Chrome OS switching to the Android Linux kernel and related Android subsystems

Surprisingly quietly, in the middle of Apple’s WWDC, Google’s ChromeOS team has made a rather massive announcement that seems to be staying a bit under the radar. Google is announcing today that it is replacing many of ChromeOS’ current relatively standard Linux-based subsystems with the comparable subsystems from Android.

To continue rolling out new Google AI features to users at a faster and even larger scale, we’ll be embracing portions of the Android stack, like the Android Linux kernel and Android frameworks, as part of the foundation of ChromeOS. We already have a strong history of collaboration, with Android apps available on ChromeOS and the start of unifying our Bluetooth stacks as of ChromeOS 122.

↫ Prajakta Gudadhe and Alexander Kuscher on the Chromium blog

The benefits to Google here are obvious: instead of developing and maintaining two variants of the Linux kernel and various related subsystems, they now only have to focus on one, saving money and time. It will also make it easier for both platforms to benefit from new features and bugfixes, which should benefit users of both platforms quite a bit.

As mentioned in the snippet, the first major subsystem in ChromeOS to be replaced by its Android counterpart is Bluetooth. ChromeOS was using the BlueZ Bluetooth stack, the same one used by most (all?) Linux distributions today, which was initially developed by Qualcomm, but has now switched over to using Fluoride, the one from Android.

According to Google, Fluoride has a number of benefits over BlueZ. It runs almost entirely in userspace, as opposed to BlueZ, where more than 50% of the code resides in the kernel. In addition, Fluoride is written in Rust, and Google claims it has a simpler architecture, making it easier to perform testing. Google also highlights that Fluoride has a far larger userbase – i.e., all Android users – which also presents a number of benefits.

Google performed internal tests to measure the improvements as a result from switching ChromeOS from BlueZ to Fluoride, and the test results speak for themselves – pairing is faster, pairing fails less often, and reconnecting an already paired device fails less often. With Bluetooth being a rather problematic technology to use, any improvements to the user experience are welcome.

At the end of Google’s detailed blog post about the switch to Fluoride, the company notes that it intends for the project as whole – which is called Project Floss – to be a standalone open source project, capable of running on any Linux distribution.

↫ Russ Lindsay, Abhishek Pandit-Subedi, Alain Michaud, and Loic Wei Yu Neng on the chromeOS dev website

We aspire to position Project Floss as a standalone open source project that can reach beyond the walls of Google’s own operating system in a way where we can maximize the overall value and agility of the larger Bluetooth ecosystem. We also intend to support the Linux community as a whole with the goal that Floss can easily run on most Linux distributions.

If Fluoride can indeed deliver tangible, measurable benefits in Bluetooth performance on Linux desktops, I have no doubt quite a few distributions will be more than willing to switch over. Bluetooth is used a lot, and if Fedora, Ubuntu, Arch, and so on, can improve the Bluetooth experience by switching over, I’m pretty sure they will, or at least consider doing so.


  1. 2024-06-12 8:41 pm
    • 2024-06-12 11:34 pm
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