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You can now run Linux apps on Chrome OS (techcrunch.com)
585 points by willsinclair on May 8, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 321 comments

I think this is great. I bought a chromebook flip a couple of years ago, with the intention of putting Linux on it---only to find that the hardware is depressingly bad and the ARM processor makes the Linux experience terrible (had to install Arch, never did manage to make basic things like the JVM work right, eventually gave up on it). Since then, I've been very skeptical of the notion of buying chromebooks as cheap and lightweight mobile working tools.

But I will buy a pixelbook in an instant if I can get a fully functional, no bullshit with having to install custom kernels or new firmware or god only knows what and what will happen to the hardware and what just won't work despite The Internet insisting it does, insisting! Oh Lordy. A Linux environment available on decent hardware, without having to MacGyver it together with bubble gum and safety pins? Where things like power management actually work? What other options are there, really, for that? Purism? Dell XPS13! All of those are actually more expensive than the Pixelbook. (Though the Dell thing does look pretty sweet.) Hell, I may go order one now.

> Since then, I've been very skeptical of the notion of buying chromebooks as cheap and lightweight mobile working tools.

You have to be careful about which processor powers your Chromebook if you want to do non chrome os things. The processors from the mainstream core line (Haswell, Skylake) etc do pretty well, although they're usually fairly low clocked. The chromebooks with Atom or ARM processors usually have a harder time booting other things, and the ARM linux ecosystem is a lot trickier than the x86-64 ecosystem.

Avoiding Atom processors is harder than it looks, because Intel keeps changing the branding, probably to confuse users.

By the same token... if you want to run Android applications the situation is much worse on x86 processors, because while Android is supposed to be agnostic the reality is that there hasn't been any requirement for developers to target x86 market wise for a long time, and anything that goes remotely near direct graphics rendering or video DRM tends to break quite badly.

This isn't my experience. I have a Chromebook Pixel, which is x86, and games and movie apps work fine on it. I think anything major is likely to be cross-compiled, and it's only niche apps that won't run.

I mean, literally any movie apps I can think of don't work in anything above SD on the Chromebook Pixel. Certainly Amazon and Netflix don't.

This is true, but I feel like the popularity of the Raspberry Pi has done a lot to improve the ARM Linux ecosystem in recent years.

The raspberry pi has done a lot to improve the Raspberry Pi Linux ecosystem, with some effects for the ARM Linux ecosystem, but the fact that there's a difference between the two ecosystems is the problem with the ARM Linux ecosystem.

The other good thing about this is that the Pixelbook is a 3:2 screen, so finally there's a laptop with a proper display resolution that can run Linux nicely.

There's a good community of folks over at https://www.reddit.com/r/Crostini/ who have been tinkering with this for quite some time.

Why is 3:2 better than standard 16:9?

It depends on what you do. 16:9 is better for wathing 16:9 movies. But if you read lots of text, narrower, longer columns are usually a lot more handy. We have way more vertical than horizontal scrollbars.

I prefer 16:9 or 16:10 because I have a lot of windows side-by-side most of the time. I don't have 1 file open while coding, most of the time 2 or 3, in that case a wider screen is better in my opinion.

I've got a surface and in my opinion 3:2 is actually better for multitasking. You can fit two windows vertically. So you end up having 4 windows side by side.

> Why is 3:2 better than standard 16:9?

It's not better. It's usually just people projecting their personal preferences as though they should apply to everyone else.

Every one is different, so as long as the individual is content with what they've got, it doesn't really matter what aspect ratio they're using.

Because 16:9 ("shortscreens") was a ploy by manufacturers to sell a smaller screen for the same diagonal. Combined with much of the vertical dimension being eaten by the general pattern of window decoration + app taskbar + app toolbars + OS taskbar, and well, at least they're good for watching movies!

More vertical space for reading text, including code

Taller, better for coding.

huawei matebook x is 3:2 and runs linux nicely

surface book appears to as well, but i don't have one of them to vouch for

The Verge makes it sound like the touchpad is basically unusable and battery life is apparently poor.


This should be better battery life using GNU/Linux. The process the supports the VM runs under ChromeOS.

> with a proper display resolution

3:2? No thanks I don't really want black bars when watching movies...

What I'd really really like is something with the build quality (especially the touchpad!) of a MacBook Pro, with decent and recent hardware, first class Linux support for all features, support for both USB-C and "old" USB and a decent keyboard with it. And that without paying more than for an technologically outdated yet still top-of-the-line MBP...

You’re pretty much describing Purism’s Librem line of laptops:


Wow. Thanks for sharing. This is amazing... it's like it was made for me but I'm sure my wife won't approve the idea of buying yet another computer. Good daydreaming material, though!

Here's a review and discussion from a few weeks ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16894557

Aren't they just Clevo computers? If so, the ones I've used have _nowhere_ near premium build quality.

Because they are Clevo. In my opinion the whole "linux laptops" are just a scam in general. Virtually all of them are just slapping their logo on top of generic machine from vendor like Clevo or Compal and are saying that those are "machines designed for linux" ... no they aren't. The most that they are doing is to negotiate with Clevo to put a WiFi card that will work with linux out-of-the-box, which is basically the same what you can do yourself.

Cool, so buy something else; literally every laptop on the market is catering for you, and I'm genuinely happy for you-- but those of us who prefer taller aspect ratios have nothing.. please let us have this.

So a thinkpad.

Give me a Thinkpad with a full aluminium body, a touchpad with a size that's actually usable and we'll talk. Sorry but I have developed a real dislike for small touchpads incapable of reliable gestures and full plastic bodies.

A metal body is heavy, prone to dents and attenuates radio. Why are you so keen on having one? The X1 Carbon is lighter, tougher and more serviceable than a MacBook Pro, in part because of a better choice of materials.

As for trackpads, Apple keep making them larger and larger, so a ThinkPad trackpad is no smaller than a MacBook from a few years ago. The keyboard is surely the primary concern.

This. I don't buy MacBook Pro because it has Aluminium body, but because of the quality of the components inside, and how they integrate well with the OS.

My dream computer would be

- ThinkPad like casing. Light weight, yet durable. Not some cheap flimsy plastics.

- XPS like thin bezel display, with Apple like screen with colour calibration. While at it, please give me a 16:10 or some other tall displays where I can have more vertical space. 16:9 is only good for media and it is a secondary use-case on my laptop.

- Components with wider/open source drivers like intel wireless card instead of the Broadcom stuff. Some bluetooth module that has proper working Linux drivers.

- Trackpad - Mac like smooth trackpad. It's been decades and nothing comes even close to what Apple could do.

- Decent 12 hour real world battery life. I don't care if it makes the laptop slightly thicker or heavier - it is worth it.

- Keyboard with a good bit of travel - Like a ThinkPad.

- No Dongle life. Want USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, MiniDP, Full size SD card slot.

So far, only MacBook pro (with VMs running Linux) comes closest with several compromises.

The trackpad is also terrible compared to modern MacBooks aside from the size. It flexes, feels worse and does not reliably track gestures. The whole thing feels stuck a decade ago.

Modern MacBooks have absolutely terrible keyboards. So unless you use it like an iPad, you'd be better off with a ThinkPad.

I want to agree with you, I want a Linux daily driver with the quality I am used to from the Mac. But I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on the new mac keyboard being a dealbreaker.

> The whole thing feels stuck a decade ago.

Says the macOS user... did you even get a newer version of bash yet? I heard even Debian stable has a newer bash version than macOS.

`brew install bash`

Software is trivial to upgrade and that's a very silly comparison to make.


Actually it is FOSS saving FOSS developers using OS X as a Linux replacement for doing Linux development.

OS X and iOS developers are pretty fine with the OS tooling.

> OS X and iOS developers are pretty fine with the OS tooling.

That's because they are "fine" with anything Apple does, I guess removing ports wasn't enough for them to see beyond their own stupidity.

OS X developers have to be the dumbest of them all, if Apple tells them to jump off a bridge they probably would too.

They are blind for a brand.

Being an UNIX is irrelevant for Apple related development, it is just a side effect of being based on NeXTSTEP, which also only used POSIX compatibility as an attempt to take business away from SGI and SUN.

If you want UNIX development, without any regard for OS X and iOS, then go sponsor hardware vendors selling Linux and BSD based systems.

> they are nothing but a bunch of immoral fascists.

Yep. The Apple death count must be nearing that of WWII by now surely.

If you cannot see anything immoral in Apple, or if you're unable to see anything immoral/fascist beyond murder and WWII then I'm not sure you're ready to discuss this subject.

I suggest you educate yourself on the matter, because judging by your comment, I can clearly see you're ignorant about the subject.


Did Lewis Carroll write you?

Bash is hardly relevant for actual Apple developers.

There are no missing features that would prevent developing Swift and Objective-C applications.

Sure, because Swift and Objective-C applications is all that matters. /s

This comment alone proves that Apple developers are a bunch of clueless idiots.

No, we just buy Apple hardware for doing Apple related development, not as a replacement for Linux to do Linux development.

If you want to do that buy hardware from Linux vendors like Dell and System76.

You shouldn't buy from Apple, it's bad for your freedom.


On a past life, about 20 years ago, I was a FOSS zealot of the first GNU wave.

Nowadays I use whatever makes business sense.

Yes, because vendor lock-in and all the bad things that comes from Apple makes perfect business sense. /s

> A metal body is heavy, prone to dents and attenuates radio. Why are you so keen on having one?

I like how it feels and looks. Is that so wrong?

I have used an X1 Carbon for the last year but when I can I will probably go back to the MBP for the trackpad. I guess different people just have different preferences?

Let's be happy there's enough choices to hopefully satisfy everyone.

Yes choice is good. But my concern is that consumers start demanding metal bodies, zero-travel keys and touch-bars everywhere, because Apple, and choice will be reduced. For example, I can no longer buy a mobile phone that doesn't have a glued-in battery.

Are you concerned that consumers start demanding what they want, because it's not what you want?

at least for me, the answer is yes. I'm unsatisfied with almost all the options in laptop market based on my requirements. I just have to choose one, that makes me less unhappy.

Asus and Lenovo have great ultra books running Win10. Ultimate Office 365 support + good battery life. But it lacks a terminal + integrated UNIX utilities.

I prefer to use Linux on my laptop, but at the moment, it is lacking office 365 support. On some brands there is a serious battery issue.

Next option is macOS which has sane shell. But I don't understand, why is there such a huge race toward making thinner laptops? Previous generation MBP, was already thin enough. Consumers demanded thinner laptops. And now I have to bare with thinner MBP but less reliable battery power, fewer ports and a very noisy keyboard (which is disturbing everyone in library).

Should he not be?

I'm not going to prescribe any feeling to them. I don't think they 'should' do anything. Just found it curious to be concerned about other people having different opinions.

I don't think the concern is other people having different opinions in itself. The concern is that by having preferences that are not represented by consumers in general, it is less likely that you'll find your preferences satisfied by a product on the market. If the mainstream is heading towards a set of standards that are uncomfortable to you, I think it's a valid cause for concern.

I can't remember consumers demanding glued-in batteries. I think decisions like this are taken for all kinds of reasons (CEO preference, ease of design and assembly, lock-in, etc) and then presented to consumers as packages that they can accept or decline. But it's too simple to say that this is solely driven by consumer choice.

Consumers demanded slimmer designs over glued in batteries, soldered RAM chips, etc. So the market responded by gluing in batteries and soldering ram. In a way, the consumers did demand that.

I recall many consumer reviews of older Samsung phones criticising the plastic backs and asking for glass or metal.

> A metal body is heavy

You are thinking of cast iron, probably.

Aluminum is relatively heavy. Certainly heavier than plastic.

And weight is relative to strength and dimensions in this conversation, right? Plastic starts to get pretty large to match strength of aluminum.

Modern plastic composites with carbon fiber / glass fibers can perform as well or better than metals with regard to strength-to-weight. Plastics also have many other properties that make it preferable for a laptop case. Apple have chosen aluminium to give the impression of build quality. The competition are too often judged by their plastic cases instead of other attributes, such as the lack of glued-in batteries and unreplaceable components.

> Apple have chosen aluminium to give the impression of build quality.

My MBP is going on 6 years old and I have not been gentle with it. In fact I have dropped it on concrete multiple times. It is dented and scraped, the hinge is crooked. It still works perfectly. My previous, plastic laptop (also a Mac) had to have its shell replaced twice (under warranty) in less time than that.

You may feel that aluminum is not worth the trade-offs or the cost, and that's fine, but I want to be clear, the MBP's build quality is not just a shiny facade.

Couldn't agree more. Dropped my last Macbook 7 feet onto concrete and (aside from a dent in the metal) it didn't even flinch.

> ThinkPad trackpad is no smaller than a MacBook from a few years ago.

Why would a comparison with products from years ago be valid here?

This is pretty subjective, but I spend a lot more time typing than using the touchpad and while the MBPs touchpad may be nicer, I think the MacBook keyboards can't hold a candle to ThinkPad keyboards. I'm happy to trade a worse touchpad for that any day.

I use a Thinkpad with Linux for work and I agree that the keyboard is better than a MBP's.

However, even though I use the keyboard more than the trackpad, I find that I still rather use a MBP because the difference between the trackpads is greater than the difference between the keyboards. Also I like the screen on the MBP better.

> a touchpad with a size that's actually usable

The touchpad is inferior to the trackpoint, so I'd much rather they get rid of it entirely instead.

I wrote off the Trackpoint back in its glory days, but I recant my former position. Trackpoint is the bees knees once you get used to it. The Apple touchpads have gotten huge and easily triggered, Trackpoint is the cure.

On macOS trackpad rejection is quite good, but if you're running anything else it's very frustrating. One of the primary reasons reinstalled macOS... too many triggers on Fedora :(

Thinkpads have magnesium chassis (X1 is carbon fiber).

So an HP Elitebook? Some of their mobile workstations are up to military standard.

Are there ThinkPads with touchpads as nice as MacBooks? The touchpad on my T470s is not even close.

> No thanks I don't really want black bars when watching movies...

I genuinely never understand people that watch movies on laptops. I find it a wholly unenjoyable experience.

Do you own a TV? You’re missing so much of the experience watching a movie on anything smaller than 45” and TVs are dirt cheap these days. I saw a 65” the other day for $250...

> You’re missing so much of the experience watching a movie on anything smaller than 45”

genuinely curious: given the same resolution, what's the difference between watching a e.g. a 45" from your couch and watching something like a 20" while getting closer to the screen until it covers the same angle of view? Just the fact that it's (probably) more relaxing for your eyes to focus on relatively distant objects?

My kids have nice TVs in their room and a rarely see them use them. Instead they watch movies on their Chromebooks majority of the time.

Are go to for the kids are the Acer 14s. Just incredible machines for the money. All aluminum chassis, peppy performance, long battery life, etc. Get them Acer refurb for about $200. Best value you can get.

Wife uses a CB+ and me a PB.

Wife spends a ton of time on her CB+ and does often time watch movies on it. While I never do on my PB. Often times she will be watching a movie on hers laying in our bed while I am watching something on our TV in our bedroom.

The TV itself may be cheap but the space it requires probably isn't. How do you fit one 45" screen per person in a small appartment?

I genuinely don't understand why people put huge TV screens in their small rooms given that a smaller screen at closer distance produces the same visual effect.

In my case, I live on a boat so don't have the room for a 45 or 65 inch TV. Laptop it is.

But there are many, many circumstances why you'd watch TV on a laptop. I don't believe airlines would look too fondly on someone dragging their 65" TV on board.

$899 definitely a steal, if it starts running Linux easy. Damn, my 2013 MacBook pro getting old, so this looks like an awesome deal. Since Apple wants to put shitty keyboards

I have a Dell XPS 15 at work and it's so difficult to install and setup Linux between the M2 SSD drive and the Nvidia Optimus GPU. Would not recommend.

I run Arch on my XPS 15, too. Had it up and running after the usual Arch Wiki binge reading and a couple hours of trial and error. But that's what I always do when installing Arch.

A couple weeks ago I did a fresh install with Manjaro. With this the installation process goes down to around 10 minutes and everything (bluetooth, touchpad, function keys, optirun etc.) works out of the box.

I'm using a XPS 15 9550 with Arch linux installed, didn't have to setup up anything special apart from bumblebee I suppose it works really well for me.

What sort of issues did you have?

Yeah, I'm happy there is official support for using Linux on a chrome book.

Still holding out until Crostini is supported by more Chromebook manufacturers and can be used outside of developer mode before I get one.

crostini does not need developer mode to run. what happens is that it is still in chrome os developer channel, which means is still in beta and can have bugs, but is something diferent then developer mode, just to make things clear.

Oh great. Thanks for clearing that up. I'll still wait until it's on the release channel but it's good to know I don't have to turn on developer mode to use it.

XPS 13 with Fedora is sheer brilliance. I'm actually hoping that Android apps will run natively on Linux. Thats really the endgame.

This is what Anbox is trying to do: https://github.com/anbox/anbox/blob/master/README.md

My last two laptops were an HP Pavilion and an Acer Swift. Linux Mint installs and works without a problem.

I was gonna suggest the Dell until I read the end of your message. I have one and haven't regretted the purchase. Pretty much everything works out of the box except for the fingerprint scanner.

I've had quite good performance on my C201 economy Arm chromebook running Arch Linux. It is quite snappy. And I can do dev work on it.

The jvm would be bad, but in my case it was very underpowered for Virtualbox. Unsure how it is usable by anyone.

Have a pixel book and love it. Fantastic piece of hardware.

Tech journalists, especially, almost always fail to do even a tiny bit of research or due diligence. I mean... Crostini is not "new", it's been on dev channel for months[1]! But this article ending... hilarious icing on the cake.

> "Now, it’s probably only a matter of hours before somebody starts running Windows apps in Chrome OS with the help of the Wine emulator."

Someone should also tell them about running Crossover on Chrome OS via Android[2], which has already been possible for months!

[1] https://chromium-review.googlesource.com/c/chromium/src/+/87...

[2] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.codeweaver...

While they're at it, they could discuss what WINE is, and more specifically, what it is not ;)

Oh my gosh, I was so annoyed by their utter lack of competency that I didn't even catch that they did call it an emulator. Classic.

That's funny, but just because it says it's not an emulator... Well, see this page where it used to be short for Windows Emulator. http://www.faqs.org/faqs/windows-emulation/wine-faq/

There is a lot of confusion about what emulation means, and the name shifted to reflect that it will not, in fact, allow you to run your x86 Windows EXEs on a SPARC or PowerPC.

It's emulating the Windows libraries, not the CPU instructions.

That's like saying that Windows Explorer is emulating a filing cabinet with folders and files in it.

There is a good deal of validity towards calling Wine an emulator in this vein. It is reimplementing an executable format loader, calling conventions, and the entire runtime and libraries of a foreign operating system -- in other words, emulating the Windows operating system.

However, emulating has also often been used to describe software that implements the opcodes of a foreign instruction set in software. For example, a program that implements 6502 opcodes and related modules that allows you to play NES games on a PC. Wine isn't an emulator of this type. Wine relies on the fact that x86 Windows programs can be made to run on x86 Linux by means of implementing everything I stated in the first paragraph. It does not allow for running x86 Windows programs on a SPARC machine (QEMU can assist in doing this, but that's a digression...). Wine is not an ISA emulation, but it is an ABI emulation.

That also sounds like a correct usage.

Sure, but that was a point of confusion that was relevant back when SPARC and PowerPC and x86 emulation on them were things people cared about. That hasn’t been the case for a looong time though.

What open-source-project features are new, then? Something written last night?

To be honest if the manufacturer is misleading you that you have to do secondary research then why go to the event at all. I agree they should have done their due dilligence but at this time since no one values the written word nearly everyone is just taking some press release and cut and pasting it.

On the other hand I have seen products being launched at Google I/O and being non existant for months. Tensorflow lite took months to come out. Why would you do this? Real artists ship and I don't get why you would announce something and have an indefinite launch date? By the time tensorflow lite came out Apple had coreml out for months and was somewhat usable.

It is interesting. Linux (Chrome OS) will allow you to run Linux applications.

And this whole set of applications belongs to which category? https://chromium.googlesource.com/chromiumos/overlays/chromi...

Especially this one - Glibc. https://chromium.googlesource.com/chromiumos/overlays/chromi...

Linux the kernel is used by various different operating systems.

Many of which are barely mutually compatible yet also call themselves or are commonly referred to as versions or flavours of ‘the Linux operating system’. My greatest wish for Linux is that the term is only used to refer to the kernel architecture and ‘distros’ be consistently referred to as Operating Systems.

I use GNU/Linux versus Android or ChromeOS

Ever since I bought a Samsung Chromebook Plus for a friend and had a week to play with it, I've wanted Google to do this. This is probably my favourite announcement from I/O this year. I love how simple and well designed Chrome OS is. Now I can get proper access to all the tools I'm used to on Linux while not having to deal with terrible UX when it comes to things like notifications, daily schedule, calendar and mail. This to me looks like the perfect balance between running Linux and macOS.

I'm running Kubuntu on a 1 year old XPS 13 and most things work quite well. I do however miss a nice mail clients, reliable notifications about meetings, daily schedule, etc. I've tried almost everything available on Linux and while some things do work, they either are not reliable enough (with cloud APIs, etc) or are too ugly and clunky to use.

I'll wait for the next Pixelbook before jumping ship. Hopefully, Linux apps support would have matured enough by then.

I recently discovered "mailspring" as a snap package in the software center.

It's quite a powerful and polished mail app. The disadvantage is that it breaks down on me sometimes and by default it adds tracking features to your email, so you'll have to turn that off.

An open gmail tab solves the problem of an email client.

Evolution is an ok'ish mail client. Notifications should be reliable enough?

Same. Have a Pixel book and love having the same OS as the cloud.

You hear that Adobe? You now have a lot of potential costumers to sell your Creative Cloud package to. I bet those Chromebooks are selling like hot cakes and many schools would love to offer training for your tools. As a side benefit, you'd get a lot of neglected Pro Apple costumers (well, one at least), which would love to use some blessed by Adobe Linux distro.


>…meaning that even less powerful machines should be able to handle a code editor without issues.

Being able to run a code editor is a statement of a machine's power and system optimization? Welcome to the wonderful world of Electron apps.

>…Wine emulator

Wine is not an emulator, for crying out loud.

>Wine is not an emulator, for crying out loud

To those of us that used it back when Wine officially stood for Windows Emulator, people nowadays getting all upset on this point is an ever green source of amusement.

It never officially stood for that.The backronym was there even when the name WINE itself was very, very new [1].

[1] https://groups.google.com/d/msg/comp.os.linux.misc/_g3F2H4ie...

Interesting linked post, thanks, but the project FAQ was headlined "The Wine (Windows Emulator) FAQ" even in 1998. Wine clearly is an emulator of the Windows APIs, it's just not a CPU emulator which was a much more common thing back then.

> Wine clearly is an emulator of the Windows APIs

No, WINE is a third party implementation of Windows APIs, that doesn't make it an emulator. Otherwise, Oracle JDK would be an "OpenJDK emulator".

I seriously doubt Adobe will release Linux apps, ever.

They hardly can keep up with Mac and Windows...

The tide is shifting, I thought Microsoft would never endorser Linux, but here we are with at least two three version of Microsoft Linux.

Because they need devs on Azure and their IoT offerings.

Adobe will do pretty fine with Windows and OS X customers.

Prefer this GNu/Linux implementation. Far more secure.

> Chromebooks are selling like hot cakes

Not in Europe they aren't, here even as "Deal of day" they hardly get a buyer on consumer shops, always stuck alone in a dark corner of the shop, if they are there at all.

But they are selling to schools, at least in Sweden.

And what is the ratio to regular laptops?

I travel regularly around central and southern Europe.

So far the only consumer shops I ever saw them on sale were the Media Markt, Saturn, FNAC chains.

Usually they have like one or two devices on show, and quite often with some kind of discount deal.

It reminds me of the Netbook Linux days, when such deals would be going for weeks until finally someone bought them.

Swedish article, but apparently Chromebooks is "38% of the market for schools" http://feber.se/pc/art/362288/chromebooks_slde_bst_i_svenska...

Big for the schools in the US is CBs supporting AP CS 1 and 2 now out of the box.

More details in XDA Developers interview with Kan Liu. Also suggesting GPU acceleration support later this year


My prediction: VS Code / Pixelbook becomes a formidable devenv for many in the coming months ;)

You can always try Neverware on a live usb to get a taste


> Google hardware with Microsoft software praised on HN


Technically, VS Code is based on Google software.

Which in turn is based on Apple and KDE software.

Look at all the nice things you get from open source software!

I must have missed their cross platform GUI development framework.

just curious, isn't vscode based on Atom, which afaik is a GitHub project?

VS Code and Atom are based on Electron, which is a platform by GitHub using the Google Chrome browser engine, which was forked off Apple‘s WebKit engine, which was forked off KHTML from the KDE project.

that's a pretty big leap to call it a fork of a Google project

I wrote that the Google Chrome engine was forked, and that Electron is using (not forking) it.

The ironic thing is that VS Code is made in web technology.

linux -> android -> browser -> linux -> browser -> VS

Not exactly, it's more like

    | Linux kernel + Android kernel bits                                 |
    |         |                                                          |
    |         |                                                          |
    | Various and sundry                                                 |
    |         |                                                          |
    |         |                                                          |
    | Wayland compositor -----------------------------+                  |
    |         |                                       |                  |
    |         |                                       |                  |
    | Wayland browser windows     Wayland surfaces proxied from Qemu-KVM |

I've missed the irony here.

Official announcement at 32:50 in the Google I/O Developer Keynote.


If anyone wants to run Linux apps on their Chromebook right now, you can just install GalliumOS.

I think it's better than the VM solution that's mentioned in the article because GalliumOS gets installed natively, so there's no VM. You can choose to dual boot it with ChromeOS.

It runs really well, and it's hyper optimized for Chromebooks. It's just a fork of xubuntu.

I've been running it on my Chromebook for 2 years and I use it as a portable development machine. It's nice having a $350 laptop with a 1080p IPS screen, SD ports, enough computing power to run Dockerized web apps and weighs under 3 pounds.

Details on how I set it all up can be found at https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/transform-a-toshiba-chromeboo....

I've also been using GalliumOS, for 2 years as well, as my only OS. (On an Acer 15[0]) It has been pretty fantastic, aside from a few small issues. (Sometimes I have to boot into ChromeOS and reinstall GRUB, 32gb storage for 2 operating systems and all my files isn't a ton, 4gb RAM gets in the way.)

The battery lasts a long time, the screen is very nice, and it is quite lightweight.

For general programming, web browsing, word processing, etc it does everything I need it to. I don't feel the need to "upgrade" to a real laptop, except for the hardware concerns and that I can't dual boot into Windows or MacOS to run non-Linux apps.

I can highly recommend GalliumOS.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Acer-Chromebook-CB5-571-C09S-15-6-Inc...

You lose the security when using GalliumOS. Used all the methods to use GNU/Linux on a CB. From using Crouton, Gallium, GNURoot, Termux and now using this as have a PixelBook.

In the US so our school uses Chromebooks which replaced all the Macs. Had to hack together a way to use the CBs for AP CS 1 and 2. But now it will have support built in.

By far the best approach is what Google is doing here. Keep all the security and no need to dual boot or put in developer mode.

Plus this makes GNU/Linux far more approachable. Will also be able to walk into a BestBuy and chose between a bunch of different machines depending on your requirements.

We also have five new higher end CBs in development and would guess partially because of this new functionality.

This is ideal as you can use the hook if a power user to basically do anything you want. Run Wine or Steam or Docker or pretty much anything as you have the vector you needed. But then also can be used by a new user as the approach is basically just a click. Also we should get instant GNU/Linux applications. Container comes down, spins up, do what you need, goes away.

"Here are five high-end Chromebooks in development to challenge the Pixelbook"


> You lose the security when using GalliumOS.

Depends on who is using it. For me (and I imagine most developers), it's not losing security. It's allowing us to set up a proper Linux development environment with no wasted resources or hacks.

It's no less secure than installing xubuntu or Ubuntu on a different device.

Every user losses the security. Difference is some are more careful than others. But I am old, and should know better, but still run into things and much prefer something that has first class security.

But then also to get to do whatever I want on a machine AND have the security to me is ideal.

I have used Crouton for years and this will be far better.

Love the approach Google has taken and keeping security first and center.

BTW, what I like about this approach is the hacks are no longer necessary. No need to use Termux or GNURoot with a fake chroot. No need to put in developer mode any longer to use Crouton.

This is ideal for our High school for teaching AP CS 1 and 2.

You know what is a huge security loss? Being forced to use your email password to log into your computer. Your stinking email account! The keys to the kingdom these days. Responses from google forum - “google is really good at protecting your account”, “oh just use two factor or yubikey” and other stuff that the average joe is NOT going to do. How many chromebook users out there probably have 4 letter passwords?

Incentivizing people to use crappy passwords for their email and making it harder to use password managers sucks. Saying that it doesn’t matter because Google thinks it is pretty good at protecting my account(because they constantly monitor me) also sucks.

I would much rather run gallium OS on my chromebook.

Your email address password is not passing unencrypted so no problem. But key is ChromeOS is going to be far more secure. Plus supports 2FA.

Gallium is going to be far less secure. Better to use Crouton.

But this new functionality is ideal. Just love it. Get the most secure GNU/Linux solution you can get.

Looks like someone's been training an AI to shill on HN. Please post your code, I have ideas for fixes.

Sorry not following? "post your code"? What code?

I think you probably did follow, but just didn't like it. I thought your post just read like technobabble and I was being stupid and snide and implying it had been written by a bot with some commercial agenda.

I thought that might be it but did not seem to make any sense to say "post your code".

But what was inaccurate with my post? Or is this attack the poster?

Your claims all seem to be vague or opinion, so they can't be factually inaccurate. I'm a native English speaker and hard a very hard time understanding what you were trying to say. I don't mean to attack you, but I didn't think it was a good post, because it didn't make any clear or substantiated claims and so was not informative to me.

Vague? Then ask questions and can explain.

Opinion? What is opinion?

"so they can't be factually inaccurate. "

What is factually inaccurate specifically?

Do you not understand why what Google has done is more secure than Gallium? That one is easy.

Inaccurate you can now walk into a Best Buy and buy a machine that supports GNU/Linux out of the box? Also an easy one. I purchased my PB from Bestbuy.

Hilariously your replies would be great bot replies to start comment thread fights.

agree with you, i have put gallium os as a dual boot on my Acer r11 chromebook and the laptop has become my primary computing device.

basically have three environments on it:

1 chrome with chromebrew shell and android apps

2 crouton for most linux needs

3 gallium for when i need VMs and other more finicky os interactions

if i could get some wifi drivers working under crouton and also sync with appropriate os header files each google sw update in order to install virtualbox i could forego galliumos.

under crouton was able to do a lot:

1 natively compile with gcc

2 cross compile for kindle paperwhite

3 cross compile for windows ce

4 cross compile for esp8266

5 cross compile for garmin connectiq

the author of the original article is funny about using a linux vm to compile apps for android and run in chromeos. because today i can use the android app named aide to build an android app on my chromebook and immediately execute it. no need for linux, vm, or crouton.

Neat! So now you can run JavaScript "IDE" inside a browser inside a Linux VM inside a browser on Linux!

While running a Windows app through Wine inside....

is chrome OS still considered a browser if it's providing a VM for non-javascript applications?

Never thought ChromeOS was a browser. Plus already had Android support.

Chrome is a browser.

Chrome OS is, as the name suggests, an OS.

"Yo dawg, I herd u like browsers..."

Well said sir, well said indeed.

lol, awesome

I wonder why they are using a VM running Debian for Linux applications, as Chrome OS is already Linux (Gentoo) based itself.

Why does the Chrome OS team do anything the Chrome OS team does? They decided the best idea for low-end hardware is to run everything as a web app. They decided to make it practically useless without an Internet connection because clearly no one will use an ultraportable somewhere without Internet access. They decided to develop their own distro mostly from scratch because contributing to an existing project would be too easy, to useful, and would get them too much goodwill. They decided the best way to make the system easy to use was to split your files between local storage and the cloud so you don't know where anything is.

It's a stupid idea from start to finish. You shouldn't try to make sense of it.

And it depresses me. Its success demonstrates that Linux desktops could catch on in the mainstream market just fine if they had the marketing budget, brand recognition, and vendor support of Google. This team of idiots could have ended the hegemony of Microsoft and Apple for good.

On the other hand, Chrome OS has finally ended my nightmare as the family IT support specialist. I have to help people who don't know what a "mouse" is, what a "browser" is, or that you can read the same email on multiple devices. When I switch them to a ChromeBook, life is much easier. Do they still have problems? Yes, because they don't understand the underlying concepts and face an enormous learning curve. But they don't get viruses anymore and nearly any problem is solved with a restart. Plus, Chrome OS is truly multiuser in the sense that anyone with a Google account can log into the device and access all of their online resources without affecting any other users, so I've been able to modify the owner's idea of what it means to share the device in a secure manner. Frankly, it's a godsend for some types of users who are incapable of maintaining any system running Windows, MacOS or a mainstream Linux distribution.

So much this.

Frankly, the more I use a ChromeBook myself, the less I want to use another mainstream OS for day-to-day computing. I don't game or do much photo / video editing so I go weeks at the time on the ChromeBook without reaching for something else. It's nice having a computer that I genuinely don't need to think about.

Next step is ditching my work-provided Windows laptop for a ChromeBook...

You can add the education market into that as well, for similar reasons.

Local storage is available on later instances of ChromeOS I gather.

This entire screed is based on the incorrect premise that Chromebooks don't work offline.


Firstly, no it isn't. The fact that they need an Internet connection is just one of Chrome OS's many problems.

Secondly, I never claimed Chromebooks don't work offline. I claimed they are nearly useless offline, which they are. They default to storing things in the cloud and using web apps. Getting them to be useful offline requires effort from the user and special effort from the developers of any offline web apps. The fact that users have to keep track of where all their data and programs live is needless complexity which is quite opposed to Chrome OS's supposed focus on ease of use.

You do not need an Internet connection. You are way, way behind.

Did you actually used ChromeOS?

Anyway, short answer: because they heavily customized and changed a lot of things. They could not have done this with an existing Distro so easy. And sad as it is -> their goal is and was not to help the linux desktop - it is to help the google Eco system. Cloud-Service. Webapp. Makes perfect sense. No matter how much you want them to support the things you (or me) want.

We linux users are not the target group, target group are ordinary newbs who like that everything just runs and don't like that their exe files somehow don't run anymore. But the ones who handle exe files per hand are rapidly declining I guess.

It was already declining in the late 90's.

Had Linux not appeared on the scene, BSD kept busy with their ongoing trial and UNIX like OSes would be surely much less relevant today.

>Makes perfect sense.

Maybe so. And as I said, that makes me sad. People who work hard to develop full-featured and high-quality software fail to make headway, but people who cynically manipulate others to lock them in to one company while providing nothing of value make millions. It's perfectly rational and perfectly disgusting.

Chrome OS is worthless for its users. I don't much care how good it is for Google.

> Linux desktops could catch on in the mainstream market just fine if they had the marketing budget, brand recognition, and vendor support of Google

The problem with Linux on the mainstream is Linux, it has nothing to do with not having a huge brand like Google's nor with marketing, just ask Dell. Linux offers exactly what the enterprise market needs and it is a huge success, far bigger than anyone in the 90s ever imagined. Linux does not offer what the mainstream market demands and no amount of marketing or brand recognition can change that.

Linux isn't the problem: with enough money and time, you could build an OS around Linux that a user can use just like MacOS or Windows. Sony built an operating system around FreeBSD for the PS4 that noone recognises as such. The problem is that open source software (which Linux necessarily attracts due to licensing and reputaion) is designed by people with a fundamentally different view of ergonomics, and the number of disparate HW components (audio, graphics, etc) create a similar number of software components that make integrating them cumbersome and frustrating.

The PS4 has very little from FreeBSD beyond the kernel.

Obviously time and money aren’t the problem. Look at windows phone. Microsoft wasn’t being frugal in marketing

Linux can do whatever it damn well pleases. You can take Linux and turn it into the most feature-poor "easy-to-use" toy on the planet, as Google has demonstrated. The UI has little to do with the underlying technology.

The problems with the Linux desktop that I can see are poor driver support and a limited software selection. OEM support solves the driver support problem and Chrome OS demonstrates that people are willing to use a system with no software at all. What else makes it unsuitable for most users?

Could not disagree more. How ChromeOS works makes it so much more secure and easier to manage.

I believe they don't use Gentoo, rather they use Gentoo's build system (portage) to build ChromeOS. They use their own tree (ebuilds) and they don't include portage into ChromeOS.

It is based on Gentoo as software can be based on make and gcc. But the user only sees the resulting binary.

AFAIK Portage, Gentoo's package manage, is used only to build the rootfs image. Because Gentoo is really a meta distribution. This distinction is not an empty slogan. You can use Gentoo as a build system to create separate operating system, just like ChromeOS does.

You can use of course use Gentoo directly and prepare tailor built binary packages to distribute them to users. Then it would be a bit more similar to other distributions. But ChromeOS is not an ordinary distribution. It's update model is not really compatible with typical distribution model. It's one of the greatest strengths of the system. You could shoehorn packages meta data, but it would be pointless, because whole image is updated at once.

Technically it's a container not a VM. So using this is about sandboxing it from the OS.

Seems like they run the Debian in a KVM virtual machine, and containers inside that?

Any links for more info about containers vs VM there? The article just says:

"That’s because Google is going to start shipping Chrome OS with a custom virtual machine that runs Debian Stretch, the current stable version of the operating system."

I have been using this on my pixelbook and, unless I am wildly mistaken, it's generating an LXC container. Android apps for instance all run inside a single container for them as well

The container itself is running Debian Stretch. However, for someone not using this it can be easily misinterpreted to mean a VM. Functionally it's not much different.

No it is a container on top of a VM. Different kernels. Android is just a container sharing a common Linux container with ChromeOS.

Both. Machine containers on top of a VM.

apt-get is still the golden standard for installing apps on Linux because of its dependency resolution system, and being able to "sudo apt-get install <package>" is a core use-case for end-users (i.e. students who are learning how to use Linux / code for the first time).

Disclaimer: I work at Google, but not on Chrome OS.

Genuinely asking, what makes apt-get that much better than other package managers? Outside of Slackware I think good dependency resolution is pretty much universal at this point, and I can't say I've ever noticed any major problems with pacman, for instance.

Technically speaking, nothing.

Windows has a lot of users just because they're familiar with it.

The same goes for Debian derivatives. A lot of people's first Linux distro is Ubuntu, so they get familiar with apt and don't have a compelling reason to use anything else.

I'm a perfect example. The second package-manager I really interacted with was Alpine's "apk", and that's only because I've been working with Docker pretty extensively over the last year.

It not APT itself, but the policies, tooling and practices around creating and installing packages.

A lot of work is done to ensure smooth upgrades, or prevent packages from breaking each other by overwriting files, breaking configurations, changing ownership of some files or directories and so on.

Apt-get got there first. Debian does a pretty good job of trying to make upgrades work (which isn't really an apt thing, plenty of apt based distributions don't actually care to make upgrades work).

It's been a while, but my understanding is redhat figured out dependency resolution too, though.

Depends on what you mean by "figured out". Yum was capable of dependency resolution 15 years ago, maybe more, but was unbearably slow compared to apt-get. Maybe dnf solved that, maybe yum is faster now, I don't know, I switched to Debian more than a decade ago and didn't have a reason to retest RH since.

Even on the slowest systems I still have access to (64MB VPS, RasPi 1), apt-get is reasonably quick and responsive.

It's been a while since I've used it but yum used to tie up my machine pretty badly on significant upgrades. After reboot it could take hours to finish applying the upgrade, during which time the machine was usable. Apt has never given me that sort of trouble.

>It's been a while, but my understanding is redhat figured out dependency resolution too, though.

About 20 years ago, give or take.

Maybe 15, but I do recall using redhat in 1998 and getting things like you can't install foobar.rpm because it needs /usr/lib/libsomethingcool.so.4 and then plugging in that file name to rpmfind.net to figure out what package I needed (maybe it didn't need to be that hard, but it wasn't obvious that it could be easier)

> what makes apt-get that much better than other package managers

Nothing these days. I guess more desktop users are familiar with it because ubuntu + mint make up a lot of the Desktop market share.

It is better because it is more common

I'm a Debian user, but RedHat has had Yum (Apt-equivalent) for probably a decade now.

Way more than a decade. I remember running yum on fedora core more than 15 years ago.

These days it's all pacman for me though.

In terms of front-ends, there's always packagekit. The following will work on both rpm and dpkg derivatives:

sudo pkcon install <package>

Probably because the Gentoo ecosystem (package tree, package managers) is build for source packages and not for binary packages.

Portage can work with binary packages just fine: https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Binary_package_guide

ChromeOS/ChromiumOS uses portage for its build system, to produce a signed, read-only image that the OS can boot from. CoreOS uses the same tooling FWIW: http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/build

This is why you can’t just install random packages onto the parent OS. Any additional software needs to run in some overlay filesystem or sandbox.

I have never tried using portage with binary packages, but I am using Paludis with binary packages since a while and I have to say it is very different from using Apt or Pacman.

Package managers which are build for source packages (e.g. ebuilds/exheres) have a much more complicated logic running in the background, come up with much harder to solve problems and are a lot slower (orders of magnitude).

The only aspect where this setup is superior than e.g. arch + pacman is when it comes to using source packages on the same system. So I guess that is nothing you would like to use on a Chromebook anyway. Therefore, using a Debian container is a reasonable choice, in my opinion.

Do you know if pacman is available on Chrome OS? My understanding is that it's based on Gentoo but it's heavily modified. So adding a different binary-based package manager isn't that crazy of an idea, especially for Google.

Two package managers are a bad idea. They would need to cooperate somehow. Pacman developers probably have heard of Gentoo, but I wouldn't call it "based on Gentoo".

I meant that since pacman is not available, then use a different one entirely (not both). It seems it's a moot point b/c of the sibling comment saying the disk is read-only.

Chrome OS puts the core operating system on a read-only partition, which is why people have been using chroots in developer mode up until now.

I'd guess they wanted a simpler solution. Debian mostly has stable packages, but if users want more it is easier to get it compatible with Ubuntu repositories and packages.

For example if chromeos users wanted to install steam on their system having a Debian base would help.

Aside from this I'm really surprised that they are using Wayland instead of X11, this decision ought to bring some stability issues until Wayland gets widely adopted.

If I were to guess this feature has been added as a freetime project amongst Google employees. As such, I don't think we can expect continuity. If those developers go away/get reassigned or lose enthusiasm, I don't think Google would allocate resources to maintain a linux VM inside their OS. IMHO if it were important to Google that users could be able to use Linux apps, they would've strived for binary compatibility with Linux from the beginning.

> If I were to guess this feature has been added as a freetime project amongst Google employees.

I believe the impetus was enabling Android app development on Chrome OS. Google first said they were working on that a long time ago. I guess in the process of doing so they figured they might as well expand the functionality to cover all Linux apps, not just Android Studio.

As such, I expect support will be stable. Chrome OS in general has had very solid support, too.


I guess because they want to keep the actual OS locked down. This way you can run any kind of linux software and even pretend to be root, all without really having root access to the pixelbook.

If I had to guess its because they want to move to their own proprietary systems and don't want to support backwards compatibility with "native" linux applications.

Exactly–ChromeOS being Linux-based is, at this point, an implementation detail. No ChromeOS "apps" depend on that fact, because they all run under their own VMs or ABI sandboxes. This means that Google could make a Fuchsia-based ChromeOS and nothing in userland (save for the code of those VMs and sandboxes) would have to change.

Isn't Fuchsia OS as well, kust no GPL?

Yes, various parts use BSD/MIT/Apache licenses, e.g.: https://github.com/fuchsia-mirror/docs/blob/master/LICENSE

That said, parent comments seem to be talking about two different topics. Later comment about Google switching the underlying foundation of Chrome OS from Linux to Fuchsia sounds plausible, while earlier comment complaining about Fuchsia being proprietary is nonsense.

It might not be proprietary, but if OEMs already only release updates at gun point with GPL, just wait until they get an OS with MIT like licenses given to them. It will be a big party.

Still does not make Fuchsia proprietary. There will be proprietary fuchsia bundles, sure, they are unfortunately standard with Android allready, but that was not the point.

Fuschia doesn't contain any Linux at all, hidden or otherwise. There's a compat layer you can run on top, but it's closer to the Windows subsystem for Linux than Chrome OS.

I'm really happy Google are giving a go at making ChromeOS into something more than browser on steroids. I really believe this is a path to a decent Linux Desktop future.

I'm def considering getting a pixelbook for my main machine this year now.

Will this make it possible to run Docker in a Chromebook? With Crouton, which is just a chroot, you can't run Docker at all (without changing the ChromeOS kernel), and can only run rkt containers. If this new Linux apps support really runs in a Debian KVM virtual machine, then maybe it will be possible to run Docker in that, which would be a massive advantage over what crouton provides. Anybody know?

Yes, you can run Docker.

Source: I've been testing Crostini for a while now, and Docker works great!

Thanks! This is really fantastic news!

I'm curious about this as well.

I was toying with the idea of setting up my docker cli in crouton to connect to a docker daemon I host via a VPS (cheap Lightsail box maybe). I think this will work fine.. it's just the docker daemon that won't run because the ChromeOS kernel locks it out of features it needs. Then I could do local dev but any docker calls would run remotely.

But I'm sure that will have its quirks.. if I could run lightweight containers (node, redis, etc) directly on my Chromebook then I'd prefer that.

You could already use Docker containers with Crouton. Just had to use rkt.

Yes docker is working with this new funtionality. You use on a machine container. Which runs on a VM.

I've been running Docker on my Chromebook for years.

I just installed GalliumOS on it (a native Linux OS tuned for Chromebooks).

It works really well.

Better approach, I'm, is use Crouton. Just have to use rkt to launch the containers. Now not necessary to even use developer.

I wish they would also offer some runtime environment to run Android apps on a normal Linux (e.g. Debian/Arch). And no, I am not talking about some weird, full size VM with a few Gigs of ram overhead. But since the business case seems to be missing, I will probably have to wait forever ;-)

Anbox[0] already does that. It's not official, it's not from Google, it's not perfect, but .. it works, and integrates the android apps into your system (does not have a weird VM or few gigs of ram overhead).

[0] https://anbox.io/

Pixelbook development will continue to be an interesting affair as Chrome OS becomes a more functional environment for developers.

Curious if the next version of Pixelbook will contain a 3G/LTE interface with support for Project Fi.

Or you can wipe it off, fully install Gallium OS before you finish a warm coffee and be super happy with your brand new super cheap fanless ssd linux laptop. Later, if you miss ChromeOS just click run a browser :)

That doesn't seem like an active project.

Looking at https://galliumos.org/download

> GalliumOS 2.1 was released on 2017-02-28



Is there another resource I should be looking at?

I've been playing with crosvm and containers (lxd) in ChromeOS for awhile and I've been very impressed at the technical expertise that has been required to bring this to ChromeOS. Now that the terminal app is released I can say (I have a pixelbook and am currently using it), the user experience is really quite slick. This is a very promising platform.

Are there any good reasons why a developer would buy a Chromebook over some other laptop, unless they are developing for the Chromebook itself?

MacBooks are out for me now that they have the touchbar and bad keyboard. I currently use a ThinkPad and it's pretty good, but the touchpad is mediocre at best.

I think a ChromeBook with really first class support for Linux apps is very compelling. I run Linux in a VM on Windows 10 on my ThinkPad and it's a great setup. A ChromeBook would be a very similar setup but probably with better native OS integration (for example they are exposing the Linux filesystem in ChromeOS's file browser) and this would all be a first class use case supported by Google.

What about the XPS 13?

You mean pixelbook, $300 chromebooks would obviously be of poor build quality; although i am not sure of the hardware quality of pixelbook either. For me a thinkpad works pretty well for a linux machine.

A lot of the lower-end Chromebooks are surprisingly well built. Education is a huge market for Chromebooks, so durability is important. My Acer Chromebook is mostly plastic, but there are hefty metal hinges and a metal backplate for the LCD. I've dropped it several times and it just seems to bounce. The keyboard and trackpad aren't exceptional, but are perfectly pleasant to use. The only major downside is the screen, which is a fairly dim and low-res TN panel. Still, you really can't complain for the price.

FWIW, I have an Acer ChromeBook I bought for $99 brand new on Black Friday a couple of years ago. I have about 20 laptops at my disposal (including ThinkPads and MacBook Pros) but I use this one the most. The build quality is surprisingly good and the battery lasts forever. I installed Linux on it after replacing the firmware, but I'm excited that Crostini might make this unnecessary on other ChromeBooks (and maybe even this model). A very important bonus of Crostini is that it will not be necessary to put the machine in developer mode.

I have a Dell Chromebook 13 and the build quality is fantastic. It's my favorite laptop out of last gen Macbook Air, Dell XPS 13, Thinkpad, and Razer Blade. The keyboard on it is the only one that doesn't hurt my fingers to type on.

I have to disagree, surprisingly. I've got an Acer Chromebook 14 which is all aluminum, very thin/light, 14" IPS 1080p display, wonderful trackpad and a pretty solid keyboard. All for under $300.

Just got my parents a $500 Samsung Chromebook, and the build quality is incredible.

Macbooks continue to look less and less appealing to me, if Chromebooks somehow got Adobe CC, I'd switch immediately.

Yeah I am thinking mostly nicer ChromeBooks. But the nicer ChromeBooks compete quite well with ThinkPads, price-wise.

There are excellent CBs below $300. I have purchased several refurb Acer 14s for $200.

I have been using a Chromebook as my daily driver for nearly 2 years now.

Most of the time, I'm either at home or at work, so I just remote log into my development systems. I, personally, don't really need to lug around my entire development environment, though I used to be in that school of thought.

So, given that I really just need SSH, a decent Chromebook is cheap (as others mentioned), and can have a decent keyboard with long battery life. The one I have is around 1kg, so it is very "handy", and I carry it everywhere, as I would have a notepad in earlier days.

I'm trying to setup something similar - do you use Wake on LAN to turn the computer on? Or do you leave it on? Do you have a static IP or do you use some kind of dynamic DNS service?

My workstations are on 24/7 (the one at home runs some other services like a media server) with static IP addresses.

No static ip or dyndns needed if you use autossh.

Cheap and lightweight, but of reasonable quality. You'll get Linux out of the box. Effortless updates. Lots of battery life - my Chromebook came with 13 hours of battery and it is a few years old machine at this point.

It can make sense if you're developing for Linux -- for instance web apps that will run on Linux in production.

It can also make sense if you like physical function keys and/or a touch screen larger than a function key row. :)

I used a Chromebook Pixel with Crouton very happily for a year. Granted I spend 95% of my time in Emacs and a web browser.

Sadly ... driver Support. The main reason for me - standby and resume allways work and not only mostly ...

Take a look at System76. They make Linux laptops and have full hardware/driver support out of the box.


I think I did checked them out. But I have a special use case, need Touchscreen, long batery life, rugged, small, lightweight ( ...for hiking and working Outdoor) Asus C213 was a perfect fit. Otherwise there are only windows devices avaiable with terrible linux Driver support at the moment.

The Chromebook Pixel has a 3:2 screen. As far as I know only Huawei and Microsoft sell 3:2 laptops so it doesn't have much competition in that regard.

The Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro also have 3:2 screens, same size and resolution as the Google Pixelbook (probably the same display panel). Though those are also Chrome OS devices, of course.

Forgot to mention the new HP Chromebook X2 also shares the same display specs: https://chromeunboxed.com/hp-unveils-worlds-first-detachable...

Here are my own reasons:

1. The security model is fantastic compared to the alternatives. DIY security is an endless distraction these days unless it's your full-time job. I am concerned that the team may not be able to keep things so secure as the complexity of Chrome OS increases, but as a starting point it's still the most secure commercial OS out there.

2. Little to no setup. Boot it up, log in, and you're ready. (And now, I guess, install whatever Linux apps you want.) This makes it easy to recover from hardware failure, even if you're on the road. Just go take one off the shelf, no worries about installation, configuration, etc.

3. Disposability. Most Chromebooks are incredibly cheap. If it breaks or if you lose it, it's not the end of the world.

4. Easy, safe sharing. If someone needs to borrow a computer to check their email, you can log out and hand it to them. Your stuff is securely encrypted, and the system is hardened against compromise. This may not be a big deal for everyone, but it brings me great peace of mind!

You can install GalliumOS [1] on a Chromebook for a full Debian-based Linux experience. I dual boot mine for certain apps I can't run under ChromeOS, but I'll be perfectly happy to stay in Chrome land once this Linux app thing gets pushed out to my chrmebook. For the most part, I'm doing heavy lifting on other machines I remote log into (graphical or shell). I've got LXC and KVM scripts [2] to spin up virtual Windows, MacOS, or Linux machines as dev environments on any Linux host, and then connect using ssh, x2go, or Chrome Remote Desktop. With this setup, I can comfortably do without a beefy laptop, and don't need to worry about taking proprietary/sensitive data through an airport.

[1] https://galliumos.org/

[2] https://github.com/kstenerud/virtual-builders

No need now with support built in and have much better security versus using GalliumOS.

Aesthetics of the Chromebook Pixel

One device to rule them all?

The promise of Ubuntu Convergence and Windows Continuum on a single piece of hardware, solving the "app gap" with Android support - the best of the web, Android and one's choice of Linux desktop.

An ultrabook/iPad substitute - "power users" requiring a 32GB Core i7 desktop replacement might look elsewhere, naturally.


It's a cheap more portable 2nd laptop. I much prefer it over a tablet. While the screen resolution on mine is pretty bad (768p 11"), I actually bring it around with me and am able to do elixir development with Termux.

It has been an inexpensive and reliable crouton linux box.

The hardware support has been really nice, as a lot of the usual linux fiddling required to support monitors, etcetera has been much easier with the intermediate chromeOS layer.

Chromebooks are cheap.

I wouldn't call $999 cheap

I needed a machine to ssh from and have a browser. $250 acer chromebook with crouton mostly works.

This is not my primary machine however. I only use it at home to ssh into my desktop once in a while.

On this price range, are there any advantages of using a Chromebook rather than purchasing an old refurbished business laptop such as x230?

They seem to be going for the same price range.

not sure what the battery life on x230 is. I usually get 6-7 hours atleast on my current chromebook.

Besides this was an impulse purchase. I was tired of my home laptop and wanted something so I went to best buy and purchased it within half an hour. I can't say the same for x230.

Weight, battery life, fan usage

Same as at any price range: security and managed updates.

because x230 is ugly pos, heavy, big while buttons still feel cramped and has bad battery life (compared to any new chromebooks)

With the 9 cell I get easily 15 hours while developing. Not sure which Chromebooks you are talking about. But I prefer the x220 over the 230. Haven't tried the 240 which is now starting to get cheap second hand here.

I daily a x220. It's perfect.

Same here; lot of battery life too under Ubuntu/i3.

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