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$600 Chromebooks are a dangerous development for Microsoft (arstechnica.com)
287 points by mockindignant on Sept 1, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 414 comments



Any Chromebook more than $400 right now is just there to absorb even more disposable income from the market, because they ship with nicer finishes and faster processors, but they are anemic on memory and storage, making them subpar for intense multitasking, or getting certain types of work done. The situations in which they excel can be reliably hit by Chromebooks around a $400 price point, and even cheaper Chromebooks allow one to forego performance for the increased disposability of the machine.

I suspect one reason for $600 devices, other than Google itself trying to reposition Chromebooks as more upmarket, is because $600 Windows laptops are still are a mess of preloaded bullshit put there by the vendor. Microsoft has tried various ways to fix this but it only tends to protect high-end models. And build quality and the nature of hardware compromises at that price point have always been unpleasant, save for a few concentrated efforts like Lenovo's IdeaPad line. In other words, $600 laptops are second only to $200 laptops in making Windows look bad, making them an easy target for an OS that proved that $200 laptops can actually be quite good.

Still, there are few challenges. Chromebooks' filesystem paradigm deemphasises local storage to the point of cumbersome, relying on Google Drive or custom interfaces and implementations built for each app that know how to pull up past work. This is a smart idea when everything works, but makes import, export, and context switching harder, and makes sharing a feature of the product rather than a file-based affair.

On Chromebooks, Chrome's fantastic profile system is deliberately conflated with Chrome OS login sessions, which makes it harder for one user to maintain multiple independent browsing contexts than when using Chrome on other platforms. Power users on Windows can run multiple browsers, or use profile systems in browsers to keep separation, but on Chrome OS, you only get two de facto contexts (the white one and the black one with the cool spy icon), you blast the same cookies everywhere, and half your builtin applications are just hyperlinks to auto-log you into the corresponding Google product in your global white context. Applications like Hangouts (the app, not the extension) are rare, where the entire window inherits your OS login, but keeps your context entirely separate from what you're doing in the browser.

Nonetheless, with Service Workers and graphics APIs and auto-resuming applications and unintrusive updates, and people using Google products anyway, Microsoft should be worried, because they're being challenged for customers in a segment where their OS is least compelling, and was largely used by default.


> I suspect one reason for $600 devices, other than Google itself trying to reposition Chromebooks as more upmarket, is because $600 Windows laptops are still are a mess of preloaded bullshit put there by the vendor. Microsoft has tried various ways to fix this but it only tends to protect high-end models.

In the current version of Windows 10 there's a feature called "fresh start" that makes it trivial to reset to a clean OS install without vendor crap. It even automatically preserves your home directory. The only problem is that you need to know it exists, so it only benefits technical users and users with geeky friends to advise them.

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-use-the-fresh-st...


As well as the bloatware added deliberately by Microsoft that's already mentioned, this method can't touch spyware and bloatware that's automatically reinstalled by the BIOS after reinstalling Windows.

Unsurprisingly, the only company I could find evidence of actually having done this is Lenovo:

https://betanews.com/2015/08/13/lenovo-bios-tool-prevents-cl...


Unfortunately, this "vendor crap" is now part of the OS.


It's even worse than that. There's 2 types of crap now: vendor crap and Windows crap.

You can avoid vendor crap by reinstalling a fresh version of Windows from Microsoft, but you'll still get Microsoft crap (i.e., various apps from the Microsoft store pre-installed with links prominently displayed on the Start menu).


These are what Microsoft calls "suggestions" (aka adverts). I think they only actually install when you first click on them.

Fortunately they're UWP apps so are easy to completely remove. Turning off the "Show suggestions" settings will stop them coming back.


A clean install of Windows 10 (not n versions) is shipped with stupid game installers for things like candy crush, Disney magic and march of empire which you can remove easily, but not just "hide" with disabling suggestions.[1]

[1] just did a clean install of win10 home


Yes, I meant disabling "suggestions" stops them coming back again in the future. Although Windows has had update "bugs" whereby this setting is ignored. This is solved by delaying feature updates until at least a week or so after release.


Maybe I'm the only one here, but it seem absurd to me to count on Google, an advertising company, not advertise on Chromebooks.

Not yet ... perhaps. Perhaps. Not ? No way.


ChromeOS is open-source. Last I looked, their build process was a horror beyond all reason. However, it would at least be possible to strip out any advertising built into the OS. Thing is though, Google controls the advertising on the top two pages on the Internet, and as long as that's true, they don't really need to do anything other than make sure you get there. Which is the strategy behind Google Fiber, Loon, and to some degree Android, more-or-less the reason for Chrome's existence, and why Chromebooks are designed around constant Internet access: all roads lead to Rome.


Yep while everyone was fighting yesterday's war with Microsoft another company took over the internet. Well done guys. Google has more power than MS did at any point in the 90s.


Since Chromebooks are very internet-forward, they get plenty of advertising opportunities without installing banner ads or something similar into the OS. Are you expecting them to start advertising on the Android home screen too?


They already do something better for their ad business moat. They just push their Google Apps bloatware collection on the Android ecosystem at every possible chance they get. I use none of it, yet it still comes with my Samsung phone whether I like it or not. I would expect them to continue that approach with any operating systems they control.


Seems counterintuitive that you take such a strong stance against bloatware and yet use a Samsung phone. The preinstalled (and non-removable) mountain of crap was the reason I gave up on them after my Galaxy S3.

Not that other vendors are much better, mind. But I'm quite happy with my OnePlus for now.


Then they all come back with the next update.


I'm in the insider program, they don't/haven't come back in ages.


I just had to delete "Candy Crush Soda Saga". Was it there before I did that ridiculous registry hack to prevent it? Or did they add a new one at some point... Who knows. Its clear they don't actually want people disabling the installation of them.


Does this only happen on Windows Home?


This is also true for my recent numerous installs of Pro, which is absurd


Another fun fact is if you remove the App Installer or whatever it is called, you can't remove the "adware" apps


You can easily remove them. It's still annoying having to deleted Candy Crush.

I would have a hard time justifying $400 for a Chromebook when a tablet+keyboard is cheaper and slightly better.

Plus with Surface Go....$400 seems like a rip off for a Chromebook.


Sometimes you can't even reinstall Windows easily, for example Dell has set SSD mode to Intel RAID by default (can be switched to AHCI) but Windows installation media doesn't come with Intel RAID driver by default. Installer doesn't see the disk at all (until switched to AHCI).


True,

I was using my brothers machine, which is win10 - and I havent used windows in years - and I was disgusted by the crappy UI/UX I was given - with its inbuilt notifications which even pop-up to tell you that you went into full screen mode and told it not to pop-up....

Also, the start menu looks like a freaking spyware minefield they way it takes up 60% of the screen when it is activated.

Windows is absolutely a mess these days.


Windows 10 start menu doesn't take up that much screen unless the user has configured it as such.

Start menu from store is pretty clean. Go to a microsoft store and mess around with devices from there - they are "signature devices" that are clean.

Windows isn't a mess these days in any sense of the word, It's just people who have a negative opinion of it speak about it with sympathy from others who have a negative opinion.

The Windows subsystem for Linux is awesome, the app store is a move in the right direction (damned if you do, damned if you don't) and they're closing out a lot of legacy design elements with their annual updates. (dark mode, better high res / high dpi support, consistency of legacy/new elements. yaddy yaddy yadda)

With a few minutes of trying you can all but customize the entire interface to your liking.

ChromeOS has the benefit of not having decades of legacy to preserve - and Android is suffering many of the negatives you speak of with regards to Windows and iOS has completely the opposite problem being a controlled absolute dictatorship err walled garden.


My "signature edition" Surface Book 2 running Windows 10 Professional came with a bunch of crap on the start menu such as Candy Crush Saga, Twitter, some travel app, Minecraft, and advert for Office 365 and some other crap I can't remember.

I had to right-click and uninstall them all manually but then a few days later a couple of them returned?! I ended up searching for a PowerShell script that actually removes them. Until a few months later when Microsoft rolled out the April 2018 update and they all magically reappeared again so I had to look up that fucking PowerShell script again.

I could kind of accept this on the Home version but on the PROFESSIONAL version?! No fucking way. Why on earth should my pro version come with Minecraft and Twitter?!

And this is a £2500 laptop made and sold by Microsoft! Not some £200 Acer from PC World.


Those aren't even installed and you can turn off app recommendations

Settings->personalization->start-> make sure "Show suggestions occasionally in start" is off.

Minecraft is awesome BTW :)

My android phone came with a ton of crap, my amazon tablet had a bunch of amazon crap.. i don't really think showcasing the marketplace of the hardware you have selected is that evil - especially since its easy to customize if it really bothers you.


> Those aren't even installed and you can turn off app recommendations

They installed the moment it saw a network connection which was before I even finished setup because it set that up during the OOBE.

> Settings->personalization->start-> make sure "Show suggestions occasionally in start" is off.

That setting does not seem to have any effect on Candy Crush, Twitter, etc. on a default install.

> Minecraft is awesome BTW :)

Yes it is but not on my £2500 business laptop. Unless I specifically install it to use.

>My android phone came with a ton of crap, my amazon tablet had a bunch of amazon crap.. i don't really think showcasing the marketplace of the hardware you have selected is that evil - especially since its easy to customize if it really bothers you.

I am not talking about Android or Amazon though am I?

But if you want to bring up Android - My Pixel 2 XL didn't come with a bunch of third party apps and/or adverts for their own, not free, software. Sure it came with some Google specific apps but that is why I didn't list OneNote, Edge, Groove Music or Photos in my list of Windows 10 apps as they are understandable to include even if I have no use for them.

And allow me to bring up my MacBook Pro which didn't come with any third party apps and/or adverts for their own, not free, software. In fact the only thing it comes with is macOS and the iWorks suite (free btw). And if you do a clean install of macOS yourself you don't even get iWorks pre-installed, you have to manually grab them again from the App Store.

The Windows experience is horrible out of the box even on a "signature edition" system. Yes you can go in and "fix" things with PowerShell scripts and changing a few options in Settings.appx but my point is that shouldn't be needed on a so called 'professional' operating system that comes on a £2000+ computer direct from Microsoft.


Couldn't agree more. I'm trying Windows 10 after many years on Linux, and I'm amazed at the hot mess I find. There isn't even a usable terminal. ConEmu looks like it could work with enough tweaking, still trying to get all characters to show up properly (many do, some don't).


Conemu works (and is opensource) and Microsoft has already said they're adding official pty support.

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/commandline/2018/08/02/wind...

Every mac owner quickly switches to iTerm from built in terminal nd lets be honest - there are a bazillion payware options for windows people could use too.


I think they are working on that though.

Since they tweaked the CMD for the Linux subsystem


You can also buy a windows 10 laptop from the microsoft store and not getting any crap ware installed on it.


Every other OS I've used recently (MacOS, Ubuntu, Centos, RHEL, ChromeOS) doesn't require special knowledge or extra work to remove pre-installed spyware/bloatware. They may well have crap installed, but at least they're subtle about it.


I remember Ubuntu coming installed with Amazon links. It certainly did require special knowledge to remove it.

https://www.lifewire.com/remove-amazon-application-from-ubun...

At least with Windows you can just right click, uninstall. That is until vendors break that mechanism too


If you are using Ubuntu, then you atleast have some knowledge about the OS and would be savvy enough to Google and run some commands on the terminal to fix it.

Compared to Windows, which has a huge user base with absolutely no understanding of how the OS works and what to do if you don't like it OOTB.


The current version of Ubuntu just has an affiliate link to Amazon. It may be overly difficult to remove and upsetting to some users, but it's nowhere near as egregious as the software many Windows machine are shipped with.


The geeks could already get this stuff on their system easily. 10+ years in UX design has taught me that little is more powerful than setting something to “default”.


> On Chromebooks, Chrome's fantastic profile system is deliberately conflated with Chrome OS login sessions, which makes it harder for one user to maintain multiple independent browsing contexts than when using Chrome on other platforms. Power users on Windows can run multiple browsers, or use profile systems in browsers to keep separation, but on Chrome OS, you only get two de facto contexts (the white one and the black one with the cool spy icon), you blast the same cookies everywhere, and half your builtin applications are just hyperlinks to auto-log you into the corresponding Google product in your global white context. Applications like Hangouts (the app, not the extension) are rare, where the entire window inherits your OS login, but keeps your context entirely separate from what you're doing in the browser.

ChromeOS actually has the ability to sign into multiple accounts at the same time and fast switch between them. It's not obvious in the UI though, so many don't know about it. https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/6088201?hl=en


But having to set up a whole Google account for multiple profiles on a Chromebook is a lot more ponderous that simply creating another profile as is possible with Chrome running on Windows/Linux/Mac OS.


That doesn't seem like a fair comparison to me. On all those other systems the built-in browser has to be replaced with Chrome as the first step to any utility while on chromeOS you can use a primary user and a guest user with a working browser having never done a single setup task.


Right, And this excellent little known Chromebook feature continues to get better.

One can now throw tabs from one account context to the second logged in account. Left click on the top to the left of the tabs, (while the Chromebook is signed into two accounts) and it offers moving the tab to the other account.


>"Move windows between people You can move windows between the Google Accounts that are signed in"

Wow. Did not know this. Thanks.


> Microsoft has tried various ways to fix this but it only tends to protect high-end models.

Try again. Microsoft is complicit in all of this. If you go buy an OEM version of Windows 10 today, even Pro, what you get is a ridiculous set of preloaded games and apps, like Candy Crush, Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Disney Magic Kingdoms, etc.

Its disgusting, and everyone who works at Microsoft should be ashamed of it.


My Ubuntu comes installed with Minesweeper and Mahjongg.

Windows historically came installed with Pinball, Minesweeper, Solitaire.

I would guess that a substantial base of Windows users plays games on their PC. It's rare to find a popular game that isn't enhanced by the internet.

I do tend to agree that maybe Professional versions should not come with these _links_, but even a large portion of professional users play games on their company issued laptop. I haven't installed Windows Server before but I would be surprised if that featured game links.


I think I draw a line when companies who aren't Microsoft are paying Microsoft to include this software. And its worse because I paid $150 for this OEM key. And its worse because its the professional version. And its worse because they're right on the Start menu from Day Zero.

Minesweeper, Mahjongg, and Chess are a little different because they were developed by Microsoft, with no motive beside adding value to the operating system, at least for users who find value in them.


Its disgusting, and everyone who works at Microsoft should be ashamed of it.

It is disgusting, but I fail to see how e.g. the team working on the C++ compiler should be ashamed for something another completely seperate team was forced to do by management (assuming something like that is responsible for this). In my opinion MS has gone too big for that, with a bunch of seperate departments almost acting as standalone entities (i.e. seperate companies) who can take a lot of decisions on their own without much interference between them, just all sharing the MS name. E.g. there's the research going on, there's VS/Office/Windows etc.


That's fair. But; employees at Google who weren't even remotely near the company's work on Drone AI programs were still disgusted and ashamed by it, enough to threaten quitting. Despite being separate firewalled departments, its about Identity and a compatibility of ethics with that identity.


Is it really problematic if there are preinstalled games? My Huawei phone came with some, I didn't care much.

I mean, they take up some space but don't affect system behaviour, like some old windows OEM bloatware did.


Yes, Huawei shouldn't even be trusted anyways. but second a vendor shouldn't add a ton of crapware to my phone. There is absolutely no value added to the end user. It's garbage and does effect performance. It takes up space and data usage. I will never buy a phone that isn't 100 percent Android anymore. And again anything Huawei is entirely out of the question.


I'm interested in Chromebooks for a different reason, the same reason that brings me to Pixel phones.

I hate software that tracks me, but if I wipe out Android and I install a self compiled AOSP, it's a superb user experience for me.

Will these more upmarket Chromebooks (which have x86 CPUs and acceptable RAM & storage) be OK to run any regular Linux distro?

Right now, Xiaomi laptops are excellent cheap machines to run Linux on (thanks to having just Intel components). Same for Huawei if you are willing to spend a bit more, but on that price a Thinkpad is probably the way to go.


> Will these more upmarket Chromebooks (which have x86 CPUs and acceptable RAM & storage) be OK to run any regular Linux distro?

Yes, with the caveat that full BIOS/UEFI support sometimes lags hardware releases by 6-12 months - out of the box most Chromebooks can only boot ChromeOS. Pretty much all the Chromebook firmware work to support 3rd-party OS' is done by one guy, see his page here: https://mrchromebox.tech

I run Arch on a cheap Chromebook for some tasks at work, I've generally been satisfied, and will probably buy another one eventually. I think if I was spending $500+, I'd just buy a Windows laptop and reformat it though - way more choices, and they tend to be upgradable.

It's also worth keeping in mind most Chromebooks must be disassembled to remove a firmware write-protect screw in order to flash new firmware. The one I have requires removing the battery/keyboard/etc - more than just popping off a small panel on the bottom.


Which chromebook do you have and what are its specs? I'm interested in doing the same, and I don't want to spend $800+ for a laptop I'm not going to be super happy with.


Check out GalliumOS. One of the best, Chrome specific, distros around. The question on hardware comes down to what you want. Many of the newest releases of ChromeBooks do not have removable media (M.2 form factor). So, choose wisely up front: hardware that is supported by current releases and storage and RAM suitable to your needs. The latest CB I have is a Toshiba Chromebook 2 with an i3 processor and 4GB of RAM. That model has a removable M.2 and so mine has an upgraded 128GB of storage. It has received app support for ChromeOS and also runs Gallium with full support. You can dual boot these machines easily, which is how mine is setup.

Nick Janetakis had a nice write-up on setting it up from back when the machine was newer, but to give you an idea:

https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/transform-a-toshiba-chromeboo...


I have a Lenovo Thinkpad Chromebook and I would not recommend it mostly because you have to fully disassemble it to unlock the bios. I managed to do something wrong when I opened it and closed it so after a while one of the hinges just broke.

Look for a Chromebook that you can unlock by just removing the battery. Anything else is just torture.


I have the dell 7310. i3 with 8gb ram. Same as me chromebox last I heard(I think he had the i5 model but it’s not really much faster) it’s about the best experience. Flashing his full firmware is super easy


Additional caveat: chrome DRM will no longer be functional if you do this.


I think the highest level of widevine will not work, which is probably used for 4k and such, but regular widevine that works on linux distros will still work since it doesn't need anything special.


> Will these more upmarket Chromebooks (which have x86 CPUs and acceptable RAM & storage) be OK to run any regular Linux distro?

GalliumOS[1] is a Ubuntu-based Linux distribution optimized for Chromebooks with a huge list of supported devices[2].

> Right now, Xiaomi laptops are excellent cheap machines to run Linux on (thanks to having just Intel components). Same for Huawei if you are willing to spend a bit more, but on that price a Thinkpad is probably the way to go.

I find Lenovo Thinkpad E4*0 series to be the best low-cost, high build-quality Linux development machines, since they start from $569.99, allow a wide range of hardware customizations[3], and meet Mil-SPEC durability standards[4].

[1] https://galliumos.org/

[2] https://wiki.galliumos.org/Hardware_Compatibility

[3] https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-e-ser...

[4] https://www.lenovo.com/hk/en/thisisthinkpad/innovation/think...


I cannot express enough love for the TrackPoint keyboard! (I use an external one at home and at the office.)


Can't see 4k screen. Come on it is 2018 I don't want to see pixels.


This is a budget ThinkPad model, design for small businesses, where 4k display would be an overkill. I actually find FHD to be a better option for a development machine, because of the lower energy consumption and extended battery life.


It is like preferring dried beans over a calculator to do sums...


So I bought a cheap chromebook with an intel chip to run linux on and use as a dev machine.

The spacebar screen is a constant source of anxiety but it's even worse than that. The reason I am on chromeOS with sideloaded linux (crouton) is because when you flash custom bios (seabios) you need to authorize it, if your computer runs completely out of battery (like it did for me on a flight to Iran), then that authorization is revoked and you need to boot into chromeOS to fix it (something I couldn't do since I didn't have chromeOS) so the only thing you can do is press spacebar and wipe everything.

I think I'll never buy a chromebook again, I'll just get something from puri.sm or slimbook.es.


> Xiaomi laptops are excellent machines to run Linux on (thanks to having just Intel components)

Which ones exactly? Do you have resources?

The ones I've seen sport Nvidia GPUs [1] [2]. Which means no Wayland, and only proprietary drivers. Not "excellent" or "just Intel components" in my book.

[1] https://www.banggood.com/XiaoMi-Gaming-Laptop-Intel-Core-I7-...

[2] https://www.banggood.com/Xiaomi-Pro-Notebook-15_6-Inch-Intel...



Good bang for the buck but I want at least 8 GB DDR4 in a new laptop (bought in 2018), and preferably also TB3 and an AMD GPU.

Regardless of the other unnecessary or lacking features Macbook laptops have (butterfly keyboard, touchbar, magsafe, USB-A ports come to mind) if you want a decent amount of RAM and an AMD GPU you pay the jackpot price on MBPs.


https://www.gearbest.com/laptops/pp_651697.html

12.5”, 8gb, full Intel. I haven’t tried it but it looks interesting and well priced.


DDR3. Does have 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz WLAN which is another minimum requirement. Anyway, though I haven't used it this seems like a nice machine with good bang for the buck. Except when it comes to warranty.


i5 has 8 GB of RAM and still an Intel HD card. Sadly, it's not fanless. Same as with MS Surface and virtually all fanless m3 setups, there's no 8 GB option.


Any practical benefit right now to switching to wayland?


It depends. For me this is about being future proof.

Its more secure than X, but you can compartmentalise as well via VMs (Qubes does this) or Docker (Jessie Frazelle runs everything in Docker).

Enlightenment [1] supports Wayland since E20.

If you use i3 right now, you can use Sway [2] as drop-in replacement. That's my plan (since I use i3) if I might some time.

SailfishOS [3] also already uses Wayland. Tizen apparently does as well. SailfishOS doesn't use profiling or ads, and has an Android compatibility layer.

KDE and Gnome might as well (according to [4] they do); I don't use those.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightenment_(software)

[2] http://swaywm.org

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailfish_OS

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_display_servers#Waylan...


What if my wm does not support wayland?

If it provides more security (I guess applications cannot draw over other applications, nor grab keyboard input unless they're in focus), then how can I have a wm? How can I have a screensaver?

Is there any reason to use it if most of my applications are running in xwayland?


Less code runs as root than with X, since the server is far more lean.

There should be zero tearing or artifacts in Wayland, and the latency should be lower as well. Both due to passive compositing.

Screensavers are a pointless waste of energy. I'm not sure why you mention them.

In Wayland, WM/DE use IPC to communicate with each other; not X.

In theory you can run multiple XWayland servers to separate from each other. If security is a concern, Qubes might also be an option. And you're still more secure and better performance with Wayland plus some XWayland than with X.


I still don't see how it is more secure. If the WM can use IPC and tell wayland 'hey, I want to send this keystroke' or 'what were the keyboard inputs?' then why can't some malicious application do the same?

Can I run multiple wayland servers separate from each other? If not, then I still don't see how wm can prevent a random application from pretending to be a wm but actually being a keylogger.


The Wayland compositor does that kind of task, not the DE/WM like with X. That's why porting to Wayland isn't trivial. The server has many less lines of code leading to a lower attack surface, and lower latency or less tearing, and better HiDPI functionality.


Ubuntu 18.04 gnome shipped with the option, but if you select there's a 50% of forming a black hole where your machine used to be.

I'm joking, but it really is super beta.


Wayland (with Gnome) is fine as a daily driver on Arch (I've been using it for months, since AMD drivers were mainlined). I guess Ubuntu's packages are just too old.


Wayland worked really well on Ubuntu 18.04 for the period of time I tried it.


Ubuntu uses Mir, developed in-house. Why, I don't know.


Nope!


> Will these more upmarket Chromebooks (which have x86 CPUs and acceptable RAM & storage) be OK to run any regular Linux distro?

They aren't ideal. But they do have a good alternative that is in its late beta stages. Typically you could run a Linux distro in a chroot on the chromebook, after putting it into developer mode. Unfortunately the chroot does have limits - fox example it doesn't get another IP address so you can't coexist much with ChromeOS - such as using avahi.

The new approach (named Crostini) instead uses a lightweight kvm based virtual machine mechanism to run a Linux guest isolated from the host. They also (by default) use the hardened ChromeOS kernel inside the guest. Note that not all chromebooks are currently supported but a new x86 chromebook should be fine.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Crostini/ https://chromium.googlesource.com/chromiumos/docs/+/master/c...


Maybe you know the answer to this question I have always wanted:

I want to be able to run multiple OSs/Installations-of-the-same-OS on a single machine such that I can swap between "running" OSs - meaning, I want to have one OS sleep while I use the other.

So, if I have windows and ubuntu on the same machine - I dont want to reboot, I want to just put one to sleep and wake the other one up...

OR Ideally - I want to be able to run them side-by-side in some manner that is greater than a VM running on top of the other... My System76 laptop has dual SSD drives in it, I'd like to have both machines running, with half the resources dedicated to each, and have my KVM switch between them.

Anything come clsoe to this?


The specific functionality you describe is available in mainframes, although they are designed to always run a hypervisor. You can't practically do it in the PC world because the operating systems either expect to use a virtualisation interface, or they expect direct control over the hardware. The latter will also give better performance.

Some virtualisation environments do have hardware passthrough. A good example would be having a high performance PCIE video card which is passed through to to a guest for gaming. You can also use real storage instead of files pretending to be storage, although this is less flexible (eg no snapshots).

My recommendation is to use Ubuntu as your host OS and run Windows as a VM guest.


I think you can do that with Proxmox.


Which Xiaomi laptop is good with Linux Mint? Are they better than Lenovo?


The Xiaomi Air 12 is really good quality for ~$550 if you go for the m3 CPU. It's fanless (but only 4 GB of RAM), which is something I love.

It's a different price point than Lenovo. Much cheaper. They are good ultrabooks.

Regardless of the CPU you choose (e.g. i5 has 8 GB, but it's not fanless), all 12 inch models have Intel components only, including the wireless card. It's one of the few laptops that truly runs well on Linux out of the box with zero glitches.

Only a few classic Thinkpads are better, with even good ACPI support for battery discharge events. But that's really rare, and does not make much difference if you run a HAL like UPower to abstract your ACPI-battery.


There's a few ThinkPads where you can remove the BIOS and replace it with Coreboot, and remove Intel ME as well. For example the ThinkPad T60 and X200, available on second hand market. Replace the keyboard if you find it dirty to use those 2nd hand. The advantage these have is the hardware is serviceable by the user.


These Think pads were released 10 years ago, it's a really bad idea to invest in used hardware that old. They can fail anytime.


Thanks. I find $550 a bit expensive. Linux Mint runs flawlessly on a Lenovo S120 (11.6"/4GB RAM/32GB SSD) but I can't upgrade the SSD and that's a bummer. Can't complain, though, it was $170 new from Amazon...


Asus Zenbook UX305 also support Linux 100% out of the box. It’s essentially a MacBook clone with 13” 1080p screen, m3, 8 gb ram, and 256 ssd. I currently use one with Mint Linux and is happy with it.


> if I wipe out Android and I install a self compiled AOSP, it's a superb user experience for me.

It's doesn't resolve the tracking issues.


Why not? I'm running vanilla AOSP with F-Droid apps only. No Google Apps framework.

Threats are limited then to regular baseband radio issues. I know I could be doing better if we had open hardware, but that's the most practical solution I can implement today I think.


That does solve the tracking issues, parent assumed you flashed OpenGapps w/it.

You can also run microG (LOS + microG I recommend; what I use on my smartphone) which contains UnifedNlp for location services.


Vanilla AOSP still use Google DNS by default and Google servers for an internet connection checker.


I patch that, and a few other things. It's a poor man's CopperheadOS.


Have you considered writing a guide on how you do this and what changes you make? I also own a Pixel, but kept running into problems when I tried to compile Android, eventually making me give up.


There's great work around from many people. See e.g.: https://github.com/dan-v/rattlesnakeos-stack

That's a whole toolset to compile your AOSP in AWS and then build your own over-the-air updates.


To my way of thinking, this is exactly the blind spot: ... they are anemic on memory and storage, making them subpar for intense multitasking, or getting certain types of work done.

Look at the iPad Pro, 2GB of memory, not a "laptop" class CPU. etc. It is eating into Microsoft's market for the same reason. The "big" part of the laptop wedge is people who aren't gamers, or intense multitaskers, or intense local storage users. They are people who have their stuff in the cloud, want an easy to carry package that can run the apps they need to run one, or perhaps two, at a time.

The Chromebook is anticipating the iOS based, ARM processor based Macbook air. This is also the Surface Go space.


The Surface Go is, on that note, a wonderful machine, though I feel one with too many compromises to hit mainstream right now. At 10" it hits the portability of a tablet, while the keyboard is good enough for real usage, not just in a pinch.

The Surface Go 2 will be a thing to watch. If they can get it running on ARM with flawless x86-64 translation, roll the price point down a hundred dollars (or just bundle the keyboard - come on, Microsoft, selling that separately makes _no_ sense here) and ship it with a dongle that turns one USB-c port into 2 usb ports, charging, and a displayport, and what you'll have is a 10" laptop that's fully functional, runs _everything_, trivially integrates into a desktop-like environment for home use, is a passable tablet, and gets all day battery life.

Right now it's _close_ to being able to achieve that, but the battery life is a bit too short and the price a bunch too high, and a switch to ARM could alleviate both of those issues.


Back in my day 2 GB was an unimaginably large amount of RAM, and our computers could still do many of the things they can do today.

I recall an article in Byte magazine which talked about when we'd have computers with a gigabyte of RAM (but it also noted that at the time you could have had a gigabyte, given in a mere cubic foot of hardware).


The iPad Pro has 4GB of RAM but the point remains.


*> iOS based, ARM processor based Macbook air

How will it run MacOS apps - x86 emulation like Qualcomm for Windows 10?


If I were at Apple building it, I wouldn't have it run any MacOS apps, just iOS apps. There are lots of articles about how that would happen, see[1] as an example.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidphelan/2018/04/11/the-one-...


> Any Chromebook more than $400 right now is [...] anemic on memory and storage

From the first link in the article:

> The Yoga Chromebook is an altogether more powerful system. It has a four-core/eight-thread 8th-generation Core i5 processor, with 8GB RAM and either 64 or 128GB of eMMC storage.

i5 CPU/8 GB RAM/128 GB eMMC puts it in MacBook/Surface territory.


eMMC puts it on par with the 399 Surface Go. I wish there would be some evolutionary jump in perf on eMMC, its so terrible with multitasking


> but on Chrome OS, you only get two de facto contexts (the white one and the black one with the cool spy icon)

I was wondering if you could somehow get Firefox on one, and apparently for ChromeOS instances where you have access to Android apps you can.[1] Not running ChromeOS, I'm not sure if that means you have to be running an ARM variant, or if the app developer needed to enable a specific set of features or compile a special version (e.g. for x86), or if this actually works, but it does seem promising.

From another article I just found[2], apparently if your ChromeOS supports linux apps, you can just apt install Firefox, or if you really need it and nothing else is working, you can use Crouton to use a linux instance within a dedicated Chrome tab and run Firefox there. I suspect many of these might have oddness when dealing with files and sharing between apps, as you noted that as a specific area of interaction that's somewhat odd within Chrome. I'm not sure whether the Android app works well with that either.

1: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chromebook-ce...

2: https://www.howtogeek.com/357693/how-to-install-firefox-in-c...


> $600 Windows laptops are still are a mess of preloaded bullshit put there by the vendor

Honestly this is one of the biggest things I liked about Apple computers since switching to them in 2007. They're so clean and pure compared to Windows which always comes with bloatware. Even the basic drivers you actually need for the computer to work usually come with some sort of bloatware awful UI programs that need to be installed for the hardware to work.


My MacBook Air has a DVD player app preloaded - despite having no DVD slot. It also has a chess game. And iTunes. And I can't remove any of them.



I was an intern at Microsoft the day that ChromeOS was announced. Conveniently, a few days later the head of Windows was giving a talk to all the interns. Overall, spoke well, but during Q&A someone asked him what he thought about ChromeOS.

He laughed. He said it was a joke. He made it very clear that he didn't understand what Google was even thinking. And that stuck such a sour chord on me. Here's a company well known to be hiring the brightest people in the world, and they've announced a direct competitor to what you're doing... and you're laughing? It was like seeing an experienced chess player playing against a rumored-to-be-brilliant child prodigy and laughing at the stupid move the child was making.

I spent the next summer working on the ChromeOS team.


Pre-Satya Microsoft had an odd combination of paranoia and blindness regarding the rise of browser applications.

Blindness: I was in a Microsoft VP’s office when he said he was downsizing the IE effort because “the browser is done”, enterprise users were satisfied, and consumers don’t generate significant Windows revenue. I think that was IE6.

Paranoia: I was present for many early-00s decisions where a Microsoft exec weakened the ability to write rich applications in the browser to avoid devaluing Win32. So they were at least scared of the idea of a “browser OS” in the abstract.

Although...at the same time, Office was pushing for browser application capabilities, which is where we got XHR, which is a big reason browser applications became practical. Sometimes you’d never guess Office and Windows were the same company.


In a lot of ways they aren't/weren't.

Office does a lot of things their own way and without a lot of the cross-compatibility that's a feature of most Microsoft products.

That's why you'll find you'll be able to do something in Office, but other Microsoft programs won't. Or vice versa.

Like Notepad and Internet Explorer are pretty much just containers for certain Windows controls. Controls Office don't use. They roll their own. Or at least, used to. Wouldn't surprise me to find out that Office had their own browser rendering engine that didn't rely on anything in IE.


> Wouldn't surprise me to find out that Office had their own browser rendering engine that didn't rely on anything in IE.

I'm not sure what the situation is now, but for a long time Outlook used MS Word, not MSIE, to render HTML email messages. Word is a terrible web browser, so that made it next to impossible to design templates for things like email newsletters that would look & behave sensibly in Outlook.


Outlook 2003 switched to the IE renderer, then for what I consider to be terrible reasons they switched back to MSO in 2007, and still use it in Outlook and even Windows Mail now. (The reasons I recall were bugs in the editor and security—.)

For people that aren’t in the know: the MSO engine is basically a very incomplete and quite buggy implementation of the HTML 3.2 specification. From where I stand, it looks like the entire thing is a binary blob that essentially hasn’t been touched at all for over twenty years. Literally.

Microsoft switching back to MSO breathed new life into an entire industry of people with esoteric, hard-won knowledge about the eldritch affairs of HTML for email. Without it, HTML for email would not be such a disaster. (Sure, there are other awful email clients, but Outlook is by far the most terrible that is used much these days. If it had tightened its game, other bad clients would have been much more like to fix theirs too.)


> Wouldn't surprise me to find out that Office had their own browser rendering engine that didn't rely on anything in IE.

Outlook renders HTML for email but doesn't use IE.

This, of course, was a very smart decision even though Outlook's rendering of HTML is terrible.


> Office does a lot of things their own way and without a lot of the cross-compatibility that's a feature of most Microsoft products.

That's probably because unlike most Microsoft products, Office is cross-platform and has to support multiple operating systems, including MacOS, iOS, and Android.


Isn't Office for Mac a completely diverged fork from an old Windows version of Office? I remember some blog posts from the understaffed Mac Office team stating that much several years ago. I don't know if they rebased it in the meantime. The posts read as if the big Office team was focused entirely on Windows and everything else was done by understaffed teams struggling to keep up.


Since 2014 not anymore.

The Office team did a couple of session at CppCon about how they refactored the code.

"CppCon 2014: Zaika Antoun "Microsoft w/ C++ to Deliver Office Across Different Platforms"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HROqnw-nf4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGMoRu5yrVc


Earlier this year they put out a blog post that announced that their cross-platform versions share a common codebase for "core functionality".

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Office-365-Blog/Share...


Does 'core functionality' include opening a UTF-8-encoded CSV file properly?


Not anymore. From what I’ve been told from an insider, the latest versions are derived from a common code base now, with platform specific bits separate for each platform.

The latest office for Mac looks quite a bit like the windows version now (for once) so it’s not too surprising.


Funny story, Excel was on the Mac before Windows.


> So they were at least scared of the idea of a “browser OS” in the abstract.

Well you literally had Mozilla telling everyone they could that the browser is going to be the OS in that era. Microsoft was certainly paying attention.


If it wasn't for Office and the ecosystem around it, I don't think many firms would opt for Microsoft products. In my firm, we're purely Linux, but have Windows VMs, just for Excel.

As an aside, we run a business management app called Bx (https://usebx.com/app) and have recently started making some money. We're putting aside some cash to fund the development of a feature-rich, cross-platform spreadsheet app (I wished OpenOffice Calc would suffice, but it simply doesn't, and is unstable at times), so that we can finally ditch the Windows VMs we run!

Something about Microsoft's historical ethos makes me abhor development on their platform, and targeting their browser is a nightmare in its own right (with Safari a close second).


I hope you consider funding the improvement of Libre Office instead of trying to write your own spreadsheet app. There has been an incredible amount of work poured into it, starting from scratch doesn't make much sense imho.


Not denying the amount of work gone into LibreOffice, however I'm not sure if I agree with you on the approach (this will probably be an unpopular opinion). I find the entire ecosystem of LibreOffice a bit clunky, and it wouldn't surprise me if there is a lot of technical debt that would need to be understood before we could make any sort of contribution. Don't know why, but my gut says starting afresh would allow us to build something more useful, faster. It would make sense to use the LibreOffice code base as a guide though.


The problem with starting from scratch for an Excel alternative is the classic quote : "Everyone needs 10% of the features Excel offers, but is a different 10%."


I don't disagree with you, however someone needs to take up the challenge. Perhaps by creating a base that can be plugged into more easily than LibreOffice or Excel would help encourage development by the community (much like atom and its plugins)

Basically, I'm not happy with the status quo that we have no real alternative to Excel on Linux.


There is no alternative to excel period.

Its like dwarf fortress or bloomberg terminals - when you are digging through what you thought was cruft, you'll suddenly find an entire project/application worth of material to handle a feature you never thought you would use.

Except that feature is used by someone else everyday.


That's a nice idea. Libreoffice is rather difficult to extend.


Well, if you fail at improving Libre Office to a state where you're satisfied with it, you still improved Libre Office. If you fail to write something better than Calc, all effort is lost.


I agree with what you're saying, but I'm not going to be pessimistic about the endeavour! I think, given time, we can build something that solves at least some use cases better than Calc.


Libreoffice hacker here. Calc is one of the nicer parts of the codebase. Don’t underestimate the enormous list of features that are required in a modern spreadsheet engine. We’re talking 100s of man-years of coding. Come join us and make it better. Or task one of the available consultancies to implement the features you want.


I know I am underestimating; I have a tendency to do that, so I appreciate the warning. May I ask how many people currently contribute to LibreOffice regularly?


There are about 20 people or so who contribute on a frequent basis i.e. at least weekly.

But we have a very long tail of people who contribute less often.

You can see the commit frequency here: http://cgit.freedesktop.org/libreoffice/core/log/

Come hang out on the libreoffice-dev IRC channel if you have more questions


That is maybe doable if you don't care about importing existing files. You'll spend years just getting that right.

A grid of cells is the easy part. Compatibility is hard.


Compatibility is actually the least of my worries. I think it's a losing battle that's not worth fighting.

Better to create an open ecosystem that people adopt for that very reason - that it is open. In the early days, Excel would actually obfuscate its output, making it extremely difficult to parse. Now things are a bit better, but you're still trying to hit a moving target.

If we have an open format, and a corresponding high-quality, open application ecosystem, I can see many corporates making the switch. Not easy, but I can see a future without total dependence on Excel.


In the early days Excel focused heavily on compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3 which was dominant.

Excel never obfuscated their save code. I've seen it in person. They did just memcpy their data structures, which was the most efficient way to save on tiny machines of the day. Lotus did that too.

I've also seen and helped implement the Open Document spec. This is not a simple problem and you are doing yourself a disservice by blinding yourself to the scale of the task.

If you want to make an impact and don't have Google level budgets then leveraging OpenOffice is the only sane approach.


I was under the impression they did attempt to obfuscate their files. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_POI

We don't have Google level budgets, but I think we can do something worthwhile with what we have. Might take a while, but I'm confident we will manage something good in the budget we are hoping to allocate to the task.


FUD goes both ways and the OpenDocument battle was particularly vicious on both sides.

However the code is literally a memcpy of a struct that is used internally. Not being designed for others to easily read isn't obfuscation. FWIW the XML formats designed for that purpose still fail horribly on that front.

Anyways I've worked on spreadsheets for 10 years. File compatibility is the hard part and the rest is easy by comparison (but still pretty hard).


Haven't used it for a while but there are other FOSS options, like Calligra or Gnumeric. It might make sense to start there?


Gnumeric is my go to spreadsheet app on Linux. Significantly faster than Calc, although not as feature rich.


I don't think you can beat Microsoft at their own game, it's probably better to strike off in a completely different direction.


Have you tried Wine? A lot of work has been done on it [0] with also help from the Steam devs [1] (that's mostly for games but it will have knock on benefits for Excel), and it was already reasonable back in 2010.

[0]: https://www.winehq.org/announce/3.0 [1]: https://steamcommunity.com/games/221410/announcements/detail...


I did try it once, but it played up on my machine (around 2014 was the last time I tried). Might give it another try at some point in the future.


> If it wasn't for Office and the ecosystem around it, I don't think many firms would opt for Microsoft products.

Many firms and people need Windows software, MS Office is just one example.

You want to edit pictures, Photoshop only runs on Windows and OSX. You want to build things, AutoCAD only runs on Windows. You want to produce music, Cubase only runs on Windows and OSX.


there are great alternatives for all of that


Not if you’re doing it professionally. Several reasons, BTW they also apply to MS Office.

Adobe/Autodesk/Steinberg software is just better than alternatives.

You can’t use Photoshop filters / Autocad addons / VST instruments with non-native apps. At least not reliably.

You can’t reliably exchange documents unless you use original software.


Reminds me of Steve Ballmer literally laughing at the iPhone in a 2007 interview[1]:

> There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/heres-what-steve-ballmer-tho...


It's not like they haven't got a history of doing this. Remember when the iPhone had "no chance" of "any significant market share"?[0]

[0] https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2...


FTA: "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get."

I wonder what the maximum penetration was for Windows OSes on phones.

"...my 85-year-old uncle probably will never own an iPod, and I hope we'll get him to own a Zune."

What's a Zune? /s


To be fair, after over a decade of trying, Apple still only has 15% market share.

If Microsoft had the other 85%, they'd be in a good position.


Why should Apple care about the other 85% of the market if all the profit margin is in the 15% they have?


This is called market segmentation, it’s one of the hardest things to get right in a business, and I think Apple have done a pretty good job of it. Every decision in a business has an opportunity cost, you can’t make products that will meet the needs of everybody in a market, and you can’t try to sell products to everybody in a market. It’s hard because segmenting your market is essentially deciding that you don’t want to sell to some customers, but it’s more important to look at what each customer is worth rather than how many you can get in total.


I guess apple is totally okay with being a minority of the market then since they're doubling down on proprietary sensors and apps that only work in their own ecosystem.

they can ignore the 85% if they want. The 85% of the market will ignore them back in turn.


They "double-downed" on that decision ten years ago, and now they are the most profitable company in the world. I think it's safe to say whatever bet they made paid off handsomely.


If you look at the success of apple - they do one thing really really well; make products for people with money to spend. Apple doesnt care about anything other than customers who can afford to pay, and are willing to pay, for their products.

Apple makes good products, but they arent without frustrations or limitations, and you'd better accept these if you want what you do get from apple products.

You know that the engineering will be in the top ~90%, for example. What is the 10% or so that apple fails on WRT to engineering; accessories, flexibility/upgradability, vendor-lock-in on software. All of which simply lead you to spend more money on supporting having apple products.

Accessories: How much money have you spent on chargers, cables, headphones, cases, screen-protectors, screen repairs?

Flexibility/upgradability: Want more storage/ram? Buy the next model - no upgrades.

Software: Fewer OSS options for software/apps.

There are certain things I like about apple, and certain things I hate. But the primary thing I hate is that you cant do much without paying a premium...


it's paid off handsomely and cut off apples prospects of expanding beyond the 15% market share they currently enjoy. sure owning 15% of the global smartphone market makes them money but androids 85% share ensures googles dominance in the sector unless apple lowers some of its hardware walls and turns them into bridges.

#buildbridgesnotwalls


What does market share matter when you've captured the part of the market where all the significant margins are?


A company that trades like a railroad company shouldn't be gloating about how little of the market share they want. there is no room for apple to expand with their rich people first strategy. Eventually you run out of new rich people to sell your products to.

Apples investors do not expect them to grow much more unlike Google or Facebook which both act as monopolies in both the smartphone and online markets. I'm sure apple knows what it wants but it sure doesn't show any abition to take over the world with their products.


It also spares them scrutiny from antitrust laws which I am sure they appreciate now with the recent Android fine.


Because eventually developers will stop bothering with iOS apps.


Thouh its about 45% in the US, and similar levels in OECD countries.


If Microsoft had the other 85%, they'd be in a good position.

People forget that they effectively do have most of that 85%. Every Android installation kicks back some money to Microsoft in the form of patent royalties.


None of the 85% of Android manufacturers are in a good position fighting over scraps and Google still pays Apple over $2 billion a year to be the default search engine on iOS.

Market share doesn’t lead to profit.


What londons_explore said. Windows OS didn't succeed, but the comments about the iPhone seem to have been basically accurate...?


the comments about the iPhone seem to have been basically accurate

If by "basically accurate," you mean "not accurate at all."

It's a long way from 2% to 45%. Not many companies get to underestimate their competition's potential marketshare by a factor of 22 and survive.


Apple has 15%, not 45%. So it's 5-8x, not 22x. And the original quote appears to be about all phones, not just smartphones, so the factor would in fact be even lower.


Apple has 45% in most OECD countries. Even higher in some of them, IIRC.


Is the original quote talking only about OECD countries? I think it's talking about worldwide.


It was partially accurate. Statistically no one bought an unsubsidized phone for $600. Apple lowered the price to $300 within 6 months and then went for the standardized subsidized model the next year.


<i>What's a Zune?</i>

It's the think starlord got at the end of guardians of the galaxy 2.

Still, at least it didn't suffer like the ipod -- it had No wireless and Less space than a Nomad. It was "Lame".


But you could ‘squirt’ songs from one Zune to another.

The Zune was a litany of poor decisions, but that word choice must have been the worst.


I think you are correct.

Though, I also found the word "squircle†" amusing, and still use it when the opportunity arises. The Zune was the first time I'd heard it used outside of math nerds trying to out-nerd each other.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squircle


From the company that brought you “wince.”


Ahh, the line up at the turn of the century -- Windows Cement.


And MicroSoft


People often quote that, but I don't think he was necessarily wrong. What happened wasn't really so much between Apple and Microsoft, as Google giving away Android. That made all the other, arguably better, offerings redundant. Also letting Apple take a lot more market share because of quality and fragmentation issues. Almost no one makes any money from smart phones. Microsoft is probably fourth in terms of profit (from patents and such) behind Apple, Google and Samsung. Though Microsoft might have lost more in terms of influence and maneuvering.

Addition: Which part, if any, are the downvoters objecting to? From the people I have talked to in the industry that is exactly what happened and why a lot of companies got out of it.


The iPhone was beating MS phones before Android was even a thing[0]. They were certainly way more than "2% or 3%" in the markets they operated in. I can't see how Ballmer's statement was even slightly correct.

[0] https://www.macrumors.com/2008/02/05/iphone-with-28-of-u-s-s...


I don't think "2% or 3%" was very realistic, but you have to remember that when the iPhone first came out it wasn't very good. I didn't have 3G, GPS or App Store (nor a couple of other things). Apple was certainly ahead, but the market also wasn't ready nor big at that. When it actually matured there were a couple of solid offerings including from Microsoft, which among other things had arguably better design than Android. But at that point the market was moving on. The non-Apple market was no longer about selling the operating system or phones but apps, ads, components or accessories. If people want to go "Haha Microsoft" I guess that is fine, but they didn't lose to Apple.


> (nor a couple of other things).

Some other fun ones to mention:

didn't let you copy/paste text (for the first 2 years of iPhone), didn't let you record video, and didn't let you make a selfie while looking at the screen. (no front-facing camera)


didn't let you make a selfie while looking at the screen. (no front-facing camera)

To be fair no smartphone did in the first couple years.

didn't let you copy/paste text (for the first 2 years of iPhone)

I got the iphone right after this shipped just by chance, and I couldn't understand how anyone lived without it. Also the had just added the "task switcher" carousel and the precursor to the control center, both features I used heavily and was surprised to learn didn't exist just a few months prior.


> I didn't have 3G, GPS or App Store (nor a couple of other things)

I bought the first iphone on the day it came out and I believe most phones did not have 3G at the time, almost all didn't have GPS (no real use case as navigation apps didn't really exist for phones), and most just had crappy App Stores.

> iPhone first came out it wasn't very good

Unequivocally false! It did everything a normal phone did fine. However, it did something no other phone came close to offering and it singly handley made it the best mobile device. It had an astoundingly intuitive and fast UX for browsing the web combined with an unlimited data plan. That's why I convinced my parents to drive me to the apple store so I could buy it despite the high price (they had to reduce the price by 200$ soon after because it was so freaking high (400-500$ for a phone in 2007)). The phone and app stuff was all moot. I wanted to be able to browse the web just as well as I did on a computer anywhere and everywhere and the iphone was what completely revolutionized that.


I bought the first iphone on the day it came out and I believe most phones did not have 3G at the time, almost all didn't have GPS (no real use case as navigation apps didn't really exist for phones), and most just had crappy App Stores.

Sprint had been advertising its “Vision network” since at least 2005.

“Sprint Navigation” powered by Telemachus was a J2ME app that was an add on service in 2005.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TeleNav


iPhone's competitors did have GPS & 3G: http://archive.fortune.com/2007/10/04/technology/nokia_N95.f...

(The timeline varied a lot by your country - I saw the iPhone available a year later than N95)


And when the Web was irrelevant.

Bill Gates and patent troll Nathan Myrvhold wrote a while book unironically displaying their utter lack of vision about the industry. Their while business is a mix of making bland weak copies of more popular software to run on their decades old Windows entrenchment, Xbox, and a few nice keyboard and mice.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_Ahead_(Bill_Gates_b...


I read an old magazine article a few weeks ago where Bill Gates was talking about how the internet isn't necessary outside of businesses. That having a computer use a phone line to dial up to a central server once or twice a day is all anyone needs. This was back when 2400 baud was considered super fast.

Steve Jobs may have had some bad qualities (many of them irrationally amplified in the "Jobs-bad-Woz-good" revisionist history SV jealousy echo chamber), but he was one hell of a futurist.


What revisionist history?


A lot of people discredit Jobs' creative vision due to disliking his personality, and, if they're engineers, like to overemphasize Woz because he's an engineer.


Maybe 10 years ago that was true.


What do you think changed those people's minds? My feeling is that in the years post Jobs' death negative stories about his personality have been increasingly common.

For the record: I believe Jobs definitely deserves the credit, I'm just observing the mud that has been slung his way.


Stories about his negative side are likely more common because people feel more free to talk about them, now that Jobs, being dead, can no longer respond or retaliate against people with grievances, such as the daughter he disavowed [0].

I perhaps unfairly read negative connotations in your use of "revisionist", but I see nothing wrong with adding Jobs' uglier side to the historical record. It doesn't change what he accomplished, and it's something we can learn from. I do question the idea that Woz has been irrationally overemphasized. By the time the iPod was dominant, and a year before the iPhone, Woz felt so left out of the historical record that he published his autobiography to set the record straight, particularly about the misconception that Jobs himself invented/built the Apple I and ][ machine. Even then, Woz gives clear credit to Jobs for having the entrepreneurial sense and vision to make Apple a company, whereas Woz was perfectly content to work at HP for all his days.

After the iPhone, Woz became even more a part of Apple's ancient, forgotten history. He was a bit character in the Jobs' movies came out, and AFAIK, no movie yet has been made about Woz's life.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/sep/01/daughter-stev...


I think you and I see eye-to-eye on Woz. I feel like there's been another uptick in idol worship when it comes to him in the last few years.

As for Jobs, I was thinking more of his technical abilities. The Woz-worshippers putting him on a pedestal seem to feel it simultaneously necessary to denigrate Mr. Jobs' technical side.

Jobs knew a hell of a lot about computers. More than I, or anyone I've met, ever will. It's clear reading old interviews with him that he knew his stuff, all the way down to the circuit level. But these days the conventional wisdom is that Woz built everything and Jobs was the equivalent of P.T. Barnum.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Did he personally know how to program 68000 assembler? Maybe some, or maybe not. But did he know how the chip worked? Absolutely. And more importantly, he picked the right kind of smart people and let them (largely) do their thing. And he did something that rarely happens these days — he gave them personal credit for their technical achievements.

When I read his biography a few years ago, it reduced my respect for him. But these days, reading archives of first-hand documents and interviews, I have more respect for him than before.


There are a lot of videos of Jobs at NeXT computers doing meetings that are fun to watch where you get to see his deaper understanding.


I didn't use the term revisionist, I just felt like I understood where OP was coming from. People act as if Jobs' harm towards others takes away from his achievements - that's the revisionist part - when in reality those things are orthogonal.


They also spread plenty of FUD around all things Linux too.


It went quite a bit further than just FUD.


Speaking of companies laughing at competitors they shouldn't, my father has a great story from his time at IBM.

He was in a meeting where they were talking about Amazon Web Services, which had just launched. He said an IBM executive called it "stupid" and asked, "Who would ever pay for a server with a credit card?"

This blew my mind, because now that AWS is crushing IBM's cloud offerings, the answer to his question is tons of people.


The transaction cost of fully automatic flow and pay with credit card is unbeatable. For a big project it may not matter but for a small one it does.


It reminds me of Microsoft organizing a burial for Android when they launched a new Windows Phone version ..

Both are extremely bad reactions at face value but also show how clueless the company can be (at least if you believe it is indicative of the company's mindset)


That was actually a funeral for the iPhone. They even rented a hearse and had pallbearers walking a iPhone casket through the streets of Redmond.

https://www.cnet.com/pictures/microsofts-funeral-for-the-iph...


That seems so pathetic in retrospect.


oh indeed iPhone and Blackberry.

Anyway, even if it had been Blackberry and WebOs, it would still have been pretty awful.


First they laugh at you.

Then they fight you.

Then you win.

- Microsoft should have known this but they had made too much money for too long.


Yes and no. Just because they laugh at you doesn’t mean you’ll eventually win. Lots of shitty products get laughed at deservedly.


Microsoft makes more money today than they ever had. They're on their way to Trillion dollar valuation.

Lets not forget Google said the surface line was a disaster too.. They all poke at each other


Right, that's why now we all use Cuil for searches and look up information about various subjects on Cpedia.


I mean frankly that's still kind of my attitude to Chromebooks. I've never seen someone using one and I can't see the point.


I also remember that for a few season, MS did the vaporware thing. Spreading false rumors that they would be releasing a Surface in a few months that would cost about $200, and be better real computer compared to the new Google backed toy. Then after a few delays the surface limited devices came out at nearly $500, and were soon abandoned.


The surface 7" device was supposed to be priced around 200(ish) but we cancelled because 7" devices are largely rejected by the industry.

The 399 go is a step in the right direction.

BUT, i do wish we had a legit 7" that wasn't a Chinese malware knockoff or a really outdated Samsung or Android 5.0 devie. The 7-8" formfacter is such huge utility for pilots, GPS navigation and ebook reading. Shame even apple doesn't update the ipad mini anymore :(


Not understanding what your competitor is thinking, but dismissing them anyways it is arrogant at best, potentially dangerous. If you choose to ignore a competitive product, you better be able to explain why that product won't endanger your business - that includes understanding the goal of said product.


I think it's a sign of not being prepared and not having an answer. I am certain that the guy knew this was a smart move by Google, even right at that time. But it needs a certain skill to behave appropriate and professional in such situations. It reflects that the person certainly is not of the humble kind.


I don't think that is ever a good idea. But Google does also have a reputation for getting things wrong. Plenty of their product never make it anywhere, because they don't have to. You have been able to get a cheap Windows laptop for probably almost ten years. Recently e.g. the Lenovo IdeaPad and before that there were netbooks. I think there could be merit to ChromeOS, but for now it seems like a placeholder so no one else can take that position in the market.


Alright, you like a challenge, so what's the purpose of a ChromeBook outside of a plastic cutlery-equivalent of a device destined to quickly end up in a landfill, contributing to unnecessary damage of environment? Do you feel good about working on an unsustainable disposable device, meditating how much of a chess master you are these days? Did you meet people that actually decided to move forward with this project and understood their real, not stated motivations? Did you truly align with it?


Where's the data that chromebooks have shorter useful lives than other laptops in the same price class? Other laptops on average? It's possible that's the case, but not obvious to me.


How much of a lifetime could a device with soldered on 2GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage have? How much repurposed could it be? Pricier Chromebooks with HiDPI screens and Core-M or better processors are still castrated in one way or the other comparing to general computing devices, yet approaching their price levels. What's the point for a developer? "It just works"? "It's just safe!" due to mandatory secure boot and BIOS reflashes? "Hey, look ma, a cheap computer, let's buy it as a gift!" for regular Joes?


How many laptops are ever upgraded? You're stuck with the original processor and whatever wear and tear the thing has accumulated. I know I have a small stack of obsolete or half-dead laptops from across the years, and the only upgrade that was ever worth the hassle was hard disk -> SSD.

The "just works" aspect is extremely useful for non-expert users.


I know I have put extra RAM in laptops and once brought a new battery. You are correct in that you are limited to the chipset that came with them, but HDD->SSD is not a trivial upgrade.


I keep thinking about older ThinkPads with Core processors - there is a huge aftermarket with many original parts, many of those notebooks are basically on the level of contemporary i5 notebooks with thicker body and worse screens, but with upgradeable RAM and storage. And you can have them for the price of current Chromebooks.

If a trend in the industry is towards limiting upgradeability, in the direction of rent-seeking by first subscriptions, soldering everything onto mainboard, limiting connections, later perhaps rental fee for equipment like it is with car leasing, a trend which I consider insane, can't I object to it? Chromebooks are basically a prime example of this trend, while regular notebooks didn't embrace it fully yet, but are getting there as well. Can't a company with arguably the best predictive platform in the world model and foresee the effect on environment, or is it just profit and mindshare that matters these days?


I doubt a developer would buy such an underpowered machine in the first place.

That said, I currently use a laptop that's seriously underpowered (by choice when I bought the thing ~7 years ago) with 4GB of RAM running Fedora and it does everything I need -- never once have I found I wasn't able to compile whatever random code I happen to be playing with at the moment. If ever I had to do serious dev work (like, it was my job) I'd need a better laptop but for the tinkering I do it works out just fine...though I did have to give up on Blender hacking a while back because of OpenGL versioning issues and I can't afford to buy a fancy new machine. That might not be an issue anymore, haven't checked on the OpenGL compatibility in quite a while TBH.

I actually used to hack on Blender with a 2GB netbook (also running Fedora) before I got my current "beast" so those things aren't completely worthless as you would suggest.


I use a netbook with Atom CPU as my retro gaming device and it's fine for that. But with Chromebooks you are one accidental key press during the boot away from completely wiping out your custom OS you managed to install with quite a bit of difficulty. Chromebooks are very restricted, intentionally, you can't really compare them to similarly specced notebooks that could be easily repurposed for less demanding tasks.


I have two Acer c720 Chromebooks that outlived several laptops and a hilarious amount of tablets.


I've downvoted you due to the combative tone of your question.


And? I am giving a strong negative feedback so that author might incorporate it to their own biological reinforcement learning system. Being nice and agreeable doesn't do anyone favor, it just allows bad decisions to continue unobjected. Similarly as you use downvotes for disagreeing, with which I completely agree (to disagree).


A few years ago I picked up a $300 Chromebook, spent $50 to upgrade the SSD size (swapped the SSD card in it) and now I run GalliumOS on it (native xubuntu but optimized for Chromebooks).

So for $350 you get a 1080p IPS panel laptop that weighs under 3 pounds and has an SD card, headphone jack and other goodies. It easily runs a bunch of Dockerized web apps without being slow.

One of the best portable computing devices I ever spent $ on. I still use it almost every day 2.5 years later.

Details can be found at: https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/transform-a-toshiba-chromeboo...


So for $350 you can buy much better laptop on ebay.

Example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-PROBOOK-650-G2-I7-6600U-8GB-256G...


The Chromebook is brand new straight from Amazon.

Google says your ebay laptop costs somewhere between $900 and $1,400 in new condition depending on what model it is. Yours is also "smashed and cracked" with no AC adapter based on the description.

I don't really mind if there's something faster because I spend time developing 10,000+ line Dockerized Rails apps with the Chromebook along with having a bunch of browser tabs open and streaming music, etc.. and it all runs great.

That Chromebook I mentioned is just a perfect storm of high quality components at a good price. I hope it lasts another 5+ years.


> CORNER OF PALM REST SMASHED AND CRACKED, SPREADS TO BOTTOM COVER

I assume parent spoke about a new Chromebook, not a used (broken) one


This is a listing for a second-hand laptop, if the Chromebook had been bought second-hand too it would have probably cost significantly less than this.


This "second-hand laptop" is much more powerful than chromebook and can be found for less money. I just use the same price range.


And a second hand Chromebook is cheaper than the new Chromebook price point. I guess you could then suggest stealing a non Chromebook laptop as a "better deal" to support a specious argument.


But you don't get the minimalist Chromebook keyboard.

Plus laptop CPU thermal management has a lot of problems. I would prefer a modern and fanless Chromebook to an old laptop where the fans are whirring away the whole time for no evidence of performance gain.

I am hoping that there will soon be an eight generation Pentium inside a high end Chromebook with that Chromebook running linux things like a web server natively. No idea how the IDE is going to work running that way but that is where I would like my dev environment to be going.

You can still get refurbished Chromebooks, I bought a Dell one and I think that come the apocalypse there will be cockroaches and my Dell Chromebook running, if nothing else, as it is that indestructible. Plus charging seems optional. It goes for days.


> Plus laptop CPU thermal management has a lot of problems.

The business class machine means no thermal problems and keyboard problems by default - probably many people who use Pentium on Acer just don't know.


Dependence on Windows is the most dangerous development for Microsoft. An 8GB RAM Windows Surface Go is less performant than an iPad with 2GB of RAM for consumers.

For the server, I recently had to write a process that takes messages from a queue in AWS and store it to a database. It ran well as a .Net Core based lambda running on a 256MB RAM Linux VM.

I did the same with a .Net Framesork app that inherited and the smallest EC2 instance we could use was one with 4GB RAM. It was barely usable. We had to upgrade to 8GB. Microsoft has been successful because of Moore’s law hid the increasing bloat of Windows. But once smartphones and low resource required operating systems became popular, they can’t compete.


Isn't there another quote from Bill Gates on not optimizing Windows because why pay for his engineers to makes things faster/smaller/efficient when RAM/CPU/HDD were outpacing by getting faster/larger/cheaper. Or is that an urban legend type of quote?

It makes sense business wise. Getting new features is sexy/sell-able. Refactoring existing/working code to be smaller/faster/secure/etc isn't.


You may be thinking of Spolsky:

‘As a programmer, thanks to plummeting memory prices, and CPU speeds doubling every year, you had a choice. You could spend six months rewriting your inner loops in Assembler, or take six months off to play drums in a rock and roll band, and in either case, your program would run faster. Assembler programmers don’t have groupies.’

https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2007/09/18/strategy-letter-vi...


Seeing that in 2008 a midrange laptop came with 4GB of RAM and 10 years later, a low end laptop - like the Surface Go - still only has 4GB of RAM and has less storage than my 10 year old laptop.


Can you point to some? I am searching and even high end ones came with 2gb. If I search for midrange laptop and 2008 I get your comment of 16 hrs ago. In my (for sure limited) memory, 4gb was rare back then; high end laptops had it but I had to search for them and pay a lot. I definitely paid $3000$ for a Fujitsu with 4gb back then (I still have it, it still works and I have the receipt); best laptop ever but definitely not midrange.


This is the laptop that I still have and was used as a Plex server up until a month ago.

https://www.cnet.com/products/dell-latitude-e6500/specs/

It came out in October 2008

https://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Dell-Latitude-E6500-Not...


I think that's more of a sign that most people don't need more than 4GB to 8GB of RAM, and that storage isn't about TB anymore but about speed (HDD vs SSD).

SSDs are roughly 100x faster than HDDs, so they're superior despite offering less TB. Unless you're a gamer constantly downloading new 50GB games, most people are fine with ~300GB of storage.

People want faster storage, as opposed to more storage.


I want both.

I want 2TB of space and the speed of an SSD, and I don't want to pay much.

Hybrid hard drives seemed like the perfect solution (a few GB of flash, combined with a 2TB drive).

Sadly, nobody managed to get decent performance on hybrid drives. As far as I'm aware, none really had a good grasp of the filesystem, so none could make decisions like 'these small dll files will likley need low latency reads, stick them in the flash, while these massive mp4 files will probably be streamed, leave them on the hd'.


Good hybrid drives are possible on higher levels of the stack, e.g. http://www.enmotus.com/fuzedrive


Well. Apple will sell you a MacBook with 2TB SSD for $3700 or 4TB for $5700....


My surface go has been treating me pretty well despite it’s pretty paltry cpu. My iPad Pro has its place and I don’t really see the surface go as being a tablet replacement more of a supplemental computer for when you don’t want to carry a bigger laptop. Or in my case something to test Windows apps and websites on.


If one day your Surface Go decides to die, you can download Windows VMs[1] from Microsoft and run those on whatever device you use to develop websites and apps.

[1] https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/v...


Yeah I've used those for a long while. They're just not the same as having a physical device, ya know?


We are saving so much on hosting since migrating from framework on Win to .NET Core on Linux and more so with 2.1. Performance and low latency on much lighter hardware; very well done.


I think this is entirely due to backwards compatibility.


Are you suggesting that Windows requires about 3700 additional MB of RAM to be backwards compatible with Windows versions that ran on devices with 32MB RAM?


I think this is entirely due to backwards compatibility.

That's the current conventional wisdom. But it's more like an excuse.

Windows got bloated because Microsoft relied(s) on cheap masses of mediocre programmers, backed by equally mediocre managers. A pattern that Windows application developers copied.

Yes, Microsoft has some really talented people. I knew a good number of them from the Bing and Xbox group when I lived in Bellevue. They would talk about amazing things. But then they would always follow those tales with internal Microsoft horror stories.


This isn't true at all. The ENTIRE industry had to re-invent itself MANY times - and MANY companies failed and have long since shutdown. Microsoft on the other hand has survived - and not only maintained backwards compatibility but embraced new technologies - and is doing so at a breakneck pace today.

Microsoft research is a top notch research company. Microsoft is also a large, if not the largest, contributor to Linux & Open source.

Horror stories aren't unique to Microsoft... The industry of the 80s/90s and early 2000s was something i'd never want to go back to - but its also something i suffered through and that suffering didn't matter what OS you ran. If you chose Irix it sucked paying 600 bucks for MEDIA to update your OS, if you ran HPUX it sucked having to buy a support contract to update your OS, if you ran Solaris, you were proud of solaris - but it wasn't until sun embraced open source that it really took off because we didn't have to buy a compiler that cost hundreds of dollars if not thousands to license.

Meanwhile, Windows has TurboC, TurboPascal and tons of stuff - and open source gnu started taking off and linux came around and the world started getting better for everyone- opportunity opened up - we crossed the chasim from 8 bit to 16 bit to 32 bit and 64bit and Windows has maintained a level of compatibility second to none to support all that legacy.

They're working hard to compete - Windows "S" mode is windows without the ability to stall win32 - its "Store mode" - it could go a LONG way into making it "suck less" from legacy cruft but by and large the market and developers are refusing to support it - which is odd considering they NEED to support the store model for official chromebooks, android apps or ios marketplaces.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.


> Microsoft is also a large, if not the largest, contributor to Linux & Open source.

I always hear things like this. What exactly are they contributing though?

> Windows has maintained a level of compatibility second to none to support all that legacy

As far as I can tell, if you want to run a legacy Windows app, you're more likely to be successful running it in Wine on Linux.


>I always hear things like this. What exactly are they contributing though?

Their employees contribute tons of code to the kernel and they're a premium partner in the Linux foundation paying Linus's salary. They contribute to the kernel, hadoop, mesos, k8s, they contribute to gcc, heck they let you run linux on windows now with Linux subsystem and have official partnerships with redhat, suse, ubuntu. They also open sourced C#, they contribute to jenkins, so much mroe.

>As far as I can tell, if you want to run a legacy Windows app, you're more likely to be successful running it in Wine on Linux.

no sane person would do that. Just run it in compatibility mode on Windows 10.


> Their employees contribute tons of code to the kernel and they're a premium partner in the Linux foundation paying Linus's salary....

Linus wasn't starving before MS became a platinum member of the Linux Foundation.

> They contribute to the kernel, hadoop, mesos, k8s, they contribute to gcc, heck they let you run linux on windows now with Linux subsystem...

Right, so as far as I can tell most of their contribution are likely to be things to make their linux subsystem work better. Which has very little effect on me.

> >As far as I can tell, if you want to run a legacy Windows app, you're more likely to be successful running it in Wine on Linux.

> no sane person would do that. Just run it in compatibility mode on Windows 10.

Mentioning sanity and running Windows 10 in the same breath?


Where do people like you come from? 20-year grudges, personal biases and so much hate/spite for something you know literally nothing about and would never use... Why?

Chromebooks are great. Windows 10 is great. My Macbook is great. We have TONS Of great computing devices and choices today. Use an iphone, use an android, use a stick phone, i don't give a crap.

What i do get appalled at is all this hate, misinformation and projection of personal biases and preference as "matter of fact".. its bull crap and ya know it.


What do I literally know nothing about? I spent way too many years using Windows (not knowing any better), so I know more about it than I care to. I'm not sure how mentioning Wine's capabilities is hate in any case. But I'm happy to learn about whatever I may be mistaken about.

Edit: Ah, I realise what the 'hate' remark is about, my comment about Windows 10 and sanity. Here's my Windows 10 story - I was installing it on a 'game box' (since repurposed as a Linux workstation) off of a usb stick. In the middle of the installation, it complained about some sort of missing drivers (in a very opaque fashion). I wrote down the information and went off to the Internet for help, figuring, it's easy to help for Linux issues, so Windows issues like must be even easier, given its wide-use. But nothing I found made any difference. Until I came across a suggestion somewhere to unplug the usb at that point in time and plug it into another usb slot. I thought "that's silly and will never work". Of course, that was the solution. Note: it didn't matter which usb port it was plugged into initially, so it wasn't a 'usb3 drivers missing' issue or anything like that. For whatever reason, at that point in the installation, unplugging the usb and replugging it in made Windows 10 'see' the drivers. I spent way too many hours on such a silly (and still to me opaque) problem. Thus I don't really associate Windows 10 with sanity. (And I won't mention my experience with the official Microsoft Store and malware.)


Horror stories aren't unique to Microsoft

So because other companies also did sucky things, Microsoft’s sucky things don’t count.

Got it.


Never said that, it's just apparent you hold a grudge because of actions so long ago that even though they have changed, you won't.

You're ignoring a massive amount of history (and current actions) to keep your jaded worldview and that sucks.


Maintaining backwards compatibility makes improvement harder. But I lay the blame mainly at the feet of culture. It has been a company run by the sales department. Programmers are not in charge. Speed and stability come with leisurely refactoring, an activity impossible to explain to business and marketing majors.


Except wine can now run more windows program then any version bof windows.

Wine better at windows than windows itself.


Can WINE run on Windows eg via WSL?


Wine can probably run on Windows natively.


Absolutely not. All the bloat 10 ships that makes it so slow is completely new. Compatibility has almost nothing to do with bloat.


How can compatibility not have to do with bloat? Entire subsystems in Windows are devoted to backwards compatibility. If you follow Raymond Chen’s blog on MSDN, he talks all of the time about all of the hacks in Windows to make it compatible with one specific program.

There is still a 32 bit version of Windows in 2018.


There are a few hacks here and there that, I assume, introduce a bit of overhead, but the real problem with 10 is the absolute disregard the Windows team has for performance.

Windows 7 has the same level of compatilibity (or perhaps even more, as I'm sure more software is compatible with it) but it's much lighter.


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