Web browser Google Chrome could soon be separated from Chrome OS, the operating system that powers Chromebook laptops, reports claim.
Currently, the browser and the operating system are closely intertwined, which means that when Google wants to release an update or fix, the company must provide a global package that includes both elements.
While not ideal, this system is generally workable. However, it poses more significant problems when Chromebooks reach their Auto Update Expiration (AUE) six and a half years after purchase.
At this point, not only will the operating system stop receiving security and quality of life upgrades, but it will also freeze the Chrome web browser when it expires.
Separating Google Chrome and Chrome OS makes updating each service easier and also allows the company to provide security updates to the browser even after the OS version has reached the end of the service.
Google Chrome vs Chrome OS
The move to untangle the two entities is called Lacros (inherited from “Linux and Chrome OS”) and the change is currently live in Chrome OS test builds via the Canary channel.
Where previously the system UI and web browser originated from the same binary file, Lacros separates the two functionalities into two different binaries, known as ash-chrome (system UI) and lacros-chrome (browser).
In practice, the change means little to the everyday Chrome user, but will have a significant long-term impact as devices reach AUE.
While it is still not advisable to continue using an outdated operating system, which may be vulnerable to attack, the ability to ensure that Google Chrome remains as secure (and feature-rich) as possible will be a significant part of the facing threats.
Schools and small businesses in particular can benefit from this; the ability to extend the life of Chromebooks to more than six and a half years could dramatically reduce hardware costs in the long run, and also minimize the risk of purchasing a fleet of pre-owned devices.
It’s not clear exactly at this stage how and when Lacros will roll out to stable Chrome OS builds, but older laptop users are hoping the change will take effect sooner rather than later.
Through Android police