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Google Hardware makes cuts to laptop and tablet development, cancels products (arstechnica.com)
205 points by cattlefarmer 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 264 comments

Please build me a Linux laptop for software engineering, Google.

For engineers only. No software support beyond ensuring the BIOS and the drivers work and are updated.

I hate Dell, but I got a Dell XPS 15 because it was the only laptop I knew would: boot Linux reliably; last two Ubuntu LTS upgrades (4 years); have a high spec (i9 etc); and was reasonably priced (Apple tax was 50% higher for worse hardware).

Is it impossible to make a laptop better than Dell or Apple? Google: how much goodwill would you receive through developer love? Why do I have to pay for Windows when the OS division seems to be actively working against making my work easier? Google, you have the skills and size to make a secure laptop.

Google, maybe it is because most of your engineers internally just need a good terminal, instead of a fast laptop?

I'm not sure I understand what your issue with the Dell is. I mean I have a Dell XPS 15. It's... fine, I guess.

As for the so-called "Apple tax", I just don't buy into this. I mean I miss the glory days of the 2011-2012 Macbook Airs. These were so cheaply priced they destroyed the competition because no one could produce a similar spec laptop at that price point. But then the numbers men decided dropping the average ASP for Macbooks was "bad" so they had to invent new features nobody needed or wanted to drive up the cost (Touchbar being the poster child) but for the hardware you get, it's actually pretty good. Or it was.

> Is it impossible to make a laptop better than Dell or Apple?

It's clearly not trivial.

> Google: how much goodwill would you receive through developer love?

Based on the bubble that is HN the answer is clearly "absolutely none". Just look at Chrome adding DDG as a search engine option. Where in that thread do you see people saying "this is great"? No, the top comments are littered with theories about how this is just an effort to avoid antitrust or other such ulterior motives.

I guarantee you that if Google produced the laptop that you and 22 other people would buy you'd hear nothing but complaints about it.

> I guarantee you that if Google produced the laptop that you and 22 other people would buy you'd hear nothing but complaints about it.

Counterpoint: I know plenty of happy developers that own multiple Nexus and Pixel products, without bagging them. Engineers want good hardware and many are willing to pay for quality.

> As for the so-called "Apple tax"

For as close to equivalent as I could get (specification, reliability, etc) the equivalent Apple cost 50% more than the XPS 15. Paying 50% extra for an OS I don't need makes no sense for my situation. Paying for an unused Windows license for the XPS was unavoidable (I have our own licenses for the Windows VMs we need for testing).

> It's clearly not trivial [to make a laptop better than Dell or Apple]

The Google hardware I have experienced has mostly impressed me (even if third party, they have mostly enforced quality constraints). Although I have owned a Nexus with a design flaw, I would consider buying a Pixel (although at present I find the Nokia gives me better bang for my hard earned buck).

I agree, I really loved my Nexus 5 and original Pixel. I'm a huge fan of Google's industrial design.

It'd be really nice to have a well-made laptop where Linux is a first-class citizen. It's not even about the $whatever it costs to ship it with a Windows license, though that's significant for some/most - it's more the principle of it for me. I don't want Windows to be the default OS and I just couldn't live with myself supporting that. I also don't want a Windows logo key to have to see every day.

> Paying for an unused Windows license for the XPS was unavoidable

The website gives you the option to save $90 if you have them install linux on the XPS 13. I suspect you may be able to call and get the same deal on the XPS 15. At least when I was buying from them 20 years ago you could do that...

AFAIK XPS 15 doesn't come with a Linux option (and for me, I bought it through a reseller who had a black Friday deal, so I wouldn't have had the option).

That's correct, you may in fact order an XPS 13 pre-installed with Ubuntu from Dell. But you won't find an XPS 15 model with that option. I couldn't find it in January when I went to buy mine.

Have you kept up with the Pixelbook development? Chrome OS is pretty great for general "cloud" work (AWS management for example). It runs containerized Android apps (which I use to run the native Gmail app to fly through my inbox).

But that's nothing compared to the new stuff. It runs containerized linux with a great abstraction layer that connects GUI calls from linux into the beautiful hi-dpi Chrome OS desktop environment (I think it's still called "Aurora"?)

It's still in beta, but they're almost ready to add: - USB support (obviously important here, but they want you to be able to develop android apps on it) - Sound from linux container -> hardware speakers (I believe this is in beta channel now though?) - graphic acceleration (also is in early testing, canary branch maybe?) - backup/restore functionality (lose your laptop? get a new one and restore your container)

All of this in one of the sexiest laptops with the best keyboard of any of the ~5 machines I own for $999

I've been using it as my main development machine (a complicated electronJS app that windows substate on linux choked on) and all the backend/database work for over a year and I love it. You could get it on sale for $699, too.

Main complaint? If you need to do a lot of work in VM's. You currently can't spin up a Windows VM or anything very easily, but rumor has it they're working on letting you dualboot in the future.

I freaking love this machine. They should pay me to evangelize but I promise they don't :)

The main downsides are the wimpy processors, soldered ram, storage and wifi cards, poor repairability, non upstreamed code.

Mostly it's the keyboard that pisses me off on the pixel books

The keyboard on the pixelbook has been regarded as one of the best keyboards on a laptop nearly everywhere I've read! It's the only non-mechanical keyboard I like!

I bought the low spec Pixelbook and gave it to my daughter. I replaced it with the high spec Pixelbook for myself. She since replace her Pixelbook with a 32gb 15 inch Dell XPS i9 for VM work specifically.

Prior to this, I gave my mom Chromebooks after she kept calling me for tech support for virus infestations, and it worked well.

Working with the Pixelbook, I totally agree with the VM bit. I would love to run Vagrant, MiniKube, KubeFlow, etc. The Linux emulation is good, but It's Google. 'We' can do it better. They probably did, but missed the adoption / backwards compatibility curve.

I hung out with a ChromeOS dude last weekend and he told me about how the Linux emulation is controlled by 'vsh' using their own replacement for QEMU, and inside that is an LXC container. Great for security, and I believe him. I entered one of the system vm's and saw LXC/LXD. The security seems great, but again, I can't do what I want to do. I felt dumb asking him about my 'emacs' in the ChromeOS Linux emulation. It always had a huge title bar on the top that took a bunch of the little screen real estate available. His answer was 'hit the full screen' button. I felt dumb. Usability for us dumb engineers will sell your product. Apple has abandoned the engineer market. The XPS flexible, but the Pixelbook is still sexy. I can't get my son to take my daughter's Pixelbook though, so maybe I am just old.

As the article says "A report from Business Insider claims that Google has axed 'dozens' of employees from its laptop and tablet division."

I would love a Pixelbook, but I need a laptop if I want to work while travelling - I often end up with poor cellular data (or none at all!).

Does having both a laptop and a pixelbook make sense?

Work also bought a device to get satellite data - so that we can do operational support while in "remote" areas in New Zealand (plenty of areas we go to that lack mobile coverage) or when travelling overseas.

> I would love a Pixelbook, but I need a laptop if I want to work while travelling

I don't follow. Pixelbook is a laptop! It's actually the only one I travel with

What is it about Dell that you hate? Anyways, Thinkpads are also held in high esteem for running Linux. I'm currently using a Dell XPS (2016 model) at home and a Thinkpad at my current customer project, both running Ubuntu 16.04, and I can recommend both. I chose the Thinkpad over a MacBook Pro, and would do again, but the display and touchpad is no match to Dell's, much less Apple's; that's however no problem because the thing is hooked on a docking station/two monitors/external keyboard.

Three gripes with my Dell XPS13.

1) The docking station is horribly buggy. If I unplug it to take my laptop somewhere and then plug it back in, I have to do a full reboot or none of the USB peripherals on the docking station get power. Monitors, power, ethernet all still work through the docking station after being plugged back in. Dell support took 4hrs of my time installing/uninstalling drivers and firmware updates before finally giving up and sending me a new one. Which suffers the exact same issue. So I can buy a different brand of docking station, not take my laptop anywhere, or constantly reboot my machine.

2) Rebooting takes forever then fails. Every single time. After 8-10 minutes of sitting on the blue "Rebooting" screen it finally crashes and tells me something went wrong while rebooting. Every single time.

3) Sleep still doesn't work about a third of the time. If I put my machine to sleep through the Windows start menu and wait for all the various indicators to power off before closing the lid, there's a good chance that when I boot up tomorrow, the battery has fully drained and the machine has to boot back with all my applications closed down and context lost.

It makes me miss my Thinkpad.

All 3 of these issues appear to be related to one common variable.. Windows. I have a Dell XPS 13 9360 8th Gen i5-8250u running Fedora 29 and I've never experienced any of these issues. Why don't you try another OS instead of blaming the hardware. If it continues with Ubuntu 18.04/18.10/Fedora 29 then contact Dell for support..

It's almost certainly a driver issue. Drivers that are provided by Dell. I'm not at all blaming the hardware for the issues. I'm blaming Dell.

To answer your question, I don't switch OS because the machine belongs to my employer and they set the rules. They say everyone runs Windows so I run Windows. It's actually a very usable OS.

You also seem to have missed the part where I spent 4 hours on the phone with Dell support already. Why would you expect that will be more successful with a different OS?

Not sure how far up the thread you've read, but this thread began because a person wanted a Laptop for running Linux. Hence the discussion of whether your complaints are Windows-only.

FWIW, my aforementioned Dell and the Thinkpad both are running Ubuntu flawlessly and without any reboots for months on end, as true workhorses should. In fact, out-of-the-box experience for Linux desktops with first-party support by manufacturers has never been better IMO.

agree 100%. every dell and thinkpad (and now thinkstation) I've installed ubuntu linux on for the past 3-4 years has worked flawlessly (wifi, sound, and gfx being the big three). What really impressed me was the Dell 5520 I had when working at Google- it had a nice nvidia card that was dedicated to running tensorflow training while the rest of the machine was perfectly usable for software development. All of this on battery.

I suggested Linux because all of your issues are specific to the OS that you are running. As previously mentioned, I have an XPS 13 9360 with 8th gen and none the issues you are complaining about. As for it being employer provided notebook, it may not be the drivers but some crap employer installed security software like Tanium that is causing the issue.

In the thunderbolt docks the issue is firmware updates.

not always. they actually removed a dock already because it was too faulty. it was the tb15. my colleague needed a motherboard upgrade and they replaced the tb15 with the new tb16 because it just couldn't handle what it should have. 2x 4k monitors, ethernet, usb and power over a single thunderbold cable. btw. the tb16 is mostly fine

The 9360 hardware sucks, too. Search "9360 coil whine". The CPU (i7) throttles all the time. The fan noise is intolerable. (I run Fedora 29 too)

This is all the stuff that puts me off trying (again) to get a Linux Laptop. I just don't want to bother with it!

I've (sadly) heard similar reports for Linux on Thinkpads (eg https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comments/9fos6i/x1_extreme... - and plenty of other reports on other models).

Did you intend to answer someone that is having troubles with Windows on their XPS?

Ubuntu 18.04 has been rock solid for me on the XPS, and it has been getting BIOS updates (and Linux has been getting device driver updates if I want to reinstall).

Linux worked perfectly on the Toshiba I had for the previous 4 years (I didn't buy it with Linux in mind, it just worked).

In my experience, Windows laptops often get "driver rot" over time (amongst other issues). As a developer I can usually fix the Windows issues, but it certainly is not a painless task.

Dell's XPS Windows drivers were particularly bad considering the sticker price - Windows blue-screened two clicks into the install after opening the box - and I had some other blue-screen problems that took me a while to resolve when I first got the laptop. I haven't booted into Windows after installing Ubuntu, and Ubuntu has given me far less trouble than Windows (on this machine).

How so? The only operating system mentioned in that post is Windows.

The Dell thunderbolt docks apparently simply don't work. I have a friend who's gone through a ton of Latitude hardware. Dell just can't make it work, period.

Depends on what model. The IT department gave me a dock and I couldn't get it to work with my Dell laptop. It was insufficient to charge the laptop, and I got tired of trying. Later a BIOS update plus driver changes will get it working on windows, and there are people successfully here using their dell thunderbolt dock with Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.

Ultimately, I gave up and bought an intel nuc with an M2 SSD and plenty of ram. It just works.

Believe it or not, I was actually talking about on Windows. :)

Works mostly fine on XPS 15 + Linux + KDE. Quirks are on KDE end mostly.

^+1 for Thinkpads running Linux. Switched from MBPs to these a year ago, never going back.

Do you actually use your computer unplugged?

yeah, but not for extended periods -- so I dunno how the battery'd do for daily working-at-a-cafe or similar. I do always carry a spare battery tho

And once you learn to love the TrackPoint, the touchpad won’t matter any longer.

That’s not true. My work laptop has been a ThinkPad for the last five years, and while I like the TrackPoint for some things, I use the precision touchpad on my X1C6 more. Modern touch pads have good heuristics for fine motions versus large sweeping motions. And the touchpad is way better for scrolling through documents or web pages.

Also use a thinkpad, X1 carbon from 2015.

Run Manjaro with gnome-shell (actually gnome-shell-performance until 3.32 is released). Its lightening quick, reasonably stable, good battery life.

I also tried KDE, which works quite well, but the battery life was quite poor and I find the general KDE experience abrupt.

Now my 2017 mbp just gathers dust, never going back.

Have you looked at Thinkpad? You could run linux on Carbon X1 and have ultra-mobile package with i7. $1500 but you have one of the best laptops in the market in my view - keyboard, screen, size, weight, feel, specs, battery life, etc. I own the latest Macbook Pro 15 and Carbon X1 6th gen. I want to pick up my thinkpad more than the MacBook. I find Aluminum not a good material for laptops - it is uninviting, heavy and cold to touch. Thinkpad Carbons use magnesium and carbon fiber body thats light and coated with soft touch paint. It is just fantastic.

The new X1 Carbon is not a good Linux machine. Some hardware just doesn’t work (built in LTE). Then there is a bunch of manual configuration required to fix various things, e.g. throttling. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Lenovo_ThinkPad_X1_Carb...

You are overstating the price differential.

I'm seeing $2182 Thinkpad vs $2599 MacBook Pro--choices driven by WQHD display, 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD. Processor on the Pro is significantly faster, the display on the Mac has slightly higher resolution. Maybe not $400 worth of difference, but certainly almost $200 or so.

And I still can't buy an i5 laptop with 32GB of RAM.

Lenovo, like Apple, charges a ridiculous markup on SSDs. However, unlike with a Macbook Pro their laptops are user serviceable.

If you want a 1TB SSD and know how to use a screwdriver, you can save $250 by buying the SSD yourself. If you're willing to start with a 256GB SSD and hold off on upgrading until you actually outgrow your storage space, you could save even more.

The question is for how long will the serviceability stay this way. Lenovo is switching to one soldered RAM slot and o in the new ThinkPad generation. [1]

I own a ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2016) and except the battery life I'm extremely happy with it. Maybe I will switch to a MacBook in the future but the keyboard is a turn off (No F-keys and no Home, End, Insert and Delete keys). On the other hand I like that Apple has only Thunderbolt 3 connectors and I like macOS.

[1] https://www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-2019-leak-Data...

> And I still can't buy an i5 laptop with 32GB of RAM.

Sure you can. Just buy a slightly older gen that's on par with an i5 on benchmarks, and max out the RAM on it. It's silly to limit yourself to new devices, when the best deals by far are found on the market for used/refurb ones.

I have no intention of comparing MacBook Pro specs to Thinkpad specs. I was merely pointing out the build quality of Thinkpad vs MacBook Pro.

That was the extent of the reason why I talked about MacBook Pro.

Also I bought my Thinkpad refurbed almost fully specced our for $1499 on eBay. i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, HDR 2.5k display, etc.

Mac comments aside, ThinkPads are fantastic for Linux. I'm running Arch on my T460. You can find a used ThinkPad in pretty much every price range on eBay.

How do you compare the battery life against the two?

All day. 10-12 hour battery life easily.

I also opened the chassis and added Liquid Metal (Grizzly) TIM. The little i7 stays pegged at 4 GHz without throttling and presumably also improves battery life.

I can run all day using Arch + vim, running tests, etc. Roughly 10-12 hours on my X1 Carbon Gen 5

If you're willing to afford some depth to your laptop, a dual battery T400 series will get you 12+ hours of video.

Do you need a fast laptop? No one I know actually does (although I’m sure some people do). Text editing and web browsing don’t require much horsepower. In my opinion, compiling shouldn’t happen on a laptop in the first place: this is why one of my friends has a mega-sized server than he just runs builds and trains ML models on.

An old laptop will run any Linux distro flawlessly and be equally snappy (as in, low-latency disk reads, fast boot times, many applications open) as a current-gen one if you put in a fast SSD and max out the RAM.

I know that this topic is controversial, but it strikes me as odd how many people seem to equate software engineering with a monster laptop, when many of us get lots of work done on smaller, less beefy client devices, offloading the real heavy lifting to a machine that can handle it.

It is simply that my time is expensive.

For the $1000 it costs for a faster laptop, work gets many thousands of dollars back due to more efficient development.

I could waste time optimising disk space, waiting for compiles (the developer tools we use need single-core CPU performance), enchancing the performance of development tools, waiting for VMs to boot, waiting for Windows VM to update, waste time shutting down that VM I am not currently using. Yes, I could waste time switching to other tasks while I am waiting for whatever it is I am waiting for.

I travel, and while travelling work gets some development time out of me because it is a laptop and not a workstation. A terminal is no use when I am in an area with poor cellular data connectivity (e.g. most planes).

Work definitely wins on this whole equation.

> For the $1000 it costs for a faster laptop, work gets many thousands of dollars back due to more efficient development.

In that case, why are you looking for a “reasonably priced” laptop? The Apple tax is indeed 50% or more, but it should be a straightforward decision if it fits your other requirements.

Sure, there are diminishing returns; but I don’t see why you wouldn’t spring up $3000 for a maxed out Macbook, considering the cost is still orders of magnitude less than what your business brings in. Unless you really hate the touch bar?

Macbook is a very poor choice for developer because of the keyboard without Escape key. I tried to use keyboard without Esc and it's simply too painful to use.

I don't care about the tax. But I can't buy a tool built for aliens by aliens. I could adapt to all the crazy keyboard changes all manufacturers tried over the years. But removing Esc key makes it completely unusable.

For vim? I'm not a vim user but most of them just rebind it to something better, right?

I use emacs/intellij and almost never have had the need to use the Esc key for anything at all.

I use vim. I do map Esc to caps lock, but it’s muscle memory to reach for Esc at this point, so it’s still difficult to justify the touch bar. Thankfully I use a Macbook (not Air, not Pro), which I (affectionately) call the SSH machine.

Mostly for vim, yes. I can't remap it to CapsLock, because I'm Russian and I already use CapsLock for switching keyboard layouts for 20+ years.

Sorry, I shouldn't have been inflammatory with "Apple tax". We spent more than $3000, and we are not particularly price sensitive (I was buying the maxed-out configuration, not mid-range). At the time I bought it, the XPS 15 has a better specification than what I could choose from Apple (in New Zealand).

I spent a few hours looking, and I did seriously consider buying the top-spec Apple available. I do use MacOS at work sometimes, although I prefer Linux, and I came from a Windows background.

The Dell appeared to have better drivers for Linux than the Macbook Pro, and the XPS has been a good purchase (rock solid so far, no issues).

Not OP, but: This is actually why I’m looking at used/refurb MBP for my next purchase probably within the next few months.

At home I’m still on an i5 13” 2013. It’s still running great for everyday uses. Probably aiming for a 2015-ish era 15” i7 or so with double the RAM.

They run in the neighbourhood of $1400 or $1900 CAD. I imagine there are even more resources for that kind of purchase in the US.

I might bite the bullet yet for a newer machine but the Touch Bar is honestly a big turn off for me. Or rather the Touch Bar is fine but the lack of dedicated function keys is a turn off. Have considered adapting by remapping some keys but the price is also a factor.

"Apple Tax?" When I purchased my last beefy workstation, I looked at Dell, HP, IBM, and clones. When I purchased my 2008 8-core workstation, Apple was hands down the cheapest option. It lasted 10 years until I finally decommissioned it (no more OS updates and slow 3GBps disk I/O). With the last upgrade of PCI SSDs, it still performs just as well if not better than any new laptops I've used.

> one of my friends has a mega-sized server than he just runs builds and trains ML models on

I built my first desktop computer to do this recently. I can definitely recommend it, even for local server development. It's nice to be able to have a version of a codebase running on the remote machine so my local laptop stays cool while I'm testing.

I recommend Dell's Alienware (AW) laptop if you need a machine with good specs that can reliably run Linux. I have been a happy Ubuntu user on AW for a while. Great options for hardware, built like a tank, and can run simulations/experiments for days without heat warping problems* (this was my primary requirement). Downsides are it is clunkier than the competition (personally I am now used to it) and the battery backup isn't great.

* I once started a set of experiments, drove off for a short 3 day vacation, and returned to see everything was still running smoothly. Which frankly I hadn't expected.

I have used a few different system76 laptops with Ubuntu LTS pre-installed (you can opt-out of Pop!OS, whatever that is!). They've been just fine for my purposes.


I am in New Zealand (we are far away from everything!) and I wanted something that at least had the potential to be supported locally.

Hey most Intel Chromebooks now support Crostini i.e. you can run native Linux programs . It runs in a VM under the hood and it's well integrated with the outside OS. Give it a shot.

I would love to, but how many Chromebooks have an i9, 32GB of RAM and 1TB SSD?!

(I wrote another comment for why I use a high-spec laptop: basically multiple VM's and greedy development tools).

Maybe a dumb question. But why run those VM's (or the development tools) strictly locally? I have a small server at home for that. Or alternatively there are free tiers on GCP/AWS/Azure. The advent and maturity of WebAssembly/PWA, could help there as well. But we're not there yet obviously.

As a developer who has repeatedly tried and given up on linux on laptops, a Pixelbook with crostoni has been the first that I have been extremely happy with. Everything I use just works pretty much as it should.

> Is it impossible to make a laptop better than Dell or Apple?

I don't know about impossible, but they've both been building laptops for a long time and they have large market shares, so if it was easy to build better laptops than theirs someone probably would have done it by now so it's probably really hard.

IMO the best (or one of the best) for Linux :

Thinkpad Carbon X1 6th gen (or 7th now?)

I only wish it was sold without Windows so I can save $30-40 on the win license.

Other than that, freaking perfect laptop that rivals a macbook (I will admit that the mac trackpad is slightly better... but this one is pretty damn good)

I will definitely look at getting a Thinkpad next time.

I needed a laptop (I try to refresh every 4 years in time with Ubuntu LTS releases), and the Dell met my requirements at the time, so that was what I got.

I looked at getting an Macbook Pro, but I was worried about the keyboard issues (I do use the laptop keyboard), and I had read about Linux driver issues.

The keyboard is one of the best things about Thinkpads :)

My dream is Thinkpad keyboard + macbook trackpad... I can dream...

Mine is thinkpad 7 row keyboard and trackpoint on a Macbook pro.

I don't think either of us are getting one for Xmas. If I had become founder of a unicorn I'd have had one custom made by now...

Dell literally makes that laptop in the form of the developer editions. I had one and it was great. I have a Lenovo now and it sucks (work).

They make the XPS 13" in a developer edition, but literally Dell do not make an XPS 15" developer edition model. I prefer a slightly bigger screen when working while travelling (in fact I would probably go for a 17" if it only cost an extra 0.5kg).

You can get the Precision 15" with Linux. However I was quoted a price 2 times as much as the XPS 15 with a lower spec, less community support, and I was quoted it with 16.04 installed in Jan 2019 (presumably only 16.04 officially supported? Hard to get information when we are only a small business).


Not to start the flame war, but whats the appeal of Linux for software engineering, if you want the "it just works" approach of designed from the ground up experience?

Don't Chrome books provide you what you need for software engineering?

What's the appeal of laptops for software engineering? Tiny screens and attached keyboards are a recipe for hand and spine problems.

I work remotely and travel a lot for work. At home and at my office (coworking) I have a keyboard and monitor.

I'm not following. OP asked for a linux based software engineering laptop.

The ones available are not hitting the mark.


You want a couple things for an engineering laptop: Linux support, good hardware (screen, keyboard, build, trackpad, etc), and enterprise guarantees.

XPS sort of does that, but you're still dealing with Dell which has it's own hiccups (variable build quality, archaic sales methods, etc.), also the XPS line isn't quite commercial grade. Thinkpads typically have good Linux support, but sometimes as with these last 6th gen X1's it takes some work to get it right.

The hard part is ultimately enterprise reliability. I want to confidence I can buy 2000 of these for my army of engineers and not overload IT with issues. This kind of support is common enough, but not necessarily for Linux laptops. Hell it'd probably be easier with Linux, the issue is more if the market is big enough to support the operational costs of enterprise support.

I had assumed people who wanted to run linux were okay with dealing with driver hardware jank, and were more or less comfortable with the tuning and customization required to get the hardware to work as they desired.

For those who just wanted a machine that "just worked" Windows based and Apple laptops would suffice, the latter having the power of a unix based OS underneath.

I had assumed people who wanted to run linux were okay with dealing with driver hardware jank, and were more or less comfortable with the tuning and customization required to get the hardware to work as they desired.

This is absolutely not the case. I can't emphasize it enough.

I don't mind Macs and OSX, but I would like some different options. I like Ubuntu (run it on my desktop) but I refuse to play the driver/customization game.

I want everything to just work.

There are a lot of people that would like to run Linux but don't want to deal with hardware problems. That and software compatibility are the biggest pushbacks by far.

> whats the appeal of Linux for software engineering, if you want the "it just works" approach

For one thing, Linux-based OS's like Debian GNU/Linux absolutely follow the "it just works" mantra - if the OS installs properly in the first place and does what you need it to, you can expect it to be rock solid with few or no future issues. Plus, they tend to work for a lot more time than the 5 years max that Chrome OS does (or Mac OS, for that matter). That's simply invaluable in this day and age.

Not really when one's work is related to graphics programming.

I bought a System76 laptop with a 1070 GPU last fall and so far I love it. Hard to explain but I just feel happy using it and having a GPU for machine learning is a big win.

I have two still serviceable MacOS laptops but I don’t think I will buy any more. But, I love Apple Watch and iPhone - probably be a customer of those products for a long time.

Alas whilst there are many who crave such a device, as a market, it is still niche for a sole target. Dell, offer you the option of Linux, more so, drivers. Yet, they still offer the laptop for the windows end user at the other end of the spectrum. That end also has larger market.

For me, wouldn't it be great if laptop shells had a universal connector you could plug the mainboard of choice via an edge connector, be that ARM, X86, MIPS,????. Certainly make laptops more upgradable and save upon production costs with a standard laptop mainboard form factor.

> Google, maybe it is because most of your engineers internally just need a good terminal, instead of a fast laptop?

Admittedly it's about 6 years since I interviewed there, but when I did, there were a number of engineers in my loops who were using chromebooks.

They found it more than sufficient for their needs.... I can see that, I guess. I'm assuming the bulk of the "heavy lifting" happened outside of the context of the chromebook.

Google has an internal cloud-based IDE which is quite popular, so it's possible to do all work in cloud. Otherwise you can ssh into your desktop. Either way Googlers are not allowed to store source code on a laptop.

There are some Engineers who use a Chromebook, but most have a Macbook. I think Linux is more common than Chromebooks.

But honestly, why would you choose a chromebook if you can also get a macbook?

FYI: Google employees can currently choose between a MacBook Pro, Pixelbook or Lenovo X1 Carbon with Linux as their laptop.

If you don't like Dell, three options are Lenovo, Purism, and System76. I'm personally quite happy with my thinkpad.

Do any of these options have a case that feels sturdy? It seems a little silly describing it this way, but one of the reasons I keep coming back to macbooks is the aluminum case. I want good specs, but my lizard brain also wants a laptop which doesn't feel like a flimsy plastic toy.

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition is a good laptop.

Ah, fair enough. I think Purism cases are all-metal. I have not touched one though -- going to once they release a 32GB model.

System76's Oryx Pro has an aluminum case.

> last two Ubuntu LTS upgrades (4 years);

What does 'last' mean? Any laptop should 'last' 8+ years.

> have a high spec (i9 etc);

I really don't see the point of high-spec laptops for development use. Higher end, high power components just make the batter life worse - reducing the entire point of a mobile device. And you're paying a premium for the mobile version.

A much better option is to have a beefy linux desktop that you perform work on remotely. There is very little reason to locally compile code on a laptop. The economics work much better IMHE... If you have a $2000 budget for instance, you can build a $1300 desktop and buy a $700 laptop which gives you much more power and flexability than buying a single $2000 laptop. So yes, I do think many Google engineers just need a portable terminal to connect to beefy VM's remotely. If you are often working on a mobile internet connection, Mosh works very well for high latency connections.

The $2000 laptop makes sense if you want to game while traveling and/or are using Windows where offloading work to a remote machine is a bit more clunky than just using X11 forwarding and/or tmux over SSH.

I do some of my work where there is no internet (except satellite). I happen to be CPU/memory/SSD bound for some of my development work. A four year old 4k laptop with equivalent speed and battery life!? - this one will pay for itself fairly soon by improving my productivity.

The 8950HK processor is fast[1] and NVMe is way faster than SATA.

I just use the integrated Intel GPU (I don't play games on my work laptop. If I were to play games, I would use a dedicated gaming rig or console).

I am expecting that in 4 years time I can get equivalent improvements to productivity by getting a replacement laptop (or even better, retire to a pacific island!).

[1] Benchmarks are not the answer, but anyway: https://browser.geekbench.com/processors/2145#family-64-sing...

Laptops with GPUs tend to be power-hungry and expensive. But the middle ground of a laptop and an external GPU has a good shot at getting even more power per dollar, having sufficient battery life, and still being quite portable.

This doesn't fit with Google's product direction (charitably, the cloud; less charitably, a data vacuum), business direction (supporting the ad business), or the way they see the world (opinionated).

Is the world filled with that many 15" i9 laptops nowadays m that your problem is really Linux compatibility and the price? I had a hard enough time finding a reasonable quad core a year ago.

https://mntre.com/reform/ You may like the sound of this.

From what I hear most devs aren’t allowed to check out code locally (unless they do mobile development) and instead use a web ide.

FWIW, I just upgraded my Thinkpad for a newer one at work (Google, running GLinux/Debian). Seems great so far.

With WSL in Windows 10, a lot of the reasons for booting Ubuntu go away. Check it out if you haven't.

The big problem with WSL is that I can't run a different window manager, which is probably one of the biggest benefits of Linux anyways.

Personally, I can't live without focus-follows-mouse. That way, I can type and click on a window that is under another one.

No goodwill. Only heap of comments on how that is another way to suck user information in to Google ecosystem.

I've had good luck with the HP zbook studio line. The latest g5 version is quite polished and high end.

Would you be interested in open hardware doing exactly what you asked for ?

The move comes after the group received pressure to turn Google Hardware into "a real business" from higher-ups at Google/Alphabet -- the squeeze continues unabated :-)

Its too bad, since the Pixelbook is pretty nice and with actual investment it could have been something much more than it is, but alas it would not have the margins search advertising does. Back in the 90's I met the head of Xerox's PARC after he had given a talk on innovation. One of the challenges he saw was that gardening innovation was like gardening crops, which was to say it was very hard to know when sprouts had one leaf out of the ground which were weeds and which were crops. Ideas were the same way, you need to nurture them to at least adolescence before you can reasonably decide if they are going to go on to be great or not so great.

From the outside, Google appears to be at that stage where they have not learned how to nurture an idea to see if it will be great or not before killing it.

As an Xoogler, I can tell you that promising products that "will never be a billion-dollar business" get killed all the time. $100M in projected revenue? Yawn. Kill it.

The odd part is that this doesn't select for billion-dollar businesses, it selects for billion-dollar businesses that can be developed with revenue growth that doesn't pass through $100m for more than x-years. Essentially billion dollar rev with discontinuous growth through lower revenue - this seems unnecessarily constrained for any business that plans to be around for the long haul.

Another way to look at it is, how good is your estimator of a billion dollar market, vs how good the estimator of the same is with a prior that the good/service can make at least $100M?

That was true when I was there as well. Organically Google needs to figure out how to create 100M businesses within itself that pay for the organizations that enable them, and staff them for long term success. Doing so would incrementally add a small bit of margin for each one. I expect though they are caught up in scarcity thinking, which leads to bad choices overall.

> $100M in projected revenue? Yawn. Kill it.

They should at least tell us what those projects are so someone can pick up the scraps.

Google inbox. Please. Anyone?

Although I love Inbox, it had no chance of being a $100 million dollar business. It would have been lucky to clear $10 million, even ignoring the fact that nearly all of its revenue would be cannibalized from gmail itself.

The odd part is that they developed a successful blueprint for how to beat their existing Gmail product and are apparently walking away from it. Anecdotal, but I don't know anyone who I introduced Inbox to that does not prefer it to standard Gmail. I wish they would focus their consolidation efforts on their awful messaging mess and leave Inbox alone.

Ah, but worry not, they've introduced many of the Inbox features back into Gmail! Except, you know, they didn't implement bundling, probably the single most useful feature of Inbox.

(If anyone can't tell, this is incredibly frustrating for me, since Inbox is going away soon.)

Ugh, the decision to kill of Inbox is what frustrates me the most. I don't think I can go back to regular mail after this. I'd love a self-hosted Gmail client that functions identically to Inbox, though (and perhaps is pluggable to other mail providers).

I really didn't like Inbox at all.

How on earth does this make economic sense? Normal business operates on return on capital or margins, not overall size.

Google did over $100B in revenue last year. A $100M revenue product would move the needle 0.1%. And that's just revenue - it's pretty unlikely the net margins would beat Google's existing business lines. Meanwhile, it would require a significant amount of manpower, marketing, and support that would otherwise be spent on much larger profit centers. At a high level it just doesn't make sense - you'd need to be running dozens of such products to get any kind of return investors would care about, gumming up the org in the process.

That is what spin offs are for. Let it be an independent company that you still own 49% of. If it fails, at least you got to sell the 51% stake first. If it succeeds, you still own 49% of it.

That doesn't solve the underlying problems of profitability and minimal bottom line impact. A $100M company is unlikely to be profitable for several years, during which time Google has to spend money to get it off the ground and suffer a brain drain from existing profitable products to an unproven subsidiary. Meanwhile, "success" here would still mean < 1% impact to anything shareholders care about... years down the line. It makes more sense to just add some funding to Google Ventures.

Maybe that's opportunity cost working.

To me it feels like Engineering really delivered on the Pixelbook. That it didn't sell well was a marketing failure (not the first). So higher ups should take a real hard look in the mirror and work on developing a team that can brand and sell good products.

The Pixel slate didn't fair so well in all the reviews though.

The simple answer was it was overpriced and rather poor tablet experience. Does Google even care about tablets?

I got my 6 year old Pixel laptop out the bag in a client meeting today, used the touch screen to quickly scroll through some stuff and the non-tech crowd wanted to know what the machine was. Despite its age it still had wow factor. "You should get one of these!" - if only they knew it was 6 years old...

I passed up the opportunity to buy the new Pixelbook as the original Pixel still works nicely and I don't need Android on it particularly.

However, I think that Google have gone wrong with ditching the Pixelbook. There is a definite market for a decent developer machine that you can run Linuxii on that isn't a hack. Homebrew, Virtualbox, Ubuntu in Windows isn't ever native and the instructions are always less straightforward than with a stock Ubuntu or other regular distro.

From recent news there seems to be a small army of pissed off Mac users that want simple things like an escape key. There are also plenty of developers that don't really need Windows. The Dell developer XPS specials are very nice but the original Pixel and its descendants get a few things right, the 'no expense spared' 3x2 screen, nicest keyboard ever, best speakers ever and best trackpad going works for me.

Google should accept that their take on a 'developer machine' is going to be low volume but there is no reason why they can't make it pay its own way, really it is a matter of specification and not nickel-and-diming things like the keyboard.

If anything they should make the machine exclusive. Anyone can have a posh Apple computer but it is still just an Apple to people like the clients that I met today. Break out the Pixel though and even if you are just scrolling through a web page it has some impressive statement value to people who know nothing about computers.

I think the hardware division went the wrong way trying to make the Pixelbook 'for everyone' (rich). If they made it super cool with the ability to run a linux distro native as well as having ChromeOS/Android then they could have made something that Pixel laptop owners like myself would buy. Instead I run a regular PC for development.

I also think that if their developer machine was the de-facto thing for Google to use in house then that would make the machine aspirational to developers. If one were to be using the same hardware that Google designed for their developers then you would feel that you had the best going for Android/web development. A Dell machine doesn't quite have that kudos because nobody at Dell writes a lot of code.

My 6 year old Pixel laptop has been end-of-life'd by Google. I got notifications last year that they would not be releasing any further OS or security updates.

I also have a 2011 Macbook Air, and am still able to get OS and security updates.

Too bad they never had a fully supported way to install Linxu on it. I vaguely remember reading that google internally used a heavily modified Ubuntu for themselves. (or maybe just some custom repos)

You can go into the Chrome OS settings and click the button for Linux... after a few minutes of downloading/installation you're ready to go. I use it for development.



There is Crostini now. Basically a Linux VM that is integrated in the OS.

Yeah, no thanks. I barely trust Google with my cloud data. Using a Google hardware product? Lol.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming announcement of a Google game console in 2019 [0], and the subsequent announcement that it has been discontinued in 2022.

[0] https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2019/03/all-signs-point-to-a...

I used to believe in Google's ability to deliver quality devices: I bought the G2 when it first came out with its hardware keyboard, I've only owned Nexus and Pixel phones, and I've got Chromecasts in the house.

I'm also the owner of a Google Nexus Player - remember that device? I liked the idea of an Android TV / console for Android games. I bought 4 gamepads they were selling for it.

It was buggy. It was rarely updated. They stopped updates after about a year. Then it died unexpectedly - it didn't even last 2 years. Now I'm left with 4 bluetooth gamepads and a dead Nexus Player in a box in the basement.

It saddens me to say this, but I would never buy a device from Google again unless it's the second+ iteration in a successful line of products, and even then I would have to factor the chance that they'll discontinue it at any time.

There was some hiring mini surge around 2006 or so where Google seemed to hire a lot of my game development coworkers and they already cancelled whatever they were working on within three years.

Ha - I think you might be thinking about 2009-2011 or so. That was the Google+ effort (under VicG) and thinking that games (like it did with Facebook) would be a key driver of growth. I think this was also around the time of the bad $180M+ acquisition of Slide to get Max Levchin. Lots of folks used this "social games" and the Google+ track to launch stuff and get promoted quickly and then after it shuts down, find another place within the org where they can now hang out with the nice salary that comes with the promotions they got. :-)

Agreed. There's no way I'd buy a Google gaming console for this reason.

This is the issue with most Google products/services, period.

Literally nothing outside of Google's core services is trustworthy. Even their mail isn't entirely trustworthy! I've come to rely on Inbox and it's being killed for an inferior product.

It seems that the company is entirely unable to have a vision about anything.

Too big to dare might also be a good way to describe them. They are not going to dare making e.g. one great messaging product (or even 2 .. there are after all some niches like office communication). Instead they do 7 and see which one works.

Apparently launching a new product is also the only sure way to get a promotion at Google, not improving an existing one.

I am not an Apple fan-person by any means, but Steve Jobs had a Product philosophy that stuck with me many years after he described it:

You can't start with a cool technology and build a product / user experience around it; you have to start with a vision of a coherent user experience, and build the technology around _that_.

I think that's my biggest frustration with Google: they have interesting and really cool tech that is just way too fragmented. The structure of controlled chaos via launching many products as experiments and culling down to the "best" ones makes it difficult to provide consistent, cohesive experiences.

I think Google is bad at taking this advice because their original big success was a cool technology that they built a product / user experience around (their search tech).

> their original big success was a cool technology that they built a product / user experience around (their search tech).

i think it is other way around - they significantly improved existing pain point of bad web search user experience by applying and implementing what in its core is citation analysis that had long been used in academia. The other successes also seem to start with a task or need at hand not with a cool tech - while Android may have started as a vision, its purchase was a result of the need for mobile OS, Youtube guy wanted a place to publish videos, Chrome originating from Webkit is definitely not a cool tech, more like Google didn't have enough strength/balls to go with Mozilla while having pressing need for a browser to control, Maps and GMail were significant improvement upon existing user experience, while in contrast Google Wave for example was cool tech for completely new, from scratch user experience.

> You can't start with a cool technology and build a product / user experience around it; you have to start with a vision of a coherent user experience, and build the technology around _that_.

That's another way of saying don't build-out solutions looking for problems.

In the grand scheme of things, I think it is a good thing that Google, or any other big tech company, isn't dominating every product category.

Think about it: Google is dominating search and online advertising, they have the most popular web browser in the world, the most used mobile OS in the world, they have Youtube, Maps, Gmail, Chromebooks.

Now imagine if they also ruled messaging, social media, had the most used laptops and tablet in the world, were dominating on cloud, etc...

I cannot see that as being a good thing for consumer.

Or for Google: it would just build an antitrust case against themselves.

Sounds like a good reason not to buy new hardware from Google. They discontinue products too fast.

> They discontinue products too fast.

Fashionable trope, but apparently this is more about unreleased products not being released? Every company has these, software, hardware or otherwise.

I'm sorry, but I definitely don't see this behavior from Apple or Microsoft.

What are you talking about? Microsoft courier never launched, Microsoft band was cancelled, Microsoft Kin phones were killed, Windows Phones were killed, plus their entertainment division has lots of cancellations. Microsoft cancels things all the time.

Apple's got its own cancellations, maybe less noticeable stuff like their routers and cinema displays. But the photography world still mourns Aperture.

Well damn... I have my dev environment running very nicely in a Pixelbook via Crostini and love it.

Same here...crostini is awesome and I absolutely love the portability and keyboard/trackpad of the pixelbook.

Yea I would very much like Pixelbook development to continue, I'm loving it as a main dev device.

Building hardware is difficult. Like really difficult. More difficult that anyone expects it to be.

Sums up most of Kickstarter or any crowd funded hardware product that fails to launch. People get super excited about the prototype they built, but then come to realize that mass producing is way more difficult than anticipated. The money raised in crowd funding gets burned through faster than anticipated with the various iterations with each of their vendors.

As guess could be said of any startup though. Not just hardware.

Everyone assumes that designing a product for mass production must be easy since "industry" is a part of the "old economy" and thusly must have been so figured out that anyone can do it. The reality is that the past century of modern manufacturing development hasn't resulted in amazing amounts of simplicity just the same as how the "tech" world has only become more complex. The difference is one has a century of exponential complexity growth behind it while.the other has ~30 years of complexity growth in its modern era.

This is so true. Apple/Samsung make it look easy, with great reliable hardware every year. At work we had multiple google Pixel C tablets for dev reasons, and they were plagued with issues.

The biggest issue that I have with google is product sustainability -- if something doesn't seem to have "Hockey stick" levels of growth and use, google kills it.

Do I want to spend $500 on yet another google branded brick?

Does Google kill hardware often? What's the previous Google brick you can remember?

> Does Google kill hardware often?

Its killed several hardware projects (Nexus Q comes to mind immediately, though that only got into anyone's hands as a prerelease version at I/O 2012), but I don't know that any of those have involved bricking devices already sold (though cutting off software support and associated services may have reduced the potential lifespan for some, but that happens for old models from most makers even if the project isn't killed; Nexus Q, for instance, had support dropped in Google Play Music and Google Movies & TV in May and June of 2013.)

If we look at Alphabet and not just Google, there's the Revolv hub that was bricked. However they assured us that it's not the end... just the beginning of a new wonderful chapter in the journey of home automation, and sorry that the hardware we sold you doesn't work any more


That's a product that was made by a failed company that Google acquihired people from. And Google supported it well past when that company would have if they had died on their own.

Did people that bought it know that their "lifetime subscriptions" would end in less than 2 years, and that they'd only get 1 month's notice before their houses stopped working? You'd think that a company like Google would have the resources to keep a single VM running to support them, or do what other companies have done and release a firmware update that allows limited offline capabilities.

"Dozens" of employees may indicate a fairly small course correction rather than a change in direction.

The way I see it the only good pieces of Google Hardware are the Chromecasts (which are absolutely amazing devices, might be near perfection in terms of simplicity and price) and the Google Home (though that's still 2nd in the smart speaker market). Everything else is either niche (Google WiFi, which I forgot existed even as a techie) or a hanger on (Nest).

The Pixel/Nexus phones have been my only phone for the last several years. I'd put them on the good list too just for giving a good phone without having to use Samsung's OS and avoid their attempt to force Bixby on the world.

I do wish they'd give their Nexus/Pixel devices some longer support periods though.

The Lumia 950 was released at the same time as the Nexus 5X, and despite Windows 10 Mobile being dead, is receiving security updates for a full year longer than the Nexus.

I loved my Nexus 5... but the pixels have been incredibly disappointing in all respects save for the camera.

The price is high but they are really nice. I bought Pixel 1 on launch day and still have no desire to upgrade. (To be fair I have replaced the device a few times due to cracked glass but still a Pixel 1).

This could just be a slowdown in hardware needs thought. Good enough is sometimes good enough.

My Pixel 1 died for no reason 4 months after the warranty ended. Google Support basically said: "lol sucks". Repairing means dealing with a shitty third party service, and even the most trivial repair costs more than the device is worth.

For me the high price was totally not worth it. I have a Pixel 3 which I bought 4 months after release for 30% less than the release price. I was considering an iPhone, but the cheapest one they sell in Germany is 850€, which is a bad joke.

I got my Librem 5 devkit tough, and maybe, hopefully something will come out of that.

Pixelbook is actually really solid.

I used a Samsung Chromebook 2 (Exynos processor, 4GB RAM, 13 in. screen) as my primary laptop for a couple years. It was fast and quiet, but getting GNU/Linux running via Crouton meant jumping through hoops every time it powered off and back on.

I now use a Macbook, and really wonder why any developer would buy a Pixelbook vs. a Macbook. If you want to run GNU/Linux, you can install a VM, and otherwise you still have a functional OS.

Edit: I see the value proposition in $200-300 Chromebooks. I'm specifically puzzled by the Pixelbook, which starts at $999 (not much less expensive than a new Macbook Air).

Chrome OS comes with Linux VMs now. You can do most dev work with it

Do you have to enable developer mode, and if so, does it stay enabled between boots?

No, as I understand it, that was the "old way" of doing it. The "new way" (which I think is called Project Crostini) is much smoother.

I got a Pixelbook a couple months ago and it was as simple as going into the Chrome OS settings, clicking the button to enable Linux support, and then it sets you up with a terminal to Linux. I've had no issue accessing the Linux environment / apps between boots.

No. You don't. It's fully secure and the host OS is aware of it as a feature. You can see your Linux files in the Files app etc..

And yes it does stay enabled.

I bought a Samsung Chromebook 3 a couple of days ago and was able to get it to dual-boot Chrome OS and Linux with a little bit of effort. Overall, I'm reasonably satisfied with it, given that I put less than $200 into it.

Who do I have to kill to get a Nexus 7 (2020) model?

Would that be without the bad eeprom hardware AND a headphone jack?

What's wrong with Google nowadays? They seem completely unable or unwilling to invest in anything besides search for longer than 3-4 years. Completely untrustworthy at this point. I would never buy another Google product ever again.

Well, Google wanted to promote ChromeOS, and now it's killing it and slaughter all the engineers involved in the project.

Doesn't that sound hypocritical to say the least? Why axe those engineers? Why not get them to fix Android, Fuchsia or whatever needs fixing?

I don't think they're killing Chrome OS, Chromebooks seem to be as popular as ever with schools. Schools that can afford to buy Pixels probably would go for iPads instead, though. I doubt there is much of a market for high end Chrome OS hardware.

US schools, hardly used anywhere else around the world.

I really loved the design of the pixelbook, but I just didnt see who would be interested in it. When I buy a 1,000$ machine i dont go for that kind of OS and it just didnt stand out very much. I wish the best to those who worked on these.

I may be soon in the market for a new Android tablet. Does anybody have suggestions?

Samsung and Huawei are pretty much unchallenged in the tablet space since every other major OEM has now abandoned the market.

The rule of thumb for me is to buy the device with the highest screen resolution you can afford. Those tend to have the beefiest specs. Common high-res tablets have screens either at 2048 x 1536 (4:3) or 2560 x 1600 (16:10). I prefer 4:3 tablets so on Android, that really only leaves the Galaxy Tab S2 or S3 (the latter having pen functionality).

I'm still getting an iPad because the productivity apps are far superior, purpose-built and actively maintained. And that happens because people actually pay for the app. On Android, everything is freemium, so people are incentivized not to pay, and developers are incentivized to jam up the UX with ads and "unlock this with Premium" CTAs.

Yes, I can write webdev code on my Android tablet with Droidedit, and connect via SSH to my web server. But it's a hassle to do so, especially when the app in question feels like a scaled up phone app instead of a purpose-built tool.

I gave up and got an iPad.

I have a Fire HD 10 tablet that I use for international travel without personal data, but Fire OS is pretty unpleasant and I was hoping to replace it with a new Pixel laptop from Google. Not sure what I'll being doing about that now. (Also, I expect the number of people cross-shopping Fire tablets and Pixelbooks is vanishingly small.)

Google just recently abandoned Android and pushed ChromeOS for tablets. Now this, there is just no continuity with Google.

Unless you absolutely need Android for some reason, I would recommend the iPad.

Agree on the iPad recommendation.

That said, 2-in-1 x86_64 Chrome OS devices are bearable. Unlike Android; all the drivers are upstream.

I really like my Samsung Chromebook Pro, but would recommend looking for something that's on a later Linux kernel (at least 4.4) because not all the new features get backported. (See http://dev.chromium.org/chromium-os/developer-information-fo... for a list of all the options.)

I have iPad and Surface Pro 4. iPad is nice if you just want "an app for that" but I find I use my surface much more. iPad was an amazing piece of tech, but it just feels suck in 2012. We got retina and then all the innovation stopped and went to mobile phones. Meanwhile, surface pro just keeps getting better and better and it's cool having steam, linux, vs code and all of that on my SP4

> Google just recently abandoned Android and pushed ChromeOS for tablets. Now this, there is just no continuity with Google.

It's GTalk/Hangouts/Allo/etc. all over again, just this time with Android and ChromeOS. I wouldn't be surprised if they announce that they're going to abandon ChromeOS and that they're going to only use Android instead. How can the different product teams at a company be so completely disconnected from each other?

Internal politics.

Similar to the whole .NET vs C++ at Microsoft, and how that influenced Longhorn, WinRT and such


As near as I can tell from the outside, there aren’t any good Android tablet options, and the problems are baked into the OS at a fairly deep level — deep enough that OEMs can’t really address them, and Google hasn’t shown any recent signs of being to do so either. (For example, read any review of the Pixel Slate).

If you already have a software/app/etc niche you like, I hear the new Samsung tablets are decent (not ‘good’) and not too expensive.

Anything recent-ish that allows easy installation of an Android distribution that isn’t covered in manufacturer bloatware: https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/

Like others are saying, Samsung or Huawei.

However when tablet dies, I will rather go for a Surface like tablet.

Eventually iPad Pro as alternative.

Getting fed up of Android J++, and a NDK experience that seems like the outcome of a 20% project.

I'm delaying a decision on an Android tablet:

1. This news plants doubt about whether the ChromeOS/Android hybrid in the Pixel Slate is The New Way or a dead end.

2. Google has botched the evolution of Android's tablet capabilities and tablet support in app frameworks so badly there may not be a future for Android tablets outside of Samsung's proprietary extensions to Android. Let that sink in: Samsung may be, by default, leading the Android tablet future.

3. I don't like what Samsung does to Android. This is a matter of taste. But I know I don't like it.

Bought a 10 inch Galaxy Tab S2 (T813) mostly because Lineage OS is available. It's fine.

There's really only one game in town that isn't iPad and that's the samsung.

Have a Nexus and iPad at home. Would recommend the iPad over other Android tablets anytime.

Any impact on Fuchsia, I wonder? Or a much more short-term change?

It’s not really worth investing in google hardware in my opinion- you get invested and they just can it. They have no staying power.

I'll take this as the sign that entirety of Chromebook is at high risk of being canceled.

> I'll take this as the sign that entirety of Chromebook is at high risk of being canceled.

Google backing off on first-party work means that third parties that have always been the backbone of the Chromebook effort have less concern that Google's going to snatch the valuable segment of the market away from them, so I would say that its at least as likely to be a positive sign for Chromebook as a continuing effort as a negative one.

Isn't it still wildly successful in the edu market? This would be shocking if they went this route.

With that said, the Pixel Slate was an unmitigated failure so hopefully the only impact this has is on the Chromebook Pixel line.

US education market, hardly noticeable anywhere else.

Question is if one country is enough to keep it going, even one of the US's size.

What are other countries using that would be as cheap to deliver/manage?

No idea, the point is that it didn't take off anywhere else.

Here in Germany I only saw them a couple of times in a few consumer toolchains, as regular visitor it was interesting to watch their price being reduced across weeks until they could finally get rid of them, and never again on display.

Google can't seem to do anything right anymore.

They're last place in cloud. They don't have a good search API product to compete with Algolia/Elasticsearch. They can't release new products. Can't build new hardware.

The only things they have going for them are Youtube, Google (the search engine), Android, Chrome,...

Basically everything they did 10 years ago. Even Android + Youtube were acquisitions.

Another good example of too big to fail.

The only thing they have going for them is:

* They have the most popular operating system in the world

* They have the most popular browser in the world

* They have the most popular search engine in the world

* They have the most popular advertising network in the world

* They have the most popular video platform in the world

* They have the most popular mapping software in the world

* They have the third most popular cloud platform in the world

It seems to me that they're doing at least something right

Some devil's advocate:

1) They bought Android - they didn't build it in-house.

2) They bought Double Click - they didn't build it in-house

3) They bought YouTube- they didn't build it in-house

4) Third most popular cloud platform is a bit disingenuous; it's like saying Apple Maps is a top mapping platform: sure, you're kind of right, but the gap at the top is fairly wide.

(You might even make the case that the best parts of Chrome weren't built in-house, but taken from open-source contributions via Chromium, but I'm not sure I quite buy that.)

I think the overarching thesis deserves merit: what was the last in-house built product that became a powerhouse with true sticking power, besides Gmail / Google Apps?

They bought Android at a time when it had 0% market share. They changed direction significantly after the acquisition and grew from 0% to 80% over half a decade and then maintained that position. It was not a foregone conclusion that Android would be dominant after it was acquired. Also, it takes effort and skill to maintain your position in a competitive market, which they've managed for half a decade more.

People seriously underestimate how difficult it is to succeed and continue to succeed.

I mean, youtube, sure (though more the mindshare than the product itself), but what's left of the Android that was acquired? They didn't even have a product at the time so everything they ever released was as part of Google. And Ad Words wasn't an acquisition.

After some amount of time, for most acquisitions this argument becomes silly.

Apple acquired NeXT and PA Semi. And I hear Jony Ive was hired, not grown in a vat in Cupertino. Apple didn't build its hardware, software, or design in house!

Google bought Android 13 years ago, for a reported $50M. The kinds of hardware it runs on and its overall strategy have both evolved massively since then. I think at this point it's a big disingenuous to dismissively say that Android was just an acquisition.

I mean it's kinda true. But they still had to figure out that these were the projects/companies worth buying and afterwards pursuing and advancing them such that they would become the cash-cows they are today.

IMHO the Google Home devices and Chromecast are quite successful.

I admit these are probably not powerhouses on the level of Android, Chrome or YouTube. However it's just not possible to create a powerhouse every 1 or 2 years.

YouTube at least was already well on in that direction - Google had a competing product that was a total flop, and only afterwards did they buy YouTube.

They bought YouTube for a billion dollar - which was back then a crazy number. I still remember all that people arguing (including me) that Google would never make so much money back from YouTube. YouTube even had the reputation for being a huge loss for Google for multiple years.

The YouTube deal was a boardroom backscratch to the Sand Hill Road VCs. YouTube was hemorrhaging money on bandwidth with zero possibility of ever being profitable.

Google Photos ?

Huge cost center. Very difficult to draw a line of monetization between GP and the very hazy "its a value add to Pixel customers, and we can use the photos to train our AIs to get better at object recognition which might have applications in advertisement targeting in the future."

Are they still third in cloud if you don't count Microsoft's Office revenue?

Azure is a different business unit than Office.

Some of those purchased (OS, video, ads), some of those getting considerably worse as years pass (search engine, maps). And don't forget adtech will eventually blow up.

But well, if they can keep buying stuff, then they are okay. It's what Facebook is doing.

GCP is the cleanest cloud platform by far. But it's also the one I know only in theory, whereas I have worked with Azure and AWS enough to seem them fail miserably, so maybe I have a case of rose-tinted glasses.

I have experience with all three of them, indeed Azure fails miserably, AWS is a bit better but I didn't spend much time there. GCP is the most solid one and I had the least troubles there.

I use Azure at work and GCP for personal projects. GCP is by far the cleanest, easiest to work with

I've worked with GCP, and especially Firebase is a fantastic platform.

I haven't experienced this failure with AWS. I've had good experiences with both GCP and AWS, and a handful of terrible experiences with Azure. I don't know your particular use-case, but I end up being clean-up for AWS disasters, and each one's root cause was poor planning and/or execution. Likely the result of an over-ambitious employee or contractor trying to implement by the seat of their pants.

I don't have Azure experience, but I usually look at it at AWS has better marketing people. On the tech side, they'll happily packing an open-source project into something managed. GCP has done some serious engineering for products like Spanner, Bigtable, and Bigquery, but there are gaps in the product offerings.

GCP is worth it for Bigqueet, GKE & AppEngine + world class networking.

Everything else is not as good as AWS offerings.

Even Android is not done right.

- Android J++

- Kotlin, the successor, still faces lots of tooling issues, regarding incremental builds, code completion, thin APKs,...

- NDK users keep being neglected, after 10 years there is still no alternative to manually write JNI boilerplate, handle native libraries, a proper C++ API in the NDK, the ones that exist like Oboe are either plain code dumps on GitHub, or use Blaze, which isn't part of the standard SDK tooling, IDE tools if they get added always feel like an afterthought to their Java/Kotlin counterparts

- Stable support library and Android Studio releases have as much bugs as canary ones

- Android Studio feels like it needs a rendering workstation to work properly

The last two points have escalated so high that they finally created Project Marble to improve the current state of affairs.

OEMs love Android only because it is free beer.

Building performant UIs has become a lost art across the entire industry. As a junior engineer I was given a hard time if any screen did not load in 250ms saying that was the cliff beyond which humans perceive things as slow. Now I have had multiple bugs I filed for a web based tool being too slow (> 30s load times) closed because the tool is working as intended.

Also Google also has two GUI technologies for Android, the original Java based one and Flutter, which replicates the material UI in full.

Which are a sign of political wars within the development groups.

So, Google makes (specifically subcontracts out) the Pixel (but it is their branded device). It definitely is not the most popular Android phone out there.

Google makes the Pixelbook. It is definitely not the "best" laptop when you consider less expensive alternatives, and it is not the best seller.

But, Android would be called a successful strategy.

And, Chromebooks would be called a successful strategy.

What I'm trying to say (and would love to hear comments suggesting otherwise) is that these forays into hardware might just be to guarantee a baseline level of quality for vendors of the products to aspire to. And, in that light, even if the hardware divisions aren't making a dent in the Google's reported revenue, they still serve and were effective in their goals.

These cutbacks are just evidence that Google wants to optimize the way things are done, not evidence that they were failures.

GCP is a different beast, however. :)

The problem with Chromebooks is that they have always been touted as a way to get a computer very cheaply. Years have gone by with the marketing being that Chromebooks are cheap. When you get pixelbooks that are $600 to $1500 people are going to have sticker shock, no matter how great the product is.

The pixel phones on the other hand have been selling better ( in fact grew quite a bit numbers wise as well ). The phone line has a better chance of turning in to the Googles surface line esp. since the marketing around that has been "Its the best camera ever" and people are willing to pay a premium for that.

I bought the Pixelbook (online) for a little less than full price.

I also bought another Chromebook at BestBuy that was ~$250.

I was blown away by another Chromebook that had a 17" screen and was less than $300 at the store. I was overwhelmed by the options (and BestBuy never helps because their employees must be rated on how well they can hide in the store and not how well they can help customers).

There are plenty of options in store and online, most of which hover around the $300 price point, which is very competitive.

If you are buying a Pixelbook you are buying it because you want Linux on it, or the amazing screen, and are calculating that into it. If you want an inexpensive Chromebook, you aren't stymied in that search by price.

Chromebooks are only successful if one constrains the world to the US school system.

Outside that they are even less than the worldwide GNU/Linux desktop market, hardly a measure of success.

That's a good point.

I will say though, being successful in us schools was the precursor to Apple dominance. I'm not saying cause and effect but...

How would Android be called a successful strategy? It came out during the Oracle trial that Android has only made Google $38 billion during its entire existence - less than what the iPhone has made Apple during its last quarter.

> How would Android be called a successful strategy?

The monopoly that Apple does not have on smartphones as a whole, and the consequent constraints on its ability to dictate the functionality of the mobile web, to capture mobile web and app advertising revenue, etc.

That's the success of Android.

Apple would never have had a monopoly selling $700 phones and Apple would never sell low margin $225 phones (the average selling price of Android phone). If anything MS would have been more successful.

> Apple would never have had a monopoly selling $700 phones and Apple would never sell low margin $225 phones (the average selling price of Android phone). If anything MS would have been more successful.

A duopoly between two non-Google vendors (especially if they were effectively two monopolies in distinct market segments) would scarcely have been better for Google than a non-Google monopoly, so even if a low-end smartphone market existed and was substantial without Android, and your perception above in regard to Apple staying out of it without Android is correct, that doesn't materially change the nature of the success of Android for Google.

Without Android, Apple would likely have the vast majority of market share on mobile. Apple would be charging Google even more than they do already (billions) to be the default search engine on safari.

Lots and lots and lots of devices with google services and chrome. That bring ads. That bring money. A lot of money.

Do you think that Oracle's lawyers missed that when they said in court documents that Google made $31B on Android? A number that Google didn't dispute...


Why would Google have disputed an obvious lowball? They were getting sued...

The first line at your link: "...revenue of about $31 billion and profit of $22 billion..." Again, fake numbers, but wow that's profitable.

Do you really think in discovery in official court documents that Google could get away with having false numbers?

22 billion in profit in almost a decade for having 80% of the market is peanuts.

Google has paid more than that to Apple for being the default search engine on iOS for the same time period.

It's not as if the chart of accounts has a particular account for "this is our profit from screwing over whoever bought the rights to Java". This would always be a judgment call, first from the inherent uncertainty in measuring that if one wanted to measure it correctly, but more importantly from the uncertainty over what can be proved in court. Remember, Oracle had the burden of proof in this situation, and they thought they could prove that the number was at least $22B. Google had no duty to argue the number should have been higher, because even if that duty existed how would it be enforced?

Much of your analysis in this thread suffers from a form of wishful thinking. I suspect you are a fan of "iPhone" devices.

It's not my analysis. It was Oracle's well paid lawyers' analysis. Do you have insight that they didn't have to come up with a more accurate number? I'm sure if you do, Larry Ellison will be glad to hear from you.

Oh yeah Larry will be waiting by the phone; I'll understand if he has to land his S.211 first. This is all fake anyway. None of these big corporate lawsuits are about justice or truth. We copyrighted an API that someone else wrote before they went out of business and we bought the remains, even though there was never an actual copyright notice and after all it's a blooming API? Give me a break. Those brilliant analytical lawyers were too busy pulling everyone's legs (not the jury's!) to dig up any more alleged profits... Oracle don't actually care if the lawsuit ever ends.

Does that include all the data from all the Android devices? I don't think Google could get data on eg. when every shop in the world is busy without Android devices sending them that data. So I'm guessing they have a whole bunch of data they can only get from Android devices that's valuable for their advertising business too.

The Pixel could've been a success if they hadn't sold it at such a high price. They think they are Apple, but they obviously are not.

Google is their own worst enemy in cloud.

They raised pricing on Google Maps and have a reputation for dropping services.

Now they require a $75k third party audit to have an app use Gmail API’s.

Given that 3rd party apps can scrape sensitive data, I'm glad the barrier to entry is high..

You're leaving out their most important product: AdSense.

After that, every other product is just a mechanism to feed the beast including search.

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