Friday, November 30, 2012

Chromebook Ubuntu

Google’s Chromebook is a web-only device that looks like a laptop but acts like a web browser… I'm sure you've seen ads for them - they've been blitzing the airwaves and magazine ads with their $249 laptop.

Several other companies besides Google manufacture them, but to say they haven’t taken off would be an understatement.  They're actually kind of cool, but I think they're ahead of their time by a couple of years.

I signed up for one of the early pre-production Chromebooks, the Cr-48, and used it for a couple of months.  But since everything it does is on the web, there was no off-line access, and useful software was rather sparse at the time, I wasn’t able to use it for much other than browsing and Google Apps. 

Recently, there have been some upgrades to make it more useful, but I still couldn't easily get it to run a VDI client to connect to work, so it just sat on a shelf getting periodic software upgrades and not doing much else.

That is until a couple of weeks ago.  Jay Lee ported a version of Ubuntu to the Chromebook that he calls ChrUbuntu.  

I loaded it on the Cr-48 and it works great.  I did upgrade the SSD to 64GB from the 16GB that it came with it, and burned a new BIOS.   Performance is just fine - Linux doesn't need much - and it makes a fine laptop...  

Since it can run a Chrome browser, it can do everything that a Chromebook can do (along with everything that Linux can do!)  I use SSH and a VNC client to connect to the Equiso Android PC and the Raspberry Pi.  I loaded VMWare View Open client on it and now I'm able to connect to my VDI desktop at work. Very cool.

I think if I were in the market for a new laptop today, I'd get one of the inexpensive Chromebooks and load Ubuntu on it...

Would you use a "browser only" PC?  How cheap would it have to be to entice you?  

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