Using a Chromebook as a Developer

Using a Chromebook as a Developer

While Windows/MS-centric developers (.NET) have their OS decided for them, developers that deploy to Linux environments have a choice as to what their development rig will run. They can run Linux natively (Ubuntu is a good choice) or they can run a setup close to their production setup, but on a Mac. It seems like a recent trend is to move to a MacBook and Mac OS for developing when the target is Linux. Unfortunately this means spending $1,000 or more on your personal hardware. But Chrome OS and a Chromebook offers another alternative.

Using a Chromebook for software and web development has become quite popular. At a mere $200 (the Acer C7 Chromebook), getting your local development machine up and running can be very inexpensive. Check out how @zackfieldman set his up and helped University students avoid spending over a grand on Apple's hardware: Setting Up A Chromebook Development Laptop.


Acer C7 Chromebook Review

The Acer C7 Chromebookis one of the cheapest laptops you can get, anywhere. You'd be hard-pressed to find a used laptop for the price of this Chromebook. But, even though it is very inexpensive, the C7 has a lot going for it. Would I say it's the best value for your money? Read on to find out.

Chrome OS, the worry-free OS
First, the C7 Chromebook is quite different from your normal, run-of-the-mill laptop. The big difference is that it doesn't come with Windows or Mac OS. Those two operating systems are likely the only ones you've ever used, and it likely wasn't that great of an experience. How about a system that just feels like your using the internet? No more worrying about antivirus programs or backing up your data. Chrome OS and the Acer C7 Chromebook have that handled. You can't get a virus or malware with Chrome OS and all of your data is backed up to your Google Drive account. You get to just use your laptop, and not worry about anything. It also updates itself without bothering you, so you never have "Updates are ready!" or "Your computer will reboot in 5 seconds to update." popping up in your face every few days.

No Slow Downs
Have you ever noticed how a new laptop will become slower than a sloth over its first year or so? This is due to a bunch of cruft building up in your operating system. Windows does this, Mac OS does this. Heck, even some Linux OS's do this. But the Acer C7 Chromebook won't slow down. It will continue to be as fast as the day you bought it. This is because Chrome OS doesn't need to store a ton of information about every program you install. All of that info is stored in the account on the web that is associated with that program.

Light and Portable
The Acer C7 Chromebook is very light and easy to transport. It ways a mere 3 pounds and is only 1-inch thick. Most laptops weigh around 7 pounds and are much bulkier than this Chromebook. So if you're looking for a great laptop that can easily be put in your backpack or purse to take anywhere, the Acer C7 is your friend.

The Acer C7 Chromebook is the perfect computer for someone looking for a fast, light, and easy to use computer. Check out this site for a sale: Acer C7 Chromebook sale, only $199.


No more Cr-48's. For now...

And that's the end. Google has shipped the last of the Cr-48 demo units out to it's happy owner. That totals up the suspected 60,000 Chrome OS laptops that Google had built and sent for free to willing testers. Sadly, we did not receive one here at Chrome Techa. It seems that only those with the loudest voice in the media realm were deemed worthy by Google. Anywho, the Product Management VP at Google, Sundar Pichai, said they're all gone, for now.

It looks like manufacturers like Samsung and Acer are geared up to release Chrome OS notebooks to the market this summer. That's some good news, as Sammy is usually pretty good about making nice hardware. Perhaps they'll keep it simple yet sophisticated, like the Cr-48? We'll see.


Chrome OS' open source pays off, NVIDIA Ion now supported

As you might have read earlier (here), Hexxeh released another build of Chrome OS, named Flow. I covered the major new features of this open-source release, but one such feature warrants another look.

Hexxeh built in NVIDIA Ion graphics support ino Flow, with full hardware acceleration. This is one of the first major signs that Google's choice to make Chrome OS' source code open is paying off. Without open source, Chrome OS would not support NVIDIA Ion, unless Google chose to do so. And if Google didn't want to do that, Ion users would be left out in the cold. But, thanks to Hexxeh, Ion users can rejoice and Chrome OS is a stronger operating system in the end.

If Google wants Chrome OS to take on the big dogs, this might be just the way to do it. While Google's own devs are hard at work making the system better, there are also developers like Hexxeh out there doing the same thing. As they always say, the more the merrier!


Hexxeh releases ChromiumOS Flow

Hexxeh, the creator of Chromium OS images that are easy to boot from USB, has just released the latest version of his work, dubbed Flow. ChromiumOS Flow comes with a slew of new features, such as more video hardware support and automatic updates.

Here is the complete list of new additions, according to Hexxeh:

User-customisable menus (rearrange, add, delete apps on your own menu)
Automatic updates via the Velocity engine (with an all new interface from what you saw in the BETA, it’s now been integrated into the browser)
nVidia GPU support (this includes ION, and it’s fully hardware accelerated)
Realtek RTL8187SE support (RTL8192E is coming as an update soon)
Audio fix
Flash fix
Bookmark Sync fix
Power indicator fix (as long as it worked in Cherry)
Battery life improvements
Increased image size to 2GB (1GB was becoming too restrictive, needed to do this to add more hardware support, sorry!)
Webcam support (to test this, right click on a YouTube video and then click settings)
If you need a guide on how to get Flow running, we have a nice one here: Install Chrome OS to USB.

Simply download the new image and follow the rest of the instructions. Maybe this version will support our video card? Let us know how your experience goes.
You can check Hexxeh's announcement post here: It's Flow time


Chrome OS will handle media with its own player

Many people seem to be worried about what Chrome OS can't do. However, I am more concerned with what it can do. And there's another skill to add to the operating system's list: media playback. In a recent interview with Ars Technica, the directing engineer for the Chrome OS project explains that Chrome OS, without any web app in play, will be able to play your music and videos.

"...You might just have a USB key that has a bunch of MP3s on it, so you want to be able to plug that in and listen to those MP3s. There might not be any controlling webpage for that activity, but it’s clearly something you need to be able to do in any reasonable operating system or browser. So we’re doing a lot of work to make Chrome and Chrome OS handle those use cases really well"
That said, Mathew Papakipos just might have put many fears to bed. While numerous people have said that a "browser" can't do everything they need to do, this shows that Chrome OS will be able to do quite a bit. You can read the full interview here: Google talks Chrome OS, HTML5, and the future of software.


Should Apple and Microsoft be afraid of Chrome OS?

Eric Goh, of egoh.com, has an interesting slant on Chrome OS and its effect on the OS landscape. He wagers that Google's new operating system should have the big players scrambling to get something together. Because, as Goh puts it, "a simple browser based OS that is self-updating and relatively secure would solve 95% of the issues people contact me about".

Goh touches on a point I had in a recent article (which you can read here: How Chrome OS will change computers as we know them).  Chrome OS, when it is production ready, could supplant current Windows and Apple OS' for many users. These users simply want to use the web and Internet for daily routines. They rarely need to edit an image more than resizing it, they don't develop software, and they withhold from heavy video-editing. Chrome OS is perfect for what they need to do. And it will keep them out of virus and malware troubles.

So even though you see many pieces in the blogosphere with authors complaining that Chrome OS is too weak, you don't see your cousin and grandmother writing that the new OS can't do what they want. Because it can and it likely will, if the big dogs don't come up with something fast.

You can read Mr. Goh's post in its entirety here: Google Chrome OS - Microsoft and Apple should be worried