Windows experiment was a success, for the most part, but Windows is chunky and often times I found the OS struggling to work well inside the VM. Elementary OS is a “pay what’s fair” platform which means exactly what you’d think. While you can technically download the .iso image for free, a donation of your choosing is recommended and I’m sure, well appreciated as it is open-source software.

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