John P Hurst's ChromeBook Experience

Chromebook links: How I Installed Crouton    ChromeOS Shortcuts   
I am now using a ChromeBook as my personal computer. I was fascinated by the apparent power and low cost of these devices.

I tend to use my computer in coffee shops and other wifi enabled locations and thought about what I use my computer for. I realized that my actions are fairly typical and generally limited to:

So, I wondered, could I accomplish all of this on ChromeBook. I liked the idea since the cost is low, battery life is exceptional and the devices are small and light. The concept of a computer so cheap that I did not need to worry if I lost it, and storing everything on the web, so it could not be lost was very appealing.

ChromeBooks arrive equipped for web-browsing, eMail and Word Processing. However, this does assume that you are happy to use Gmail as your mail interface. Managing my servers and web-development merely requires an ssh client which arrives with the ChromeOs. My concern was eMail since I do wish additional security in terms of the use of gpg/pgp with my email and certainly do not want to use Google as my eMail provider. For Word Processing I discovered that GoogleDocs is more than adequate and the ability to edit the same document on my computer, phone and when mobile was a great advantage and benefit.

So, I installed crouton which provided me the basic Ubuntu utilities and the ability to add anything else that I wanted from the Ubuntu repositories. My crouton installation experience was painless and simple, I have detailed it as a separate page Installing Crouton. With this Linux interface in place I then installed:

With these utilities installed, and my usual ChromeOs 'stuff', I still have almost 6G available on a 16G ChromeBook and have a secure machine that is light, portable, secure and cost less that $125.00. At this time I have discovered nothing that I used to be able to do with a real lap-top that I can not do. Generally it is a lot faster because the ChromeBook has a Solid State Disk and my lap-top did not. I am developing scripts in Perl and Python, encrypting and signing my eMail, editing images and everything else I always did.

It should be stated that ChromeBooks are available operating under either ARM or Intel architecture. I chose Intel since this means that a far greater number of the Ubuntu utilities are supported. (Ubuntu has better Intel than ARM support, at this time.) Technically, I have made my ChromeBook a little less secure since in order to install Crouton I did need to set Developer Mode and this does disable some of the protections. However, at any time I can 'scrub' the machine and start again, I will lose nothing since everything is stored on the web.

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