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Luke Short - Senior Kubernetes Solutions Architect, developer, open source advocate, Linux gamer, Chromebook enthusiast, Star Wars fan, vegan, and proud citizen of Colorado.

Why Chromebooks are Great for Tech Enthusiasts

2021-03-15-chromebooks-for-tech-enthusiasts There is a common misconception that a Chromebook is useless without an Internet connection. Or that it cannot be used for productivity. Or that it cannot run any programs besides Goolge Chrome. These statements are simply not true.

Chromebooks in the modern era provide a lot of value. Google, in the past 4 years, have been accelerating the amount of features added to the platform. Here are reasons why any geek would love to own a Chromebook.

  • Updates = You always have the latest update and, trust me, it’s way more stable than Mac and Windows in my experience. If you have any problems, thanks to the special A/B partition layout of the Chromebook, you can easily revert back to an older known working version. On a new Chromebook, you can expect 8 years of updates.
    • Rumors say that Chrome OS will soon detach Chrome from Chrome OS so you can continue to get updates to your web browser even after your device goes end-of-life.
  • Linux support = Fun fact: Chrome OS is actually Gentoo. It, in and of itself, is Linux! Officially, you can use “Linux (Beta)” to gain access to a secure and isolated Debian container. Unofficially, you can install the Chromebrew package manager, unlock the Gentoo package manger, use Crouton to install other operating systems as chroots, setup different non-Debian containers, and even create virtual machines!
  • Android support = Android apps add a large ecosystem of new apps for you to use. I cannot recommend enough to get a Chromebook with a touchscreen. It’ll make you wonder why Apple, now having iOS app support on Macs, hasn’t added touchscreens to their Macs (until you realize it’s to continue making a lot of money off iPad sales).
  • Arm = Arm clearly has a bright future ahead of itself given the success of Apple’s M1 Macs. This year, Chromebooks will be coming out with almost-as-good-as-M1 chips. Rumor has it that Google might even be making their own Arm silicon! For developers, Chromebooks make great machines for development of Arm programs.
  • Security = Have you heard of a Chromebook getting a virus? Me neither. Google’s number one goal with Chrome OS is making it as secure as possible. Even if there was a compromise, it is quick and easy to wipe the system back to a clean state. Most of the internals are locked behind many layers of security.
    • Full transparency here: I actually disable a lot of the security goodness in favor of control over my Chromebook. At that point, it becomes as secure as any regular Linux desktop (which is pretty darn secure in the first place).
  • Gaming = You can game on a Chromebook! And I’m not just talking Android apps and Stadia game streaming. Steam can be installed and used with OpenGL acceleration today. Not to mention, Steam is officially coming to Chromebooks with better graphics acceleration.
  • Battery Life = The battery life on these things are unbelievably long. Most Chromebooks get between x1.5 and x2 compared to a traditional laptop. Google’s current flagship Chromebook, the Pixelbook Go, offers 12 hours of battery life.
  • Size = Chromebooks come in all shapes and sizes to fit your taste. Regardless of the screen size, they normally are lightweight and have slim profiles.

Those are the pros of owning a Chromebook. It’s not perfect by any means, it has flaws that I’ll touch on in a follow-up article. However, I’d take a Chromebook over a Mac or Windows laptop anyday.

My Chromebook Pixel 2015 is going end-of-life in a few months. At which point I’ll probably be switching to Neverware’s CloudReady OS (recently acquired by Google, meaning more features are likely to come) which is a free fork of Chromium OS. As soon as Google releases a gaming Chromebook with streamlined Steam integration, I’ll be buying a new Chromebook to show my support. The hope is that, even though Google has a locked-down system, it’ll help the wider Linux gaming community with their efforts.

Until next time, au revoir!