chrome os

The Reality of Chromebooks/OS – Not as limited as you think!

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My family PC finally took its last gasp last night.  It’s GPU fan finally packed in, but then after about 4 years of being “always on” and used nearly every day, its done very well.  I would have liked to have simply whipped the cover off the machine and replace the fan myself, its not an expensive repair and simply done.  I couldn’t do that.  Why? Because one of the caveats of a cheap desktop machine and an onboard GPU/card, there is no room to get access to the device without destroying parts of the PC.  I suppose this is the drawback of “disposable tech”.

So with that in mind I went armed with my trusty debit card to our local store.  What I found was a collection of Windows 8 machines, that didn’t offer particularly good specs for the price and I resent buying a Windows PC only to wipe off Windows and install a Linux distro before I get started.

My solution was to buy a custom built OSless machine with decent specs that will see the machine through its natural life.  In the meantime I’ve decided to go 100% Chromebook and see if it made any difference to my computing useage.  Its also a good time to show that despite what people claim, your Chromebook is just as flexible as your desktop and I challenge you to find many things at all that can’t be done on a Chromebook.  Hopefully this article will show you that.

My Chromebook is a HP14″ Chromebook – I bought this a little while ago for its larger screen and I consider that a good purchase.  Before I go any further, if you are a hardcore gamer who wants to run the latest Windows games, then stop reading now and save yourself time.  Chromebook is not a gaming device (although it does play Angry Birds et al).  If you are convinced that Photoshop is the best graphics package and not prepared to ever try anything else, please read something else too.  And if you spend most of your computing time without net connection, then again, please stop reading.

Still with me? Good.

I want to perform Office tasks!

Since the Chromebook is integrated with Google Services, its a given that Googles suite of software is available.  I can’t speak for your use, but I’d consider that for most peoples needs Google Docs will be more than they require.  You want LibreOffice? That can be accommodated too, its available in the Chrome Store (free) albeit in a web based incarnation.

I want to edit Photographs!

There’s so much choice available here.  There are many Photoshop pro’s who will frown at the reduced feature sets of these online apps, however what features do you use?  Are you a professional graphics artist? Then you should not have read this article.  For the majority of users we simply want to take and display the best pictures we can and with so many available on the Chrome Store, you’ll be able to reduce red eye, crop, increase contrast and saturation etc etc.  I personally use Pixlr Editor, but there are many others.

I want Bit-torrent!

What? You think because your Chromebook is mostly in the cloud you can’t run a bit-torrent client? You can and in exactly the same way you would on any other desktop machine. JSTorrent is probably the best option and whilst its not free, its less than £2 on the Chrome Store.

I want to code!

Whats the language of choice? There’s so many IDE’s out there for a number of languages.  I code in Python as a hobby, create a few scripts and try out a few concepts.  PythonFiddle steps in here and runs entirely in the browser.  This is one of many.

As I explained earlier, I am without a traditional desktop PC at the moment.  Has the Chromebook hampered my productivity? Not at all.  There will always be something which you can’t get from the Chromebook and for me, the lack of Mumble is an issue (which means I cannot give up a desktop rig entirely).  I think my requirements step over the “average user” yet the Chromebook fits my needs perfectly and there’s IRC clients, MUD clients (and even a version of FreeCiv!) to keep me happy.

People make a big issue out of the Chromebook needing a net connection in order to be useful. Not entirely true, many apps will work offline and sync when they get a connection, however, ask yourself this: How useful is your PC right now if your connection was removed?  I’d suggest the majority of people spend most of their time needing (and wanting) a net connection and the answer would be “not very”.

So when you consider your next PC purchase, give ChromeOS a consideration and when you look at the sales on Amazon, it appears many people are starting to do just that.  I would suggest though if you are looking for a Chromebook replacement to a bulky desktop PC with features you don’t need, you go for as large a screen as possible.  14″ seems to be the best size and accommodates web pages, apps et al, comfortably.

TechBytes Audiocast – Episode 18 – 11/12/10

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Intro music: “I fought the troll” by Tom Smith.  You can find more of his work here.

Hosts: Tim (OpenBytes) Roy (Techrights) Gordon (Thistleweb)

Featured Track: “Devil’s Best Dress” by Cord Lund

A diverse range of topics covered today, with certainly a copyright theme to them.

We talk about Chrome OS with mention to branding, Ubuntu and Fedora.  I also make reference to a very good article I had read which can be found here:

We move on to the subject of copyright with mention of ACS:Law’s latest trip out to court and how that ended, then move onto issues surrounding the LOIC and how as I warned months ago people involved with DDOS attacks could find themselves falling foul of a criminal offense.  I ask the question, if a chap who calls himself Goblin (me) and wears a cowboy hat can tell you that after a couple of seconds on Google, surely getting involved with ddos attacks is not what you want to be involved with.

Gordon also talks further on RightHaven and the recent press it has attracted.

Of course it appears the BBC are exempt from the Computer Misuse Act and we remind ourselves about the botnet which was “in the public interest” which seemed to excuse them.  Double standards?  You decide!

BBCclick is on fine form and we highlight how their comment implying Wikileaks were behind ddos attacks had to be corrected by a viewer.

Microsoft is brought up and whilst it is still being tight-lipped on how many WP7 sales it’s made, we look at advocacy in general and how it appears that advocacy for Microsoft products only comes as a result of gifts and enticements.  We mention the embarrassingly bad Windows 7 party adverts and mention that people host Linux parties without the need of gifts.

We briefly talk about why we advocate Linux/free software and then Gordon has an appeal to make to listeners.

Roy introduces our closing featured track, which we all hope you enjoy.

Techrights hosts the show currently, complete with show notes by Dr Roy Schestowitz.

Goblin – /

You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

CHROME OS – First look?

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What will Google release mid 2010? Whatever it is I thinks its stolen a little of the thunder from Redmonds Windows 7 release date.
What will Google release mid 2010? Whatever it is I thinks its stolen a little of the thunder from Redmonds Windows 7 release date.

The original news from Google that it was producing its own OS for release in 2010 was met with quite a welcome in the FOSS community.  It was reported that Google shares benefited from the news at the time and to be fair pretty much everyone (IMO) has an interest in it, even if it is just to look at what Google is planning on releasing.

Google themselves have been pretty sparing with the features of this OS, here is what they had to say:

“Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010…..”

You can read their blog entry on the subject here:

It was with interest that on Twitter today I noticed a comment linking to a site allegedly containing leaked screen shots of the new OS.  Are these genuine or not?  Who knows, but its food for thought in what actually will be released mid 2010.  You can read the article here:

My personal opinion of these photo’s is that they are fake, although they are quite nice concepts.   This to me looks more like a customized (and creative) KDE desktop.

Here’s another alleged set of screen shots (although I don’t think that these are as professional looking as the previous blogger)

The writer of this blog says:

“Hi there. I work for a company (Sorry to be secretive, but what I am about to post could get me in big trouble) that supplies parts for Acer laptops. Today, a Google Rep visited the Acer team to install and quickly show off some of the features of the Google OS in development.

I was invited by Acer to come and view the demo.

I can say and give only what I  know and have.”

Right……so instead of risking your job and selling these pictures to the mainstream press, you risk your job and offer them for free?  I’m sorry, I have a hard time accepting your blog entry (although I’d be happy to be proved wrong) This time it looks to me as if its simply an XFCE desktop which has been modified.

Finally here is a post where the author seems to have the same opinion as me and states:

“OK, we’re kidding – anyone can knock up something in Photoshop and claim to have a secret screenshot of whatever new product is hot at the time.

The image above is one that we’ve come up with to show how Google Chrome OS could shape up to look when it’s complete.”

You can see that blog here:–614924

Whatever the final product looks like, I dont think many can argue that its taken a little of the edge of the Windows 7 release date.  Google have until mid 2010 to develop what they are saying they will release.  During that time I would expect interest to grow as well as blogs with allegedly “real” pictures.   Real or not these blogs (IMO) are feeding the hunger people have to see exactly what Google has in store and that to me (regardless of what it actually is) has stolen a little of the thunder from Redmonds Windows 7 release.

According to some at the time, this was what Vista was going to look like.  Heres one of the many "leaked" screenshots from 2005....oh how in hindsight we can laugh...
According to some at the time, this was what Vista was going to look like. Heres one of the many "leaked" screenshots from 2005....oh how in hindsight we can laugh...

If we cast our minds back to 2005, the same thing happened with Vista.  There were a plethora of alleged real screenshots (what a shock we were in for when we tried the final product for ourselves?) Funnily enough, shortly after that time Microsoft did some changing themselves and tested some unsuspecting people with Mojave, which was Vista disguised as another OS.  You can read about that experiment here: and then consider in (hindsight) why you think Microsoft wanted to conduct this experiment.   I have written entries on the Mojave experiment (and my  opinions of it) in the past, to me a fair test of any OS is on your own specs and I think people saw that the experience of those using Mojave were vastly different to the ones that they got when they installed it on their own machines.  The Mojave experiment was conducted on machines (allegedly) with 2gig of ram and consider that even these days 2gig is overkill for many (certainly those running Linux for common tasks IMO)  infact this post is currently being typed on a machine with 2gig and having a quick look at my memory usage, I am only using 15% of it, yet I have two seperate browser instances, my mail client and an IRC client all running at the same time.

The one thing the Mojave experiment is good for (IMO) was to highlight where the MS faithful possibly get their 1% figure from (in respect of Linux market penetration)  According to the Mojave site, the people involved in this experiment broke down as follows:

  • 84% Windows XP users
  • 22% Apple operating system users
  • 14% Pre-Windows XP users
  • 1% Linux users
  • Some users use multiple platforms.


I wonder if Google will disguise their OS, put it on specs of their choosing and “test” members of the public? I wouldn’t have thought so, Google has a “clean slate” when it comes to OS’s.

This could be the making of Google as an OS developer, but whatever it turns out to be, its another choice for users and that can only be a good thing.

In the meantime, I continue to be impressed with the builds of Chromium.  Im currently running (0)

Goblin –