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  • Chrome OS FAQ, Part I: Is a Chromebook right for you?

    Posted on Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Chrome OS FAQ, Part I: Is a Chromebook right for you?

    This topic contains 27 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  plodr 5 days, 16 hours ago.

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    • #2013590 Reply

      Tracey Capen
      AskWoody MVP

      GOOGLE CHROME By JR Raphael AskWoody Plus readers will recall that, from time to time, we’ve recommended Google’s Chromebooks as a viable alternative
      [See the full post at: Chrome OS FAQ, Part I: Is a Chromebook right for you?]

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2013642 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      Thunderbird works on Chromebooks. See https://www.reddit.com/r/PixelBook/comments/9hdubz/a_working_imap_mail_solution_thunderbirdlinux/

      Vivaldi is working on a Chromebook version. “We’ve made it possible to run Vivaldi Mobile on Chromebooks. It is the very first step and the user interface is still work in progress.” See https://vivaldi.com/blog/snapshots/mobile/chromebook-support-and-various-fixes-vivaldi-android-browser-snapshot-1741-3/

      Brave also works on Chromebooks. See https://www.quora.com/Can-I-install-Brave-Browser-on-Chromebook-using-the-Google-Playstore

      • #2013643 Reply

        jabeattyauditor
        AskWoody Lounger

        Thunderbird works on Chromebooks.

        Isn’t that under a Linux OS install only?

        If we’re pushing Chromebooks as Windows 7 replacements because Windows 7 users can’t handle Windows 10, is it rational to expect those folks to build and maintain a Linux system?

        • #2013651 Reply

          LHiggins
          AskWoody Plus

          Thunderbird works on Chromebooks.

          Isn’t that under a Linux OS install only?

          Not sure if this is what you mean, but I have Thunderbird running on both my old Windows 7 and my brand new Windows 10 Pro laptops, as well as on Linux. Works fine on all 3.

          • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  LHiggins.
          • #2013653 Reply

            jabeattyauditor
            AskWoody Lounger

            Thunderbird works on Chromebooks.

            Isn’t that under a Linux OS install only?

            Not sure if this is what you mean, but I have Thunderbird running on both my old Windows 7 and my brand new Windows 10 Pro laptops, as well as on Linux. Works fine on all 3.

            • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  LHiggins.

            This thread is about Chromebooks (are they right for you?) – the link Woody cited for using Thunderbird on a Chromebook points to using it under Linux (on a Chromebook).

            If you’re buying a Chromebook because the Windows world is too complex or too cumbersome for you, you’re probably not in the group that will immediately install Linux on it and run Thunderbird that way.

            • #2013711 Reply

              anonymous

              I think that folks looking for Full Linux(better end user control over their OS/Hardware) and Chromebooks(Ease of use) are mostly doing so because of all the forcing that goes on with Windows 10 and 10’s too rapid feature/other update cycles that more often than not break things. I’m looking at a Chromebook if I could run a full Linux Distro on it but I’m more interested in getting an AMD Ryzen APU based laptop from a Linux laptop OEM and not going forward after 2023 with any MS OS Product.

              I guess that Chromebooks are the new Netbooks only Chromebooks run ARM and x86 processors. MS’s trying to get more Arm based devices but Windows 10’s forcing makes that undesirable, that and windows 10 on ARM only supporting 32 bit applications currently.  Folks running Windows 8.1 have 3 more years to do so and wait and see how bad it still remains under Windows 10.

               

        • #2013694 Reply

          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          If we’re pushing Chromebooks as Windows 7 replacements because Windows 7 users can’t handle Windows 10, is it rational to expect those folks to build and maintain a Linux system?

          Not everyone who wants to avoid 10 does it because they can’t handle it (unless you mean they can’t handle the monetization, telemetry, and the way Microsoft commandeers their PCs, which would include me).  Woody certainly can, and has, handled Windows 10 (he wrote the book on it!)  He still likes Chromebooks, though, so while they are not my cup of tea, they’re not just for people who don’t know anything about computers.  If a person just wants to use a Chromebook, he can do that, and not worry about things like installing his own browser or email client. It’s a step ahead of the “just use it” crowd to even realize that alternatives to Google’s offerings even exist.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.4).

          4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2013656 Reply

      bbearren
      AskWoody MVP

      “Is a Chromebook right for you?”

      In a word, no.  I already have a laptop, and I have a particular dislike for all things Google for various reasons.  I don’t want to use the cloud for anything other than storage, which I have in OneDrive.  I left Windows 7 in the dust long ago, have had not one debilitating issue with Windows 10 since I began using it as a pre-release insider.

      I have tried Linux a number of times in a number of flavors (did some coding on the Linux platform, as well) but I never acquired a taste for it.  I’m still using a Microsoft Lumia 950 phone, and I dislike Android to the extent that I’ve bought a spare 950 (new, at significant savings) that I tested, then safely stored in its box for the day my current 950 dies.

      I don’t need to run away from Windows 10, I don’t need “new”, I just need stability and reliability, and I already have that in spades.

      Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
      "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
      "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2013667 Reply

      Microfix
      Da Boss

      One thing to remember, Google Chrome OS can dual boot with Linux/Windows if you want a more familiar OS alongside in your chromebook (although not older models of chromebook)

      How to powerful dual boot Chrome OS and Windows 10 in 2019


      I dread to think what the telemetry connection/stats would be though 🙂

      ********** Win7 Pro x64 | Win8.1 Pro x64 | Linux Hybrids x64 **********

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2013709 Reply

        The Surfing Pensioner
        AskWoody Plus

        Now THAT is a brilliant idea! I love my Chromebook, which I bought for safe internet access after January 2020 whilst I am deciding where to go from windows 7. I already use it for surfing most of the time, by preference, because it’s so quick and easy. However, I also have a copious e-mail correspondence to deal with which often entails downloading/uploading attachments and doing this from my Chromebook will entail a lot of flashdrive flashing (do-able but slow). Can I actually install Linux on the same machine and prepare/work on documents from that operating system? Sounds like a perfect solution, if I can get my head round it. Many thanks for your help.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2013672 Reply

      anonymous

      Love my Chromebook.  Can run most Android apps as well as some Linux programs (it’s still in Beta, BTW).  Boots fast too.

    • #2013699 Reply

      Mr. Natural
      AskWoody Plus

      Amazon is having a cyber Monday deal on Chromebooks today if anyone is interested.

      Red Ruffnsore reporting from the front lines.

    • #2013704 Reply

      zero2dash
      AskWoody Lounger

      I was “all for” Chromebooks until I found out they have an OS expiration date. That took them off the table for me…

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2013746 Reply

        Microfix
        Da Boss

        once the expiry date has hit on older less capable Chromebooks, just install LXQt on the device, Fedora Spins are a good replacement OS choice IMO 😉

        ********** Win7 Pro x64 | Win8.1 Pro x64 | Linux Hybrids x64 **********

        2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2013732 Reply

      Frwin
      AskWoody Plus

      Hi, is it possible to use Firefox on a chromebook, with the same possibilities as on Windows ?

    • #2013742 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody_MVP

      Amazing that the author failed to mention one of the key reasons (probably THE key reason) that people avoid Google — PRIVACY CONCERNS.

      To sum up: I don’t want Google looking over my shoulder and taking notes on literally everything I do when I use their products. But that’s what you will get with any Google product.

      Of course, this doesn’t include the universal spying Google does whenever you surf the web. On 99.99% of the websites you visit, Google scripts are silently running in the background, collecting information.

      We can’t forget the fleet of Google Streetview cars that drive around with their 360-degree cameras and network sniffers running at all times.

      It is shocking that the author didn’t mention Google privacy concerns, considering how much people talk about it.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      6 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2013754 Reply

      MrToad28
      AskWoody Lounger

      I was given a chromebook by girlfriend who wasn’t using it. No way will it REPLACE windows..too many applications that I depend on that won’t run on Chrome. It’s basically the chrome web browser with a very limited number of extensions..far less than chrome on windows. Very limited number of apps…don’t think you can pull up the play store and add your fav’s. No external programs [Unless you’re a Ninja hacker?] OTOH I really like the chrome for it’s light weight, beside the recliner, instant on convenience and really long battery life. For under $20 you can add a 64gb usb drive with files you want access to and 32gb sd drive for extra space. For those that prefer a mouse to a touchpad, USB wireless mouse works great. Like a tablet, it’s a nice addition to the gadget arsenal if you’re a long term windows user…not replacement.

      The big market for these appears to be students who need something beyond a phone or tablet for typing notes and papers who haven’t established work patterns around Windows programs.

      • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  MrToad28.
      • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  MrToad28.
    • #2013757 Reply

      Sinclair
      AskWoody Lounger

      On Chromebooks runs Chrome OS that is Googles closed source version of the open source OS Chromium. Chromium OS is basically the same as Google Chrome OS but without access to the Google Play Store.

      Chromium Os is available to be installed on hardware of your choosing. This can be a laptop or a desktop. As long as it has 2 GB Ram then it should be able to do this. Those old tiny 10 inch nettops running Windows XP for example. Provided the various components of the computer are supported. You just have to try it to see if it works.

      The official website of Chromium OS is meant for developers and does not have ready to use download links for Chromium OS. As such you need to get the installation files from somewhere else. There are multiple guides on the web on how to go about this. Here is an example:

      How to convert a Windows laptop to a Chromebook.

      As an alternative source for installation files other than CloudReady try this:

      Chromium OS Builds

      Select the Special map and hit Last Modified twice. The most resent builds should then be up top. Now select either a 32x “Cx86OS” or 64x “Cam64OS” bit build depending on your hardware.

      Note that any USB stick or SD Card used as boot device to first load the Chromium OS boot files is repartitioned as such you may loose part of the USB sticks capacity. To get this back after installation you need to repartition the USB stick again.

      Again you do not get access to Googles Play Store. But it should work pretty much as any other non modified Chromebook. Offcourse there are other app stores or sites on the web that you can use to add extra apps should you want that. Just beware of malicious sites.

      I have not tried this my self. I tend to steer well clear of Chromebooks and Googles sell your soul in return for content economy. I was curious as to how Chromebooks work and how Google uses them to fuel its user data driven format. This post is the result of me reading up on that and seeing if it is possible to get something that functions almost like it without having Google involved and without going full Linux Mint. See my other post about how to add or possible even replace the Chrome Browser with Firefox.

      Maybe some people here find this usefull to check it out without spending money on a new Chromebook. Be sure to report back on how or if it worked for you.

      W7 x64 Pro&Home

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2013860 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        On Chromebooks runs Chrome OS that is Googles closed source version of the open source OS Chromium. Chromium OS is basically the same as Google Chrome OS but without access to the Google Play Store.

        This is right, as far as I know, but just to make it clear in case someone gets confused by the similar names, “Chromium” by itself usually refers to the browser, and is the open-source (but still developed by Google) foundation for Chrome (which also means the browser).  Chromium OS is an open-source Linux distribution that Google develops as the basis for Chrome OS, in the same manner as Chromium being the base for Chrome.

        The kernel and the various other packages in Chromium OS are developed independently of Chromium, but are sometimes modified by Google for their own purposes (which other Linux distros, like Ubuntu, also do, and is perfectly acceptable in open-source software).

        Open-source software distributed under the GNU license allows any modifications that a person wants, with the stipulation that these modifications must also be made available to the public under the GNU license.  The Linux kernel and most of the packages that make up a Linux distro are under the GNU license.

        If I remember correctly, Chromium itself is partly under GNU and partly under the BSD license (and maybe some others too), which basically says anyone can use it for anything without the obligation to contribute their code changes back to the public.  Presumably, that is why Apple chose an open kernel under the BSD license as the basis of MacOS rather than Linux.

         

        Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.4).

        • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  Ascaris.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2013879 Reply

          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Ascaris: Besides the one you are giving, another reason could be that macOS (formerly OS X) is based on UNIX with elements of BSD, so if affinity were a reason, it could choose either license (GNU’s or BSD’s), as both these OS are closely in line with each other and with LINUX. If memory serves, both are the result of trying to port UNIX to run on computers with x86 CPUs, that included IBM-clone PCs and, eventually, their successors to the present day. In my own experience, macOS is pretty much like LINUX, with some minor departures and some extras here and there. Not surprisingly, Apple has chosen the BSD license, as it is the more convenient for its  business.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

          • #2013938 Reply

            Ascaris
            AskWoody_MVP

            Ascaris: Besides the one you are giving, another reason could be that macOS (formerly OS X) is based on UNIX with elements of BSD, so if affinity were a reason, it could choose either license (GNU’s or BSD’s), as both these OS are closely in line with each other and with LINUX.

            I think that we both just said the same thing.

            I was referring to the reason that Apple chose to use BSD as the base of MacOS (in which I include OSX right back to the beginning) when it came time to design their next-generation OS, before there was an OSX.

            BSD, unlike Linux, is a true, certified UNIX.

            Apple, I’m guessing, was thinking along the same lines as Steve Ballmer when he famously referred to the GPL (not to Linux itself, as it is often misstated) as being a cancer that attaches itself to everything it touches. Little is more distasteful to a secretive closed-source company like Microsoft than the prospect of having to let the unwashed masses (who have not signed NDAs) see and use their source code.

            Apple is another company that has aggressively used the courts to stifle competition (things like lawsuits over the rounded corner of a phone that will be placed in the pocket… I suppose until Apple “innovated” that, the expectation would have been that the corners would have been sharp and pointy?), so it’s quite easy to believe that the BSD license was the sole reason Apple chose not to use Linux.

            Google’s teaching them all a lesson now… most of Android (as AOSP) and Chrome (as Chromium) is open source, and yet Google continues to dominate both the mobile market and the browser market with its own Google-branded products (that contain a little bit of closed-source on top of the open-source base), and is making a fortune doing so.  Chrome OS hasn’t shown the market share by the usual (flawed) means, like the Netmarketshare.com reports, but they’ve got much of the education market, and they’ve done that too with a combination of Apache/BSD licenses and GPL licenses rather than the traditional proprietary licenses used by MS in their “Windows 10 in S mode” competitor to Chrome OS.  It would appear that making money with operating systems and browsers does not require the kind of secrecy that Microsoft has long exhibited.

            I think Microsoft got the message… the Chromium-based Edge demonstrates this, and while a lot of Microsoft critics see sinister motives (embrace, extend, extinguish)  in Microsoft’s recent forays into Linux, I think it’s more about expanding on the idea they’re now exploring with “Chredge,” as some call it.  I am not ready to predict that MS will make a Linux-based Windows at any point, but in light of what they’ve done with Edge, I do see it as a possibility.  Kudos to them if they do.

            MS could go for the wide-open license of BSD like Apple, but Linux has better hardware support for a variety of hardware, and that makes it a better fit for Windows, which has to run on a ton of different machines, not just a small, controlled group like MacOS.  Even if MS used its muscle to push hardware vendors into releasing drivers for the new Linux-based Windows, they would only do that for current hardware, leaving a lot of people blaming Microsoft for releasing a product that won’t work with their perfectly good equipment that’s only a year or two old.  And since open-sourcing quite evidently doesn’t mean not making money, why not go for the one with the better technical fit for what they want to do with it?

            A lot of my Linux-using compatriots see anything MS does as automatically sinister, and I see their point, and I agree with them on being suspicious.  Where I differ is that on the whole, I think a MS foray into Linux could well be a positive thing.  If MS fixes bugs or adds truly useful features to Linux, those improvements will be subject to the GPL, so all Linux users benefit from them, just as MS would benefit from improvements made to Linux by non-MS contributors.

            The OS market may be following the same transition from mostly closed-source to mostly open-source that browsers have undergone, and that would be a good thing.

            Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.4).

            • #2014038 Reply

              mn–
              AskWoody Lounger

              BSD, unlike Linux, is a true, certified UNIX.

              Um, point – the only BSD that is or ever was a “true, certified UNIX®” is MacOS. None of the others paid for the certification AFAICT (but would have to check if DEC or Open Group did with OSF/1 2.0 – by 3.2 it certainly wasn’t a BSD any more), and the Single Unix Specification was always more a SysV thing anyway, based mostly on XPG4.

              Many BSD variants can be argued to be “true Unix” but never were certified.

              Huawei and Inspur did go to the trouble and expense of making Linux distributions that are certified UNIX® … well, I guess it should be argued that they aren’t “true” Unix.

              And that’s not getting into Tru64 UNIX which is a specific commercial software product… really not missing the shell selector variable ($BIN_SH), thank you very much.

    • #2013811 Reply

      plodr
      AskWoody Plus

      Two senior citizens here with four Windows 7 computers. I can surf on anything. I use linux live sticks and I have two android tablets.

      I’m more concerned about my husband. He doesn’t have any Windows programs he needs to use. We’ve been using and printing from an XP computer off the internet that has Office and WordPerfect installed. USB sticks carry to that computer things we might want to print.  That printer can also print 8 1/2″ x 14″ sheets which I need this year and next year.

      Talk to me about printing from a Chromebook and don’t mention Google Cloud Print which will disappear in 2020. Being unable to print is a deal breaker.

      I haven’t had much success in printing from my android tablets. I sat right next to our HP wireless AIO unit tried to use Samsung’s print utility and the tablet couldn’t locate the printer.

      I find it easier to just print to our two printers from Windows.

      Got coffee?

      5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2013838 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Just a point of interest: in a situation as you describe, using Win XP to print out documents brought in on an USB flash drive, it might be a good idea to scan first, on the Win 7 PC, the files about to be transferred in this way with up to date antivirus, before copying them to the USB.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

      • #2013893 Reply

        Wheel_D
        AskWoody Plus

        Two senior citizens here with four Windows 7 computers. I can surf on anything. I use linux live sticks and I have two android tablets.

        I’m more concerned about my husband. He doesn’t have any Windows programs he needs to use. We’ve been using and printing from an XP computer off the internet that has Office and WordPerfect installed. USB sticks carry to that computer things we might want to print.  That printer can also print 8 1/2″ x 14″ sheets which I need this year and next year.

        Talk to me about printing from a Chromebook and don’t mention Google Cloud Print which will disappear in 2020. Being unable to print is a deal breaker.

        I haven’t had much success in printing from my android tablets. I sat right next to our HP wireless AIO unit tried to use Samsung’s print utility and the tablet couldn’t locate the printer.

        I find it easier to just print to our two printers from Windows.

        Yes, WordPerfect is still my primary word processor, and I’m glad there are still a few WP users out there. How regrettable; WordPerfect was once a shining example of first-tier software.

        • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  Wheel_D.
        • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  Wheel_D.
    • #2013824 Reply

      DriftyDonN
      AskWoody Plus

      I find it easier to just print to our two printers from Windows.

      Seems someone calculated computer ink @ $15K/gallon. I use lead and rubber. (Data input apparatus/data revision device) =>Pencil n paper!

      Be happy!

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2013839 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Just try writing a technical report or paper that way (with pictures and tables), editing, proofreading and making it ready for submission to whoever the intended recipient of the report may be, or to some technical or scientific journal. I always need to print out the typescript, because there are often problems with it that I simply fail to see on the screen while I am writing it: one gets used to seeing it as being OK on that screen, and it takes seeing it on a different medium to notice some of the errors. While examining the printout, I use a ball-point pen to cross out and write over or on a margin the corrections. I may need two or three iterations of this procedure before I am satisfied with the text. But I use the printer very sparsely otherwise, because, these days, I do not need to produce, or reproduce, a lot of things on paper anymore: I’ve found that (for me, at least) computers and external disk backups are quite enough for most things.

        As far as I know, Chromebooks, while they are not “big” enough for what I need to do on a computer, are OK in many ways for many others and present no problems, at least that I’ve heard, when it comes to printing documents.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

    • #2017370 Reply

      plodr
      AskWoody Plus

      present no problems, at least that I’ve heard, when it comes to printing documents.

      I’d like an actual step by step not what someone read or heard, sorry. As I posted above, I can’t get printing to work on my android tablets. I’m pretty good at following instructions, yet I must be missing something because it doesn’t work for me.

      I don’t necessarily print documents. I do quite a bit of screen printing. I define and area then print it out. I might take sentences from a web page, paste it into a text file then print out what I want.

      Got coffee?

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