Chrome OS 81 to allow Linux username selection for Crostini

I’m not judging but apparently, some Chromebook users have some strange email addresses. And by strange, I mean they don’t allow you to set up the default user when installing Linux in Chrome OS.

I’m joking a little here. However, this is a real issue for certain Gmail addresses because it’s that account that’s used to create the default user.

For example, my gmail account is [email protected] and so my user account for Linux on my Chromebook is kctofel.

All the way back in December of 2018 a bug was opened up for this issue:

A user report indicates that usernames starting with a digit don’t work correctly; it looks like at least Debian’s version of useradd recommends that usernames start with a lowercase letter or underscore, but I’m not sure what the exact rules are or where they are enforced.

Another user reported that their ‘[email protected]’ username didn’t work (presumably it conflicts with the standard ‘mail’ user).

I’m sure there a very few users overall affected by this but there’s good news for them, and for anyone else who wants to have a custom username for Linux on a Chromebook: Chrome OS 81 should have a fix.

I may choose “batman” so I can be [email protected]

Based on the current code merge, when starting the Linux installation process, users will be prompted to supply a username, which is then applied to the Linux container system settings.

In typical fashion, this feature will be experimental and hidden behind a flag. You’ll want to look for chrome://flags#crostini-username when the functionality is first rolled out, currently on track for Chrome OS 81.

About the author

Kevin C. Tofel has covered technology since 2004. He's used ChromeOS since Google debuted the CR-48 in 2010, reviewing dozens of Chromebooks since then. He worked for Google's Chrome Enterprise team from 2016 to 2017, supporting the launch of Android app support. In his free time, he uses Chromebooks to learn software engineering at Launch School. In 2019, Kevin joined the CS Curriculum Committee at his local community college.

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