Those following Chrome OS development may have noticed efforts being made to launch Lacros on Chrome OS. Development on this has been going for over an year now, and since version 96 some of us have played with it.
What is Lacros ?
The Word “Lacros” is an acronym of the phrase “Linux And ChRome OS“. Chrome OS, which is built on Lacros has a bundled Chrome browser built into the operating system. The same browser is also used by the OS to show its UI elements (like the settings panel, or the wifi setup dialog).
Starting with version 96, Chrome OS has bundled in a second Chrome browser binary which gives Chrome OS the ability to parts of its operating system using a different version of Chrome browser if they choose to do so.
Why is Lacros important ?
Unlike other operating system platforms, Chrome OS was designed with security in mind. It used to do an OS release every 6 weeks, but over time it has been doing significantly more frequently.
The most challenging aspect of an OS update is to do it without bricking the device completely. Chrome OS build process and the boot process has many safeguards to prevent this, but ultimately Google relies on its OEMs partners to which owns/manages the drivers on the devices.
Thanks to this fantastic partnership, most Chrome OS devices today come with 6 or more years of OS support which is 4 more than most of the Android devices get.
Interestingly, even after Google stops updating the Chrome OS, there are some parts of the system it continues to update to keep users safe. Chrome://components lists some of the components which could be updated out of cycle without a full OS update. Similarly another interesting one which updates silently is the Safebrowsing infrastructure which continuously updates and protects users against latest malware on the internet even if your OS updates have stopped.
Lacros goes a step further.
By making sure Chrome browser can be separately bundled within Chrome OS, its taking baby steps to get to a world where Chrome browser itself could be updated without requiring a full OS update.
If Google is successful with this, Google would be able to update Chrome browser on Chrome OS, just like it updates them on Mac and Windows. And with that capability, Google may give devices an even longer lifespan than the 6 years they currently have for most of the newly launched devices.
If you are curious how long Chrome Devices are supported by OS updates, you could look them up in the Chrome Device list here.