> Schools in the US are now buying more Chromebooks than all other devices combined -- and in Q1 of this year, Chromebooks topped Macs in overall shipments to become the #2 most popular PC operating system in the US*.
that's pretty amazing actually. congrats to google & the chromebook team!
I can see a future where a mandatory Google account follows you up the grades. Educational software is released exclusively in Google's Play store. Assignments and homework are handed in with Google Drive and Google Docs.
Sure this is great for Google, but I think our public institutions suffer from such a third-party centrality. I remember at UW-Madison, it was annoying having to pay for a semester long subscription to whatever the professor decided was a good cms for the class, but at least the costs were explicit and there wasn't a monopoly player in the field that everyone had to use. IMHO, Google is more interested in getting people into the garden than it is in selling hardware or fostering education.
This is not the future. This is now. At the school district where I volunteer as a computer instructor, all the first graders already have a Google account that will follow them throughout their grades. In fact their user names include the year they are expected to graduate. They are teaching first graders how to use Google docs. Editing a Google doc is their first big lesson. I see them as walled in, but from their perspective the Google ecosystem is all there is to the internet.
I agree with your worries. But it also tells that other parties in the market have utterly failed to compete. iPads used to get traction, but are more expensive, and Apple doesn't provide a complete ecosystem like Google Apps for Education. Microsoft has been sleeping, they have all the pieces but wanted to push Windows as-is. The open source solutions require you to hire some sysadmins, while Google Apps did exactly the opposite: it cut out some personnel that used to maintain the infrastructure.
That is rarely an issue, though – even my German (combined middle and high) school had a dedicated sysadmin and two teachers teaching computer science who had a PhD in compsci.
Developing custom systems, running them, etc comes a lot cheaper longterm than going into vendor lock-in (especially with privacy laws, where even looking at Google can cost you millions)
For all the mud Microsoft gets, their ecosystem was pretty modular because that was their business model. They're locking it down and becoming more cloudy every day, but for a long while, Microsoft didn't care what you ran, didn't explicitly track your usage and worked with a wide variety of disparate multi-vendor software. I'm not saying Windows is where we should have been nor that it wasn't a lock-in of a sort, but we're not really better off now. Apple iPads were less open than Windows, but had consistent hardware. Now Google has achieved the complete solution.
I think a large part of it is the framework v. libraries argument all over again in a different package. I think we're on the swing back now where we want to trust providers a lot more than after the corporate IBM fallout. With everyone getting their music from Spotify, movies from Netflix, games from Steam, analytics from GA, chat from Slack, books from Kindle, etc. Schools are asking, why not us too? For a lot of people, schools aren't something you can just decide not to sign the EULA and walk away from though.
These chromebooks are just cheap thin clients for Google services. They're some of the most locked down devices on the market, but thanks to the internet being decentralized by nature and Google seeming like the door to the internet, their centralization doesn't seem so scary. They interop with little else and hold no data, even printing hits their servers first before your school's printer.
Here's to hoping for a swing-back.
All for-profit companies are interested in turning a profit. No company would be interested in fostering education, no matter what they say. The question is whether their profit motives are harmful to the education.
The larger point here is about the dangers of the cloud. Google could chose not to allow you access to your own data. It can hand it over to the government. A hacker can break into your data and impersonate you remotely, even if you went off the grid. If they become a monopoly, they can jack up their prices and you would have no recourse. They could offer you crappy service and you will have to swallow it.
I think it will get beyond individual school/department lock-in though. Steam, for example, hasn't simply locked-in consumers to their purchases and made it difficult to transition away. Developers are often locked in because they rely on Steam for match-making, piracy-busting, cloud saving, achievements apis, server-hosting, modding support, etc. etc. All of this offloaded centralization is easier than doing it yourself and more like the console's devs are used to. If you want a AAA PC game, you're more than likely going to get it exclusively on Steam.
Android is already there, many/most of the apps require Google's services for even mainline functionality and definitely for consumer discovery. Google education could be next if it gets adopted like Google Analytics as the de-facto api, educators would have no choice in the matter. All good products use Google's apis for everything.
I understand and agree with your concerns, but choice has never been a staple of the education system I've encountered. Perhaps it is different elsewhere.
The alternative to chromebooks isn't a glorious world of non-locked down non-cloud dependent machines. It's a world of poorly managed, crappy windows boxes. A world where students pass around USB keys. A world that is at least as locked down as a chromebook but much less secure and in many ways less flexible.
Chromebooks, as locked down and hermetically sealed as they are as an ecosystem, are great for one simple reason: they free up time and resources. I'd rather see a fleet of chromebooks that are dead simple to manage and deploy and then take all that extra time and money and spend it on equipment a linux or osx or whatever based lab full of machines students can hack on and learn to code on and hook up to actuators or whatever they want to do.
90% of computer management in a school is dealing with day to day "can't print / how to load a document / etc". I've seen this completely evaporate at my daughter's school after rolling out chromebooks. It's amazing.
So bring on chromebooks as locked down, easy to manage dedicated "get homework done" devices and free up time and money (because man are they cheap) to teach programming and hardware and everything else in a real computer lab.
No school would endorse this because I'm sure crouton isn't in their support package. Doing it 'right' often implies opening the case, voiding your warranty, removing the write-protect screw, flashing away ChromeOS with a third party build of SeaBios, installing an unsupported Linux OS on the hardware and praying drivers exist in the mainline kernel for your device, then making due without any of the ChromeOS cloud-goodies your device was given from Google. Not really SOP for organizations buying in bulk with warranties.
I do it because I like small, cheap computers running Linux well and thankfully ChromeOS is Linux-y, but for most people, this is still very locked down. Even being able to unlock ChromeOS devices is probably more a side-effect than a willful desire from Google to be open.
> at least as locked down as a chromebook but much less secure
I fucking loathe windows, but Lucy, you've some 'splainin to do. How is a Windows PC "at least as locked down" as a Chromebook?
Remember that "locked down" in the case of a chromebook doesn't mean "the administrator has decided what apps you can run and who can use it", it means "the fundamental design of the operating system means it can only ever run browser based apps, and it's inherently reliant on Google's infrastructure to work".
If Microsoft shut up shop tomorrow, the billions of Windows PCs in the world would have a security issue, sure, but they wouldn't stop fucking working.
> So bring on chromebooks as locked down, easy to manage dedicated "into to being a google user" devices
Fixed that for you.
Having every facet of your digital life mined for personal data, for the sake of a mega-corp's bottom line?
> If the only hypothetical disadvantage you're thinking about it is "Google might shut down one day"
Not at all. Its actually more likely "Google might stop supporting X, Y or Z that you depend on".. They, you know, have a history of doing that.
However, let's play along anyway.
> If the TV channels shut down tomorrow, your TVs effectively stop working too, you still buy them.
No. Just. No. I literally don't remember the last time I watched broadcast television (hotels excepted), even when I lived in a country where I could understand what was being said on the broadcast channels. In our last house 1 of 2 TV's was connected to a satellite receiver for when my father in law was in the house. We moved 3-4 months ago. No satellite dish hooked up yet. No terrestrial aerial.
> There are hundreds of such devices out there, which you buy because it's pretty evident the company is not shutting down tomorrow.
I do? Would you care to enlighten me about these devices I apparently buy?
> On the other hand, even if Google shuts down, a lot of things on your Chromebook will keep on working offline
Are you kidding me? In offline-mode, you can't even edit your calendar on a Chromebook.
You're also not thinking about things like e.g. users on the system. It's inherently dependent on Google - you can't just add a local account like you can with a regular computer, you have to be online, with the person sitting there next to you, so they can sign in with their own google account.
> especially with the advent of Android apps now
Right, because apps designed to work on a mobile phone, which generally has it's own data connection independent of whether wifi is available or not, will just naturally assume they need to work offline. Good luck with that.
And I wrote "a lot", not "all" the things will keep on working Chromebook (in an hypothetical situation Google shuts down).
> Right, because apps designed to work on a mobile phone, which generally has it's own data connection independent of whether wifi is available or not, will just naturally assume they need to work offline. Good luck with that.
Yes, the same mobile phones which also have an airplane mode.
However the government could pass new laws and prosecute you for things you have done 20 years ago on the internet.
There are protections for me if a corporation sells my data without my permission or misuses my data.
Facebook has admitted to having manipulated which articles showed up in your news stream, and in which order, to test if they could manipulate the mood of their users.
There was even a discussion about it on here.
For example, Google Reader.
1. Google collects and stores information about my children, and it is released (by accident or otherwise)
2. Google profits off my childrens' education, has financial incentives not aligned with those of my family
but mostly I just think it's really fucking creepy for an advertising broker to be building up a profile of a first grade child, and I think maybe schools shouldn't become reliant on an ad company to help deliver education.
To assuage my concerns, Chromebooks should be usable without creating a Google ID. Or maybe the whole school should have a single ID used by all students.
That's a good thing, if your alternative is "upload files to a third-party server that might not even be in the same state and download them onto a machine sitting a few feet away. I don't believe the "security" argument either; for a long time schools have configured machines with software such that they don't persist changes across reboots, and that easily gets rid of any infection or unwanted changes.
free up time and money (because man are they cheap) to teach programming
That just widens the gap between users and programmers, and leads to the odd phenomenon of people coming out of "learn to code" classes knowing how to open an IDE and write and run code, but are otherwise still mostly computer-illiterate because they skipped the "implicit education" of dealing with the issues arising from normal computer usage. The problem is that the demographic between "normal user" and "coder", the "power users", has disappeared.
in a real computer lab.
Students should be using a "real computer" for everything they do, not just in special classes, as otherwise it leads to a situation where they perceive programming as something special for "approved" circumstances, and not merely a skill a "power user" can use to improve their productivity. It's somewhat reminiscent of http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.en.html
Someday there will be something better and people will switch.
They've built tablets. We (developers) need to build the software that does more than consume our time, but allow us to create the content for others. Sadly, it's not there yet, but in time it will be. I don't doubt the computing capacity is there for a company to create a 3D modeling program for a tablet that's either touch driven, or a combo that includes a mouse and/or keyboard. There are already suites out there for image manipulation, music and video creation etc.
If I could purchase a tablet and then a full (3D) CAD or other modeling software for it, I'd drop the money in a heartbeat.
Additionally, this announcement of a future release lists very specific models of Chromebooks that will support Android apps. Honestly, Android (and Google's management of the situation) has a fucking terrible track record when it comes to support and updates for devices.
Lastly - if you think that apps designed to run on a smartphone and later frankenstein'd onto a low cost laptop form-factor with a browser-as-the-os tagline, I think you should prepare to be surprised.
Edit: Ok, the answer is, both. Thanks ;)
2.) For those that don't, libhoudini does an ok job even on slower phones. On faster chromebooks that shouldn't be an issue at all.
1. This depends on closed-source code (libhoudini is Intel code, and it's not open, last I heard). I guess it's not the first piece of closed-source code in Chromebooks, but it's a crucial piece.
2. This code is still not portable, it just runs on 2 archs, unless someone writes a libhoudini for all other archs as well.
Chromebooks run only ARM or x86.
Again, this is an issue that's relevant to a tiny minority of the applications since vast majority do not ship native binaries.
Hopefully that means we'll see a lot more ARM-based Chromebooks as well going forward. No need for an Intel monopoly in the architecture agnostic Chrome OS world, so I hope Google and its partners will stop encouraging that monopoly going forward.
Cortex A72/Snapdragon 820 have Core M-level performance. If Core M is good enough for a $400 Chromebook, then those are also good for a $300 touch-enabled Chromebook.
Many x86 Chromebooks offer several tiers that obfuscate the data, but in terms of product line releases, they're about 50/50.
Both Samsung Chromebooks, ASUS Chromebook Flip, HP Chromebook 14 G3, Haier and Hisense's both as well, for example, are ARM devices.
How would this happen?
Similar with something like Google Play Books. The Android app has a good fullscreen touch UI and has a notes feature that the webapp doesn't.
This is not game changer. It is exciting and might help grow the Android ecosystem. I just hope Google learned from the Honeycomb fiasco.
I'd be pretty surprised if you won't be able to side-load Android apps on ChromeOS.
It's cool, but not game changing.
The cheapest notebook is about US$200.
Microsoft's UWP platform - for Microsoft it's about bringing users from their strong desktop market to Windows Phone.
Google - Android apps on Chrome OS. Google seem to be doing the opposite of Microsoft and making a play for the desktop market.
Apple and the iOS-ification of OS X - Similar to Google, Apple seem to be preparing to pull in their phone market stronghold onto the desktop.
Seems like Microsoft and Google are directly competing here, and Apple is competing with themselves.
Is this what the relatively recent bitcode stuff with iOS apps is for?
it just links to gmail.com if i use the gmail shortcut on my tray and i couldnt find another app on the store.
So.. read the actions.
But making a decision not to expand ChromeOS devices to include "Chromeslates" is not the same thing as killing Chromebooks.
I wonder if support will be limited to Google Play, or whether the framework can be used to run third-party apps such as F-Droid.
In this case, the Android container contents is not opensourced. They might or might not be down the road, it hasn't been decided on yet.
http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/the-play-store-comes-... has a bit more info on that.
Same with a few of the pieces in Chrome OS that are needed; not all of them are open at this time but might be down the road.
Very sleek design, better than the Pixel imo, and several tiers if you don't want to start at $1k.
(Though the lack of upstream kernel support means that I will probably go back to MBPs for my next personal device. I've reverted to just ChromeOS + mosh client for now)
Know if there's any new Chromebooks like it that are shipping with an LTE chip? I have Project Fi, and would love to have data available wherever I need it.
"The new model dumps the native-client based implementation for an unmodified copy of the Android Framework running in a container."
Will you run chrome as root on your other platforms so it can start a container?
>Google Play will start rolling out in the developer channel with M53 on the ASUS Chromebook Flip, the Acer Chromebook R 11 and the latest Chromebook Pixel. Over time, this will roll out to other Chromebooks in the market too
 [ http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/if-you-want-to-run-an... ]
Maybe surf around the XDA forums and see if anyone has insight into the matter: http://forum.xda-developers.com/hardware-hacking/chromebooks
The other interpretation of your words, given the topic of this article, is that you'd like IntelliJ on a Chromebook, so that: IntelliJ on Android + Android apps on Chromebooks brings IntelliJ to Chromebooks.
You can boot from USB and give it a whirl. There are some closed source bits missing, so I'm unsure if, for eg, netflix, will work. But it'll give you a feel for the OS
I got one which helped me to start my first job. Important thing is it's auto update.
I looked over the list and cannot find a common thread as to what is supported and what isn't. Does anyone know?
My Acer C720 with an i3 isn't on the list, but my Toshiba Chromebook 2 with lesser specs is on the list.
My question was about that specific list and I should have been more specific.
So there is a new one coming?
 http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/xzibit-yo-dawg (extremely tenuous meme ref going here)
I assumed at the time their objective was to be acqui-hired by Google, but I can't see why there would be a reason for that now, or how they'd hope to compete in this situation.
Congratulations to the Chrome O/S and Android teams. I was briefly on a Chromebook when my laptop packed in, and but for the absence of solid developer tools, I'd have stayed forever. There's a lot to be said for convenience.
Are you saying that Arch or Ubuntu and everything that runs on them aren't enough for you? Or that crouton hadn't evolved far enough at the time?
These days you can run crouton in a window or a tab within ChromeOS. Launch an xterm or IntelliJ or whatever each into their own windows, displaying within ChromeOS.
I'd say that the 2015 Pixel (plus crouton) is one of the best ultrabooks for devs.
I haven't tried rootless mode, though.
I'll agree with you about Chromebooks for developers, though (well, if you like doing everything from text mode, which I do). My ARM-based Flip is a lovely machine. Cheap, ultraportable, completely silent, ludicrous battery life and the quad-core ARM flies.
I just wish they'd get X running in a VC working. (The Flip uses a special graphics stack which apparently makes this hard.)
It can do AS on X in a window or tab, or as a separate desktop. The last mode seems to require the two systems to handing over low level control of the hardware to each other, whereas the first two modes are more seamless. So yes trying the other approach might solve the redraw problem.
Yes, for text mode only things are even easier. The "crosh window" app (plus tmux, etc) is all I need to perfectly happy with Crouton.
(It still has a VC, although the VC2 shell is actually a user-space program called frecon which draws text via Freon. Switching from VC1 to VC2 is super seamless. So it's obviously possible somehow to draw full-screen graphics through Freon.)
Also, I agree; the crosh window is surprisingly good, and interacts nicely with full screen. Bit slow, though. `ls -lR` will wedge the window for a while until it flushes its buffer.
Have you got a link?
Previously when I looked at this, Crouton required me to root the Chromebook and effectively switch to Linux rather than run it under Chrome O/S.
If that's changed (which from your post it sounds like it has), then I need to have another look at this!
As far as switching to linux rather than run under Chrome OS, I guess that depends on what you mean. Include "xiwi" as one of your components when installing crouton, and you can launch android studio and have it run within the chroot, but display as a window on your chromeOS desktop. Its not visually attractive but functionally i'd say its very well integrated. It 'feels' likes its running directly on chromeos.
Sorry I can't recommend any particular link aside from https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton, but I think its worth a bit of googling to find discussions relevant to any questions you may still have.
I didn't think I'd be happy on a chromebook because I made regular use of those missing keys, like the windows key, page up, page down, f11, f12. I thought I needed those keys to prevent too much chording.
But I saw the keyboard switch as an opportunity to remap things so that I stay closer to home row more of the time. Its nice. The old (windows style) key layout was also nice, but adapting was easier than I thought, thanks to the flexibility of most linux apps.
Except for instant boot times, really paranoid security and a long list of supportive laptop OEMs
If that's true, then I wonder why ChromeOS would boot up so much faster than Android? I suspect it doesn't.
This isn't exactly the same (no play store yet), but it'll let you get a feel for the OS and it's merits.
But I'm not doing advanced document formatting like half the people on HN so I have the luxury to just get by with google docs.
There are quite a few commercial Java vendors with customized versions, like e.g. IS2T with MicroEJ that have licensing agreements in place.
If Google loses the trial, they will be paying much more than they would have spent.
Chrome becomes one app that runs on ChromeOS, and all the android apps are first-class citizens too.
Sounds great to me.
Cross-device purchase restoration, etc?