FerroChrome, a secret Google project that allows you to run Chrome OS on Android 

FerroChrome: running Chromiu OS on Android

A few days ago the news was announced that in a closed event, Google presented the "FerroChrome" project to its partners. This is a project he has been working on to be able to run a special version of the Chromium OS operating system in a virtual machine on Android devices.

And the technology giant has been carrying out tests that involve the execution of a specialized version of Chromium OS and during the demonstration, Google presented its partners with the Chromium OS interface on a large screen connected to a Pixel 8.

Running Chromium OS in a virtual machine This is because starting with Android 13, the platform has "Android Virtualization Framework" (AVF), which is implemented based on the KVM and crosvm hypervisor. This allows virtual machines to run on other operating systems, and until now, Google has used AVF to make “microdroid” builds, used to isolate third-party system components. In late April, AVF documented the ability to run operating systems with a graphical user interface and announced support for creating guest systems with Chromium OS.

It is worth mentioning that this is not something new, since at the time Samsung presented its "Samsung DeX" project or even Ubuntu tried to make Ubuntu Touch a system that had that convergence by being a solution for both mobile phones and desktop tasks. Launchers have even been presented that promise to offer a desktop experience, but even if they manage to offer this, on the application side the issue was another.

It is because of that If Google manages to successfully implement Chrome OS on Android, it could change expectations of users regarding mobile desktop modes, potentially affecting the market share and popularity of solutions like Samsung DeX.

However, it's still too early to say Whether Google's ambitious project to take mobile usage to a new level is on its way to seamless integration, as it is in its initial stages.

Cited benefits of “FerroChrome” include the potential to increase productivity by providing a full desktop experience on mobile devices, leveraging the power of Chrome OS and its capabilities, as well as the convenience of carrying a single device for work. mobile and desktop computing needs.

As for the possible disadvantages that could entail this, mention is made of performance issues due to running a virtual machine on a mobile device, a possible increase in battery consumption and the risk of creating a fragmented user experience if not executes appropriately.

Sameer Samat, president of the Android ecosystem, and Dave Burke, vice president of Android engineering, are mentioned as providing the context for FerroChrome and explaining that:

The project was born out of Google's ongoing efforts to improve Android security by moving sensitive code from TrustZone, a secure enclave on ARM CPUs, to virtual machines. Android 15's updated virtualization framework, with support for graphics operating systems and GPU acceleration, provided the perfect opportunity to test this new capability.

Burke mentioned:

“We needed a demo, and what would be really cool? Let's put Chrome OS on there, that would be a lot of fun! Could it really work? And works! But that's all. "It's a technical demonstration." Samat echoed this sentiment, noting that Ferrochrome was a “really interesting challenge” for the team in pushing the boundaries of new virtualization technology.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that, although FerroChrome build is not yet publicly distributed, But Google has already published instructions to create a guest system with Chromium OS and run it in the AVF virtual machine. By following these instructions, enthusiasts were able to play the Chromium OS release on a Pixel 7 Pro smartphone with a keyboard and mouse attached.

The ability to run Chromium OS is expected to make it possible to create a full desktop environment when the smartphone is connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Finally, if you are interested in learning more about it, you can consult the details in the following link


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