Chrome OS automatic updates

Chromebook owners will get to disable automatic Chrome OS updates. YES!

In June of 2019, I called for Google to give consumers more control over Chrome OS updates. Specifically, I wanted to see everyday Chromebook users get the same control that Chrome Enterprise groups have: The ability to disable automatic Chrome OS updates. Finally, in March of 2022, Google appears to be doing just that, based on a code change spotted by 9to5 Google.

The in-progress feature is called “Allow Consumer Auto Update Toggle” and will be initially hidden behind a flag at chrome://flags#consumer-auto-update-toggle-allowed

This method to disable automatic Chrome OS updates is self-explanatory. So I won’t get into the details. Let’s just say, if you don’t want the latest Chrome OS update to be automatically installed, you’ll have the ability to stop it.

More important are the reasons behind this, which I have to believe are related to a number of high-profile Chrome OS updates causing major issues.

Chrome OS automatic updates

Chrome OS 75, for example, prompted my call for this feature nearly three years ago. It was paused after various issues including some devices completely freeze up. Fast forward to Chrome OS 91 when a software update locked people out of their Chromebooks before Google could pull the update.

Then there was Chrome OS 96, which was released then quietly pulled, only to again arrive a few weeks later. That issue appeared related to an issue where users couldn’t open apps on their Chromebooks. More recently, just one release later, Chrome OS 97 broke printing on Chromebooks, although it appears that was isolated to ARM-based devices.

The history lesson here explains why Chromebook owners need the ability to disable Chrome OS updates if they want to.

There’s a reason Chrome Enterprise shops can do this: They can’t afford to lose time with updates that break functionality. Well, it’s no different for consumers, in my opinion. And I’m glad Google is realizing this, even if it’s later than I would have liked.

Chrome OS device management

From a timing perspective, my daily driver is running the most recent version of the Chrome OS 100 Dev Channel and I don’t yet see this flag. I’m hoping Chrome OS 101 adds it if Google can’t fast-track it for 100.

To be honest, the functionality to block Chrome OS updates already exists for enterprise users, so it’s possible we do get the ability to disable automatic Chrome OS updates sooner rather than later.

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6 thoughts on “Chromebook owners will get to disable automatic Chrome OS updates. YES!

  1. I think this is more for Flex where updates historically on Cloud ready have been painful and many other reasons in that case where people want to stop at a certain version.

    Really we need a very slow channel, that updates every 6 months, for people who want updates but which have been tested lots by all your beta / dev geeks out there. Because yeah things do seem to have been slipping into this is why I moved from Windows territory with Chrome OS updates.

    With a just on / off option you could easily put back on and get a rubbish update. I want others to test loads before me, lots out there who enjoy that, let them waste there weekends reloading etc.

  2. Is it just me? I have never encountered even a minor problem in automatic updating a couple of different Chromebooks for more than three years. One of the Chromebooks is never even turned off (my Dad’s). I have to manually restart it once in awhile to get the update installed, but other than that zero problems.

  3. I just bought a new Lenovo chromebook. Updates end in 2028. However, it won’t update to latest version out of box and is stuck on a version in the 80’s.
    Any suggestions from anybody besides obviously returning it?

  4. I urgently need a new laptop with a minimum of a 16:10 screen for a work project. I’m thinking of picking up a used Acer Spin 713 to tide me over or maybe getting the new Lenovo Flex 5i when it comes out.

    Can you tell me whether you are able to get Java Web Start working in the Linux container? This is critical to my project and I just couldn’t get it to launch when I tried installing IcedTea on my last Chromebook (a Lenovo C630).

  5. I wish we’d be able to run Linux apps natively on Chrome OS, not in a container like it’s at the moment. We should also have full access to the Linux terminal instead of the current limited Chrosh features.
    If there are no advanced features to have full control of my computer then I would just use my mobile instead. I would expect advanced features on my computer, which why Chrome OS will not be my daily drive, at least at the moment. Web-browser based applications are cool, but having the option to also run native applications would be great! Being able to install Flatpak application would also be a much appreciated feature.

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