A guest post by Jason DeVita on the Acer Chromebook
follow him @wx13 and http://wx13.com
The first Chromebooks were introduced a little over two years ago. Chromebooks run Google’s ChromeOS, designed to be completely integrated with “the cloud.” Since they first appeared, there has been a lot of discussion about the market for such a computer. If you were to ask Google, they would probably tell you that chromebooks are revolutionary and that they will take over the computing world. And if asked Microsoft, they would tell you that chromebooks are not “real” computers. Obviously the truth lies somewhere in between, leading to the question: Who could benefit from buying a chromebook?
In order to understand Chromebook use-cases, it is necessary to understand a little about Chromebooks. The idea behind ChromeOS is to create a cloud-centric operating system. This differs from standard operating systems in that the majority of data is stored remotely and applications (which run in the browser) interact with that remote data. This is not a new idea; the terminal/mainframe and thin-client/server model has been around for a while. But this is the first time this has been marketed toward the general public.
Before purchasing a Chromebook, I read a lot of reviews. The general theme among bloggers and internet reviewers is that chromebooks are good for one type of user. If you primarily surf the web, check email, use facebook, and create simple word documents, then a chromebook will suit you well. In other words, Chromebooks are tablets with keyboards. Everyone else, they say, should avoid Chromebooks. Anyone who does “real work” on their computer should use a windows or mac laptop. Anyone who creates content (as opposed to consuming content) should use a “real” laptop.
The above sentiment leaves out one segment of the population: Linux geeks. It turns out that Chromebooks do run a real operating system. The crouton project (https://github.com/dnschneid/
So if I am using a real Linux OS anyway, then why on a Chromebook? To understand this, consider one of the issues we Linux geeks have running Linux on laptops: unsupported hardware. Many laptops use components (video cards, wifi chips, etc) with no Linux drivers. Sticking Linux on a random laptop and getting everything to work, including wifi, sound, hotkeys (volume, brightness, etc) is an exercise in frustration. With a Chromebook, I get the best of both worlds.
- 8.5 hours of battery life
- 7 second boot
- 2.75 lbs, 0.75 inches thick
- 11.6″ screen
All this for $200.
- The computer really does boot up in 7 seconds (and wakes from sleep almost instantly).
- The battery life is impressive, and so is the recharge time. I can charge the laptop for a hour in the morning, and then work the rest of the day.
- The setup process was super easy.
- The laptop is very quiet (solid state drive, and the fan rarely turns on).
- The dynamic range of screen brightness is very good (all the way from barely-visible to too-bright-for-my-eyes-to-
Crouton is quite a piece of work. The installation process was simple (by far the simplest Linux install I have ever done). Now, with a single keypress, I can switch instantly between ChromeOS and Debian Wheezy. This combines the no-hassles, quick boot, instant wake, everything just works ChromeOS with a full-blown, development friendly Debian Linux. And all for $200 bucks.