Oh boy. Not long after reporting on the subset of Chromebooks that are stuck on ChromeOS 116, there’s bad news about the ChromeOS 119 release. The update became available on November 15. Then on the 21st, a reader emailed me to say it was pulled. Chrome Unboxed reported this on the 24th and I’ve been trying to find out the reason ChromeOS 119 was yanked for nearly a week.
Why was the ChromeOS 119 release pulled?
Frankly, I’m stumped. I’ve scoured the Chromium bug list for hours over the past several days. Sure, I see various bugs reported and being worked on, but none that suggest a show-stopper incident that would cause Google to revert back to ChromeOS 118.
Of course, it’s possible that the bug information isn’t publicly available. Although Chromium is an open-source project, I’ve noticed more and more that Google is keeping work on ChromeOS features and bugs behind closed doors.
That’s been happening for most of this year. And it’s probably the fault of people like me who search the records and then report on upcoming features. So… my bad.
Given that I’ve come up empty so far, I reached out to a Google contact for any information on the issue with ChromeOS 119. If and when I hear back I’ll update this post.
ChromeOS 120 is an option but…
In the meantime, there’s not much you can do if your Chromebook is now running ChromeOS 118. You could always change from the Stable Channel to the Beta Channel and then get ChromeOS 120. I wouldn’t recommend that for most people though. Unless there’s some feature in 119 that was critical to you, I’d wait and let Google sort it out.
You might think, “Wait, they’ve had nearly a week to figure this out.” Yes, but keep in mind last week was a short one in the U.S.
We had our Thanksgiving holiday so it was really half a workweek. That’s an “at best” situation too because it’s common for folks to use PTO during this time.
ChromeOS releases have to be rock-solid
Looking at the bigger picture though, this situation is a little concerning.
First, we had the USB firmware on the Lenovo Duet Chromebook 5 that’s held back software updates for nearly three months. And now, a major release was pushed, then removed, from every supported Chromebook. It’s not the first time it’s happened. Each time it does though, my trust and faith in software updates wavers just a little more.
If you think about it, Chromebooks are more like computing appliances rather than traditional computers. You really don’t get the choice to upgrade (or downgrade) the operating system. That’s effectively up to Google. Your customization abilities are limited too, although I think the new Material You design features and custom wallpaper settings help quite a bit there.
So when an appliance gets an upgrade and there are problems, it can be a huge issue. Thankfully, there are two “copies” of ChromeOS on every Chromebook. One is the current version and one is the prior. Google can easily revert back to a version in most cases.
And that’s good. But radio silence on updates gone bad is not a good look. Heck, the original Chromebook Community post announcing ChromeOS 119 is still up with no additional information. Hopefully, we get some clarity around the issue soon.