Earlier this year, it was reported that Google was working to introduce Steam into Chrome OS. Now,media 9to5 Google has discovered some of these details, including how Chrome OS runs Steam and how ChromeBook gets support.
Google launched the “Crostini” project a year ago, allowing Chrome OS to run Linux applications. In the background, Crostini runs a full Linux distribution on a virtual machine, a bit like running an Android simulator on your desktop.
In the past few weeks, themedia has been tracking new projects in the Chromium open source code code, code-named “Borealis”. Depending on some of the relevant code changes, Borealis also appears to be related to chrome OS virtual machines.
After some digging, it was discovered through the Borealis copy that it was actually another complete Linux distribution. Unlike Debian-based Crostini, Borealis will be released in another Linux release, Ubuntu. Like existing Linux application support, we believe Borealis will be integrated with Chrome OS rather than becoming a complete desktop experience.
Themedia later discovered that a key difference between Borealis and the normal installation Ubuntu was that Borealis contained a pre-installed copy of the Steam. This is in line with what we learned at CES 2020, when Kan Liu, Google’s Director of Product Management for Chrome OS, shared that the upcoming Steam game support would be Linux-based.
Of course, it raises a series of questions, the most obvious of which is: “Since Debian has been working well, why change to Ubuntu?” “
Valve, the developer of Steam, has been very active in promoting Linux migration. Their biggest contribution was the development of a “compatibility layer” – Proton, that helped Steam run games originally built for Windows on Linux. While Proton can run on all major Linux distributions, Steam’s installation instructions state that Ubuntu is the Linux distribution they recommend for gamers.
At the moment, we’re not sure if Google plans to switch Chromebook users from the existing “Crostini” Linux installation to “Borealis” or whether the two plan to coexist. The latter, however, seems unlikely, as it will unnecessaryly take up extra storage space.