CloudReady v76.2 now available!

CloudReady v76.2 now available!

 

Hey CloudReady Fans!

v76.2 is releasing today to the Dev Channels for Education and Enterprise Edition customers and the Beta Channel for the Home Edition.

Devices on those channels can expect over-the-air updates sometime today.

If you’re interested in previewing this release, subscribe to the Dev or Beta Channel to get an over-the-air update now.

Release Notes for v76:

  • OS Upgrade to 76

  • Fix for bug with Media Codecs that causes boot failure: In some rare cases, we’ve seen media codecs install improperly and ultimately cause a device to stop booting. We’ve added a fix to prevent this case.

  • Fix for issues on few USB printers: We found and fixed a bug that was causing a small subset of USB printers to fail to work on CloudReady.

  • MyFiles directory can now hold folders and files: Starting in v76, CloudReady supports the same new Files App behavior as Chrome OS where the MyFiles directory can contain new folder or store files.

New in v76.2

  • Sleep resume fixes: Some changes and revisions to sleep/resume behavior on a few desktops are included in this release, including the HP Compaq dc5850, Dell Optiplex 360, and Dell Optiplex 960.

  • Default camera app now pre-installed: The default Chrome OS camera app is now included in CloudReady just as on Chrome OS devices. (Note: Android-enabled Chromebooks may include an Android camera app which is different than the Chrome app included on CloudReady).

  • Fix for session-restore issues from 76.1: An issue in v76.1 that caused sessions to not restore properly has been resolved.

Known Issues

  • Video decoding issues for Coffee Lake, Kaby Lake, and other devices: We’re seeing video stream corruption for certain sources, including VP9, on several modern Intel GPUs.

Unstable releases often have unforeseen bugs. We rely upon Dev Channel users to report those to us in our forums. If you're ok with a little instability, please jump to this new release and let us know what you think and report any issues using the links below.

Announcement: End of Support for CloudReady Home Edition 32bit

Announcement: End of Support for CloudReady Home Edition 32bit

Today we're announcing the end-of-support timeline for 32bit images of CloudReady: Home Edition.

Around 7 months ago, we announced new policies around device support, including the fact that Education and Enterprise Editions of CloudReady would stop providing 32bit images in August of 2019. Since that time, we’ve reviewed 32bit images, their challenges, and the time investment it requires of us, with the aim of clarifying the outlook for the 32bit images on the Home Edition as well.

In the end, it was clear that now is the right time to be retiring 32bit images for all of CloudReady.

Starting at the end of August 2019, the Home, Education, and Enterprise Editions of CloudReady will stop builds, releases, and updates for 32bit images.

Reasons for This Change

As we described in our January announcement, the Chromium and Linux communities are shifting support away from 32bit support, which leads to more and more gaps where the latest security and feature updates are unsupported, unavailable, or broken on 32bit builds.

Our core commitment with CloudReady is to provide a secure and reliable OS, and we don’t feel we can deliver on that promise on all future 32bit builds.

What to Expect Next

CloudReady v76.4 will arrive in late August this summer. That release will include 32bit builds for Education, Enterprise, and Home Editions. For all releases following that, Neverware will stop building 32bit CloudReady and will not ship updates or provide support to existing devices running 32bit images.

32bit-only devices will be able to continue running v76.4. That release may work for a few months, or for much longer, but we won’t be able to guarantee functionality, in whole or part, on those devices after that point.

64bit-capable devices that are installed with 32bit images will stop getting updates, but can be reinstalled with 64bit images. Since v64, CloudReady has provided notifications to these devices to make users aware that their device is capable, so you can check for those after each update to determine if your device should be reinstalled.


It is never our preference to limit support or prevent use on specific hardware. Nevertheless, our team is confident that this change is in the best interest of CloudReady’s long-term success, and we hope this information will help explain why.

We value every user of CloudReady and hope all of you will continue to support Neverware by running CloudReady on your devices.

 
Forrest Smith

About Forrest

Forrest Smith is Neverware's Director of Product & CX. A native of the Buffalo, NY, area, Forrest came to Neverware as a sales intern and never left. He runs on coffee, PB toast, and dollar pizza slices.

View all posts by Forrest.

 

CloudReady v76.1 now available!

CloudReady v76.1 now available!

 

Hey CloudReady Fans!

We're announcing the initial release of v76.1 to the Dev Channel for CloudReady: Home Edition today. For this release, we are publishing only the 64bit build and will follow with 32bit builds and a release for Education and Enterprise Editions soon with v76.2.

64bit devices on the Dev Channel can expect over-the-air updates for this release over the next few hours.

If you’re interested in previewing this release, subscribe to the Dev Channel to get an over-the-air update now.

Release Notes for v76:

  • OS Upgrade to 76

  • Fix for bug with Media Codecs that causes boot to fail: In some rare cases, we’ve seen media codecs install improperly and ultimately cause a device to stop booting. We’ve added a fix to prevent this case.

  • Fix for issues on few USB printers: We found and fixed a bug that was causing a small subset of USB printers to fail to work on CloudReady.

  • MyFiles directory can now hold folders and files: In v74 we disabled new functionality to store files and folders in the MyFiles directory of the local Files App in order to prevent a bug with Downloads folders disappearing for older installs. Working with the upstream Chromium OS team, we’ve resolved this issue and now support the same Files App behavior as Chrome OS.

Known Issues

  • Video decoding issues for Coffee Lake, Kaby Lake, and other devices: We’re seeing video stream corruption for certain sources, including VP9, on several modern Intel GPUs. We expect to resolve this in v76.2.

  • User sessions repeatedly prompt to “Restore”: Some users and devices on v76.1 are failing to recover their tabs and state after a graceful log out or shut down, and instead prompt you to “Restore” after logging in every time. If you click “Restore”, this should not impact usability.

Unstable releases often have unforeseen bugs. We rely upon Dev Channel users to report those to us in our forums. If you're ok with a little instability, please jump to this new release and let us know what you think and report any issues using the links below.

Introducing New Update and Deployment Features for CloudReady

Introducing New Update and Deployment Features for CloudReady

 

Hey CloudReady Fans!

Ease of management has been a part of our mission with CloudReady since its launch four years ago, bringing the G Suite integration and Chrome Enterprise management available on Chrome OS devices to any PC or Mac. Today, we’re putting some of the feedback and insight we’ve gained in those four years to work in three additional features to help administrators of CloudReady.

Peer-to-Peer Updates

Peer-to-peer updating has been a feature on Chrome OS for some time, and now CloudReady will also support it.

v73.1 was the first version to support Peer-to-Peer (P2P) updating by bringing in a new update server with important protocol changes. And now with the stable release of v74.4, all up-to-date devices are eligible for these more efficient updates.

P2P updates allow managed CloudReady devices on the same local network to share their update payloads with one another, reducing the total network bandwidth required to complete an OS update. These transactions occur silently in the background, just like CloudReady updates always have. They also maintain security by ensuring update payloads are signed by Neverware, and only ever downloaded from a device managed under the same domain.

Just as with Chrome OS devices, P2P updates are enabled for all managed devices automatically and cannot be disabled in the Google Admin console. Instead, customers who do not want their devices to use P2P should disable multicast DNS (mDNS) in their network settings interface.

You can read more about peer-to-peer updating on Google’s Support page, or in the CloudReady Knowledge Base.

Update Caching

The same changes that allow individual devices to share their updates also allow for another bandwidth-saving option: update caching.

A caching server uses a proxy to download and serve copies of commonly accessed webpages and payloads, minimizing bandwidth constraints caused by many devices contacting the same endpoint. When it comes to Chrome OS and CloudReady updates, their availability over HTTP make them perfect candidates for caching, allowing devices to retrieve an exact copy of their update without leaving the local network.

Google’s Support page on update caching includes a number of important considerations that you should review carefully if you are considering update caching.

Mandatory Enterprise Enrollment

While P2P and Update Caching both enable functionality that was already possible on Chrome OS, our third feature brings the ability to do something that is only possible on CloudReady.

Mandatory Enterprise Enrollment is a new management feature for CloudReady that allows admins to require that devices be enrolled for Chrome Enterprise management prior to first use, and even optionally set a domain name to restrict enrollment to their chosen G Suite domain.

Mandatory Enterprise Enrollment is made possible via an interaction with my.Neverware.com and Neverware’s servers, similar to our existing CloudReady licensing. Some changes in the my.Neverware.com console surface these controls, including the “Plugins” tab being renamed to “Device Configuration” and the addition of a new sub tab for Enrollment:

CloudReady new feature: Mandatory enrollment for new devices into the Google Admin console using Chrome Enterprise

When you enable Mandatory Enterprise Enrollment via the checkbox above, your devices will check in with Neverware servers prior to first login and then automatically lock the device to Google’s Enterprise Enrollment screen, requiring the person setting it up to successfully enroll it (to the domain of your choice, if configured) before it will allow any other use.

This feature provides peace of mind for IT Admins who need to ensure only fully managed devices are deployed in their environment.

Note that existing deployed CloudReady devices are not impacted by Mandatory Enterprise Enrollment - only newly installed devices on v74.4 or higher will support this feature.

For more info and answers to common questions about Mandatory Enterprise Enrollment, visit the CloudReady Knowledge Base.


With all of these new features, we hope IT admins who are rolling out CloudReady for the first time, expanding their install base, or just maintaining healthy machines will see benefits.

If you have thoughts or needs for future improvements like these, we encourage all customers to bring that feedback to our support team, their Account Manager, or any member of the Neverware team.


Forrest Smith

About Forrest

Forrest Smith is Neverware's Director of Product & CX. A native of the Buffalo, NY, area, Forrest came to Neverware as a sales intern and never left. He runs on coffee, PB toast, and dollar pizza slices.

View all posts by Forrest.

 

Key Takeaways from Citrix Synergy

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Key Takeaways from Citrix Synergy

As the dust is finally settling after our very busy and interesting week in downtown Atlanta at Citrix Synergy, we wanted to share some high-level takeaways from the event. While we’d love to talk about our obsession with the electric scooter rentals scattered about downtown, we’ll do our best to keep the focus on our takeaways from the interactions we had at our dedicated CloudReady stand inside the larger Google Chrome Enterprise booth.

Throughout the event, we had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of attendees, partners, vendors, customers and everybody in between about CloudReady’s value in converting organizations’ existing hardware to Chrome OS, and also to listen to many presentations made by Citrix leadership. Our conversations ranged from discussing all sorts of Citrix, VDI, and endpoint configurations, to sharing the news about the launch of our new Chrome Experts community as a public resource for people to come and ask about all things Chrome.

CloudReady’s booth inside Google’s Chrome Enterprise booth.


To commemorate the experience, here are some of the highlights we took back to the Neverware headquarters at crazy old 27th Street in New York City:


Citrix is truly focused on “Delivering the Future of Work.”

Leading up to the event, Citrix’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Minihan, shared a post where he wrote, “Increasingly, competitiveness is being determined by how well companies can harness technology to innovate faster and drive new levels of employee engagement and productivity that improve the customer experience and business results.” This was evident throughout all of the keynote announcements and a focus within a lot of the breakout sessions.

At Neverware, we believe that the architecture of the Chromium operating system, combined with legacy Windows apps delivered by Citrix, accomplishes exactly that. With CloudReady and Chrome Enterprise Management, organizations can spend much less time on securing, patching, and managing their endpoints, and more on driving innovation, ultimately improving business results.

3 underlying themes: User experience, security and choice.

As a Citrix Ready verified partner, we had the opportunity to attend the Citrix Ready Summit on the day prior to the start of Synergy and hear first hand about the future roadmap of Citrix Workspace. During this event we listened to the Citrix leadership team, from many different verticals, speak on a number of topics. It was clear that there was an explicit focus revolving around each of the following three themes throughout each presentation:

  • Awareness of what it means to provide a better user experience where the user is less distracted and has all the tools & information consolidated into one pane of glass.

  • Security has become paramount in the enterprise workplace.

  • Users want freedom to choose where and what device they work from.

The intelligent cloud workspace has finally arrived in the new Citrix Workspace.

The era of managing multiple services and devices, and updating and patching with different types of inconsistent tooling, is finally coming to a close. Innovative organizations are implementing a single point of governance to manage their entire organization that can be accessed from anywhere, from any device, and retains all of the appropriate preferences.

Additionally, the benefits of cloud workspaces to improve the employee experience, resource optimization, and overall security. However, the biggest cost savings are found in the reduction of time spent monitoring and managing the parameters and updates for every device in the company’s network.

Google and Citrix Partnership

While we believe the Citrix keynote speech here provides the best overview of this topic, we’d like to point out what we view as the most impactful two elements of the ever-increasing partnership between Citrix and Google:

  • Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS) is now available on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Organizations will be able to seamlessly scale their Citrix desktop workloads from their existing on-premises deployments directly into Google Cloud.

  • Google is now an official identity provider for Citrix Workspace. This means that this integration will provide you with a more unified, secure, and seamless authentication experience for G Suite and Workspace.

The announcement of these two features alone elevates Google’s effort to a higher standard alongside the other cloud platforms in the Citrix ecosystem.

We (Google + Neverware) need to continue the push of educating the enterprise community on the value and capability of the Chrome ecosystem and applicable use cases.

Throughout the hundreds of conversations we had with users, customers and partners, we realized that awareness of the enterprise-grade features of CloudReady and Chrome OS, and the available integrations with Citrix, hadn’t yet permeated the enterprise community.

We shared a number of use cases where IT administrators walked away with some great ideas on how to address a pain point, all while improving security and manageability with CloudReady/Chrome OS. A couple of quick highlights of some of these use cases that were found to garner the most engagement and “I wish I knew about this sooner” reactions:

  • The ultimate mobile thin client: We spoke frequently about the use case where CloudReady/Chrome OS customers can run their devices in Kiosk mode, giving users the ability to only log in via the Citrix Workspace app, and launch their Virtual Desktops and Apps entitlements. Taking it one step further, Citrix released a configuration called Beacons that can be managed centrally via a single policy deployed from the Google Admin console, and which allows users to roam seamlessly from the physical office to remote work areas (e.g., coffee shops, hotels, airports), and automatically receive either the internal storefront URL or more secure, externally facing access gateway URL.

  • A secure thin client now, a full robust desktop OS later: The idea that both CloudReady and Chrome OS can offer the full functionality of a thin client device with the purpose of connecting into a fully hosted Windows desktop; AND then transition at the same pace that your workforce transitions to a more web-based way of working of the future, all WITHOUT compromising on security or manageability of these endpoints. Additionally, we found that some folks were incredibly intrigued by the fact that it’s just a simple flip of a switch to turn an endpoint acting as a thin client into this fully functioning, browser-based OS.


Synergy was a fantastic event to interact with many of the great minds within the enterprise community, all under a single roof. We walked away with a lot of knowledge on how Citrix sees the future of its Workspace computing platform and just how well this aligns with a secure, managed, and cloud-focused endpoint, like CloudReady and Chrome OS.


Feel free to comment with your thoughts below!

 

Nick Fuchs is a Product Specialist in Virtualization. When he's not supporting animal rescue, feeding the Neverware team, and drinking Don Julio, you can find Nick on his IT blog, NickyFixIt.com, or Neverware's Chrome Experts community.

View all posts by Nick.

 

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CloudReady v75.1 now available!

CloudReady v75.1 now available!

 

Hey CloudReady Fans!

UPDATE 6/12/19: We’re releasing a patch of v75.1 with a fix for a major bug (see below) that was introduced in v75.1 last week. This release will go out to the Education, Enterprise, and Home Editions of CloudReady, and will be available today on our Dev release channel.

We're excited to announce the release of v75.1 to the Dev Channel for CloudReady: Home Edition today!

Devices on the Dev Channel can expect over-the-air updates for this release over the next few hours.

If you’re interested in previewing this release, subscribe to the Dev Channel to get an over-the-air update now.

Users of the Education and Enterprise Editions can expect v75.1 to be available to them in the coming week.

Release Notes for v75:

  • OS Upgrade to 75

  • Linux Kernel Upgrade to 4.19: We’re happy to be including an updated kernel, 4.19, in v75. Kernel upgrades bring broad security, performance, and stability improvements, along with a host of added support for hardware and features.
    Neverware only tests certified models, so many hardware support improvements in v75 and later may not be noted here. If you find any newly functional hardware or peripherals we’d love to hear from you about it!

  • Improved support for MT76* wifi modules: This family of (mostly USB based) wifi bring 802.11ac and 5ghz support to a family of new wifi modules manufactured by Mediatek and sold under many brand names. Depending on the device and type of attachment, there may still be bugs so be aware.

  • Apple Magic Touchpad 2 support: The Apple Magic Touchpad 2 supports the full range of Chromium OS touchpad gestures in v75.

  • Improved hardware video decoding: We’ve re-enabled accelerated video decoding for a wide variety of CloudReady devices that have been under-utilizing their hardware with certain video streams. We expect this to improve performance for video streaming, video chat, and Citrix Workspace app performance.

Known Issues

  • (Fixed in 6/12 patch) Welcome screen and sequence shown after update: A bug with v75.1 that we are still working on is causing some devices to show the welcome screen and walk through some parts of the “new device” setup flow after updating from v74.4.

  • Some desktop with Intel GMA 3100 graphics (Q35_G) do not boot: We’re seeing an inability to boot when running v75.1 on machines with these chipsets, but will be fixing this issue in our next release.

  • User sessions repeatedly prompt to “Restore”: Some users and devices on v75.1 are failing to recover their tabs and state after a graceful log out or shut down, and instead prompt you to “Restore” after logging in every time. If you click “Restore”, this should not impact usability.

Unstable releases often have unforeseen bugs. We rely upon Dev Channel users to report those to us in our forums. If you're ok with a little instability, please jump to this new release and let us know what you think and report any issues using the links below.

CloudReady v74.4 now available!

CloudReady v74.4 now available!

 

Hey CloudReady Fans!

We're excited to release v74.4 today to all channels and Editions of CloudReady!

Devices will start receiving over-the-air updates for this release over the next few hours.

Release Notes for v74

  • OS Upgrade to 74

  • P2P updates: In v73.1 we released initial support for P2P updates. With v74.1 comes the first opportunity for CloudReady devices to receive updates from another device in the local network already running CloudReady.

    • NOTE: As part of adding P2P updates, we have switched to a new update server for all CloudReady clients on v73.1 or later. That URL will now be https://cloudready-paid-update-server-2.neverware.com

  • UMA Metrics: We are now utilizing Chrome’s User Metrics Analysis to help us identify possible issues and improve CloudReady. Neverware only collects data in order to improve the customer experience. For more info regarding our privacy policy, click here.

  • When initiating printing in Google Sheets or Slides, CloudReady does not allow users to select a printer and will instead jump directly to printing the document as a PDF. This has been fixed in v74.3.

  • Fix for some font display issues which we discovered due to their impact on a digital testing app. We released a patch for this fix, which will also be included in this release.

  • Fixed: Additional Hardware Information section in device details on my.neverware.com was not populating for Lenovo ThinkCentre M58 devices.

  • Fixed touchscreen and touchpad functionality on Lenovo N24 - This device will be certified, in addition to these fixes, in v74.4.

  • Fixed touchpad issues on HP Elitebook 840 G5. This device is not yet certified but may be soon.

  • Lenovo ThinkPad T450 fix for audio output

  • Initial mitigation for ZombieLoad vulnerability - A new security vulnerability, known as “ZombieLoad” has been published and impacts the majority of Intel processors. CloudReady v74.4 includes the same risk-mitigation strategy that Google is providing to Chrome OS by disabling hyperthreading on Intel CPUs. Read more here.

New Certified Models in v74

  • Dell Optiplex 9020

  • HP EliteBook 820 G1

  • HP EliteBook 840 G5

  • HP ProBook 450 G1

  • Lenovo N23

  • Lenovo N24

ZombieLoad and CloudReady

ZombieLoad and CloudReady

 

What is ZombieLoad?

Over the last few weeks, a security exploit known as “ZombieLoad” has been published. This vulnerability, somewhat similar to Spectre and Meltdown in the past, allow attackers to abuse performance features on a computer in order to run arbitrary code without the administrator or user’s consent. There is a lot of information available about this issue and we recommend that all IT admins take some time to read up on the issue, starting with these suggested links:

  • https://zombieloadattack.com/

  • https://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2018-12130

What actions should CloudReady users take?

CloudReady, similar to Chrome OS, has automatic updates turned on by default, so as in the past, no action is necessary in order to receive security fixes unless you are currently restricting updates.

To ensure your school or business receives security updates as soon as they are available, make sure you are following all recommendations listed at https://network.neverware.com on your organization’s networks, and that you are not blocking/disabling device updates in your Google Admin console.

How is Neverware responding to these issues?

Yesterday, v74.4 of CloudReady was released to all Editions and all release channels of CloudReady. Along with normal improvements, that update includes mitigation strategies for ZombieLoad to match the changes Google has made for Chromebooks.

What are the security patches in v74.4?

To mitigate these new risks, Chrome OS and CloudReady v74 are disabling Intel’s "hyper-threading” wherever it is available. More about this fix, the rationale for implementing it, and the limited impact on performance can be found from the Chromium authors here:

In our testing so far, there have been limited changes to performance on CloudReady devices, even amongst our oldest machines.

Other and ongoing security patches

The Google and Chromium teams intend to ship additional improvements and protections in v75 and onwards to further limit any risk from ZombieLoad. As always, our commitment to security and reliability on CloudReady means that CloudReady devices will receive those same improvements when we release v75 and v76.

We will update this blog with any additional info as it becomes available.