Google touts managed Linux, gets cosy with Dell in Chromebook Enterprise push

Security plus Linux application support – enough to tempt enterprises?

Google has rolled out its "first Chromebook Enterprise devices," these being a couple of Dell Latitude laptops launched at the VMWorld shindig currently under way in San Francisco.

The Dell Latitude 5400 and Latitude 5300 2-in-1 will now come loaded with an enterprise version of Chrome OS – though note that Chrome Enterprise is not new, and what Google is referring to is that Dell is packaging Chrome OS with the Enterprise Upgrade so it is available out of the box.

In the release Google also emphasised the ability to enable "managed Linux environments" on Chromebooks, primarily with development in mind. The latest Android Studio is supported on Chrome OS, via the ability to run Linux, even though Linux on Chrome OS is still in beta.

These Dell Chromebooks include Chrome Enterprise Upgrade, which adds a few features to the operating system:

  • Remote device disable
  • Option to delete all user data at the end of each session
  • Active Directory and SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) single sign-on integration
  • Policy management through Google Admin console

Google says it has "massively revamped" this Admin console, with performance and design improvements in mind.

Linux on a Chromebook runs in a container via the project called Crostini, though Linux applications are not sandboxed from each other. Linux management features include tools to control who has access to the feature, VPN support, and container support.

Dell is highlighting its Unified Workspace tool which lets administrators manage Chromebooks alongside other devices and operating systems.

The Dell Latitude 5300 2-in-1 Chromebook Enterprise starts at $819.00, and the Latitude 5400 Chromebook Enterprise starts at $699.00.

It is the strategy which is of interest here. Dell has offered Chromebooks before, but mainly targeting education. It is now a G Suite reseller and will be pitching Google's wares to enterprises, alongside its existing huge Windows business.

When Chrome OS was first launched, the concept was that users would do almost everything in the Chrome browser. The company has gradually increased the scope of Chrome OS, adding the ability to run Android applications and then Linux applications, but within the security of containers so that the underlying operating system remains protected.

The ability to run full Linux applications is interesting not only for developers, but also for users who prefer to work with desktop applications such as an office suite or image editor, as well as the myriad Linux utilities and tools.

The Linux version of Firefox running on a Chromebook

The Linux version of Firefox running on a Chromebook

Alongside Android application support, it makes Chrome OS more compelling as an alternative to Windows.

The ubiquity of Windows applications in the Enterprise will still make Chrome OS a tough sell. That said, despite the effort Microsoft has put into securing Windows, it is easier for Google to gradually open up Chrome OS with sandboxed support for Android and Linux applications, than it is for Microsoft to secure Windows while keeping compatibility with its huge legacy of existing applications. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022