Chrome OS’s ability to run Linux apps continues to mature.
Having recently revealed plans to let device managers specify a Linux distro for use with the feature comes word of another key feature tasked with making ‘Linux (beta) for Chromebooks’ more user-friendly.
The default Chrome OS application launcher already allows users to search for and launch installed apps, find extensions on the Chrome Web Store, view rich snippets for select search queries (e.g., weather in London) and has the ability to search for Android apps on the Google Play Store and install them from the launcher.
Now, based on a code commit uncovered by Chrome Story, users of the Linux (beta) for Chromebooks will also be able to search for and install Linux apps from the Chrome OS launcher.
An experimental flag to enable apt search in the Chrome OS launcher has been added to the latest development builds of Chromium, the foundation of ChromeOS.
A matching bug report titled “Apt integration in Chrome OS launcher search” explains:
“Add APT search into Chrome OS App Launcher, so that uninstalled Linux packages and Apps can be searched for and installed via the App launcher.”
Easily Install Linux Apps
The new feature will make it easy to install Linux apps on a Chromebook.
With a tap of the search key (Chromebooks have a dedicated search key) Chromebook owners will be able to search and install Linux apps available in the Crostini archives (which are largely the same as Ubuntu’s).
At present users of the experimental ‘Linux (beta) for Chromebooks’ feature have to drop to the command line to install Linux apps.
But with the new flag enabled that effort will no longer be necessary. A search for “Rhuthmbox”, “GIMP”, or “Eclipse” in the Chrome OS launcher will list matching results from the apt archive and display an “install” button beside them.